In the chronology of end time events, when does the Rapture happen?
For a fascinating discussion of this and other questions concerning end time chronology, we invited Dr. Ron Rhodes to our television program Christ in Prophecy. Dr. Rhodes is a prolific Bible prophecy author with over 80 books to his credit! He is a professor and also the founder and director of a ministry called Reasoning from the Scriptures which specializes in defending Christianity against atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the cults, world religions, and any group that teaches false doctrine. As an expert in the field of Bible prophecy, we’re going to focus on one of his books in particular titled, The End Times in Chronological Order.
Timing of the Rapture
Dr. Rhodes: I think the Rapture happens before the Tribulation. I base that assessment on the Bible. Did you know that in Revelation 2 and 3 we read about the Church 19 times? And then, in the discussion of the Tribulation in chapters 4-18, you don’t see the Church mentioned a single time. It is gone!
In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we are told that the Church is to be delivered from the wrath that is to come. That word “delivered” literally means “snatched away from.” We are to be snatched away from God’s wrath that is to come, which is a reference to the Tribulation Period.
Nathan Jones: Some people claim that “wrath” just means Hell, but you’re saying that these references to God’s wrath could also be about the Tribulation?
Dr. Rhodes: Well, no, “wrath” is coupled with a definite article. In English, the definite article “that” doesn’t mean that much, but in the original Greek, it does. Anybody that has doubts about definitive articles should read Daniel Wallace’s book, Greek Grammar. The book has lots of good information about the definite article “that”.
I won’t get all Greek on you, but the fact is, the definite article is defining a specific period of wrath that is yet to come. And so, the Church is going to be snatched out of that particular wrath. This is in keeping with 1 Thessalonians 5:9 which says that the Church is not appointed to wrath but to salvation in Jesus Christ. Paul is not talking about Hell in this passage.
Dr. Reagan: What about the fact that all throughout the Revelation passages about the Tribulation there are references to saints? Wouldn’t that mean the Church is there on the earth during the Tribulation?
Dr. Rhodes: Well, that’s a good question. Let’s look at the evangelistic efforts God is going to provide during the Tribulation that would make the Church redundant for the answer. Christians — the Bride of Christ and the Church — will be raptured before the Tribulation. But, there’s going to be many people who become believers during the Tribulation. That’s the result of several things. They’ll have the 144,000 Jewish witnesses from Revelation 7 and 14. These Jewish evangelists will be taking the Gospel planet-wide. They’ll have the two prophetic witnesses from Revelation 11 who will have the same powers as Moses and Elijah, and many believe that they will be Moses and Elijah. Many will believe in Christ because of these two witnesses. And, certainly, the Holy Spirit will still be at work bringing about regeneration among the people. Finally, there is still going to be a lot of Bibles and Christian books left behind, as well as Christian television shows such as “Christ in Prophecy” left behind.
Dr. Reagan: I suggest to everybody to place in the front of their Bibles the plan of salvation because these people are not going to have time to read the whole thing before God’s judgments begin raining down.
Dr. Rhodes: That’s right, so there is going to be a tremendous harvest of souls during the Tribulation, according to Revelation.
Dr. Reagan: Plus, there is going to be a Gospel Angel who at the end of those seven years is going to circumnavigate the globe.
Dr. Rhodes: That’s also right. Revelation 7 says there is going to be a great multitude of believers who will become saved and come out of the Tribulation. So, yes, there is going to be a lot of people who become believers during that time.
In the third part of our discussion with Dr. Ron Rhodes concerning end time chronology, he will identify where in the timeline the Gog-Magog War takes place.