Chronology of the Rapture by: Avi
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I’ve placed all the relevant passages that deal with the “rapture,” with specific regard to their chronological order (the order that they were originally written in) and cross examined them. This is what I came up with. If you find your beliefs challenged, I encourage you to re-examine them in the light of the scriptures interpreted in simple, chronological order.
The Scriptures foretold that there would come a season of unparalleled trouble for the people of Israel and also the rest of the world. Moses wrote a prophetic song about this final time of affliction in the Song of Moses (in Deut 32:1-43) This affliction is the final time of God judging Israel’s sin. This is necessary for the reason being that God must be faithful to his covenant. This covenant demands that God bless Israel with Abraham’s blessing (Gen 12:1-3) However, Israel’s sin is a hindrance form these blessings being fully realized in Israel. For this reason, God sent Jesus to atone for Israel’s sin upon the cross. Now that this is legally secured, Israel must repent and willfully submit to the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood. God will demonstrate his wrath and mercy to Israel and the nations when he finally draws the remnant of Israel fully back to himself in repentance. It was this concept that the prophets inevitably would always come back to in their writings, when they had prophesied about the final time that God would judge Israel’s sin and bring them to repentance.
At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time…(Daniel 12:1)
For then there will be great trouble, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matt 24:21-22)
But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:1b-3)
These scriptures show that the “tribulation” spoken of in Daniel 12:1-3 is the same one that Jesus referred to in Mat 24:21-22.
As written of by Daniel, Jesus and Paul, side by side
Daniel revealed that there will be a resurrection at that time of the deliverance of the elect from that time of great trouble. Jesus was quoting directly from Daniel 12. Daniel 12 was directly quoting from Jeremiah 30:7.
“7 Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it.”
Now we can understand why Paul placed a resurrection “at his coming,” speaking of Jesus’ second coming to the earth, when he wrote this, here in 1 Cor 15:21-25:
“21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then (after the millennium) comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”
Here, Paul said that there will be a resurrection of those in Christ, “at his coming.” This is another connector showing that the gathering Jesus spoke of in Mat 24:31 also will include the resurrection of the righteous, though the resurrection is not specifically mentioned by Jesus.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation (the time of trouble that Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1 foretold) of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Mat 24:29-31).
- Daniel put the resurrection after the tribulation, in Dan 12:1.
- Jesus quoted from Daniel 12:1 and put the gathering and redemption of the elect at the end of the “trouble of those days” in Mat 24:31.
- Paul ( 1 Cor 15) put the resurrection of the righteous at the “coming” of the Lord in 1 Cor 15:23. Jesus said that this would happen “immediately after the tribulation.”
- Therefore, Paul, borrowing information from Daniel, wrote that the resurrection would take place after the tribulation. Jesus added that the living righteous would be “gathered… immediately after the tribulation.”
Paul then combines the two elements into one event in 1 Thes 4:13-18, the famous rapture passage. The gathering (rapture) of the living elect and the resurrection of the dead elect all happen at once, “immediately after the tribulation of those days” and at the “coming of the Lord” according to 1 Thes 4:13-18 and Mat 24:31.
“13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep (dead in Christ), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord (directly referring to Mat 24:31), that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, (Mentioned in Dan 12:1) and with the sound of the trumpet of God (Mat 24:31). And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up (by the angels in Mat 24:31) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thes 4:13-18)
Who Are The Elect in Matthew 24:31?
When Daniel was writing his book, the “mystery of the church” was not revealed yet. That is why there is no specific mentioning of the church in the Old Covenant prophets’ writings.
“4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs (with the believing Jews) , members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Eph 3:4-6)
After Pentecost, the gentiles were welcomed into the New Covenant made with Israel and thus, they also became “the elect.”
Since the blood of Messiah was shed on the cross, there is no division in God between believing Jews and believing Gentiles. We are all in one body. Think about this:
“11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Eph 2:11-22)
Therefore, in light of this, we can see that Paul’s idea of “the elect” was the church consisting of believing Jews and believing Gentiles. So Paul would have naturally understood that “the elect,” whom Jesus said would be gathered “immediately after the tribulation,” are the church of believing Jews and Gentiles, not just Jews alone. There is simply only one “elect.” The “elect” are now the new phenomenon of spiritually united Jews and gentiles that the New Testament calls the church. See Paul’s use of the word “elect” here: Romans 8:33, 9:11, 11:7, 11:28, 1 Timothy 5:21, 2 Timothy 2:10, and Titus 1:1.
So, in closing, we see a definite (commonly termed) rapture of the living saints taking place at the “coming of the Lord,” “immediately after the tribulation” and immediately after “the dead in Christ… rise first,” when we all “together” will “meet the Lord in the air” at “the coming of the Lord.”
Why Does It Matter?
No one knows if the end will come in our lifetime or not. It is fruitless to speculate that the Lord will likely return in our generation because we can not have any idea when he will return until the Antichrist is here wrecking havoc on the earth.
“3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thes 2:3-4)
The reason that I wrote this article was not to get into a fruitless debate with anybody. Although, debate is not always necessarily fruitless at all. I raise the issue because I believe that there are very vital, connected issues that will not be considered at all by anyone who is decidedly pre-trib (the rapture happening before the tribulation) in the views of the end times.
“11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:11-15)
These verses are some that together tell us the whole purpose of the church age. The pre-trib view asserts that the purpose of the church age is two fold:
- The purpose of the church age is judgment against the unbelief of the majority of Israel.
- The purpose of the church age is to give all the gentile nations a fair chance to hear the gospel and be saved before God turns back to Israel and Israel turns back to him, before the millennial reign of Christ begins. Essentially, this current age is one of God simply tallying up the numbers of saved Gentiles until it reaches a certain, unknown number, and then the rapture will happen and then… well, you know the rest. The “blessed hope” is painted to be a rapture before this time of trial and trouble for unbelieving Israel and the nations.
These two ideas rest upon the unscriptural notion that Israel and the church are entirely separate peoples with two separate plans of God, one for each of them. Re-read Eph 2:11-22 and consider the following in that regard: the church is the new phenomenon of Gentiles being grafted in alongside with the particular Jews who have faith in the Jesus, the Messiah, through the New Covenant God made with Israel (Jer 31:31). This was accomplished through Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Believing Jews and Gentiles are now one people- the church. Jews are still Jews and Gentiles are still Gentiles, but we are spiritually united similar to a marriage’s physical union.
This phenomenon of Jews and Gentiles being spiritually united as one people in Messiah is both a judgment on Israel’s unbelievers and also a blessing to them.
“28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” (Rom 11:28-32)
You see, it is true that God has hardened the unbelievers of Israel right now. But this has been done, “for your sake.” This is the purpose of the church: to be an effectual witness to unbelieving Israel until they turn back to the Lord. When they turn to the Lord, there will be “life from the dead” or simply put, a resurrection. We know that the Antichrist is set to attempt to destroy the people of Israel and those who follow Jesus. Pre-tribbers delegate these saints to those who will repent after the pre-tribulational rapture. This effectively removes any thoughts about the church’s purpose and calling to be the witness to Israel until they turn to God, which is prophesied to happen to the surviving remnant of Israel. The bottom line is this:
- Israel cannot repent without the church being Jesus’ witness to her.
- The church cannot witness to Israel if we are all gone into heaven because of a rapture.
- The dead in Christ are to be raised at the rapture or “gathering of the elect.” This cannot happen until a very significant number of the remnant of Israel is repenting to Jesus. As Paul asked in Romans 11:15, “What will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?”
So, I am very concerned about all this widespread passion for the pre-trib rapture here in the west. It is definitely a distraction for the church from considering all the vast purposes God has for their being a church age at all in the fist place. Besides, as Dr Michael L Brown says, “The reason that I don’t believe in the pre-tribulational rapture is because it is not found in the Bible.”
It is not a matter of simply being ready to meet the Lord at any moment in the rapture. That idea is honestly a new one that was first taught by certain Bible teachers from Scotland, in the 1830s. It is a great idea to live ready to meet the Lord at any moment. But this has always been true, before Jesus came and still today after he has come and gone. What the rapture should call us to now is to understand God’s purpose of this church age. It is a matter of understanding the ways of God himself. It is a matter of understanding what is means for God to be a faithful God of his covenant to Abraham. It is a matter of knowing and understanding God, as he, in fact, is.
The Church has no covenant with God, Israel does have a covenant with God
““Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” Jer 31:31
The fact that most of us are gentiles and we are in a saving relationship with God is meant to humble us before the mercy of God. God intends that the church begin to see his majestic purpose in the church age. The church is a new phenomenon designed out of the faithfulness of God to Abraham, Gen 12:1-3. God has raised up the church to turn Israel back to God, on the positive side of things. No one knew that, through the Messiah, gentiles would be united together with the faithful in Israel as one new people- the church. God’s original intention was for Israel to be a light to the nations. It was not known that this call would begin to be fulfilled through a predominantly Gentile church, consisting of countless people of the nations, that was birthed by the remnant of Israel in the first century.
I ask you to seriously consider, just for a moment, that this is what the scriptures do, in fact, teach. When we place the scriptures together, in the order that they were written in, a picture emerges. This picture is what theologians call “historic pre-millennialism.” This means that there will be a time of trouble, with the Antichrist, coming ahead. At the end of this season, Jesus will return. The saints will be caught up by angels to meet the Lord in the air. At that time the dead in Messiah will also be resurrected. Then Jesus will establish a theocracy in Israel. It will be a long period of peace, prosperity and salvation for Israel and many people in the nations. This has direct bearing on our lives today. It shows us why we have been chosen to live in the generation that we live in. This shows us what the goal of the church’s existence is. We are living in a time period of transition. Indeed, all of history is a time of transition. In the end, God will renew the entire creation into the glory that he has always intended for it. The universe will be totally filled with God’s image in the person and character of Jesus.
For more posts on this subject of eschatology and end times, click here.
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