The Bible teaches a “snatching away” of believers to Heaven, a special departure that does not involve the death of the Christian. Some will not study the teaching on the rapture because they say the word “rapture” is never found in the Bible. This is true, but neither is the word, “trinity” or “choir” or “offertory”, etc. Many words that are commonly used by Christians are not in the Bible. That does not mean that the teaching about these things is not there, just the particular word is not found.
There are at least four main views of the rapture. The first view would be that there would be no rapture or special rescuing of a group of Christians. This is primarily believed by those have not found the word in the Bible and thus deny the teaching. They believe that all will die to get to Heaven.
Among those who believe in a rapture, there are those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, a mid tribulation rapture, and a post tribulation rapture. I personally believe that there is more scripture that points to the pre-millenial rapture.
The age in which we live is considered to be the church age or the age of grace. Both of these terms are a little misleading, but they have been assigned to this period of time. I say misleading because God has always dealt with man by grace. By grace, He overlooked the sins of the believing in the Old Testament, waiting for the death of Christ to pay for those sins. Anyone who makes it to Heaven will do so by the grace of God. The church age is also a little misleading, since it implies that all that God is doing is in and through the local church. However, these are the most commonly used names for the age in which we live.
At the end of this present age, a time of tribulation will come upon the earth. It is described in various places in the Bible and is defined as a period of seven years. This is primarily taught in Daniel, chapter 9. Daniel has been confessing his sin and the sin of God’s people. He had been making supplication to God for His people. The angel Gabriel arrives to give Daniel understanding about what God will do. He lays out the time that God will deal with Israel into 70 weeks. Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Then he goes on to divide those seventy weeks into several parts. First, a period of time described as 7 weeks, then 62 weeks is described: Daniel 9:25 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” At the end of the 62 weeks, the Christ of God shall be put to death. Daniel 9:26 “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” In the seventieth week, something disastrous happens. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” We learn from the New Testament that this will be during the Tribulation. Jesus prophesied: ” But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains:” Mark 13:14 and Matthew 24:15.
Since we know that a time of great trouble is coming in the future, we go to the question of what will happen to Christians with regard to that time. Either God will rapture or snatch them up out of the way prior to that time, or during that time, or after that time. Those are the three options regarding the rapture of Christians. Let’s look at the Bible to see if God has given a pattern of His actions under similar circumstances.
First, we have the account of the great flood that was to cover the world. God warned Noah to make an ark for the saving of Noah and his family. Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Prior to the destruction of Jericho, God provided a safe refuge for Rahab. Joshua 6:17 “And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.”
The Old Testament is replete with references to the rapture of believers. The New Testament is no less a witness. The most often quoted passage is First Thessalonians 4:13-17. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Now, notice that some Christians will be alive at this moment, and some will have died. Both living and dead will meet together with the Lord in the air. He will not have returned to the earth at this point, but the meeting will be somewhere in the air!
The book of Revelation gives a further clue to the timing of this event. In the first chapter, we have an introduction to the book. In chapters two and three, we have the history and prophecy of the church age, or the age of grace. Chapter four begins with these words, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Revelation 4:1&2. It is interesting that the word “church” never occurs after chapter 3 of Revelation. The wrath of God is poured out on the earth in chapters 5-21 of Revelation, after the saints celebrate the greatness and worthiness of our God in chapter 4.
To be sure, God will have his witnesses during the tribulation, but these will be converted Jews, as the Lord renews His covenant with Israel. The wild olive branches of Romans 11:17 will have been taken out of the way, so that God may deal with His people, Israel. The 144,000 witnesses mentioned in Revelation 7:4 and following are from Israel. “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” They are again mentioned in Revelation 14:1.
At the end of this time of great tribulation, Jesus Christ returns to earth, arriving on the Mount of Olives with a dramatic touch. Zechariah 14:1-4 “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” I have been to that spot in Israel. Scientists tell us there is a fault under that Mount that runs due East and West. When Jesus touches the ground, that fault will open a valley directly aimed at the Eastern Gate, now sealed by both Arabs and Jews. That shock wave created by Christ’s landing will break that seal and He shall enter triumphantly, with ten thousands of His saints following Him. (Jude 14 and 15) Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!