There are many voices predicting the soon rapture (catching away) of the Church. Some say “It must happen before the Antichrist is revealed!” but, what do the Scriptures say about it?
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians what is probably the clearest truth about this rapture (catching away) –
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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 Thes. 4:13-18
Several points are highlighted here by Paul: 1) Believers come with Jesus when He returns. 2) There is a resurrection of the dead in Christ first, which is known as the first resurrection. 3) We who are yet alive will not be caught up until the dead are resurrected first. And 4) This event will not be secret or quiet but is to be announced by a shout from the archangel of heaven, and the trumpet of God sounding.
Now the first point is referenced in Revelation 19 –
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” – Rev. 19:11-14
This is a description of Jesus on His way to Armageddon to meet the armies of the Antichrist in battle. Notice, His robe was already dipped in blood which is probably a reference to His deliverance of the Jewish people at Bozrah. I believe the “armies of heaven” include the saints who have been resurrected and raptured in the 1 Thessalonians reference.
Point two is referenced in Revelation 20 and happens after the Antichrist –
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” – Rev. 20:4-6
Now some will say “There are many resurrections” but, the Book of Revelation only recognizes two, the one before the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth and the one after. And according to Paul, the first resurrection comes just before the rapture.
Someone had told the Thessalonians that the coming of Christ had already happened so, Paul had to correct this false idea in 2 Thessalonians.
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thes. 2:1-4
“That Day”, the day when Christ comes to rapture us, will not happen before two things happen first; the falling away (apostasy in the Church) and second the Antichrist is revealed sitting in the Temple claiming to be God. We are certainly seeing the apostasy of the Church as they are ordaining women pastors and homosexuals, condoning divorce and remarriage and abortion. They are even claiming Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Paul states here that we will also see the Temple rebuilt and the Antichrist desecrating it before the rapture occurs.
I do not know exactly when the rapture will occur but, I know it will not be a secret event for Jesus said it would be like lightning shinning from one end of the heaven to the other (Matt. 24:27). And I know that when Jesus comes to defeat the armies of the Antichrist at Armageddon, we will be with Him. I also know that some will be here on earth to see the rebuilding of the Temple and the revelation of the Antichrist. They will have to choose not to take the number of the beast (the Antichrist) or submit to his system. They will overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to death.
Do not be deceived by hopeful theories that are not supported by scripture. We are promised that the wrath of God will not be upon us but, that does not mean we will be safe from the wrath of the devil or his Antichrist.
Also, some have said “The rapture must take place before the 7 year treaty that Daniel prophesied about” so, let’s look at that passage and see if it indeed says this.
“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” – Dan. 9:24-27
After 69 weeks the Messiah would come and be “cut off” (crucified) and He did, just as Daniel prophesied. I won’t go into the math here but, know that Jesus appeared in Jerusalem at His Triumphant Entry on the exact date prophesied here (483 yrs from Artaxerxes command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem). They did not accept Him but, instead crucified Him thus initiating a time of rejection and war for Jews for some 2000 years. How will we know this time of rejection is finished? Jesus Himself gives us the answer.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. … And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:” – Matthew 24:8,9,14,15
This time of dispersion is in the process of coming to an end and the revelation of the Antichrist and his 7 year covenant is very near. But notice, he doesn’t make the covenant but, he ‘confirms’ the covenant. In other words, he confirms or strengthens a covenant that is already made. Then, he breaks the covenant in 3½ years.
Now, in all of Daniel’s prophesy of the 70 weeks there is nothing said of any rapture or resurrection. So, we can’t use it to determine the timing of the rapture. What we can be sure of is that it will come after we the great “falling away” of the church and we see the Antichrist revealed. I think we can also be assured it happens before the battle of Armageddon because when the Lord comes to that battle, we come with Him.