Christian Apologetics Study

THE MYSTERY OF THE RAPTURE IN HISTORY AND PROPHECY

Jun
20

The RAPTURE is an eschatological word used to denote the ascension of believers in Messiah Yeshua before His second coming. This supernatural event is clearly mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, where those believers who are still alive when Messiah returns are described as being “caught up” together with their resurrected fellow believers to meet Yeshua “in the air.” This rapture event will cause the sudden transformation of the mortal bodies of all believers, from the past to the present, into immortal bodies when believers meet Yeshua in the air.  Paul probably received the revelation for the Rapture of believers when he was transported to the Third Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-3), which is the supernatural dimension where God and the angels live. While there are differences of interpretation concerning the rapture of believers, the weight of biblical evidence reveal several rapture events before and during the Seven Year Tribulation.

For example, Enoch’s rapture is recorded in Genesis 5:21-23 and Hebrews 11:5-6. Elijah’s rapture is recorded in 2 Kings 2:1-11. Yeshua’s rapture is recorded in Matthew 28:6-7 and Acts 1:9-11.  Paul’s rapture is recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:2-3). The rapture of Church Saints is recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, John 14:3, Revelation 3:10, and Revelation 4:1-4. And the rapture of the two witnesses (Moses and Elijah) is recorded in Revelation 11:1-12.

THE RAPTURE OF ENOCH

Enoch became the first person mentioned to be raptured and taken to be with the Lord, according to the Genesis record. Genesis 5:24 records Enoch’s translation and rapture to heaven. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). What does it mean that Enoch “was not, for God took Him?” It means that Enoch was translated, without dying, and went directly to be with the Lord. Enoch was raptured, to use the language of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 or he was “taken,” to use the language of John 14:3. That Enoch was raptured or translated to heaven is clear when compared with the dismal refrain “and he died” that accompanies the legacy of the other patriarchs mentioned in Genesis 5.

Enoch’s rapture is confirmed by the divinely inspired New Testament commentary found in Hebrews 11:5 which say, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.” The New Testament Christian Scriptures the words “taken up” in Hebrews is the same one selected by those who translated the Old Testament into Greek. This word conveys the idea of being removed from one place to another. Thus, it is clear that both the Genesis passage and the repeated reference to Enoch in Hebrews teach the idea of translation to heaven, according to Dr. Thomas Ice.

THE RAPTURE OF ELIJAH

Elijah the first representative of Israel’s post-law prophets. He will reappear in history during the tribulation (Malachi 4:5) and He will be joined with Moses as the two from the past who appeared at Yeshua’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:3). Like Enoch, Elijah was translated to heaven without dying. 2 Kings 2 records this interesting event with an emphasis upon the mode of Elijah’s transportation to heaven. 2 Kings 2:1 says he was taken “by a whirlwind to heaven.” In 2:11 the whirlwind is further described as “a chariot of fire and horses of fire.” No doubt this was an appearance of the Shechinah glory of God since Hebrews 1:7 say, “and of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.’” God objectively marked Elijah as a genuine prophet by identifying him with the glory of God and his rapture to heaven, according to Dr. Thomas Ice.

Enoch was raptured to heaven before judgment while Noah remained on Earth and was preserved through the judgment. Elijah was raptured while Elisha remained behind. These rapture events relate to the rapture of the church. Thus, Enoch and Elijah stand as types of the rapture of the church saints, while Noah and Elisha represent Tribulation Saints who are preserved through the seven year Tribulation, according to Dr. Grant Jeffrey.

THE RAPTURE OF MESSIAH YESHUA

Revelation 12:5 speaks in the form of a symbol that represents important aspects of Messiah Yeshua’s career. Within this picture, Yeshua is called the “male child” who it is said “was caught up to God and to His throne (Revelation 12:5). This picture looks back to Yeshua’s ascension that is described in Acts 1:8-11, where Yeshua ascends to heaven in a cloud. Therefore, because Revelation 12:5 uses the word for rapture, this means that Yeshua’s Acts 1:11 ascension is view as a rapture event, a trip from planet Earth to Heaven, according to Dr. Thomas Ice.

THE RAPTURE OF SAINT PAUL

Twice Paul mentions that he was “caught up (raptured) to the third heaven” and received “visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 12:1–4). Paul’s heavenly trip reminds us of Isaiah’s throne room commission (Isaiah 6:1–13). A rapture experience was involved in this incident. Paul, via rapture, received a commission, message, and revelation that became the foundation for the unique purpose for the church during this age, “which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5). Apparently, Paul’s heavenly visit was such a heady experience that the Lord gave him “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me to keep me from exalting myself. (2 Corinthians 12:7), according to Dr. Thomas Ice.

THE RAPTURE OF CHURCH SAINTS

The rapture of Church Saints is predicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, John 14:3, Revelation 3:10, and Revelation 4:1-4.  According to Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). Among all the raptures in Scripture, this is the first time that our Lord and Savior Messiah Yeshua will take a large group to heaven in a single instance, without first facing death. This is such a clear teaching in the Bible that even believers who do not emphasize the rapture as a distinct event, merge it into to the second coming in some way. However, this is the event that will take place before the seven-year tribulation, according to Dr. Thomas Ice.

According to Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, the rapture will occur before the seven year tribulation. He said “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, NJKV). Analysis of the Greek and early English Bible translations shows what Paul really wrote “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come until the DEPARTURE AWAY COMES FIRST, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition”. The departure away describes the rapture of Church Saints prior to the tribulation, according to Dr. Grant Jeffrey.

The first seven English translations of APOSTASIA all rendered the noun as either “DEPARTURE” or ” DEPARTING.” The word APOSTASIA was translated DEPARTURE in the Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608). This supports the notion that the word truly means “DEPARTURE.” In fact, Jerome’s Latin translation known as the Vulgate from around the time of A.D. 400 renders APOSTASIA with the “word DISCESSIO, meaning ‘ DEPARTURE’, according to Dr. Thomas Ice.

THE RAPTURE OF THE TWO WITNESSES

The rapture of the two witnesses (Moses and Elijah) is recorded in Revelation 11:1-12. Reminiscent of Elijah, the two witnesses during the tribulation are summoned “into heaven in the cloud” (Revelation 11:12). Certainly these commissioned and protected messengers fulfill the role as ambassadors for our Lord to the Jewish nation during the tribulation. Along the same line, the “male child” is said to be “caught up (raptured) to God and His throne” in Revelation 12:5.

The Scriptures provide us with significant citations of the rapture of individuals throughout history. This provides a strong support that the church will be raptured in the future as 1 Thessalonians 4 teaches. Some opponents of the rapture seek to suggest that the worldwide disappearance of millions would be too odd to consider as a realistic possibility. Such is not the case if the Scriptures are the criterion for establishing prophecy. In fact, the Scriptures reveal a significant number of raptures or trips directly to heaven that provides assurance that God can and will take many believers in a moment of time.

RAPTURE TIMING ANALYSIS

According to Dr. Thomas Ice, Paul describes New Testament believers as ambassadors for Messiah Yeshua (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador is one who represents a dignitary, often in a foreign land. Corresponding with Isaiah’s commission in the Old Testament, the church has been given its Great Commission through Messiah’s apostles (Matthew 28:16–20; Mark 16:14–18; Luke 24:44–49; Acts 1:6–10). The primary issue during the current Church Age involving God and all mankind is the issue of belief in the gospel of Messiah Yeshua. When the world reaches the point of global rejection of Messiah Yeshua, then God will recall His ambassador, the church, before the judgment of the tribulation. Since the church is described as heavenly citizens (Philippians 3:20), it makes sense that she is raptured before God’s war commences against “those who dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:8, 14; 14:6). This is one of many purposes for the New Testament doctrine of the pre-tribulational rapture of the church.

The Church is the salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV). Salt retards corruption and when the salt is removed from the Earth, then corruption will proliferate worldwide. The Church gives light to the world (Matthew 5:14-16) and when the light is removed from Earth, then darkness is everywhere on Earth.  The period between the Rapture and the Second coming of Messiah Yeshua will be like the days of Noah’s generation. The Nephilim (Fallen Angels) will openly walk the Earth again and they will create a new generation of Nephilim Hybrids, which are hybrid humans, part fallen angel and part human. The Nephilim will attempt to manipulate the entire creation on Earth. During this period, the Anti-Messiah will originate from the Eastern leg and toes of the Revived Roman Empire when he rises and conquers the whole world.  Messiah Yeshua will defeat the Anti-Messiah’s 10 nation confederation army at the battle of Armageddon.

We must all be ready

for the rapture because many believers will be persecuted and killed during the seven year tribulation. Preparation for the rapture event begins with accepting Messiah Yeshua as your Lord and Savior and by living your life according to Yeshua’s teachings and by praying always to escape the coming judgments. While persecution from the world and Satan will happen to believers, Messiah Yeshua does not appoint believers to His wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

RELATED SOURCES

Most of the information contained in this article originates from the research papers of Dr. Thomas Ice. Pre-Tribulation Rapture Article; Dr. Thomas Ice; 2010. Rapture Ready Article; Dr. Thomas Ice; 2010. The Islamic Anti-Christ; John Preacher; 2012. God’s War on Terror; Walid Shoebat; 2008. Prophecy Islam and the Bible DVD; Walid Shoebat; 2008. Unleashing the Beast; Perry Stone; 2010. Understanding the Times; Joel Richardson; 2008. The Book of Revelation DVD; Perry Stone; 2013. The Cosmic Conspiracy; Stan Deyo; 2010. Deciphering End-Time Prophetic Codes; Perry Stone; 2015. The Signature of God; Dr. Grant Jeffrey; 2008. Nephilim Article; Dr. L.A. Marzulli; 2013.

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