Is the Rapture Biblical? Part 1
Will the Church Be Taken From This Earth?
With the latest false prophecy regarding the return of Christ and the Rapture of the Church, speculations have once again arisen as to whether the Rapture is even something that Scripture teaches. While it is true the actual word is not in any of our English Bibles, the concept is there. The word "rapture" is actually from the Latin and means "caught up." And the Bible does teach us in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 that believers will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
It is interesting that the term "Trinity" is also not mentioned in Scripture, but most believers in the Lord Jesus Christ rightly accept the concept that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Bible is full of evidence that this is the case. So we need to weigh the evidence for a rapture as well.
In order to totally understand this teaching, we need to see the distinction between Israel and the Church of this present age. There is a big difference between the prophecies of the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, in the Old Testament, and His return for the Church, spoken of by Paul, in the New. So first, let us look at Israel and the Church.
I. Israel and the Church
The Old Testament clearly teaches that God has made many promises to the nation of Israel. Those promises include a land and a seed. This is seen at first with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12. In verses 2 and 3 God tells him: "And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great: and you shall be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed." Later, after Israel became a nation, God promised King David, in what has become known as the Davidic Covenant, that he would have a descendant to sit on his throne forever. Throughout the prophets, even after Israel was judged for their sins by going into captivity, the Lord continued to promise Israel that He would once again bring Israel back, as a nation and put His Messiah upon the throne.
Some would say that these promises are, or will be, totally fulfilled in the Church of this present age. But that is not what Paul says in Romans 9-11. Let us look at Romans 11:25,26. It states: "For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." So we see that God is not finished with His people, whom he foreknew. The prophetic Scriptures will be completely fulfilled.
The blindness happened because Israel, as a nation, rejected her risen Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. So God has temporarily set them aside and brought in this present Age of Grace in which we now live. Paul calls it in Ephesians 3, a mystery which was not made known in other ages. It was hidden in God since the foundation of the world. It is a time when Jew and Gentile alike come to God through faith in Jesus Christ and are placed into one Body, or group, called the Body of Christ. This age in which we presently live was not part of prophecy. It has been going on for over 2000 years now. And it will continue until what Paul calls the "fulness of the Gentiles." The reason Paul says this is because, even though this present age allows Jews and Gentiles alike to come to God through Christ, it is mainly the age of the Gentiles, since mostly Gentiles are heeding the message of salvation. Most of the Jews are blind to the truth of the Gospel today, as they were then. The fullness will happen when the last member of the Body of Christ is saved. Then another mystery takes place.
II. The Rapture is Part of the Mystery
Since there is much more to say to demonstrate the reality of the Rapture, I need to continue it in another article. But for now, suffice it to say that this age must come to an end and Israel must receive the promises of a land, a seed, a Messiah and a Kingdom, offered over and over again in the Old Testament. For this, Jesus must return to earth, and his feet will actually touch the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). At Christ's ascension, it was told to his disciples that Christ would return to earth in the same manner in which he was taken from them. (Acts 1:9-11). This is all part of prophecy. The Rapture, on the other hand, is called a mystery by Paul in I Corinthians 15:51-54. By mystery is meant something not previously revealed, that is now revealed. And during this time, Jesus will not come back to earth. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 says rather that we will meet the Lord in the air. The dead in Christ will be taken first. Then those believers which are still alive will be taken next. After that, we will always be with the Lord.
In our next installment, we will talk about the major differences between Christ's coming for the Church in the air, and his coming back to earth to set up his long prophesied Kingdom. But I trust that enough has been said so far to show that the Rapture is a special time in history that all believers in our Lord today should be looking forward to experiencing. It is a time of great celebration when we will see Jesus and live with him forever, along with our fellow members of the Body of Christ. In this day and age in which there is much unrest in the world, it is good to know that our Lord still has everything under control. We can indeed comfort one another with the hope of the Rapture.