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When is the Rapture?
The Bible's teaching on the timing of the Rapture, & why May 21, 2011  could not have been the day of the Rapture!
By Brother Mike (8-19-11) 

 

Throughout history there have been various views as to when the rapture would take place. In historic premillenialism, or perhaps better called post-tribulation premillenialism since they believe that rapture will take place after the great tribulation, which seems to have been the prominent understanding within the first few centuries after Christ, the rapture was thought to take place after the final great tribulation, which was then followed by a 1000 year reign of Christ when He, His people and the new Jerusalem would descend from heaven in their new spiritual manifestations - the spiritual emphasis of it all is one of the many things that set it apart from the modern day dispensational premillenialism where in Christ is thought to reign for a 1000 years from the literal earthly city of Jerusalem beginning after the final great tribulation. In the early 5th century, this historic premillenialism was declared a heresy at the council of Ephesus in 431 AD, and amillenialism became the prominent viewpoint, which still maintained that the rapture would take place after the final great tribulation, but denied any literal 1000 year reign of Christ; hence the term amillenialism, which literally means no millennium or no literal 1000 year reign. According to them, the 1000 year reign was not to be taken as a literal 1000 years, but as a symbolic figure of the time period from the crucifixion to the beginning of the final great tribulation. It appears that most of the Christian world up until the 19th century or so held to a post-tribulation rapture; that is, that the rapture would take place after the final great tribulation. 

Most of the variations of understanding in the timing of the rapture have occurred only in the last 150 years or so. Currently, there are those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture, a mid-tribulation rapture, a post-tribulation rapture, a partial rapture, a pre-wrath rapture, and there may be other viewpoints as well, but probably the most common belief of our day is called dispensational premillenialism, which unlike historic premillenialism does not normally hold to a post-tribulation rapture, but instead advocates a pre-tribulation rapture, or less commonly, a mid-tribulation rapture followed by a 7 year or 3.5 year great tribulation period respectively, which is then followed by a literal 1000 year reign of Christ from the earthly city of Jerusalem after which period this world will then be destroyed, and a new heaven and earth will be created. 

Now with all these various ideas floating around on the timing of the rapture, it might seem impossible to know exactly when it will take place. But due to where we are at with respect to biblical history, namely right at the end of the world when the Lord has opened up His Word like never before to His people to know the things which have to do with the end of the world, I do believe we can know exactly when the rapture will take place. No, the rapture with its associated earthquake did not take place on May 21, 2011 as we had once thought, but now that we have been forced to look even more closely at the scriptures, and now that we have the superior vantage point of being in the time of the end, I do believe we can know the time of the rapture with a precision unheard of in biblical history.

There are various pathways by which the timing of the rapture can be discovered. One of these pathways begins with the realization that the rapture will take place almost simultaneously to, but after the resurrection of God's people who died before the rapture actually takes place. We see this in the well known rapture passage of 1Thes. 4 where we read, 

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep [those asleep are all God's people who died before the resurrection takes place. They are referred to as being asleep because although their bodies died, their spirit essence went to be with Christ and will come back with Him to be resurrected in body] .   16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel [chief messenger who is Christ], and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 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.
 

First of all, notice the clear, loud and obvious nature of the rapture. The Lord shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, which literally means with the voice of the chief messenger who is Christ, and with the trumpet of God. Certainly the rapture is not being portrayed as some sort of secret, quiet, unheard event as many have taught, especially in the dispensational premillenial camp. The rapture will clearly be a loud, obtrusive and known event when it takes place. Also, when the Lord comes, the dead in Christ, which refers to all those who were saved but died before the rapture takes place, will rise first. This rising obviously refers to the resurrection of God's people who had died before the resurrection actually takes place, and who are raised incorruptible in their new resurrected bodies just previous to those who are saved but still alive and remaining on this earth at the Lord's coming. We get more information on this in 1Cor 15, 

51  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
 

In a clear reference to the same event, we are here again told that the dead shall be raised incorruptible, which is a further explanation of 1Thes. 4 where it stated the dead in Christ shall rise first. In other words, when Christ returns, His people who had died before His coming will be resurrected into their new spiritual bodies, which will be incorruptible, or to put it plainly, their resurrected bodies will never die again. Then almost simultaneously to but after this resurrection, those saved people who are still alive and remain on this earth when the Lord returns, which by the way may be most if not all of us who are now hearing this message, " will 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." And, in that instant of being beamed up if you will to be with the Lord, we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye so that just like God's people who had died previous to the rapture were resurrected with new glorious bodies that will never die again, so also will we who are alive and remain at the Lord's coming be changed or transformed from these earthly cocoon of bodies into glorious new butterfly bodies, which will never sin, and so will never die again, " and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 

Now focusing back on our search for the timing of the rapture, it is clear, from a comparison of 1Thes. 4 with 1Cor.15, that the rapture will take place almost simultaneous to, but after the resurrection of God's people. In other words, the rapture is closely associated to the timing of the resurrection so that if we can determine the time of the resurrection, we will then know the timing of the rapture since both the resurrection of God's people and the rapture will take place at almost the exact same time, which will be at the coming of the Lord. There are 5 passages that clearly let us know when the resurrection of God's people will take place. They are the following: 

Joh 6:39   And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again [that is resurrect it] at the last day [actually the preposition at in the original is the word in

Joh 6:40  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up [that is resurrect him] at the last day [in this case, there really is no preposition in the original, but just the words "the last day"

Joh 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up [that is resurrect him] at the last day [in this case, there really is no preposition in the original, but just the words "the last day"

Joh 6:54  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up [that is resurrect him] at the last day [in this case, there really is no preposition in the original, but just the words "the last day"

Joh 11:24   Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day [actually the preposition at in the original is the word in

All 5 of these passages let us know that the resurrection of God's people will take place in the last day. So isn't it reasonable based upon the fact of the resurrection taking place at almost the same time as the rapture, as we previously learned, that the rapture will take place in the last day as well? Of course it is! And we will see proof for the rapture taking place in the last day through a completely different pathway altogether beginning with another passage which relates to the last day as found in John 12 where we read, 

48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.  

In this passage we are told that the unsaved will be judged in the last day. So what we have learned to this point is that the resurrection of God's people will not only take place in the last day, but so will the judgment of the unsaved take place in the last day. We read more about this time of judgment on the unsaved in Revelations 11,

15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.
. . .

18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.  

In this passage, "The time of the dead, that they should be judged" must refer to the time when the unsaved will be judged, for scripture in many places refers to the unsaved as being the dead. For instance, Col. 2:13 states, 

Col 2:13  And you, being dead [that is, spiritually dead before being saved] in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [that is, brought to spiritual life] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 

And again in Eph. 2 we read,   

Eph 2:1  And you hath he quickened [that is, brought to spiritual life], who were dead [that is, spiritually dead before they were saved] in trespasses and sins; 

So we see that the dead refers to all the unsaved people of the world, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged is spoken of here as taking place at the time of the 7th angel sounding its trumpet. Remember what we read in Rev. 11,  

15 And the seventh angel sounded; . . .
. . .
18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged

The sounding is not mentioned as being the sounding of a trumpet - it just says that the 7th angel sounded - but we know that it is the 7th trumpet being sounded by the 7th angel based on the broader context of this passage which goes back all the way to Rev. 8 and beginning in verse 6 where we read,  

6   And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9  And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. 
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 

Notice that the sounding of each of the angels is one and the same as the sounding of their respective trumpet. For instance, when the first angel sounded, it is the sounding of the first trumpet; when the 2nd angel sounded, it is the sounding of the 2nd trumpet; and when the 3rd angel sounded, it is the sounding of the 3rd trumpet, and so on. Therefore, when scripture reveals in the context of the time when the dead will be judged that the 7th angel sounded, we know it is one and the same as the time of the sounding of the 7th trumpet. 

Now what is so significant about the unsaved being judged upon the sounding of the 7th trumpet as we just learned in Revelations 11, which judging we have previously learned takes place at the last day, is that the sounding of the 7th trumpet in the book of revelations is one and the same as the sounding of the last trumpet since the 7th trumpet is the last and final trumpet mentioned in the Book. Therefore, we can say that the sounding of the 7th trumpet is the sounding of the last trumpet, which takes place on the last day

Do you see where I am going with this? Remember what 1Thes. 4:16 said, 

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: . . . 

Could this trumpet of God here, which is clearly sounded at the time of the rapture, refer to the same last trumpet or 7th angel and trumpet which is sounded at the time of the judgment of the unsaved people of the world? The answer to this question is, absolutely, for we read in the closely associated passage of 1Cor. 15, 

51  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

This passage clearly lets us know that the rapture will take place at the sounding of the last trumpet!

So what we have discovered in a sort of roundabout way is proof for the resurrection and rapture taking place at the last day as we had previously concluded. The judgment of the unsaved will take place on the last day as well, and this judgment of the unsaved takes place at the sounding of the 7th trumpet, which is one and the same as the sounding of the last trumpet when the resurrection of God's people and the rapture takes place. Therefore, the resurrection of God's people and then the almost simultaneous rapture of God's people, and the judgment of the unsaved people of the world, will all take place on the same day, which, as we have learned, will be on the last day.

As a sort of an aside, we also can see that the resurrections of the saved and unsaved will take place on the same last day by the simple reading of John 5, 

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 

Notice the tie in of this passage with 1Thes. 4 in that all who are in the graves will hear His voice. This is the same voice heard in 1Thes 4 where we read, 

16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 

So we know we are not comparing apples to oranges here, but apples to apples, which is exactly what we want to be doing. Anyway, what I want to do with the " marvel not at this: for the hour is coming" verse is place focus on the singular word hour, which upon the plain reading of the scripture appears to refer to a specific time (singular, hour) in which the resurrection of the saved and unsaved will take place as is in agreement with and in support of what we have just learned about the resurrection of the saved and unsaved taking place on the same last day. It would be quite unnatural to see this hour as referring to two different times (plural) in which these resurrections of the saved and unsaved will take place on different days as is taught by the false teaching of premillenialism, which says a resurrection of believers will take place before the 1000 year reign of Christ, and then a second resurrection of the unsaved will take place at least 1000 years later. I ask you, does that make sense as you listen to these verses once again? They read, 

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour (singular) is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 

It seems obvious to me that the notion of the unsaved being resurrected some 1000 years later than the saved is a far stretch from the obvious meaning of these verses, but, on the other hand, most easily supportive of the resurrection of the saved and unsaved taking place on the same last day, or in the same hour, as we have already shown to be the case by the comparison of other related scriptures.

Well, there you have it; the rapture will take place according to scripture on the last day!

But now the challenge becomes discovering what day the last day is referring to. This is where we made the error with respect to what would happen on May 21, 2011 . Because May 21 was the last day of the great tribulation and the beginning of spiritual Judgment Day upon the world, we wrongly assumed that the rapture would take place on this day, being the last day of the great tribulation and the beginning of the period of time known as Judgment Day. But we now know that this term last day refers to what a simple reading of the term would normally mean, namely the last day of this world's existence, or the last day of the period of Judgment Day. 

So when will the Rapture take place? Answer: on the last day of this world's existence whenever that is.  

Now let's summarize what we have learned in this study:  

1. According to 1Thes. 4 in comparison to 1Cor. 15 we learned that those believers who have already died will be resurrected in their new incorruptible bodies at the coming of the Lord. These new bodies will never die again

2. Then almost simultaneously to but after this resurrection, God's people who are still here on earth at the Lord's coming will be instantly changed or transformed at the twinkle of an eye into their new incorruptible bodies, which will also never die again. 

3. Simultaneous to this, all of God's people, both those who were resurrected and those who were changed, will then be gathered together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so they will always be with Him forevermore. This is the rapture! 

4. We learned further that the resurrection and, therefore, the rapture will take place on the last day according to the 4 verses in John 6 and the 1 verse in John 11, which clearly reveal the resurrection of God's people to take place in the last day.  

5. We also saw that the judgment of the unsaved people of the world will take place on the last day according to John 12:48. This began another pathway as revealed in 6-7 below to show that the rapture will occur on the last day.  

6. This led us to see that the judgment of the unsaved people of the world would take place at the sounding of the 7th angel or trumpet according to Revelations 11:15 and 18. 

7. This sounding of the 7th angel or trumpet was revealed to be the same last trumpet sound, which sounds at the resurrection and at the changing of God's people into their new resurrected bodies according to 1Cor. 15:51-52, and it is the same sounding of the trumpet of God which sounds at the resurrection and rapture of God's people as revealed in 1Thes. 4:16-17. 

8. Therefore, based on 5-7 above, the rapture must take place on the last day as was already learned to be the case due to the very close association of the resurrection and rapture, and that the resurrection is clearly taught in scripture to take place at the last day of this world according to the 4 verses in John 6 and the 1 verse in John 11.  

9. Having learned that the sounding of the 7th angel occurs at the judgment of the unsaved according to Rev. 11:15 and 18, which judgment of the unsaved takes place on the last day according to John 12:48, we then looked at another passage which speaks of the sounding of the 7th angel in Rev. 10 when the mystery of God would be finished, which could only make sense if it were in reference to the very end of the world when everything will be finished. Therefore, the last day must be in reference to the very last day of this world, which is when the rapture will take place. The rapture could not have possibly occurred on May 21, 2011 because this was never thought to be the very end, or last day, of the world.  

Now in closing, let's agree with what is stated in Revelation 11:17, 

17 We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 

Now may "t he LORD bless thee, and keep thee: t he LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 

Amen!

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