There is what some would regard as a very strange event alluded to in the Bible which
is called The Rapture. It is specifically mentioned by Paul ‘For the Lord himself
shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with
the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive
and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord
in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16:17). This
says that all those who have died belonging to Christ will rise from the dead and
ascend into the clouds. Clearly these will not be skeletons and ashes, but some form
of resurrected body. Then the Church is going to rise up bodily and meet them in
the clouds, rather like the ascension of Jesus. Then both the living and the dead
will be with the Lord for ever. This is not an on going situation, as people die
and go to heaven, but it is a specific event in response to a trumpet call and the
voice of God. The implication is that those who have already died are awaiting this
call. Of course, once we leave the 3 dimensional universe, time no longer has any
meaning, so it is not as if the deceased are lying there waiting in eternity, but
to us, still prisoners of time, it is still a future event.
As with most theological concepts there are heated and even emotional debates over
interpretation. Many people do not even believe in the Rapture as a physical event
and somehow regard it as figurative. Even amongst those who do believe, there is
divided opinion about when it will take place.
There are other questions like what it actually might look like. Would the entire
Church suddenly disappear from the planet, leaving empty houses, planes with no pilots
and cars with no drivers? Such ideas have been encapsulated in novels, such as ‘Left
Behind’. Could it be that every member of the Church will bodily float up from the
earth? A scary thought for those with fear of heights. Could it be that we will all
suddenly drop dead and spiritually be with the Lord? It is entirely speculative as
to what will take place and afterwards we might not even know what happened. Those
left behind might notice something strange!
We have seen that the Bible teaches that there will be a great falling away in the
last days culminating in the Great Tribulation that will occur during the last 7
years of the age, Daniel’s 70th week.
There is a school of thought that believes that the Church will be needed on Earth
to give some hope and light during this time of the great tribulation and therefore
will remain on Earth. This is called the Post-Trib view. This is a nice theory and
sentiment but there is nothing in scripture to back it up. The world right now has
every opportunity to receive the light and hope of the gospel. If people refuse it
now, why should tribulation make any difference? ‘Now is the accepted time; behold,
now is the day of salvation.’ (2 Corinthians 6:2)
There is another view that the Church will be present during the first 3½ years of
the reign of the Anti-Christ as things get worst, but just before they get really
bad, with the abomination of desolation about to happen, the Church will get whisked
away from it all. This is the Mid-Trib view.
There are yet others who believe that the Church will be removed or raptured before
any of these terrible events take place just as the 7 years is about to begin. This
is the Pre-Trib view.
Jesus said that no one will know the time or the hour of His return and we are to
live in constant expectation of His coming (Matthew 24:36). He will come secretly,
like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2). The parable of the 10 virgins (Matt
25) illustrates the unexpectedness of Jesus’ return. In that story, the 5 foolish
virgins do not keep their lamps filled with oil and the bridegroom coming takes them
by surprise. The 5 wise virgins keep the oil topped up and are ready, constantly
waiting for the groom.
Now if we believe that Jesus is to return for the Church after the Tribulation (Post-Trib),
we can calculate exactly when He will come – 7 years after the Anti-Christ has arranged
the signing of the peace treaty of the Jews and the Arabs. Therefore this would not
be a surprise. Everyone would be expecting him to come on that day. So, in order
to maintain consistency of the Bible, we can conclude Jesus will come for the Church
before the signing of the treaty, in a secret manner. The Thessalonians were concerned
that they may have missed the Rapture, but Paul tells them that the coming of Christ
will not occur until the Man of Lawlessness or the Anti-Christ is revealed. (2 Thessalonians
2:5) This man is held in check by some ONE, until the time is right to reveal him.
It is not clearly stated who the ONE is, but the most likely person is the Holy Spirit
who is in the Church in each believer. Thus we can conclude that these two events
occur simultaneously. The Church and the Holy Spirit are lifted out of the Earth,
ushering in the final 70th week, clearing the way for the lawless one to take control.
After this, all those who are left on the earth will be destined to be subject to
the Great Tribulation.
Many will undoubtedly struggle with the concept of the Rapture in terms of millions
of people flying through the atmosphere, but if we think of it in terms of the Dimensions
Theory, it becomes more plausible.
Think of a building being drawn up as a 2 dimensional blueprint. Every detail carefully
drawn to scale and very impressive, even with little people drawn in, but it is still
just a representation. The 3 dimensional reality far outshines the drawings. We are
now existing in a 3 dimensional representation of the eternal reality. One way or
another, those who have faith in Jesus are going to step from this dimension into
the real thing. It will happen either through the individual death process or, at
a time appointed by God, the door will open and we who trust in God will enter eternity
As far as those left behind are concerned, we will have disappeared, but as far as
those of us who have been transported, we will have entered into the multi-dimensional
reality, where what we are leaving is but a pale shadow. Who knows, what it will
be like? Maybe we could be sitting at table with unbelievers and suddenly they become
like shadows to us. As far as they are concerned, we have disappeared, but as far
as we can perceive, we are still there, but they have become like cardboard cut-outs.
We can communicate with each other, and so can they, but communication between the
dimensions will be extremely limited and only in one direction.
We can deduce this from observation of the characteristics of Jesus after His resurrection.
He was able to come and go as He pleased, instantly travel 90 miles across Israel,
walk through walls and appear in a room with a locked door and float up into the
sky. Yet He could eat fish and break bread. But the disciples had no idea where He
was when they could not see Him. They could not control Him or even see Him unless
He decided to show up.
Imagine the excitement and joy of stepping from this universe into God’s dimension
with everyone you love in an instant. Where the old earth is a pale grey, cold and
distant shadow and the new environment is cleaner, purer and brighter than anything
you have previously encountered.
Also imagine the horror and disappointment of being left behind, realising what has
happened, but too late. I could be wrong about this, but it’s not a chance I would
want to take.
You may think that this seems a very unlikely and fanciful way for the world as we
know it to come to an end. But think of the alternatives. Could the world continue
as it is indefinitely? Many Sci-Fi writers have had a very morbid outlook on the
future. The prospect does not look good in terms of natural phenomena. Will the sea
levels rise and destroy life? Will climate change to the point that it cannot sustain
life? Will there be another ice-age? Will asteroids destroy the earth? But then,
what about what man will do intentionally? Could nuclear war or extreme acts of terrorism
bring mankind to an end? Will we eventually run out of fuel and be unable to sustain
life as we know it? Will our rubbish and pollution eventually overtake us to poison
our planet? Will radical Islam take over the world and turn it back into the dark
ages? Nobody knows, but it does seem rather unlikely that things will carry on as
they are now forever. Realistically, how much longer do you think it can last? The
prospect of Jesus returning to the planet is as likely a way for it to conclude and
far preferable to any of these other.
The Jewish Wedding
As we have seen, there are often theological concepts hidden in Jewish practices.
The rituals and ceremony surrounding marriage as practiced by the Jews in the time
of Jesus, beautifully illustrates the relationship of Jesus with His Bride, the Church.
The young man would make an offer of marriage to his beloved and if she accepted,
they would seal the covenant with a meal of bread and wine.
He would then go back to the home of his father where he prepared a place for her.
The bride to be would prepare herself with great anticipation and excitement, waiting
for the groom to return for her. Meanwhile he prepares a room or apartment, which
he builds over a period of time, maybe a year or more. When the father considers
the place is ready for the bride he tells the son he can now go to bring the bride
back. Only the father can approve and set the time.
The lover then goes to fetch his bride at a time when she least expects it, usually
in the middle of the night, and the long wait is over.
He then takes his beloved to his father’s house where a wedding feast takes place
over 7 days, during which the marriage is consummated with great rejoicing.
What a beautiful type this is of that spiritual relationship between Jesus and the
Jesus told his followers ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe
also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have
told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be
also.’ (John 14:1-3). He also says, ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no,
not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’ (Matthew 24:36)
Jesus is preparing a place right now in His Father’s house, whilst we await His return
with eager anticipation. Meanwhile we can remind ourselves of the promise and show
our acceptance of His covenant by means of the Communion Service of bread and wine.
One day the Father will let the son come and get us, when the Father decides. For
seven earthly years we will rejoice with him at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
‘Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb
is come, and his wife hath made herself ready’ (Revelation 19:7).
Whilst, of itself, the type of the wedding ceremony does not constitute proof of
the way in which the rapture and the second coming will take place, it would seem
fairly typical of the way God has hidden clues about future events in precept and
practice which He reveals to those who seek and search diligently. Certainly the
whole subject is surrounded by a sense of mystery and excitement, but the bottom
line is the requirement for resolute and rugged faith to keep believing at a time
when so many are giving up. This is reflected in the words of Jesus ‘Nevertheless
when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:8).
In the Jewish wedding, the ceremony goes on for 7 days after which the bride and
groom live together, but also have a life outside of their home. There appears to
be a parallel teaching that after the 7 years, Jesus will return with His bride to
rule together over the earth for a thousand years. We will expand this more fully
in the next chapter.
1. ‘Left Behind’ series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins