In this Back to Basics series, I strive to ask and answer common questions of a more basic nature, rather than do what I normally do, which is to study the nuances of scripture in light of current events. I do the latter because we seem to be very far along on God's timeline in advancing toward the end of the Church Age, and I want bible believing Christians to be aware of the fact of the Church Age's end, and to be aware of their responsibilities in light of this end. However, because we are so close to the end of the Church Age, that means when we are raptured, billions will be left behind, and a few of those will turn to Christian websites looking for answers. These people will not care about the nuances of prophecy, because a great deal of it will have already come to pass and as for the rest, they will need catching up on, FAST. It is these people for whom I write the Back to Basics series.
The rapture is not mentioned explicitly in much of the bible, though it is hinted at throughout, such as this from Isaiah 26:19: "But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead." The most explicit verses are in:
--1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, “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.”
--1 Corinthians 15:20-23, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
--1 Cor. 15:51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
The rapture will be a supernatural event taking place at a date and time no one knows. The 1 Thessalonians verse mentions a trumpet and a shout, but these noises will not be heard by those who are not being called. For these, they will simply be going about their day, perhaps talking directly to a bible-believing Christian, and the believer will simply go 'poof' and disappear.
That is the rapture. What the rapture is NOT is Jesus's Second Coming. In that supernatural event which takes place at the end of the Tribulation (7-year period of judgment on earth), He will physically arrive on earth at the end of the Tribulation to finish the transgression and put an end to sin Himself. In the rapture, Jesus comes to meet us in the air, He does not touch down to earth. He isn't seen by all, only the believers who are dead and alive.
Where did we go? We were called to heaven by Jesus to be sequestered during the coming Tribulation, another supernatural time in which earth dwellers will experience hell on earth as judgment for their sins. (Isaiah 26:20, Daniel 9:24, John 14:3).
Why did we go? We were called by Jesus to the place He has been preparing for us (John 14:3). We get to go there because of our of belief in the Gospel (that Jesus came to earth to live a sinless life, die on the cross as the sacrificial lamb taking the penalty for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day proving He is God). He has rewarded us for this faith by removing us out of harm's way before the judgments on sinners begins. Because the Tribulation time after the rapture is a period of judgment of sins, and our sins were forgiven because we believed on Jesus and Gospel, then it stands to reason we would not be here when the wrath begins. He isn't angry at us. Indeed, we are told told we are not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The people who were left behind are the ones who refused to believe on Jesus despite all the evidence, and thus remained in their sins, an enemy of God. He will now judge those people and their sins.
You may be surprised by who is left behind. Not all people who went to church, or seemed devout, or had a big position in church such as deacon, or pastor, or bishop, or even pope, are true believers. Actually the bible tells us there will be few real believers. That is because we can only see the outside of a person but Jesus sees the inside. He knows who has truly repented. Many have only made an outward show if it, and that is why they were left behind, They were not really believers in Jesus's eyes.
The rapture marks the end of the Church Age's invisible supernatural and the beginning of the visible supernatural. For millennia, the powers, principalities, and princes of the air (demons and their kingdom Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 6:12), the good angels (Hebrews 13:2), and also Jesus glorified, remained behind the veil invisible to human eyes. Jesus was in heaven and we were on earth and for the most part, the two remained mingled but invisible- but very active! In one case, the Lord in the Old Testament showed Elisha's servant just how potent and vigorous the activity behind the veil is:
"Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2 Kings 6:15-17).
In the Old Testament there were occasional eruptions of the supernatural, the Flood, miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea, the ten plagues of Egypt, Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath where the wheat never ran out, and other examples. We also see the supernatural in Jesus's ministry on earth for three and a half years and His resurrection, then the Apostles' miracles. After that, for 2000 years the miraculous and the demonic have largely been invisible from human eyes. But make no mistake, just because they have been invisible, it doesn't mean they have not been active. At the rapture, the supernatural becomes visible in the form of millions who have instantly disappeared, likely leaving behind their clothes, their vehicles, their glasses, their teeth filings, etc. The remaining 7 years the supernatural will be visible, and in an horrific way, too.
For example, the coming of the antichrist is in full power of false signs and wonders, (21 Thessalonians 2:9), in Revelation 9 demons are let out of the bottomless pit to plague the people on earth, 144,000 Jews are supernaturally sealed and thus protected during this time so they can continue the work of spreading the Gospel (Revelation 7:3-4), rivers and streams will turn to blood, (Revelation 16:4) the sun will go dark (Matthew 24:29-30)...etc. These supernatural events will be seen by one and all.
If you are reading this and are left behind, wondering what happened, you have made an excellent start by turning to a Christian site. However, do not delay in deciding whether what is written here is true or false. The Lord will send a great delusion upon the whole world, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
No one knows exactly what that delusion is, but you can see from the verse that it is bad. "Those who perish' means people who don't believe in Jesus. It is phrased that way because unforgiven sin in a person means they are spiritually dead and destined for hell. Perishing. This delusion will cause a person to be unable to turn to Jesus in belief for salvation. Since it is so complete and final, and since no on knows exactly when God will send this delusion, don't wait! The biggest sign that you could receive is the fact that millions are inexplicably missing!! The best and only explanation that fills the bill are the scriptures that foretell this event's occurrence. What other proof does a person need?
Here are further resources for your study:
GotQuestions.org: What is the rapture of the church?
Bible.org: When Christ comes for His church
Online Parallel Bible
Dictionary of biblical terms. If you want to know what 'salvation; means, or 'repent', or 'sin', go to that link for short explanations.
I wrote this because it seems the rapture may be close. How can I know this if the event is signless and imminent (dependent on nothing else for it to occur?) because the prophesies we know will occur during the Tribulation are nearing readiness for fulfillment. On Friday, Dec 30, 2011, I wrote that "The Prophetic Infrastructure is Almost Complete." In that essay I'd written,
"The infrastructure is being laid. Remember, the Tribulation is only 7 years long. In that time, the global economy is completely changed. The global political structure is completely changed. The temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices ongoing. Old hatreds must be ignited and hot for war. We see that now. Seven years is a short period. In my opinion the infrastructure is being laid now so that when the rapture happens it all will be put together almost instantly."
In his January 1 sermon and prophecy video, Pastor JD Farag said,referring to the Tribulation judgments on the near-horizon and the current prophetic acceleration, "Everything that is happening, is happening swiftly and even simultaneously. And if you think about it, it really has to happen this fast. Because, there is no way that the antichrist would have enough time during the 7-year tribulation to get everything, to set everything in place. It has to already be in place and ready to go by the time he comes on the scene." [min 2:35-3:10 approx)
And later in the video at 13:40,
"I think this is about to come to pass. And if we see this now, at this stage, as we reach the end of the age, and it ultimately finds its fulfillment in the 7-year Tribulation, how close are we?" Luke 21:28 says, after listing the signs and the judgments, "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
When these things begin to happen... do not put off deciding on eternity. Jesus is real, He is alive, and He wants to forgive your sins. It is your sin that makes you an enemy of our Holy God.
The website at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry says "Sin is anything that is contrary to the law or will of God. For example: if you lie, you have sinned. Why? Because God has said not to lie (Exodus 20:16). If you do what God has forbidden, then you have sinned. In addition, if you do not do what God has commanded, you sin (James 4:17). Either way, the result is eternal separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). Sin is lawlessness (1 John 1:3) and unrighteousness (1 John 5:17). Sin leads to bondage (Rom. 6:14-20) and death (Rom. 6:23). Paul, in the book of Romans, discusses sin. He shows that everyone, both Jew and Greek, is under sin (Rom. 3:9). He shows that sin is not simply something that is done, but a condition of the heart (Rom. 3:10-12). In Ephesians Paul says that we are "by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). Yet, "while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly," (Rom. 5:6)."
What do you need to do to get saved, preferably NOW before the rapture happens? Here is an explanation
What do I need to do to get saved?
What is salvation?
The best New Year's resolution you can make is to pray to the Holy Spirit for understanding and conviction of your sins. Conviction just means you consciously know your sins and you feel really bad about them because you know they are crimes against Holy Jesus. Do not delay. Things are happening fast now.
Please feel free to share this essay liberally, and even go to the links I provided because they are better written and sourced. Jesus is the answer. He always has been. Please do not delay so long that you come to understand this after the rapture, or worse, after you die. After the rapture it will be harder to be saved and you likely will die before you're saved anyway, because the second judgment is war everywhere in the world, and the fourth judgment is death to 1/4 of people in the world. And if you wait so long deciding that you die without having repented, your position is fixed eternally. Join us NOW in salvation, and then join us in looking up, for our Redemption draws nigh!