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Rapture: A Hoax Refuted by the Bible?
Confusion or Deliberate Misinterpretation of the Scriptures??
As we stated previously the word "Rapture" does not appear in the Bible. It comes from the Latin word rapare which means taken or snatched away. There are many Christians who believe that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be in two phases. Some theologians put forward the argument that he will come for both living and dead in the rapture (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Theologians maintain in this view that the rapture will entail the transformation and the taking up of all Christians, (i.e., Christ's Elect) dead and those who are alive, to meet the Lord in the air. The key is that this version of the rapture will be secret in nature; it will not be known to the world of non-believers at the time of its happening.
The effect of this removal, in the absence of multitudes of people, will, of course, be evident on earth. Then, the second version of the rapture will occur after a period of seven (7) years of great tribulation on earth. Following this great tribulation, Christ will return to earth with his church, the Elect who had been secretly raptured away (see Matthew 24:30, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 1:7). He will conquer his enemies (Satan and his followers) and will reign on the earth for 1,000 years (the millennium) with his Elect, the church (see Revelation 21:1-3). During this time of his reign, Satan and his followers will be supposedly bound in chains and imprisoned.
After the one thousand years, the living unbelievers and the wicked dead now will be raised to life. They will only be resurrected to stand before God's Final Judgment. They will be found unworthy of sharing God's glory. Their final fate will be the "Second Death". They will then be cast into the Lake of Fire & Brimstone, where the Second Death will occur as the flames consumed them. The Elect will live forever with Christ in a new Heaven and earth for eternity (Revelation Chapter 19-22).
Many other evangelical Christians and theologians cling to the other school of theology. They believe that Christ's return and the rapture will not occur until the seven (7) years of the great tribulation have ended. As far as the latter view is concerned, the rapture will not be a secret, since it will be a part of Christ's visible and triumphant return to end this present evil age (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). At this point, proponents of this school differ as to whether there will be a literal thousand (1,000) year reign of Christ on earth or whether the Final Judgment will occur, and then the new Heaven and earth will immediately appear.
Clarification from Gospel of Matthew
Despite the different schools of theology on the rapture, there is actually some clarification from one of the Gospel books of the Bible. Not relied upon extensively for its prophecy, the Gospel according to Matthew provides some clarification on where Christ's Elect will be during the seven (7) year of the Great Tribulation. Matthew stated in Chapter 24 of his Gospel that the Elect will be on earth during the Great Tribulation. He states around 21 verse: "for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world's beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones (Christ's Elect) those days will be cut short." The most obvious question is if Christ's Elect was safely away in Heaven or a protected enclave in another dimension, God would have simply permitted events to go on without interruption or divine interference. The days will be cut short for the sake of the Elect (i.e., in an effort to save them from harmful events).
Rapture Implies Entrance into Heaven
Many Christian believers are convinced that they will be raptured away to live in Heaven with Jesus and the Heavenly Father. As a matter of fact, the entire Christian worship culture revolves around this idea. Most Christian believers point to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as the basis for their belief. The passage of scripture reads: "Then we which are alive (and) remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Despite the clarity of this scripture, theologians point out that the passage of scripture is silent as to what happens next. Will the Elect endure a journey to Heaven, or merely be suspended in the air to await the completion of an event on earth. What is this event? The Apostle Peter points out in his second epistle that God will not destroy the earth, but rather cleanse it with fire. Is it possible that this cleansing process will take awhile, and thus Christ and his Elect would have to be suspended to await its completion? What about the Wicked who shall not taste biological death? It stands to reason that they too would have to be suspended to await the cleansing processing of the earth. God will not destroy the Wicked until after they face the Final Judgment. This is indeed a plausible theory rather than what has been commonly believed and accepted, return and entrance into Heaven. The book of Revelation confirms that after the cleansing process, God government will start with everything anew. The era of man's rule will be swept away. Revelation 21:3 specifically states that God (the Son) will come and dwell with men. Revelation 21:3 is confirmed by John 14 as well as Matthew 5:5 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In effect wherever Christ will be there the Elect will be as well. If Christ will be heading God's government on earth, then he will not be in Heaven. Thus, it stands to reason that the Elect will not live in Heaven for all eternity. Does this mean that no other human beings will ever see or live in Heaven? Not necessary. Christ tells us in the book of Matthew that the pure and spirit will see God. Revelation tells us that 144,000 (supposedly 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel) will probably reside in Heaven around the Throne of God. However, Christ also stated that "the Meek shall Inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Who are the Meek? They, the Meek, are Christ's Elect, or chosen ones.
Consensus On Earthly Reign of Christ
All Christian theologians do not agree on every detail of what will occur in the final events of the earth's history. A significant number of these events and their sequence of occurrence have simply not been made very clear in the Bible. What is critical is that all Christians hold in common is that Christ will ultimately return in body form, visible to all and glorious conqueror who will reign and rule with his resurrected and incorruptible Elect forever and ever. The details of this great event and the new "World Tomorrow" or utopia on earth which will be much better than anything man has produced will be made known in God's own timeframe. What is absolutely certain is that all of these events will occur with the earth as the focal point. The Apostle Peter said in his second epistle that the earth shall be the "home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:10-13) because all sin and evil will be in the distant past. The earth will be cleansed with fire and the old order of man will be swept away. Satan will no longer be able to influence wicked men because he will be bound and cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone where he and the imprisoned spirits (angels) will be punished for all eternity. They will not endure the Second Death because they are immortal beings, but will feel the pain of the flames. However, the mortal wicked (men) will eventually succumb to the flames and die the Second Death.