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Guest Article: “The Rapture in the Old Testament”
Perhaps some of the strongest arguments in favor of a Pre-Tribulation or Pre-Seventieth Week of Daniel Rapture are found in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we see “a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things” (Hebrews 10:1).
Prophetic Types in the Old Testament
The Holy Spirit explains that these Old Testament types are preserved for our learning:
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
“Now all these things happened to them (Old Testament characters) as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Bible students are well aware that there are numerous Old Testament types that foreshadow a New Testament fulfillment. A classic example is when Abraham took his son, his only son Isaac, whom he greatly loved, to the land of Moriah to offer him there as a sacrifice — concluding that God was able to raise him from the dead (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17-19). Abraham is a beautiful type of our heavenly Father, and Isaac, his beloved son, is a striking picture of Jesus, who willingly laid down His life on Mount Moriah 2,000 years later.
Though the Rapture was hidden in part from Old Testament believers, the types found throughout foreshadow a future Rapture when God will remove His people prior to pouring out His wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. Let’s now review some of these beautiful types that foreshadow the Rapture.
The Noahic Flood
In Noah’s day there were those who passed through the flood (Noah and his family in the ark); there were those who perished in the flood (the unbelieving world); and there was Enoch who was “translated” or “caught up” before the judgment of God was poured out. Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:24) and pleased Him (Hebrews 11:5), just as Christians who abide in Christ please God (1 John 3:22). Interestingly, from the time God told Noah to enter the ark, until the time when the waters of the flood were on the earth, God granted seven more days for the world to repent (Genesis 7:1-10). Perhaps this is a foreshadow of the final seven-year period culminating in the final judgment (Revelation 19:11-21)?
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
In Lot’s day, he and his family were “removed” before God rained down His judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). God did not just “preserve” them through His wrath, He removed them prior to judgment. Jesus said that just before His return it would be like the days of Noah (Luke 17:26) and like the days of Lot (Luke 17:28).
Judgment in Sodom could not occur until Lot was removed (Genesis 19:22)! Remarkably, “while [Lot] lingered, the [angels] took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city… Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there” (v. 16, 22). In other words, they were forcibly removed prior to judgment and judgment could not commence until they safely arrived in the new city!
The Story of Joseph
Joseph (a type of Christ in many ways) takes a Gentile bride before the 7 year famine begins (Genesis 41:45). Notice in the account of Joseph that after he received his Gentile bride, his brethren (the Israelites) and the entire world suffered a seven year famine (Genesis 41:54-57). During this time of famine many came to Joseph for food. Similarly, after Jesus receives His Bride, his brethren the Jews (and many in the world), will turn to the Lord Jesus for relief (Revelation 7).
How fitting that the Great Tribulation is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7). It is also referred to as “the time of the Gentiles” (Ezekiel 30:3), and many Gentiles will also be saved out of it (Revelation 7). The famine is a type of the Tribulation (Amos 8:11), and Egypt is a picture of the world. This account strongly suggests that Jesus will receive His bride before the 70th Week of Daniel — before the famine that will come upon the entire world.
Rahab and the Jewish Spies
In Joshua chapter 2, Rahab trusts the Lord and befriends the Jewish spies. By faith Rahab puts a scarlet thread in her window (a symbol of Christ’s blood) and she and her family are “brought out” of Jericho before the city is burned with fire (Joshua 6). Rahab is a prostitute (Hebrews 11:31) and a Gentile woman (Joshua 2), yet she is found in the Messianic line (Matthew 1:5). Rahab is therefore a beautiful picture of the Church as the bride of Christ. Though formerly a prostitute, Rahab, by faith, was made clean and delivered from God’s wrath. Amazingly, in this account, we again see seven days of warning preceding judgment (God’s gracious delay to encourage repentance). The armies of God marched around the city six days, and on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times, and then the city was finally destroyed (Joshua 6).
Abigail and David
In 1 Samuel 25:39-42 Abigail is informed that King David (foreshadowing King Jesus) wants to take her as his bride. She immediately responds and “rose in haste” with five of her damsels to “depart” and go to David for the marriage. Compare this with Matthew 25:1-13 where five wise virgins who truly had oil went forth to meet the Bridegroom (Jesus) away from their dwelling place (earth). Interestingly, the name Abigail means “the Father’s joy.”
The Song of Solomon is an amazing picture of Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:29-32). In the Song of Solomon 2:8-13, the Bride (the Church) hears the voice of her Beloved (Jesus) coming for her. Then, in verses 10 and 13, the Bridegroom speaks and calls His bride to “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” This is a beautiful foreshadow of our marriage and honeymoon in heaven!
Isaiah 26:20-21 also gives us a possible picture of the Rapture preceding the Tribulation:
“Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.”
Apparently, believers are tucked away in Heaven before the Tribulation falls on the earth. Could this also apply to the Jews who hide away in Petra during the Tribulation?
The Prophet Daniel
In Daniel chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar (a type of the Antichrist, cf. Revelation 13) demands that the entire population bow down to his image. Daniel’s three friends (Jews) are preserved through the fiery tribulation, but Daniel is nowhere to be found. Daniel was “ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:48), yet he is missing from the account. Why? Daniel was apparently away. Might he be a type of the Church? Three times Daniel is called “greatly beloved” (Daniel 9:23; 10:11; 10:19).
In Zephaniah 2:2-3 we read:
“Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
According to this passage, believers will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger (cf. Isaiah 26:20-21. See also: Zephaniah 1:7.)
Malachi chapter 3 deals with the Day of the Lord. Interestingly, Malachi 3:18 implies two comings of the Messiah: “Then shall ye (believers) return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” It becomes clear when we read the entire context of Malachi 3 that believers shall return to the earth. In order to return and discern, believers must have first been caught away to Heaven.
Isaac and Rebekah, as well as Ruth and Boaz, also provide beautiful pictures of Christ taking a Gentile bride — one who counts the cost and leaves their own family — but is not required to suffer through great tribulation or famine. Other examples could be expounded on, but these should be sufficient to show that Christians will be removed before God’s wrath is poured out and most likely before the 70th Week of Daniel.