“The Next Major Biblical Event in History:
The Rapture of the Church”
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Meaning of “Rapture”
What follows is a summary discussion of a very important event in Bible prophecy. The Appendix goes into more detail for the benefit of the serious student.
“Rapture” comes from the words “caught up” in I Thessalonians 4:17. In the Greek the word is harpazo – “to seize upon by force”, “to snatch up.” The Latin translators used the word rapturo. Some people claim that “rapture” is not a Biblical term. This is untrue, unless they want to say that “God” and “Jesus” are not Biblical Terms. Almost all words in our English Bible are translations of Greek or Hebrew expressions, and are, therefore, not in the Bible in the form we know them. “God” is a proper and meaningful translation of certain words in the original languages, and “Jesus” is a good translation for us of His name (Yeshua, “Joshua,” “The Lord Saves,” in Hebrew). In the same way, the English word “rapture” which means “to be caught up” is an excellent translation for the Greek harpazo.
Three Events That Happen at The Rapture
The scriptures of First Thessalonians 4 and 5 are familiar to most Christians as a description of the so-called “rapture of the church.” The rapture can be thought of as a point in eternity which will protrude into our historical time frame at some fixed point on God’s calendar. However, as we have seen, God has not given us the date.
Three specific events take place at the time Jesus calls his church out of the world:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven
(a) with a cry of command,
(b) with the archangel’s call,
(c) and with the sound of the trumpet of God.
The “cry of command” from the lips of Jesus is to awake the dead in Christ and to call them forth from their graves as God called his friend Lazarus forth (John 11:43).
Only one archangel is called by name in Scripture. He is Michael whose specific jurisdiction is over the people of Israel. At the time of the Rapture, the archangel will signal to Israel that God has returned the focus of his attention at last to the final redemption of his chosen nation. This event was spoken of by Daniel:
“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered.” (Daniel 12:1)
The trumpet call, not to be confused with the last of the seven trumpets in Revelation, is a trumpet call associated with the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. It will be used to call the living saints at the time of the Rapture to be caught up and transformed together with the just-raised saints of the past. This is described also in 1 Corinthians 15,
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
When an individual dies he or she leaves time and enters eternity. Some scholars think that all believers travel through eternity immediately, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” to arrive at the Rapture the next instant in his or her personal experience. If that is the case, all believers arrive in heaven at the same “time.” Thus, “to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) We may have difficulty picturing this if we do not realize that eternity runs according to an entirely different time than the one-dimensional time frame in which we are constrained to live while in our mortal bodies. For more on the issue of Time, see Appendix:The Complexities Of Time, toward the end of the book.
RAPTURE SONG: “Some Day Soon”