What is this Rapture of the Church all about?
On Saturday, November 19, 2011, I was interviewed by host August Rosado of the BlogTalkRadio show Signs of the Times. August is a Bible prophecy teacher and preacher and founder of a ministry called Today in Bible Prophecy. He has and continues to be a personable guest on our television program Christ in Prophecy. He and I discussed the various aspects of the Rapture of the Church.
The Rapture of the Church
August Rosado: Everybody wants to know what the Rapture is. How can we know when it will happen? I know Jesus said that no man knows the day and no man knows the hour, but this question seems to be on the lips of everybody I run into in the Church today. Even in the secular arena people want to know just what is the Rapture. What is this Rapture of the Church all about? Can we know when it will happen?
Nathan Jones: Well, sadly, the Rapture has gotten a lot of attention as of late, and not for positive reasons. Harold Camping made two predictions this year in 2011 that Jesus would come back, with the latest being October 21st. Obviously, of course, the Lord did not come back and the world did not end. But, it got the secular world talking about this word “Rapture.” Sometimes the secular world is more interested in what the Rapture is than the Church.
You know you can’t find the world “Rapture” in the Bible, just like you can’t find the word “Bible” in the Bible, or you can’t find the word “Trinity” in the Bible. And yet, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 has the word “Rapture” in it. I’ll read the verse, “After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever.”
Those words “caught up” is in the Greek harpazo. When the Bible was translated into Latin for the 1,100 years that we had the Latin Vulgate harpazo was retranslated as rapio. In the English version we use “caught up,” but in the Latin thos words would be rapio or anglicized rapture. So, I could say “that great snatching away,” or “the great catching up,” or “the great taking out.” But, it’s easier just to say Rapture based on the Latin rapio.
The verses on the Rapture you can find in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and John 14 makes reference to it as well. So, there are a lot of verses in the Bible that talk about the Rapture of the Church. There are also verses about Jesus’ Second Coming like Zechariah 14:1-21, Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-37, and Luke 21:25-27. They also speak about Jesus’ return, though at a later time.
The Rapture of the Church is about when Jesus will come in the clouds. He will call up all those who have trusted Him as Savior. First, those who have died in Christ since the Church was founded at Pentecost up to then will be resurrected first, then those believers in Christ who are still alive. The event will happen in the blink of an eye. Just like the snap of your fingers, it will happen so fast.
We are told we will hear the archangel call out something, though we don’t know what. Maybe he says, “Come up here!” Or, “It’s time!” Or, “The Lord is waiting for you.”
We will then be transformed out of our physical bodies and into our new glorified bodies. We will be resurrected and we will all meet the Lord in the air.
After that, the remaining world left behind will experience seven years of Tribulation, plus if there is an intermediate time before the Tribulation begins, that will befall the earth. That Tribulation time period will be a different era, a different dispensation.
The Rapture of the Church is about the Lord coming for all those who believed in Him for the last 2,000 plus years, to take them to Heaven before He pours His wrath out onto the world for its continued sin and rebellion against Him.
Signs of the Rapture?
August Rosado: People sometimes ask if anything has to be fulfilled in order for the Rapture of the Church to take place. I’m reminded of what the Pharisees and Sadducees wanted in Matthew 16 when they were looking for a sign from Jesus. Jesus responded by saying, “This adulterous and sinful generation looks after a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Many say today that something has to be fulfilled in order for the Rapture to take place. Is that true?
Nathan Jones: No, the Rapture of the Church is a signless event.
Now, we can know that there are signs of the times that point to the Lord’s soon return, so we know we are getting closer to the time. But, Jesus said in Matthew 24:42 and 44, “Therefore keep watch because you do not know what day your Lord will come. So you also must be ready because the Son of man will come in an hour when you do not expect Him.” We know that the Lord will come and take His Church, but we don’t know when. As a matter of fact, Jesus in Matthew 24:36 said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” There are other verses like Titus 2:13 and 1 John 2:28 and so forth that confirms that nobody knows when the Rapture of the Church will occur, and so therefore nothing has to proceed it for the Rapture to happen.
In the next part of this Interview by August, we’ll contrast the Rapture with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.