The Rapture and Second Advent:
The word "Rapture" is not found in the Bible. It is a term used by theologians and Bible teachers to describe the last event of the Church Age. It means, "A departure, or a catching away." It should also be noted that the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible either, yet it is believed and accepted by most Christians as being a Biblical doctrine. The same is true with the word "Rapture." It is a Biblical doctrine, a doctrine that many Christians do not truly understand. In fact, there are many who have never heard of it.
The Rapture is a part of the resurrection of Church Age believers; therefore, it is a part of the first resurrection, which involves believers only. The Rapture is a part of "Mystery Doctrine," (referring to doctrines which apply to the Church only) in I Corinthians 15:51; "Behold, I show you a MYSTERY; (this refers to something that has never been revealed before). We shall not all sleep (in death), but we shall all be changed."
The Rapture actually marks the end of the Church Age, II Thessalonians 2:3-12, "Let no one deceive you by any means, because there must come THE DEPARTURE first (the departure mentioned here refers to the Rapture) so that the man of lawlessness may begin to be declared, the son of destruction. (this refers to the world dictator called the Antichrist) The one opposing and exalting himself above everything that is related to God, or that is an object of worship: so that he is seated in the Temple of God proclaiming that he himself is God. (this refers to the rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem) Do you not remember, that I, being with you, told you these things? And now you know what keeps on restraining, so that he would be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already in operation: only the One who is now restraining (referring to the Holy Spirit, who is the great restrainer) will keep on restraining until he is taken away. And then, at that time, the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) will be revealed, whom the Lord will take away by the breath of His mouth, and will render him powerless by His glorious appearance. (this refers to the actual second advent of Jesus Christ) Whose coming (referring to the coming of the Antichrist) is according to the operation of Satan in all power, and signs, and false wonders. And in all deceit of unrighteousness to the ones being destroyed, because they did not accept the love of the truth for them to be saved. And because of this, God sends them a powerful delusion with the result that they may receive judgment, these ones not having believed the truth, but having had pleasure in the deceitfulness of injustice." The main characteristic of the Church Age is the giving of the Holy Spirit: its baptism, its indwelling, and its filling to all who believe in Jesus Christ. The Church Age began about 30 AD when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost (Acts chapter two). The Church Age will end when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the world. And when He is taken out of the world, all those He indwells will go with Him. This is what we call the Rapture.
Who will be involved in the Rapture? The Bible teaches that the Rapture will only include those who have lived in the Church Age. In other words, all those who believe in Jesus Christ between 30 AD, to the end of this present age. (All the believers from other ages will be resurrected at a different time.) The Rapture will actually involve two groups of Church Age believers:
(1). Those who have died during the Church Age will be raised from the dead and be given a glorified resurrection body. I Thess 4:13-18. (See Bible Lesson on Resurrection).
(2). Those who are alive at the end of the Church Age when the Rapture occurs will be changed, or transformed, and given a resurrected, glorified body without dying. I Corinthians 15:51-53.
When the Rapture occurs, there will be a great reunion. We will join friends and family who have died in Christ and we will meet the Lord Himself. I Thessalonians 4:15-18, "For this we declare to you from the Word of the Lord, that we, the ones living and surviving to the coming of the Lord, will not go before the ones who have died. (In other words, the ones living will not receive their resurrection bodies before the ones who have died.) Because the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with a trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we, the ones living and surving will be TAKEN AWAY TOGETHER WITH THEM in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Therefore, comfort and encourage each other with these words." I want you to notice that this reunion takes place "IN THE AIR," in the atmosphere above the earth. Our reunion with the Lord and loved ones will take place where Satan is said to be "the prince and power of the air" in Ephesians 2:2.
Not only will all the Church Age believers living and dead be given resurrection bodies, and be taken off the earth, but they will be taken INSTANTANEOUSLY. It will take less than 1/1000 of a second for the Lord to take all living and dead Church Age believers off the earth. I Corinthians 15:51-53, "Behold, I tell you a mystery: (this refers to something that was never revealed before) We will not all sleep, (in death) but we will be changed, IN A FLASH, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, at the last trumpet......"
The Rapture of all Church Age believers is "imminent." Which means that it could occur at any moment with no warning. Imminency means that there are NO PROPHECIES TO BE FULFILLED before the Rapture can occur. As soon as the body of Christ is completed, He will return to the clouds above the earth and take all those who are His off the earth.
While the Rapture is imminent (it could occur at any moment), the Second Advent of Jesus Christ is not. Before the Second Advent of Jesus Christ occurs, there are many prophecies which must be fulfilled. Like the Rapture, the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Tribulation, the rise of the world dictator called Antichrist, the false prophet, and the horrifying judgments and disasters that will sweep the world along to the war of Armageddon. All these must be fulfilled before the Second Advent of Jesus Christ can occur. In fact, all of the information recorded in Revelation chapters 6 - 19 must all be fulfilled before the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
The Rapture will deliver all believers in Jesus Christ from the Tribulation period, which is a time of great divine judgment that will fall upon the world. I Thessalonians 1:10, "...we wait with great expectation for His Son to come out from heaven, whom He raised out from among the dead, Jesus, the One who delivers us out from the coming tribulation." I Thessalonians 5:9, "Because God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, (referring to the judgments of the tribulation period) but to obtain deliverance through our Lord Jesus Christ."
To show you that there is a difference between the Rapture and the Second Advent, I want to give you a number of comparisons between them.
(1). The Rapture is instantaneous, I Corinthians 15:52, "In the twinkling of an eye." The Second Advent covers a number of days; at least 45, and possibly more. Daniel 12:11-12.
(2). At the Rapture, the Lord only comes to the clouds above the earth, I Thessalonians 4:17, ".....in the clouds.....in the air." At the Second Advent He actually physically returns to the earth, Zechariah 14:1-4. Verse 4 says, "On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south."
(3). At the Rapture all believers in Jesus Christ are removed from the earth, I Thess 4:13-17; while at the Second Advent all the unbelievers will be removed from the earth, Matthew 24:37-44.
(4). The Rapture marks the end of the Church Age; while the Second Advent marks the end of the Jewish Age.
(5). The Rapture marks the beginning of the Tribulation period; while the Second Advent marks the end of the Tribulation period.
(6). While the Rapture marks the end of the Church Age, it also marks the beginning of great disaster, and catastrophe, and judgment upon the earth; While the Second Advent marks the end of disaster, and catastrophy, and judgment upon the earth and ushers in the perfect kingdom of Jesus Christ.
(7). The Rapture of the Church is private, Acts 1:11 tells us that He left in the presence of believers only, therefore, He will come for believers only. In other words, the Rapture is only for a select group of individuals, believers in Jesus Christ. But the Second Advent is very public, Revelation 1:7 tell us that "every eye will see Him."
(8). At the Rapture all Church Age believers go to heaven (John 14:1-3); At the Second Advent all Church Age believers come back to the earth (I Thess 3:13).
(9). At the Rapture there is the Judgment Seat of Christ for believers only (II Cor 5:10); At the Second Advent there is a judgment called "The Baptism of Fire," for unbelievers only (Matt 3:11).
(10). At the Rapture the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth. II Thess 2:6-7, "And now you know what keeps on restraining that he would be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already in operation: only the ONE WHO IS NOW RESTRAINING WILL KEEP ON RESTRAINING, UNTIL HE IS TAKEN AWAY." At the Second Advent Satan is removed from the earth. Revelation 20:1-3, "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time."
(11). At the Rapture the believer's body will be changed. I Corinthians 15:52-53, "Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, (in death) but we shall 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." At the Second Advent it is the earth that will be changed: (Isaiah chapters 11 & 35). There will be no more violence among animals, man will learn about war no more, there will be a uniform climate over all the earth, death will take a holiday, and sin will be controlled by Jesus Christ Himself and held to an absolute minimum.
(12). At the Rapture the four unconditional covenants (promises) to Israel will remain unfulfilled, (the Abrahamic, Davidic, Palestinian, and New Covenant). But at the Second Advent these four unconditional covenants to Israel will be fulfilled.
(13). The Rapture brings comfort, I Thessalonians 4:18, "Therefore, comfort one another with these words." The Second Advent causes great terror among the people of the earth, Revelation 6:15-17, "The kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of his wrath has come, and who can stand?'"
(14). The Rapture was never revealed in the Old Testament, only in the New Testament. It is known as "mystery doctrine," which pertains to the Church only. The Second Advent on the other hand was clearly taught in the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament. The Church is involved in both the Rapture and the Second Advent. The Jews are only involved in the Second Advent.
Therefore, the Rapture will occur suddenly and without warning, and when it occurs millions of people (only believers in Jesus Christ) will be taken off the earth. They will disappear. And immediately following the Rapture of the Church there will be great confusion all over the earth. Just imagine the great moral and spiritual vacuum that will result when all believers in Jesus Christ, along with the Holy Spirit being removed from earth at the same time. The "salt" and the "light" of the world would be removed at the same time. Families, neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and churches would be left without any influence for Christ or God. The snowball effect of such an instantaneous worldwide removal of all moral restraint would be beyond comprehension. Humanism would at last be unhindered to move to the forefront of religious importance.
Equally staggering would be the social and political impact of scores of millions of people suddenly vanishing from the earth. The event itself would be so sudden, so universal, and so eerie that its effect upon the emotional stability of the survivors is impossible to even imagine. Hundreds of millions would have witnessed personally the terrifying, instantaneous disappearance of one or more persons and would have found it beyond belief. The effect of seeing with their own eyes what their minds knew was impossible could drive millions mad.
Driverless cars and pilotless aircraft alone would account not only for world devastation but for inconceivable panic. The disappearance of air traffic controllers, firemen, policemen, doctors, and hospital personnel would cause inexplainable panic and confusion. Interrupted surgeries, empty pulpits, unmanned rescue vehicles, decimated communications systems, the disruption of goods and services would be indescribable. Life as we know it would descend into an abyss of chaos and human carnage. The shock, the bewilderment, and stark horror of this historic global event would paralyze the world. Any explanation would initially be completely beyond the comprehension and even the imagination of the most brilliant minds. An unreasoning terror of not knowing what had happened and when it might be repeated would grip the entire world. Most would feel lucky or fortunate to be left behind. Government bodies, from local school boards to universities and the corporate giants of business and industry; from city councils to state and national congresses; from senates and parliaments to the president's cabinet, the Pentegon, and the United Nations would be meeting in emergency sessions, with members missing in many cases.
It would take months to restore order out of the incalculable chaos. The credit card, banking, and insurance confusion would be almost impossible to untangle. In many cases large segments of business and industry would be paralyzed by the disappearance of the operaters of sophisticated computers and key pieces of equipment. Engineers and scientists with specialized skills would be missing, with no one to unravel the puzzles left behind. The disruption and confusion on a global scale would be beyond calculation. Hardest hit would be the United States. If there are only a quarter of born-again believers that polls indicate, the Rapture would decimate this country, a possible reason why the United States is not mentioned in prophecy. Professing Christians hold key positions almost everywhere. Their disappearance would cause the United States to teeter on the brink of collapse, to be possibly taken under the wing of Western Europe, where the church is largely dead and a far smaller segment of society would be missing. In China or Africa there may be far more missing, but those who have vanished will be, for the most part, the common laborers, whose ranks can quickly be filled by the unemployed, and if need be, by students and army rank and file. In Russia it will be the same, with millions missing, but few who held positions of importance. A surprising number will have vanished from Israel, while in Muslim, Hindu, and Buddist countries the number will be minimal.
It should be noted here that all children who have not reached the age of accountability, or any person who has not reached the mental capacity to understand the salvation of God will also be taken, This means that most if not all elementary school teachers, and many junior high or middle school teachers will be out of a job, because of a lack of children to teach. All day care centers and nursery schools would go out of business, and many patients in mental hospitals would also disappear.
The global sense of irrecoverable loss and bewilderment will be shared by all mankind. Therefore, the first casualties of the Rapture will be those who are directly involved with those who have been taken. Suicide will be a factor for many who cannot cope with this inconceivable event. To say the least, confusion will be the order of the day.
Immediately following the Rapture there will be a large number of people who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. But these new believers will become the object of hostility and persecution and eventual martyrdom. Many will die for their faith. The mass murder of believers in Jesus Christ will become politically correct. The persecutions we are seeing in our world today, while horrifying, are but a foretaste of what is in store for believers in the near future. Revelation 6:9-11 tells us, "And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAD BEEN SLAIN BECAUSE OF THE WORD OF GOD, AND BECAUSE OF THEIR TESTIMONY WHICH THEY HAD HELD. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' And white robes were given to every one of them; and they were told to rest for just a little while longer, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, SHOULD BE KILLED AS THEY WERE, should be fulfilled." There will be a "multitude of believers too great to be numbered" massacred during the great tribulation.
After the Rapture of the Church the world will begin to go through, what the Bible calls,"The Tribulation Period." A time of great catastrophe and disaster where millions upon millions of people will die:
(1) One third of the world's remaining population will die under the sixth trumpet judgment of Revelation 9:15. This event would kill about one billion people, if the Rapture were to occur within the next ten to fifteen years.
(2) There will be a great worldwide destruction of major cities in the world during the seventh bowl judgment of Revelation 16:17-21, in which many millions more will die.
(3) There will be the war of Armageddon, in which many millions more will die, when the blood of the slain armies will run as deep as a horse's bridle (Rev 14:20).
(4) Large numbers of people from all around the world will die during the actual Second Advent of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, according to Jeremiah 25:33, "At that time those slain by the Lord will be everywhere, from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned or gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground."
(5) There will be many people left on the earth immediately after the Rapture of the Church, but very few of those will live to see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. After the Rapture of the Church, the earth will go through the worst time it has ever seen, Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, "....there will be great suffering, such as has not existed since the world began up to this time, and never will be again." There will be great and tremendous earthquakes that will destroy entire cities throughout the world at the same time, there will be hailstorms, with the hailstones weighing about one hundred pounds each, (Rev 16:17-21). There will be terrifying new diseases, famine, shortages of fresh water, horrible violence, and continuous war culminating in the War of Armageddon (Matt 24:6-7; and Revelation chapter 6).
(6) The estimated number of survivors of the Tribulation is between 50 and 100 million people, this includes believers as will as unbelievers. Isaiah 13:12 tells us, "I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold." Isaiah 24:6 says, "The inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left." And Jesus said in Matthew 24:22, "Unless those days are cut short, no life will be saved."
There is only one way for an individual to escape that which is going to come upon this world. And that is to accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Because only those who have placed their faith in Him will be delivered "from the wrath to come," (I Thess 1:10). Therefore, if you haven't made the most important decision in your life, the decision to believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I encourage you to do so now. It only takes a moment of your time, and it will deliver you throughout all eternity. "Believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved...." (Acts 16:31). "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in him stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:18). "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (referring to the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12).
Return to MBC Bible Doctrine Links Page Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone may reproduces this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.
Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone may reproduces this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.