The Rapture (Or, Is Left Behind Accurate?)

The Rapture is something of a controversial – and heavily debated – topic among Christian and Messianic circles.  The Rapture is the “regathering” of the saints in the end times, around the time of the 7-year (or 3 1/2 year, depending on who you talk to) Great Tribulation, when the Antichrist sets himself up as god and instigates what is probably the greatest persecution of believers in history.  There is a big dispute, however, as to when this Rapture will take place.  The main views are:

  • Pre-Tribulation: that God will whisk us away just before the Tribulation, saving us from intense persecution; probably the most popular view
  • Mid-Tribulation: that we’ll we taken at the 3 1/2 year point, in the midst of the Tribulation
  • Post-Tribulation: that the Rapture will occur at Yehoshua ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Christ)’s Return/Second Coming, at the end of the Tribulation, after intense trial and persecution
  • Pan-Tribulation: however it pans out

(To properly understand this article, I recommend reading Does the Torah Still Apply?)

I will let James Trimm explain:

The Seventh and final Trumpet appears in Rev. 10:17, 11:15 as follows:

But in the days of the seventh angel,

when he is about to sound[98],

the mystery of Eloah [God] is completed

that he announced to his servants, the prophets.[99]

(Rev. 10:17)

And the seventh angel sounded[100]

and there were great voices in heaven saying,

The kingdom of the world has become

[the Kingdom] of our Eloah and of his Messiah;

and he [will] reign forever and ever.

(Rev. 11:15)

This trumpet is found in the Tanak [Old Testament] in Isaiah 27:13:

And it shall come to pass in that day,

that the great trumpet shall be blown,

and they shall come which were ready to perish

in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the

land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD

in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

(Is. 27:13)

In Rev. 10:17 the seventh angel is ABOUT to blow the seventh trumpet but has not yet done so.  He will not actually blow his trumpet until Rev. 11:15.  The Mysteries of the thunders are revealed to “his servants the prophets” before the blowing of this seventh trumpet.  Now as we discovered in the first two thunders, before the blowing of the final trumpet and our gathering to him there would be apostasy of Torahlessness and Babylonian rooted elements and that the Torahless one would be revealed.  Relating to the final trumpet we learn about another element of this apostasy.  This element is the “peace and safety” doctrine.  Paul writes:

13.  But I want you to know, my brothers, that you should not be sorrowful concerning those who are asleep[101] even as others who have no hope.

14.  For if we believe that Yeshua died and arose, so also Eloah will bring in Yeshua with him those who are asleep[102].

15.  And this we say to you by the word of our Lord, that we who remain at the coming of our Lord who are living will not precede those who are asleep.[103]

16.  Because our lord, with a command and with the voice of the chief angel[104] and with the trumpet[105] of Eloah, will descend from heaven and the dead who are in the Messiah will rise up[106] first,

17.  And then we who remain who are living will be caught up with them as one in the clouds, for the meeting of our lord in the air, and thus we will always be with our lord.

18.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

5:1.  Now concerning the times and the seasons, my brothers, you do not need [me] to write to you;

2.  For you truly know that the day of our Lord will so come like a thief in the night[107],

3.  As they are saying, shalom [peace] and safety.  And then suddenly destruction will come upon them, as birth pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

(1 Thes. 4:13-5:3)

Here we learn that there is a group that are mistaken about the time that the coming of the Lord occurs.  These people have a “shalom (peace) and safety” teaching.  They believe they are safe from the coming destruction because they expect the Lord to caught up with the Lord in the air.  This is because they have fallen into the error discussed in Yeshua’s “thief in the night” parable (Mt. 25) and expect the Messiah to come for “his bride the Church” before the tribulation comes.  This section of scripture warns us that much of the assembly will expect the Messiah sooner than he comes (pre-trib), and when the Messiah comes later than the “Church” thought he was supposed to (post-trib) these believers fall into apostate sleep.  The pretribbers have been falsely taught by many of the teachers of Christendom that the Bible teaches Messiah will rescue them from the tribulation before it comes.  This is the doctrine of the “Pre-trib rapture of the Church” being taught widely in Christianity and even in Messianic Judaism.  When this does not happen many of them will lose faith and think that the scriptures are a lie.  They will fall into an apostate sleep.

WHERE’S THE PASHAT?

One serious problem with Christendom’s pre-trib rapture teaching is that it has no basis in pashat [literal reading of the text].  Although pre-tribers often claim that their beliefs are based on the plain literal meaning of the scriptures, the reality is that such an approach does not produce a belief in a pre-trib rapture.  Even Hal Lindsey, perhaps the worlds best known advocate of a pre-trib rapture, admits that his belief in such is not based on the plain literal meaning of the scriptures.  Lindsey admits that he cannot “point to any single verse that clearly says the rapture will occur before… the tribulation.”  (The Rapture by Hal Lindsey p. 32).  Instead Lindsey claims “pretribulationalism is based largely on arguments from inference and silence.”  (ibid p. 32).

If pretribulationism does not come from a pashat understanding of the scriptures then one must ask, where did it originate and why do so many believe it?

DISPENSATIONALISM AND PRETRIBISM

During the 1820’s and 1830’s a Christian theologian named John Darby (founder of the Plymoth Brethren) developed a new systematic theology called Dispensationalism.  Dispensationalism has since become very popular in Christendom.  Somehow this late Christian invention has gained the favor of many claiming to be returning to the Jewish roots of the original followers of Yeshua.  It is a fact that Dispensationalism did not exist until the nineteenth century.  It has no roots in Judaism whatsoever and did not exist in Christianity until the 19th century.

Like most 19th century theologians John Darby was an anti-nomian, he believed that the Law of Moses had passed away at the cross.  Darby was disturbed however with certain problems created by that theology.  Darby noticed that during the seven years of Daniel’s final week the offerings are being made at the Temple.  Since the Law of Moses was clearly being kept during this seven year tribulation, Darby concluded that the Law comes back into effect at the beginning of the tribulation.  This train of thought caused Darby to segragate biblical and prophetic history into compartmentalized ages.  Darby theorized an age of Law that ended at the cross and an age of grace or church age that began at the cross.  Then at the seven year tribulation the age of Law kicks back in and the church age of grace ends.  This created a problem for Darby’s theory.  How can the age of Law return if the Church is still here?  Darby saw the age of Law as an age in which God delt with Israel and the tribulation as a return to God dealing with Israel.  So what happens to the Church?  Surely the Church will not leave Grace and come under the Law of Moses.  AS a result Darby adopted the idea of a pre-trib rapture which had become popular among the Irvingites.  This idea had the Church leave the earth at the beginning of the tribulation, leaving Israel behind to enter the tribulation and the age of law’s return.  Darby now had another problem.  If the Church is raptured leaving Israel behind, then what about so-called “Jewish Christians.”  Do they get raptured with the Church, or stay behind with Israel.  Darby proposed yet another solution: Church/Israel dichotomy.  This theory taught that a Jew who becomes a believer in Messiah becomes part of the Church and is no longer part of Israel.  As a result no one can be both a part of the Church and Israel.  Jewish believers, according to this theory, stop being Jews and become part of the Church of God, which he taught contained people that are not Jews or gentiles.

(I’ll just insert a quick note here that Mr Trimm doesn’t expand on: Scripture is very clearly – particularly in Romans – that believers are grafted into ISRAEL.  NOT separated from it.  There is no “Jew nor gentile” – properly no “Jew or Aramean” – but that is simply a statement about how all are equal before YEHOVAH/GOD.  Back to your regularly scheduled program.)

Thus the three pillars of Dispensationalism are:

  1. The Law is not for today
  2. The pre-trib rapture
  3. Church Israel dichotomy

Now Messianic Jews cannot accept number one or number 3.  Number two was only needed because of a belief in number 1.  Number 2 does not work without number 3 which was created to solve problems created by number 2.  As a result Messianic Judaism is incompatible with Dispensationalism.  Two of the three pillars wich must be present to support Dispensationalism are noncompatible with Messianic Judaism.  Moreover the only remaining pillar cannot stand alone, it only exists to solve a problem created by number 1 and it cannot stand without number 3.  When examined in the light of the truths that Messianic Jews have, the whole structure of Dispensationalism comes crashing down.  It is a late19th century invention of Christendom with NO roots in first century Judaism at all.

HOW MANY COMINGS OF MESSIAH?

Almost immediately it becomes apparent that prior-rapturists believe not in two comings of Messiah, but three comings of Messiah.  Sine the post-tribulation return of the Messiah has been clearly recognized as the “Second coming of Messiah” for centuries, the prior rapturists must either relable this coming “the third coming of Messiah” or, as most of them do, insist that their prior-rapture is not actually a “coming of Messiah.”  Prior-rapturists insist that their prior rapture is not a “coming” of the Messiah, but merely an “appearance” of the Messiah.  If this is true then the scriptures should clearly bear this out.  If the prior-rapturist theory is true then the scriptures should teach a pre-trib “appearance” of Messiah which is not a “coming of the Messiah” followed by a post trib “coming of the Messiah.”  We should not see the KH’TAF (rapture) refered to as a “coming” of the L-rd in the scriptures.  We should also not expect the post trib coming of the Messiah labled as an “appearance.”  Now let’s examine the scriptures:

I charge you before Eloah and our Lord Yeshua the Messiah,

who is ready to judge[108] the living and the dead

at the appearing of his Kingdom:

(2 Tim. 4:1)

Here it is clearly the end of the tribulation and the beginning of the Kingdom which occurs at the appearance of Messiah.

So also the Messiah was offered once,

and in himself he sacrificed the sins of many[109];

and he will appear a second time without sins

for the salvation of those who expect him.

(Heb. 9:28)

Here the text seems to discuss the post-trib coming of Messiah.  If prior-rapturists are correct then this text should either read “come the second time” or “appear a third time.”

But, my brothers, be patient until the coming of YHWH.

(James 5:7a)

This text seems to tell us that out hope is to look for the “coming of the Lord” not an “appearance of the Lord.”

15.  And this we say to you by the word of our Lord, that we who remain at the coming of our Lord who are living will not precede those who are asleep.[110]

16.  Because our lord, with a command and with the voice of the chief angel[111] and with the trumpet[112] of Eloah, will descend from heaven and the dead who are in the Messiah will rise up[113] first,

17.  And then we who remain who are living will be caught up with them as one in the clouds, for the meeting of our lord in the air, and thus we will always be with our lord.

(1Thes. 4:15-17)

This passage is the definitive rapture text.  But look, this passage is describing a “coming of our Lord.”

It becomes clear by examining the texts that prior-rapturists believe not in two comings of the Messiah but three.  This theory is clearly at odds with the scriptures which teach only two comings of Messiah.

THIEF IN THE NIGHT

One of the catchphrases used by prior-rapturists is the phrase “thief in the night.”  The prior-rapturists use this term to describe their prior rapture as a “secret rapture” in which the Church is secretly snatched away.  This is however a complete misuse of the biblical term “thief in the night.”  The “thief in the night” parable is one of the many parables Yeshua told (Mt. 24:42-51) it is referred to in the scriptures on three additional places (1Thes. 5:2-10; 2Pt. 3:10; Rev. 3:3 & Rev. 16:15).  A true analysis of the term “thief in the night” as it is used in the scriptures will reveal a post-trib rapture which is anything but a secret prior-rapture.

The first place to look is the parable itself.  The thief in the night parable is given by Yeshua in Mt. 24:42-44:

Watch therefore: for you know not

what hour your Lord does come.

But know this, that if the good-man of he house

had known in what watch the thief would come,

he would have watched, and would not have suffered

his house to be broken up.  Therefore be you also ready:

for in such an our as you think not the Son of Man comes.

There are a number of important elements to this parable.  First it should be noted that the “thief” in this parable is clearly not the Messiah.  However in the parable of the Thief in the Night the Messiah is a thief who comes at an unexpected time.  He is not pictured as “stealing the church away”  If anything the assembly is the victim of his surprise visit, but not the thing being stolen.  Secondly we not that the thief/Messiah comes at a time that the Assembly does not expect him.  Finally it is significant that the thief comes at a time later than the “Church” expected and found them sleeping.  Throughout the scriptures sleeping is a type of apostasy (see Is. 29:10 = Rom. 11:8).

The Thief in the Night parable is part of a section of scripture beginning in Mt. 24:42 and ending in Mt. 25:13 in which Yeshua illustrates that the Messiah comes later than expected to a sleeping assembly which expected him earlier.  Yeshua first states this theme in verse 42.  Then in Mt. 24:43 Yeshua give the thief in the night parable.  Then in verse 44 Yeshua restates this theme.  Then in Mt. 24:45-51 Yeshua gives the parable of the “faithful and wise servent.”  In this parable also the Messiah comes later than the virgins expected.  The virgins (at least some of them) are clearly believers for five of them have oil in their lamps.  The bridegroom comes to find the virgins sleeping.  Even though many of them had oil in their lamps, they thought the Messiah would come sooner than he did and as a result the fell into a sleep of apostasy.  Rather than teaching a pre-trib rapture this section of scripture warns us that much of the assembly will expect the Messiah sooner than he comes (pre-trib), and when the Messiah comes later than the Assembly thought he was supposed to (post-trib) these believers fall into apostate sleep.  The pretribbers have been falsely taught by many of the teachers of Christendom that the Bible teaches Messiah will rescue them from the tribulation before it comes.  When this does not happen many of them will lose faith and think that the scriptures are a lie.  They will fall into an apostate sleep.

In Rev. 3:3 we read:

…If therefore you shall not watch,

I will come on you as a thief,

and you shall not know what hour I come upon you.

This passage clearly refers to the material in Mt. 24:42-44.  Here Messiah is addressing the Assembly at Sardis (actual believers) and indicates that he will come at a time that the Assembly does not expect.  The implication in the phrase “If therefor you shall not keep watch…” is that the Messiah will come later than expected to find sleeping/apostate believers.

In 2Peter 3:10 we read:

But the day of YHWH will come as a thief in the night,

in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise,

and the elements will melt with fervent heat;

both the earth and the works that are in it

will be burned up.

The “day” referred to here is the 1,000 year day of the millenial Kingdom (2Pt. 3:8; Ps. 90:4; Rev. 20:2, 7).  This 1,000 year “day” begins with the second coming of Messiah (Rev. 19:11-20:2) and ends with the destruction of the earth by fire (Rev. 20:7-21:1).  Here the “L-rd will come like a thief” (2Pt. 3:10) definitely refers to the second coming of the Messiah at the end of the tribulation and the beginning of the 1,000 years.  This is anything but a stealthy silent secret rapture thief.  This is a noisy thief who will cause the heavens to pass away with a “roar.”

In Rev. 16:15 we read:

Behold, I come as a thief.

Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments,

lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

This passage occurs in context of the events of the 1,000 year day mentioned above.  Moreover the passage also reflects a thief that comes later than expected to find an apostate Assembly.

Finally in 1Thes. 5:2-10 we read:

2.  For you truly know that the day of our Lord will so come like a thief in the night,

3.  As they are saying, shalom and quiet.  And then suddenly destruction will come upon them, as birth pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4.  But you, my brothers, are not in darkness so that that day should overtake you as a thief.

5.  For you are all sons of light and sons of the day.  And you are not sons of the night nor sons of darkness.

6.  Therefore, let us not sleep as others, but let us be watchful and wise,

7.  For those who are asleep sleep in the night, and those who are drunk are drunk in the night.

8.  But we who are sons of the day [should] be watchful in our mind and be clothed with the breastplate of faith and of love and put on the helmet of the hope of life,

9.  Because Eloah has not appointed us to wrath, but to the obtaining of life in our lord Yeshua the Messiah,

10.  Who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live as one with him.

Now in reading this passage we should recall the Thief in the Night parable that is clearly being referred to here.  Here we learn that the sleeping apostates will be duped by a “peace and safety” doctrine (verse 3) however “sudden destruction comes upon them… and they shall not escape” (verse 3).  Here those that expect the Messiah to come sooner then he does believe in a “peace and safety” teaching and fall into apostasy when the Messiah does not come as soon as they expect but instead “sudden destruction comes upon them” something they apparently expected to “escape.”  At this point they seem to fall into a sleep of apostasy.  A great falling away comes when pretribbers are disappointed when they enter the tribulation instead of escaping it in a pre-trib rapture.  But wait!  Look at 1Thes 5:1!  This whole section of scripture refers to the timing of the “rapture” event of 1Thes. 4:16-18.  In fact, the chapter change from 1Thes. 4:18 to 5:1 occurs in the middle of the paragraph!

Notice that those who are expecting Messiah earlier that he actually comes fall asleep.  Note that sleep symbolizes Apostasy (Is. 29:10).  In Isaiah 29 apostate sleep is overcome by the unsealing of the sealed books (Is. 29:10-14, 18).

The reference to the thief in the night parable in 1Thes. 4:16-5:10 is also important for another reason.  This reference gives us some context for the “rapture” event of 1Thes. 4:16-17.  The thief in the night parable of Mt. 24:43 takes place in a large segment of Matthew (Mt. 24:29-25:46) which clearly discusses the post-trib (Mt. 24:29) second coming of Messiah.  The thief of Mt. 24:42-44 comes at a time that is like “the days of Noah… before the flood” (Mt. 24:37-41 with Mt, 24:42-51).  Luke also discusses this time that is like the days of Noah (Mt. 24:37-41 = Lk. 17:26-36).  Luke goes on to say that those “taken” in Mt. 24:37-41 = Lk. 17:26-36 will be consumed by birds of prey (see Lk. 17:37 = Mt. 24:28).  These men consumed by birds of prey are those who come against Israel and are destroyed at the second coming (Rev. 19:11-21 esp. 19:17-18, 21).  The timing of the “thief” event is therefore that of the second coming of Messiah in Rev. 19:11-21.  Since the timing of “thief” event of 1Thes. 5:2-10 is that of the “rapture” event of 1Thes. 4:16-18 (! Thes. 5:1 states clearly that 1Thes. 5:2-10 refers to the timing of 1Thes. 4:16-18) then the “rapture” of 1Thes. 4:16-18 is simply a part of the post-trib coming of the Messiah.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS (Mt. 24:29)

In order to get a good picture of just what the KH’TAF (rapture) event of 1Thes. 4:16-17 is we must let scripture interpret scripture.  This is a concept of Jewish hermeneutics called G’ZARAH SHEVAH (equivalence of expressions).  This is the second of the seven rules of Hillel.  The first scripture that we should compare 1Thes. 4:16-17 with is 1Cor. 15:52.

Now 1Thes. 4:13-17 reads:

13.  But I want you to know, my brothers,

that you should not be sorrowful concerning

those who are asleep even as others who have no hope.

14.  For if we believe that Yeshua died and arose,

so also Eloah will bring in Yeshua with him

those who are asleep.

15.  And this we say to you by the word of our Lord,

that we who remain at the coming of our Lord

who are living will not precede those who are asleep.

16.  Because our lord, with a command

and with the voice of the chief angel

and with the trumpet of Eloah,

will descend from heaven and the dead

who are in Messiah will rise up first,

17.  And then we who remain who are living

will be caught up with them as one in the clouds,

for the meeting of our lord in the air,

and thus we will always be with our Lord.

Lets compare this passage with 1Cor. 15:50-55:

50.  And this I say, my brothers, that flesh and blood are not able to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, nor corruption inherit incorruption.

51.  Behold, I tell you a mystery.  Not all of us will sleep, but all of us will be changed;

52.  Suddenly, as the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet sounding, and the dead will rise without corruption and we will be changed.

53.  For this that is corrupted will put on incorruption.  And this that dies will put on immortality.

54.  Now, when this that is corrupted puts on incorruption, and this that dies, immortality, then will occur the saying that is written, Death is swallowed in victory.

55.  Where is your sting, death?  Or where is your victory, grave?

Certainly these two passages obviously speak of the same event.  The question is what kind of context does 1Cor. 15:50-55 give to the “rapture” of 1Thes. 4:13-17?

  1. The event of 1Cor. 15:50-55 facilitates the inheritance of the Kingdom.
  2. 1Cor. 15:54b quotes Is. 25:8
  3. 1Cor. 15:55 quotes Hosea 13:14

Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 clearly speak of the beginning of the Kingdom.  Taken together it would seem that 1Cor. 15:50-55 places 1Thes. 4:13-17 in the context of the beginning of the 1,000 year Kingdom.

Now 1Thes. 4:13-18 and 1Cor. 15:50-55 are generally regarded as the “rapture” verse.  In fact the word “rapture” comes from the Latin Vulgate word for “caught up” in 1Thes. 4:16-17.  Let us compare these with the generally accepted “second coming” verses.

Some of the generally accepted “second coming” passages are: Dan. 7:13-14; Mt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Rev. 11:15 and 20:4-6.  In these passages we can immediately identify four elements:

  1. Messiah will supernaturally appear in the sky.  (Dan. 7:13-14; Mt. 24:30; Mk. 13:26)
  2. There will be a supernatural gathering together to him in the sky.  (Mt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27)
  3. A last (seventh of seven) trumpet is blown by one of the seven angels which stand before God.  (Rev. 8:2; 11:15; Mt. 24:31; Is. 27:13)
  4. A (first) resurrection of the just (Rev. 20:406)

Now lets compare these four elements with the “rapture” passages of 1Thes. 4:13-18 and 1Cor. 15:50-55:

  1. Messiah will supernaturally appear in the sky.  (1Thes. 4:16-17)
  2. There will be a supernatural gathering together to him in the sky.  (1Thes. 4:17)
  3. A last (seventh of seven) trumpet  is blown by one of the archangels (1Thes. 4:16; 1Cor. 15:52)
  4. A (first) resurrection of the just (1Thes. 4:16; 1Cor. 25:52)

By comparing these four elements we find that the “rapture” of 1Thes. 4:13-18 & 1Cor. 15:50-55 is identical to the second coming of the Messiah in: Dan. 7:13-14; Mt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Rev. 11:15 and 20:4-6.  This conclusion has been reached by many commentators.  For example Halley’s Bible handbook says regarding 1Thes. 4:13-18:

It [the event in 1Thes. 4:16-17] is mentioned or referred to several times in almost every New Testament book.  The chapters in which it is explained most fully are Matthew 24; Luke 21; 1 Thessalonians 4, 5; 2Pt. 3.  (Halley’s Bible Handbook p. 626 on 1Thes. 4:13-18)  (See also Halley’s comments on Mt. 24:31 on p. 447)

Also in his book MESSIAH: A Rabbinic and Scriptural Viewpoint, Messianic Jewish writer Burt Yellin writes regarding 1Thes. 4:16:

In IThessalonians 4:16, Paul tells us of the return of

the Messiah: “For the Lord Himself will descend

from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel

and with the trumpet (shofar) of G-d; and the

dead in Messiah will rise first…”  When read together

with Revelation11:15-17 we find that this resurrection

will take place on the seventh trumpet blast.

(p.99)

If we were to take the “rapture” passages of 1Thes. 4:13-18 & 1Cor. 15:50-55 to be a separate event from the “second coming” passages of Dan. 7:13-14; Mt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Rev. 11:15 and 20:4-6 as the prior-rapturists do then we have some major chronology problems.  Such a chronology would have the trumpet blast of Rev. 11:15 & Mt. 24:31 being blown after the “last trumpet” of 1Thes, 4:16 & 1 Cor. 15:52).  Such a chronology would also have the general resurrection of the just in 1Thes. 4:16 & 1Cor. 15:52 taking place before the “first resurrection” of Rev. 20:4-6).  The KH’TAF (rapture) is clearly the event which Mt. 24:29 states occurs “immediately after the tribulation of those days…”

THE PASHAT

Hal Lindsey, one of the chief apologists for the pre-trib rapture states:

The truth of the matter is that neither a post-, mid-,

or pre-Tribulationist can point to any single verse

that clearly says the Rapture will occur before,

in the middle of, or after the Tribulation.

(The Rapture by Hal Lindsey p. 32)

Now, we agree that it is true that Lindsey cannot “point to any single verse that clearly says the rapture will occur before… the Tribulation.”  However, Lindsey is clearly wrong to state that we cannot “point to any single verse that clearly says the rapture will occur… after the Tribulation.”  This article has already shown that the scriptures clearly teach a post-trib KH’TAF (rapture).  The following are single verses that clearly say the Rapture will occur after the Tribulation:

34.  For David did not ascend into heaven, because he said, YHWH said to my Lord, sit at my right hand.

35.  Until I place your enemies to be a footstool to your feet.

(Acts 2:34-35 (quoting Ps. 110:1)

(see also Heb. 1:13; Mt. 22:44; Mk. 12:36)

This passage clearly states that the Messiah will remain at the right hand of the father until his enemies are made his footstool in the 1,000 year Kingdom.  This passage clearly teaches the rapture will not occur until after the tribulation, at the beginning of 1,000 year Kingdom.

20.  And he send to you him who was prepared for you, Yeshua the Messiah,

21.  Whom it is required for heaven to receive until the fullness of the times of all those [things] that Eloah spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets of old.

(Acts 3:20-21)

(see also Rev. 10:7 & 11:15)

This passage also teaches that Messiah will remain in heaven until the Kingdom comes.

COMMONLY MISUNDERSTOOD PASSAGES

Unable to find support for their pre-trib rapture theory in the PASHAT (literal meaning) of any Scripture passages, Pre-Tribbers have restorted to REMEZ (implied) and DRASH (allegorical) interpretations.  As Lindsey admits in his book THE RAPTURE saying that it “is in some measure true” “…that pretribism is based largely on arguments from inference and silence.”  (p. 31).

THE WRATH TO COME ARGUMENT

Using this argument pre-tribbers use texts which they say imply the church will not enter the tribulation, which they say hints at a pretrib rapture.  The Pretribber will argue that the Tribulation is “G-d’s wrath” and that the church will not suffer “God’s wrath” (Rom. 5:9; 1Thes. 1:10; 5:9-10; Jn. 5:24).  By using this argument pretribbers ignore the fact that the Anti-Christ, one of the major figures of the Tribulation, is the devil’s wrath (Rev. 12:12; 13:2).  They also ignore the fact that the Messiah may deliver us from this wrath by destroying the AntiChrist at his second coming.  Moreover they ignore the fact that by context, the wrath Messiah saves us from is in that we are “justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:9) and so we “shall be saved” (Rom. 5:9) clearly the wrath here is the Lake of Fire not the Tribulation.  (Jn. 5:24 uses the word “condemnation” but the same argument applies.)

THE LUKE 21:36 ARGUMENT

This argument was first used by modern prior-rapturisms 15 year old inventor, who misquoted the verse in her discussion with Darby.  This verse says “…pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

To begin with this verse only says to pray and does not promise a result.  Secondly the passages simply says “escape” not “raptured”, this could simply refer to survival.  The most important flaw in this Pre-Trib argument is what is meant by “all these things.”  This phrase seems to refer to those things listed in Luke 21:34 which would cause one to be off guard at the second coming (Lk. 21:34-36) and not the Tribulation at all.  Finally, we must ask pretribbers what is meant by “accounted worthy”?  If these are the church then those in the church are “accounted worthy” of their salvation.  This runs counter to the Scriptures which clearly teach that we do not earn our salvation, but that we receive it as an act of grace that we are not worthy of.

THE REVELATION 3:10 ARGUMENT

Pretribbers will also point to Rev. 3:10:

I also will keep you from the hour of temptation

Which shall come upon all the world,

To try them that dwell upon the earth.

To begin with the word “keep” here does not mean “rapture” and could simply refer to survival with God’s help.  More importantly the context of the passage is not prophetic but written to the “assembly at Philadelphia” (Rev. 3:7) or those believers that lived in Philadelphia in John’s time.  Revelation is divided into three sections (Rev. 3:10) things which John saw (Rev. 1) things which are (Rev. 2-3) and things which shall be hereafter (Rev. 4:1).  Rev. 3:10 therefore applies to the time of John and not the future tribulation in the last days.

THE HOLY SPIRIT TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY?

This argument was first used by prior-rapturism’s 15 year old modern inventor.  This argument uses eisogesis (reading ideas into a text) rather than exogesis (reading ideas out of a text).  In this case Prior-rapturists read “Holy Spirit” into the “he” in 2Thes. 2:7.  By this reading the Anti-Christ is revealed (2Thes. 2:8) and the Tribulation begins after the church (and therefore the Holy Spirit within them) are removed by a pre-trib rapture.  Prior-rapturism’s modern inventor first proposed this idea after having a weird vision in which it was “revealed” to her that “then shall the wicked be revealed” immediately follows “…two shall be in one bed, the one taken and the other left…” (Lk. 17:34f; Mt. 24:40-41).  Prior-rapturism’s inventor taught a partial prior-rapture in which those “taken” were identified as “those who were filled with the Holy Spirit.”  She falsely identified “taken” in Lk. 17:34-35 & Mt. 24:40-41 with “taken” in 2Thes. 2:7.  Those “taken” in Lk. 17:34-35 & Mt. 24:40-41 are not “those filled with the Spirit” but are compared to those “taken” by the flood in the days of Noah (Mt. 24:39).  Their bodies will be fed to birds of prey (Lk. 17:37) at the secod coming of Messiah (Rev. 19:17-18, 21).  In fact the Shem Tob Hebrew Matthew adds in Mt. 24:41:

this is because the angels at the end of the world

will remove the stumbling blocks from the

world and will separate the good from the evil.

Although restraint of some kind is removed in 2Thes. 2:7 the Holy Spirit is not.

THE REV 4:1 ARGUMENT

Being unable to prove their argument by a literal understanding of the Scriptures, prior rapturists turn to arguments based purely on allegory.  In this argument prior rapturists say that John represents the Church and that he is getting “raptured” just before Rev. describes the Tribulation.  There is absolutely no support for this argument from the text.

ENOCH ARGUMENT

This argument is also pure allegory.  This argument says that Enoch was translated before the flood.  The Prior-rapturists say Enoch = the Church and the flood = the Tribulation.  Actually in the scriptures (and even the Book of Enoch) the flood represents the day of judgment and the days before the flood (the “days of Noah”) represent the tribulation.  Moreover, Elijah was also translated AFTER surviving a Tribulation period (2Kn. 2:9-11; 1Kn. 17f) 3 1/2 years of which are often paralleled in the scriptures to the second half of the 7 year “Tribulation.”

JEWISH CUSTOMS

Certain Messianic Jewish scholars have sought to find evidence for a pre-trib rapture allegorically from Jewish customs.  One of these involves Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, another the Jewish wedding.  These are weak attempts at finding allegory to prove something that has no support from any PASHAT (literal) interpretation of any passage and which has no roots in Judaism to begin with but was invented in Christendom in the 19th century.

RAPTURE OR REGATHERING?

To understand the truth about the KH’TAF (rapture) it is important to understand just what this event is.  Christendom generally teaches that the Rapture is a rapture of the Church, but the real truth is that the KH’TAF (rapture) is the supernatural regathering of Israel upon the return of Messiah.  A serious examination of the scriptures makes this clear.

The Tanak foretells of a time when YHWH will regather Israel “from the four corners of the earth” (Is. 11:12) and “from the farthest parts under heaven” (Dt. 30:4).  The Torah says that Messiah will “bring” them out of these other lands (Dt. 30:4).  The word for “bring” here in teh Hebrew actually means a forceful action.  The Jerusalem Targum interprets this passage (Dt. 30:4) to mean that YHWH will “gather you together by the hand of Elijah… and from thence will He bring you by the hand of the King Messiah.”  According to Rashi’s commentary this means that they will be dragged through the air by the Messiah to the land.  Is this event the KH’TAF (rapture)?

The first evidence that the “bring” in Dt. 30:4 is the KH’TAF (rapture) is found in the wording of Mt. 24:31 = Mk. 13:27 which identify those being “gathered” as “the Elect.”  The term “the Elect” in the scriptures is a euphemism for Israel (Dt. 7:6; 10:15; 14:2; Is. 41:8-9; 42:1; 43:2f; 45:4; 65:9-22; Ps. 135:4; 1Pt. 2:9 = Is. 43.20f & Dt. 10:15).  In 1Thes 4:17 Paul uses the term “we” but this is a term that elsewhere uses to refer to himself and his fellow Jews (Acts 17:1-4).

Further evidence to identify the KH’TAF event with the regathering of Israel is that of the resurrection.  The KH’TAF is accompanied by a resurrection (1Thes. 4:16-17 & 1Cor. 15:50-55).  The regathering of Israel also includes a resurrection (Ezkl. 37:1-14; Is. 25:1-12; Hosea 13:9-14:9).  In fact, 1Cor. 15:54-55 actually quotes Is. 25:8 & Hosea 13:14.  The use of Is. 25:8 & Hosea 13:14 in 1Cor. 15:54-55 is also important because of its finality.  How can pretribbers believe death comes to an end at the beginning of the Tribulation?

There is yet more evidence that the KH’TAF is the regathering of Israel.  Those “raptured” in 1Cor. 15:53 become immortal, but in the 1,000 year Kingdom there will also be mortals (Is. 65:20)  If the Church is raptured in 1Cor. 15:53 and becomes immortal, then who are the mortals of Is. 65:20?

Final proof that the KH’TAF (rapture) is actually the regathering of Israel at the return of the Messiah is to be found in the text of Mt. 24:31 = Mk. 13:27 which actually quotes the phrases “from the four corners of the earth” (Is. 11:12) and “from the farthest parts under heaven” (Dt. 30:4) right out of the Tanak passages which describe the regathering of Israel.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENS

Immediately after the tribulation (Mt. 24:29; Mk. 13:24) the Messiah will appear in the sky (Dan. 7:13-14); Mt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; 1Thes. 4:16-17) there will be a final trumpet (Rev. 8:2; 11:15; Mt. 24:31; Is. 27:13; 1Thes. 4:16-17; 1Cor. 15:52) and there will be a resurrection (1Cor. 15:50-55; 1Thes. 4:16; Rev. 20:4-6; Is. 25:8; Hosea. 13:14; Ezkl. 37:1-14) and a gathering together to Messiah in the sky (Mt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; 2Thes. 2:1; 1Thes. 4:17).  This is followed by the Messiah coming with many of His set-apart ones (Jude 1:14-15 = 1Enoch 1:9; 1Thes. 3:13; Rev. 19:11-16; Zech. 14:4-4).  After this, the 1,000 year Kingdom is established (Rev. 20:1-3, 7).  This KH’TAF will be the regathering of Israel to the Land of Israel at the return of Messiah and not a pretrib rapture of the Church.

CONCLUSION

Let us review what we have now learned and see where it might lead.

The seventh seal presented us with seven trumpets.  The mystery of these seven trumpets was not fully revealed.

Concerning the seventh trumpet we learned that part of the apostasy would involve a false “peace and safety” doctrine.  Much of the Church would accept this doctrine which would teach that the final trump would blow sooner that it actually would.  This peace and safety teaching seemed to involve a false teaching that the final trumpet would sound and the elect gathered together in the sky BEFORE the great tribulation.  These people will believe that the anti-“Christ”, the beast and the man of sin of 2Thes. would not come on the scene until sometime AFTER their pre-trib rapture.  This would keep them totally off guard in regards to the man of sin whom they believe they will never have to worry about.  Moreover when the tribulation comes these people will be disillusioned and fall further away because they were told that the Bible taught a pre-trib rapture… so they will conclude wrongly that the Bible was in error.

(James Trimm, Seven Seals, Seven Thunders, pages 104-126)

(I also recommend http://endtimepilgrim.org/posttribrap.htm.)

(My latest J-M’s History Corner (Blogspot) post: The Rapture (Or, Is Left Behind Accurate?) 

My latest Blockbusters Reviewed post: The Exorcist (1973).)

35 thoughts on “The Rapture (Or, Is Left Behind Accurate?)

  1. Years ago I read Lindsay’s book, “Late, Great Planet Earth”. It terrified me and opened my eyes to what will happen in Revelation. What confused me when I later studied Revelation was why satan is bound for 1,000 years, then released again. Just proof I can not understand the mind of God! Thank you for this very interesting article.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. We will not miss persecution but will be kept from the Wrath of God because Jesus took the Wrath on the Cross for TrueBelievers and rose from the tomb to give us everlasting life. The Wrath of God is for those who Choose not to accept God the Fathers sacrifice of the Son, who willingly accepted this, by the way, when He said in the garden while praying, “Not my will but yours”. He died in the flesh like we do but arose in the Spirit like those who accept this as The Way, The Truth and The Life. Jesus himself said there is no other way to the Father. :))

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I was reading Revelation 3:10 the other day and was curious about what it meant, so looked up the word ‘keep’ in the Strong’s Concordance and found out that ‘keep’ in that verse means to keep safe, watch over, etc.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. This is what I believe and many others believe:) No one know the date or time of the “snatching away of the church(TrueBelievers in our Christ). The Word says Be Ready at anytime. Please read 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 51-23, Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13 -17 and made your own choices. Never accept one view. Always look at other options also and then make up your own mind. :))

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I, too, have read different books on the different opinions of when the Rapture will occur. I just read (for the second time) “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” by Marvin Rosenthal. He believes we will be raptured out before the final wrath of God is poured out. It is an interesting read and he makes his case well.
    Let me say that I do not hold a firm position on any of the theories. I don’t know when the Rapture will occur. My concern, like yours, is that if it does not occur pre-trib like many believe and hold a firm unwavering opinion on, that many will be disillusioned and their faith will fail. We must be prepared to suffer and go through part or all of the tribulation should that occur, only God the Father knows when it will happen.
    Glad you shared your opinion on this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A person I know was shown the end times, and people were saying “Well, if this isn’t true, then the rest mustn’t be true either” and the person who was shown realized they were talking about the Rapture, and how they weren’t raptured out of here before the Tribulation like they had been taught, so were walking away from God/Yah.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think many want to believe pre-trib because it gets them out of persecution- (IE responsibility) I’ve found that many OSAS believers are pre-tribbers. That speaks for itself.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve heard those too. There’s a show on the radio I heard a while back, a guy who calls himself The Bible Answer Guy. And he was saying that God loves us so much He’d never send anyone to hell. He believes the fire of hell is a metaphor for how people will feel being separated from God for eternity. So many people called his show trying to explain the truth to him but he blew every one of them off.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. He certainly loves us, but if we aren’t going to follow Him, well we can’t go to be with Him for eternity, can we? He would send us to Hell if we aren’t following Him, listening to Him and doing what He says, and if we’ve forgotten His Name.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting post. I of course agree with most since I too am post Trib, and the one new man of scripture requires our oneness with Israel’s saints. To the pre-wrath argument there is a simple answer: we too were children of wrath before we found Christ (Israel’s Messiah). God’s wrath is for all who don’t find Him. This includes all in this age who are without Him. The Tribulation therefore cannot possibly fulfill or meet His wrath requirement without everyone being resurrected to experience the Tribulation. No one teaches that. There is more that I could say but don’t want to overstep my welcome. Thanks again for the post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I noticed that one argument pre-tribs use is that ‘it’s God’s wrath, so why would believers go through it?’ when it is actually the seven bowls that are God’s/Yah’s wrath, and the Tribulation is a test for believers.

      Liked by 2 people

              1. In the late 80’s I began writing my thoughts based on much reading, concerning the confusion surrounding the second coming. That turned into the book, False Security, has the New Age given us false hope? Published in 1993. Two years ago I published And Then The End Shall Come, explaining why Scripture teaches Our Messiah’s Coming to be post Trib. Based on the One New Man Of Scripture. I have an inquisitive inner man just like you.

                Liked by 1 person

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