What specific prophecies must be fulfilled before the Rapture can occur?
This and other questions about the Rapture sent in to us were answered by Dr. David Reagan, Nathan Jones, and Tim Moore on our television program Christ in Prophecy.
Dr. Reagan: With the question, “What specific prophecies must be fulfilled before the Rapture can occur?” I’m thinking that the Gospel may have to be preached to the whole world first. After all, didn’t Jesus say the Gospel was going to be preached to all of the world and then He would return? He made this statement in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Tim Moore: I think that depends upon the meaning of “then the end will come.” Some will quote that Scripture as a prerequisite for the Rapture, but what Jesus was referring to is His Second Coming, and not the Rapture.
I think there’s only one prophecy that had to be required in order to fulfill the Rapture, meaning when Jesus comes again to “catch up” His Church to Heaven, and that prophecy concerned when the Messiah came the first time. Once Jesus came the first time, He fulfilled all of the prophecies that set the stage for His return. That’s why even immediately after Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension up into Heaven, the Apostles were already looking for His soon return. That Christ came the first time is the only prophecy that had to at first be fulfilled.
Nathan Jones: Just think about what Jesus said too with, “I come like a thief.” That’s why He also ordered us in Matthew 24:44 to, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” If you know the exact time when your visiting family is going to show up at the door, then you don’t bother waiting for them. But, when it comes to Christ’s return, we don’t when that will happen. That’s why we’re supposed to be looking out the window and waiting expectantly for we don’t know what time He’s coming.
Now, if Jesus was coming at the end of the Second Coming, and the Rapture and the Second Coming were the same event, then we’ve got seven years’ worth of signs to be looking out for before Christ returns. We’ve got 21 judgments that will befall the earth, massive earthquakes, global government, Antichrist rising, image worship, and the Mark of the Beast. These will fall within Daniel’s Seventieth Week prophecy which reveals that the Tribulation will last seven years made up of 30 day months. We would then know to the exact day when Jesus Christ returns, starting the countdown from when the Antichrist created a treaty with Israel according to Daniel 9 and ending all the way up until Jesus’ Second Coming.
With the Rapture, there are no signs that proceed it. You can’t know when the Rapture is going to occur. Because of this fact, I am 99.99% sure that the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation and not before the Second Coming.
Tim Moore: Yes, my trust is not based on my own understanding, but on the biblical teaching. I have to build on the point you just made about the Lord coming like a thief, because the passage people refer to from 1 Thessalonians 5 does reiterate that Jesus will come like a thief and then destruction will come upon them suddenly and they will not escape. But, the passage goes on to say, “But we who are His brethren and sister are not in darkness,” so therefore we need to be alert. We should recognize the approaching signs of His soon return, and so should be alert and looking for that glorious day.
Dr. Reagan: When we see the end times signs that point to the Tribulation and the Second Coming, we know that the Rapture is even nearer and right around the corner.
This occurred to me recently, for I was really thinking about this, but there is probably one prophecy that has to be fulfilled before the Rapture. The Bible teaches the Rapture is not going to occur until the last Gentile is brought to salvation, but this will be one person whom we cannot recognize. We don’t know when the last person is going to be saved during the Church Age, for only God knows. Once Christ has ordained the last Gentile to be brought to salvation, the Rapture will occur.
Nathan Jones: That brings up again what you asked about if the Gospel has to be preached to all the nations before the Rapture. We hear this claim all of the time, that the Gospel has to be preached to all the nations first and that sparks the Rapture. But, that’s not true. During the Tribulation the Lord will provide the Two Witnesses, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, the Gospel Angel, and many other witnesses to the Gospel apart from the Church. Jesus was talking about the Gospel going out to the entire world before the Second Coming, and not before the Rapture.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, that global presentation of the Gospel will not be fulfilled until near the end of the Tribulation when the Gospel Angel goes forth across the world and preaches the Gospel. God gives everybody one last chance to repent.
I love the Genesis 18:14 passage, it jumps right out to me, the one promising to Abraham that he would have a son. The Lord promises Abraham, “At the appointed time I will return to you.” To me, that is not only a promise made to Abraham, but really that promise goes down throughout the centuries and even to us today. At the appointed time Christ will return for His children before He pours out His wrath upon the world. That’s just how God operates.
In the fourth and last segment where we answer your questions about the Rapture, we’ll ponder whether those who believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture are merely a bunch of cowardly escapists.