Does the Bible really teach ‘The Rapture’, as the world believes it?
1. Does the Bible anywhere contain the word ‘Rapture?’
No. This word is not contained in any standard historical edition of any Bible.
2. Where did the ‘Rapture’ concept come from?
The concept of ‘The Rapture’ was construed from a dream that one Margaret MacDonald had in Scotland in the 1830s. Her dream/vision depicted people being lifted off the earth and taken to heaven. The dream caught the attention of some influential clergy, interpreted according to ‘modern’ thought, and applied and accepted by word of mouth for a generation now, to many Christians.
The modern rendition teaches that Christians will be taken off the earth 3.5 years (some say 7) prior to the end of the earth, and be spared the tribulation suffered by unbelievers. It is said that some 50% of ‘Protestant’ churches hold to some form of rapture doctrine. We’ll look at some scriptures used to support this claim and see if they verify this theory
3. Do any scriptures talk about the saints being ‘lifted’ from the earth?
Yes, a beautiful description depicts the Righteous meeting Christ in a cloud someday. And, if one never reads the scripture in context, one may well accept that this scripture does indeed describe ‘a rapture.’ Here is a scripture which, out of context, is used to support the rapture theory:
I Thessalonians 4:17 Then they who are alive, shall be caught up together into the clouds with them who remain, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord.
But the real question to ask is….
4. When does Thessalonians indicate reuniting with Jesus in the clouds shall be?
Is this really a meeting in the clouds 3 or 7 years before the end of the earth? Here is where context helps. Read verses 15 and 16 (prior to the often read verse 17):
I Thessalonians 4:15-16 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that they who are alive at the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who remain unto the coming of the Lord, who are asleep.16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heavenwith a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first;
What is the event when the dead in Christ rise, or are brought to life? Aren’t the (righteous) dead resurrected at the first resurrection (See John 5:29)? What event is when Christ descends to the earth? Isn’t it at His coming in Glory? Now, these two events help us to understand when this ‘joining in the clouds’ occurs.
5. Do the events of resurrection and the Lord’s return in Glory fit time-wise with the theory that saints will be conveyed off the earth 3 years before Jesus comes? How much time separates the coming in Glory and the 1stResurrection?
According to this and other passages, no time separates them. These events are literally one in the same. They are at the end of the latter days, at the beginning of the Millennium. They are not 3.5 years before the end of the earth. Therefore, if these events are at the end of the earth, not some years prior, what I Thessalonians 4:17 describes is Saints who are alive on the earth who are caught up to meet Christ AS HE IS DESCENDING IN HIS GLORY! This is the plain description of this scripture. Paul was emphasizing the coming of the Lord in Thessalonians 4, and the raising of people (both resurrected and currently living on the earth) to meet him when He comes.
6. What about Matthew 24. Doesn’t this discuss people being ‘conveyed’ mysteriously away?
Yes! But is it describing the common rapture theory? Lets talk about this passage for a while.
Matthew 24:46-48 Then shall be fulfilled that which is written, that, In the last days, 47 Two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left. 48 Two shall be grinding at the mill; the one taken and the other left.
Matthew 24 is Jesus words about a mysterious event to transpire in the lives of people some day. Since we don’t historically know that it happened yet, let’s presume that it is an event yet to happen. It suggests this:
who is the object of discussion in Matt 24.
7. Aren’t the elect just ‘God’s people?’ Christian ‘Gentiles’ read the end of Matt 24 and believe it to be describing them—the elect. Is that correct?
Who are ‘the elect?’ Again, reading the story in context helps explain this term. Back up in Matthew to answer who ‘the elect’ are: verse…. Says’ I’m talking about the Jews.’ There. This chapter is specifically about the Jews, not any self-righteous person in the world who decides to apply it to himself.
Why are the Jews called the ‘elect?’ According to the Greek translation of ‘elect’ in Matthew 24 (in fact, in all New Testament occurrences of the word ‘Elect’), elect means ‘Chosen.’ What were the Jews ‘chosen’ for?—to be the light unto the world. These were the people to whom the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was promised to be born. God made good on His end of the bargain. Did the Jews make good on theirs? Well, not yet. But this was God’s convenient expression used to refer to the covenant people of the house of Israel—the Elect. Bear in mind how the New Testament plainly discusses how God has not forgotten His covenant with the House of Israel—especially the Jews.
Now, knowing who the elect are, the purpose of other New Testament scriptures become more clear:
Romans 11:28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
The ‘election’ were simply those of the ‘elect group’, namely, the Jews. What, therefore, was Paul saying? He was telling gentiles that the Jews were currently an enemy to the true faith of the gospel (many had, after all rejected and crucified him). But that they were (still) beloved in God’s eyes—He would not forget them.
Here’s more proof:
II Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Again, what was Paul saying? He was enduring his struggle for the Lord so that the Jews could also obtain salvation through Jesus Christ.
8. So, what then, is this ‘gathering’ under discussion. What is prophesied for the Jews and gathering?
The ‘Christian’ world of today seems to have forgotten something that God hasn’t…the gathering of Israel. When Israel rebelled against God even in the days of Moses, he foretold a cursing and a blessing. The cursing: scattering of Israel to the nations; the blessing: re-gathering them again one day.
Deuteronomy That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.
The prophets continued to foretell the eventual re-gathering:
Jeremiah 31:10 Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say,He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
Ezekiel 20:34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out.
9. What is the place they will be gathered to?
Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you; andI will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion;
Ah Haa! The ONE from a city, TWO of a family (one grinding, one in the field, etc.) are those gathered unto ZION! This is the real and only gathering that the scriptures have ever prophesied. This is (will be) the latter day fulfillment of all the covenants to the House of Israel–they would be gathered together again to Jerusalem AND a place called Zion.
This is the real meaning of ‘rapture’–not some whisking away off the earth of Christians as some have supposed, but the gathering of God’s covenant people to the place where he shall dwell on the earth in the latter day–Zion.
(for more Old Testament scriptures mentioning ‘Zion’ click here)
10. Who will be in Zion with these covenant people, and what part will Zion have in the earth’s future?
Isaiah 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem;
From the scripture above, we can see that the Lord himself will dwell in Zion, and from this place, the world will learn His laws.
In summary, what does all this mean about the concept of ‘Rapture?’
The rapture concept does not exist as some Christians purport–there will be no whisking of good people off the earth years before tribulation. There will be, however, the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth during tribulation in the latter days, and God’s covenant people will be gathered to it. The nations shall flow unto Zion to learn of God’s laws and ways.
Does this mean that only the Jews and scattered House of Israel will be gathered? No. God’s covenant people are those who repent and come unto him via His terms of faith, repentance, baptism and receipt of the Holy Ghost. Those who do not repent, even of the House of Israel, will be cut off from the promises. The real root of the promise to the House of Israel is that when they come (again) to a knowledge of Jesus Christ (that was had among their fathers) and obtain a fullness of the Gospel, the true gathering will occur.
Zion is the place to which God’s people shall gather in the last days. Many other scriptures in the Book of Mormon and Inspired Version of the bible clearly define this truth, but have been saved from this discussion for purposes of expressly showing what the standard Christian Bible concretely shares about this covenant of the gathering of Israel.
Oh it makes for great media hype and books on best-sellers lists, but any misconstruing about a rapturing in the last days are misconceptions of men.
The only people ‘Left Behind’ are those who will not repent and be gathered in to Zion in the last days.