Pearl of Great Value - Matt. 13:45-46

 

Seventh Trumpet Rapture

 By Richard Kirby

Everyone who believes the Bible and takes it more or less literally believes in the Rapture. Although the word Rapture doesn’t appear in the Bible, it accurately describes an event which all Bible-believing Christians look for and expect. The English word Rapture comes from the Latin rapere (raptus), which means “to snatch up, catch up, take away.”  It refers to the endtime event spoken of in II Thess. 4, verses 13 through 18:

 

 I  Thess. 4:13-18: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 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. 17 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 for ever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

 

The Greek word for “caught up” is harpadzein, which is the exact equivalent of the Latin rapere. Therefore the word rapture, which means being caught up, accurately describes the great event prophesied in this passage and elsewhere.

 

The Rapture is also described in I Corinthians 15:50-52, and in Matthew 24:30-31.

 

I Cor. 15:50-52: “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed —52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

 

Notice that Paul calls what he is telling the Corinthian church “a mystery.” By this Paul means that the Rapture was not clearly foretold in the Old Testament, but is now revealed to the Church. The Resurrection from the Dead was foretold (Daniel 12:2; Isaiah 26:19). But Old Testament prophecy did not explicitly describe a catching up of those who are alive at the last day.

 

These two passages together (as well as the context of I Corinthians 15) tell us that in addition to the Resurrection of the “dead in Christ,” those Christians who are alive at His coming will be changed, given immortal bodies, and caught up to meet Christ in the air.

 

That is the Rapture. The question now arises as to when the Rapture takes place. In these studies I intend to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the Rapture will occur after the Great Tribulation and before the Final Wrath.

 

The scripture that states most clearly that the Rapture will occur after the Tribulation is Matthew 24:21-31.

 

Mt. 24:21-22; 29-31: “For then there will be great distress [great tribulation, NKJV], unequalled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened…29 Immediately after the distress [tribulation] of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 30 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

 

I’m aware that some people deny that this is a description of the Rapture, but every attempt to explain this away is fraught with many exegetical difficulties. First of all we should call attention to the features this passage has in common with the classic Rapture passage in I Thessalonians, chapter four: 1) In both passages there is angelic involvement: “He will send forth His angels,” “the voice of the archangel.” 2) In all three passages there is a trumpet: “He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call,” “with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God,” and (in the Corinthian passage) the Rapture occurs “at the last trumpet.” 3) In the Thessalonian passage the saints are “caught up”; in the Matthew passage they are gathered “from the four winds and from one end of heaven to the other.”  4) If this passage in Matthew is not the Rapture, what is it? We see great celestial disturbances which are elsewhere associated with “the Day of the Lord.”; we see the “sign of the Son of Man appear in the sky”; Jesus tells us that He will be observed by all nations (“Look, He is coming in the clouds, and every eye shall see Him” Rev. 1:7); and all of this is “Immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days.”

  

I wish to examine one more relevant passage, II Thessalonians 1:6 through 2:3.

 

II Thessalonians 1:6-2:3:  “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”

 

This passage contains several compelling reasons to regard the Coming of the Lord and the Rapture as two parts of the same event. 1) First of all Paul says that God is going to “pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled.” This certainly implies that the punishment of God’s enemies and the comforting of His friends will occur together. In fact, we are not left in doubt: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” 2) This would make no sense if the saints had been caught up seven years earlier. They would not still need comforting, would they? Yet Paul says that they will be comforted when Jesus returns from heaven “in blazing fire with His powerful angels.” 3) Paul continues in chapter 2 in language that implies that Christ’s Coming and the Rapture are part of a single event: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him…” This two-fold event Paul calls “the Day of the Lord.”  Evidently some in Thessalonica worried that the Day of the Lord had already come. This would have been an excellent time for Paul to tell them something like this: “You know the Day of the Lord has not come because you and I are still on the earth; we haven’t yet been raptured.” Wouldn’t Paul have spoken thus if he had taught them to expect to be taken out before the Day of the Lord? Instead, Paul says quite the opposite. He says that the “Day of the Lord,” “the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to Him,” has not yet occurred “for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” I contend that a fair reading of this passage shows that Paul equated the Day of the Lord with the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture of the Church; that is, Paul expected a posttribulation Rapture. That will also be the time when Christ will “punish those who do not know and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”  When He returns with all His saints and holy angels He will pour out His wrath upon “all who dwell upon the earth.”

 

 Here is a chart representing James Underwood’s (and my) view—a Post-Tribulation, Pre-Wrath Rapture.

 

Rapture Chart

 

In subsequent lessons I want to offer many scriptures that support the Seventh Trumpet Rapture (Posttribulation/Pre-wrath) position, deal with objections to this teaching, and refute arguments for the Pretribulation Rapture persuasion. Amen,

Come, Lord Jesus!