Here is the 50 million dollar question - will there be a Rapture of God's saints before the Tribulation, or will all of God's people living at that time have to go through the Tribulation and possibly be martyred for their faith?
I'm going to go ahead and give you the main Scripture verses dealing with the possibility of a Rapture. There is divided opinion in the Body of Christ as to whether or not there is going to be a rapture.
Each one of you will have to come to your own conclusion on this subject per your own interpretation of the Scripture verses listed below. I'll give you my two cents on the subject. I'll point out key words and key phrases in the following verses.
As you will see in the following verses, I feel there is very strong evidence from Scripture that there will be a Rapture, and that it will occur before the Antichrist starts the persecution of God's saints, and before God starts to pour out His wrath upon the earth during the 7 year Tribulation. In other words, it will be a pre-tribulation Rapture.
1. This first verse is very interesting. You already know that one of the names of the Antichrist is the "Lawless One" per the Scripture verse I gave you in my first article. This verse is definitely talking about the Antichrist. Here is the verse:
"And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in our time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8)
You know the lawless one is referring to the Antichrist because then the verse says Jesus will destroy him when He comes back for the second time. But look very closely at the phrase "only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the Lawless One will be revealed." The "H" in the word "He" is a capital H. That means "He" is either referring to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.
Since God and Jesus are in heaven right now, the "He" has to be referring to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has always been referred to as the One who restrains evil from getting out of control on this earth. It says that the Antichrist cannot be revealed until He is taken out of the way. Since we know that the Holy Spirit still has to be down here even if there is a Rapture, who is "He" referring to?
If there is a Rapture, there still will be a multitude of people that are going to get saved and then martyred. If they are saved, then they are sealed with the Holy Spirit, which means the Holy Spirit is living on the inside of them like He is with us.I believe the "He" may be referring to the "Holy Spirit operating through the Church." That means that the Body of Christ - the Church will be what is taken out before the Antichrist can be revealed.
Think about this. The Antichrist is going to be very easy to spot once he starts to enter into the world scene. All the Scripture verses I gave you on the Antichrist and 7 year Tribulation spell out exactly what is going to occur, and there will be more than enough astute Christians who are going to be able to pick up who he is when all of these events start to occur.With some of the powerful TV ministries that we have in place such as the Pat Robertson 700 Club, I am sure that the Body of Christ will be shouting from the rooftops once the Antichrist is spotted. The word will be spread and it will become very hard for the Antichrist to rise to the kind of power that the Bible is foretelling.
I believe that the Church has to be taken out, as the above verse is stating, before the Antichrist can be revealed to the rest of the world. And the above verse states exactly that - that the Antichrist will not be revealed until "He," who is restraining him, is taken out of the way!!!
Once the Body of Believers are Raptured off of the earth, there will nothing that will be able to stop the Antichrist's rise to power. The rest of the world is going to be easily duped in believing in this man - especially with all of the "false signs and wonders" that will be performed by the False Prophet on his behalf.
I believe the above verse alone is very strong Scriptural evidence that there will be a Rapture of God's saints before the Antichrist rises to full power.
2. This next verse talks about that those who are "alive" will be "caught up" to meet the Lord in the "air". Here is the verse:
"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." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
This verse really seems to be implying that there will be a group of saints who are going to "caught up" or pulled up to meet the Lord in the air while we are still alive! Those words spell possible "Rapture" to me.
3. The next verse tells us a "mystery"- that not all of God's saints are going to "sleep" - and that this group is going to be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and that this event will occur at the last trumpet. I believe the Last Trumpet is God's last call to His people, and that it implies that whoever is saved and born again when this trumpet sounds off, will be Raptured and spared going through the horrors of the Tribulation.
I believe that the word "mystery" is being used to let us know that God is keeping the possibility of a Rapture a "secret," a "mystery" to the rest of the world. That is why all of the Scripture verses pertaining to this event do not "perfectly" spell it out or state it without any shadow of a doubt. There is enough of a "hint" in these verses for His own people to pick it up, but not to the rest of the unbelieving world. Here is the verse:
"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." (1 Corinthians 15:51)
I believe that the words "last trumpet" tells us this event will occur at the end of times. The words "shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye", really do describe what could be a Rapture - the immediate vanishing or disappearance of God's people from the face of the earth in the "snap of a finger."
4. The next verse is from Jesus Himself out of Revelations. Here is the verse:
"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I ALSO WILL KEEP YOU FROM THE HOUR OF TRIAL WHICH SHALL COME UPON THE WHOLE WORLD, to test those who dwell on the earth." (Revelations 3:10)
This verse could be literal translation - that Jesus will keep His Body of Believers that are living at this time out of the hands of the Antichrist. He obviously will either do it by Rapturing them off the face of the earth or by providing some kind of physical protection for them if there is no Rapture. My guess is that He will do this by Rapturing them off of the earth.
5. Here is another verse from Jesus stating that we watch and pray that we be counted worthy to escape all the things that may be coming our way. The verse is:
"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be COUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT WILL COME TO PASS, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:36)
This verse really seems to be hinting or implying once again that God is going to allow some of us to escape or be prevented from having to go through the events of the Tribulation.
6. Now here are some additional verses that are not quite as strong as the above verses, but do suggest the possibility that God will keep us from these events.
"... and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who DELIVERS US FROM THE WRATH TO COME." (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
This verse either means Jesus will deliver us before the wrath comes, which would line up with a Rapture, or it may mean when He comes down for the second time at the battle of Armageddon to put an end to all of the carnage with the Antichrist.
"FOR GOD DID NOT APPOINT US TO WRATH, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
This verse could be implying that His Body will not be appointed or be subject to the events of the Tribulation - or the "wrath" could simply be pointing to people going to hell for refusing to accept Jesus and His gift of eternal salvation.
If there is going to be a Rapture, I believe that God will rapture His believers off of this earth sometime before the start of the 7 year Tribulation. I don't think He will wait to the midpoint of the Tribulation where the Antichrist seats himself in the Temple proclaiming himself to be God and then starts all the persecution.
I feel the Antichrist will be fully revealed to the world at the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation when he enters into a peace treaty and covenant with Israel, and then allows them to start rebuilding their Temple so that he can eventually get into it at the midpoint of the Tribulation to proclaim himself to be God.
And remember the very first verse above, that the Antichrist cannot be revealed until "He" is taken out of the way. And when "He" is taken out of the way, then the Antichrist can be fully revealed to the rest of the world. And "He" in my opinion may be the Church or the Body of Believers that are living at the time of these events.
The other reason I think the Rapture will occur sometime before the start of the 7 year Tribulation is that the Antichrist is going to need some time to set things up. Once the Church is taken out, he will be free to start operating at full scale. The first thing he is going to do is convince and persuade the rest of the world to follow him and I feel he will do that by trickery and deception. If he starts the persecution too early on those who will not take his mark, he will risk not being able to gain full control of everything.
I feel he will first suck everyone in by peace and diplomacy and the promise of a better world. Then once he has enough of the nations on his side and the Jewish Temple is once more rebuilt, that will be the time that He will then go for all of the marbles. He will seat himself in the temple at the midpoint of the Tribulation, proclaim himself to be God, kill anyone who will not accept his mark, and will then seek total world domination and control. Think about this. This one man, through the power of Satan, will get a chance to have more power and control over the entire world than any other man has ever had during the entire course of our human history. This will be the ultimate ego trip for a power hungry human being.
I think that the last three and half years of the Tribulation is going to be the last and final history lesson from God to us. With the Church being taken out of the way so Satan and the Antichrist can operate at full force, I feel that God is going to show all of us how much terror, death and destruction humans and demons are capable of committing if given half the chance without God directly intervening.
In three and half years, Satan and the Antichrist are going to cause so much death and destruction on this earth, that Jesus Himself says that had these days not been shortened by God the Father Himself - that no flesh would have been saved! I really feel that Satan, if he knew he had the chance, would set up the entire scenario with the Antichrist to destroy the entire world through nuclear weaponry.
Satan already knows he is defeated. He knows he will eventually end up in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone forever and ever. He knows that this is his last chance for mass destruction and terror. He hates all humans and anything to do with God and heaven. If God would allow him anymore time than the three and half years, I really believe Satan would set the world up for mass destruction through nuclear weapons. He would then have the satisfaction that he literally destroyed the entire world before he goes to his final fate.
But thank God, He will not allow this scenario to go this far. But God is going to allow it to go far enough to teach us all a lesson that we will never ever forget. He is going to show us how quickly humans can be deceived by Satan and his demons, and the only thing that has kept this world in one piece for the last 6000 years has simply been the power and restraining force of God the Father Himself operating through the Holy Spirit.
Bottom line - there is only maximum life with God or maximum death without Him. The last three and half years in the Tribulation will show us what "maximum death" will really be like when God removes His Church off the face of this earth, and he then allows the Devil and the Antichrist to do what they want with the power that will be given to them.
After we watch and see all of these events unfold, we will never, ever want to forsake our God again. We
will come to the full realization that without God in our lives - that we can never have or find true happiness, joy, love, peace or fulfillment in our lives.
Without God in our lives, there is only eventual maximum death, and the last three and half years on this earth is going to prove that point once and for all to all of us. It will be the greatest history lesson that the world will ever receive, and something that we will never ever forget for the rest of our eternal lives.
Will there be a Rapture? You will each have to decide for yourselves on the way the above Scripture verses are worded. My conclusion, after putting all the above verses together like a "jigsaw puzzle," is that there will be a rapture, and that it will occur sometime before the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation.
I feel the Rapture is a "mystery" from God, and that it is "hidden" in the above verses. God does not want the rest of the unbelieving world to have full access to this mystery, otherwise people will be accepting salvation for the wrong reasons - to escape the coming horrors of the Tribulation and not with a true, repentant heart to want to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior for the sinners that we all truly are.
Again, you may want to put this article on the shelf in the event that we start to fast approach end time events in our lifetime. This article will make for good debate with other Christians who may not believe in the Rapture.
Article written by Michael Bradley of Bible Knowledge Ministries. Their website is a resource of Bible, articles, commentary and teaching. They currently have over 100 Bible articles. All free of charge.
If you do not want to wait for the next article, you can go to our
end times section of our website for all 15 articles regarding the 2nd Coming of Jesus.
Copyright ? 2005 by Michael Bradley. All Rights Reserved.