“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Okay folks, this is a big subject where there is a lot of heated debate within the church. I am going to get to the point because there are a lot of weeds to get into with this topic. I talked with a strong brother in Christ today about the Rapture, and it got me thinking. I posted such a long reply to him that I figured I better just do a post about the Rapture on my blog too. So, without further delay, may I introduce you to The Rapture.
One thing I want you to remember is that it has to get really, really bad on earth before the Rapture takes place! We will all be here for all of it leading right up to that point if it happens in our time. How bad it is going to get before we are “caught up” only God knows. The verse that gets me is the one in Revelation 14:12 about the mark of the beast where it says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” The mark of the beast takes place during the Tribulation, so that is talking about the people who accept Christ during the Tribulation, but I take it to heart nonetheless.
Based off of 22 years of studying the Bible, I believe the time table of future events is World War 3 (WW3), the Rapture, the Tribulation, the 2nd Coming where Jesus defeats Satan at Armageddon, and the Millennial Kingdom. Believers in Jesus will be Raptured before the Tribulation. However, it is going to have to get very bad for WW3 to pop off and we will all be here for that if it happens in our time.
We will have to hold on and endure because it will get so bad that God comes to get us. WW3 will be so bad that a third of mankind dies (Revelation 9:18)! That is 2 billion people based off today’s world population! It will be so bad that the anti-Christ comes at the end of it and the Tribulation starts! That is why the Bible says the world will love the anti-Christ because he brings peace (which is a fake peace) to WW3 and stops the war. The world will think he is the greatest world ruler ever!
People forget how bad it has to get before the Tribulation can start, and that is where a lot of the disagreement is. We will not be Raptured out of WW3. We will have to endure. We are Raptured right before the Tribulation at the end of WW3 because the Tribulation is about God’s wrath and that is not for the redeemed in Jesus. Imagine how bad it will be on the earth in order for the Rapture to happen and the Tribulation to start! We have to live through everything leading right up to the moment of the Rapture (again, if it happens in our time).
The original language the Bible was written in almost 2,000 years ago makes it much easier to understand. The New Testament was written in Greek, so let’s look at the Greek root of the phrase “caught up” about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
I learned from Pastor Mark Hitchcock that “caught up” is the word harpazo in Greek, which means “to snatch, to seize, or to take suddenly.” The same Greek word harpazo is used in the story about Philip and the Ethiopian when Philip is snatched up and transported by the Spirit to Azotus in Acts 8:26-40. We will most definitely be “caught up, snatched, and taken suddenly” just like the Greek word harpazo means. If it happened to Philip, then it can happen to us, and it is the same exact Greek wording as the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Believers in Jesus will be snatched and caught up (harpazo) in the Spirit just like that! Praise God!
Pastor Mark Hitchcock in his book “The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days” teaches us about the word harpazo and where our English word “Rapture” comes from:
“Harpazo appears thirteen times in the New Testament: Matthew 11:12; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 1:23; Revelation 12:5. In those passages, harpazo is variously translated as “take by force,” “snatch,” or “caught up” (NASB). In Acts 8, the Spirit “snatches,” or transports, Philip from one place to another that was twenty miles away. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes being “caught up” to heaven in the presence of the Lord. This was a thrilling experience he wanted others to share. In Revelation 12:5, harpazo refers back to the Ascension of Jesus to heaven (Acts 1:9-11).
Our English word Rapture is derived from Latin. In the fourth century AD, the great scholar Jerome translated the Greek New Testament into Latin. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Jerome translated the Greek word harpazo into the Latin word raeptius. The Latin word rapio means “to seize, snatch, or seize away.” This word was eventually brought into English as Rapture.
So, while it is true that the word Rapture does not occur in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 clearly contain the concept of a catching away of living believers to meet the Lord. The Rapture could just as well be called the “catching away of the church,” “the snatching away of the church,” the “translation of the church,” or the “harpazo of the church.” But “Rapture of the church” is an excellent description and has become the most common title for this event.”
Mark Hitchcock, The End, pages 124-125
It is clear the Lord will come to get us and I believe in the Rapture. However, it will get extremely bad on earth before that happens and we will have to endure and hang on to Jesus. The Tribulation is not for believers in Jesus. He rescues us out of His coming wrath! In the same Book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes:
“and to wait for his Son from Heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
1 Thessalonians 1:10
Paul is encouraging the Thessalonian believers that we will be rescued from the coming wrath and Jesus will snatch us up suddenly (harpazo) into the air with Him, and we will be with the Lord forever!
Just like Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:18,
“Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
Take heart believers! You are safe in Jesus! The Greek root meaning of the word “faith” means to “trust in, cling to, and rely on.” That is exactly what we need to be doing with Jesus. Trust Jesus, cling to Jesus, and rely on Jesus! He will come to get us just like He said he would.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus speaking in John 14:1-4
That is not figurative language folks! That is literal and He means it! He will be coming back to get us, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! Amen!
Grace and peace to you all!