The Rapture- Doomsday Dec 21, 2012 Sunday Prepper Bible Study Part 2

the rapture

Last week we spoke about the difference between the prophecies based on the Mayan long count calendar and the Bible. If you missed the post, you can read it HERE. We spoke about several of the prophecies in Revelation 6 as well as some in the latter chapters of Revelation. We closed last week’s bible study with the question of whether Christians will live through this period  known as the tribulation.

First, let’s examine what the rapture is. The rapture is a future event in which Jesus removes those who have received his free gift of salvation and repented of their sins from the earth. Those of you who may be new to Christianity or unfamiliar with the concept may be wondering why He would do such a thing. In II Corinthians 5:20 Christians are referred to by the apostle Paul as “Ambassadors of Christ”. Peter calls Christians  aliens who live in a foreign land. Our citizenship is in Heaven. Typically, when a state declares war against another state, the first order of business is to close the embassy and get all of their ambassadors out. The fact that Jesus is doing this gives us a clue as to what his intentions are. The actual event of the rapture is described by Paul in I Thessalonians 4:17 where he says “we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

Now the answer you have been waiting for: when is the rapture? There are essentially 3 schools of thought on when the rapture will occur. The first is the pre-tribulation camp, next is mid-tribulation and last is post-tribulation. Last week, we described the tribulation as the 7 year period in which God will systematically rip the earth apart. It begins in revelation 6 with the four horse men of The Apocalypse who kill 25% of the global population by war, famine, plague and the wild beasts of the earth. It continues through out the rest of the book of revelation with earthquakes, collisions of asteroids with the earth, water turning to blood and festering boils.

Pre-tribulation believers think the rapture will occur just before the tribulation. They back up their belief with a couple of key scriptures. The primary scripture used is I Thessalonians 5:9 which states “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The tribulation is thought to be a period in which God is pouring out his wrath on a world that has rejected him. The thought of the kingdom of heaven closing its embassy is also very applicable to this view. To further back up this view, historically, God has removed his people before pouring out his judgment. In the account of Noah, he rescued Noah and his family by putting them in the ark. He also gave warning to Lot and his family before destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. An additional piece of evidence used by those committed to the Pre-trib camp is that Jesus taught his followers to always be ready for his return. He spoke of his return as being imminent. In His most famous dissertation end times, Jesus says in Matthew 24:44 “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” This negates the need for the tribulation to begin before the rapture.

Mid-trib believers think the rapture will occur in the middle of the tribulation. They have other verses that they hang their hats on. We just mentioned Matthew 24. In verses 29 to 31 Jesus states “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

The events described by Jesus in this passage seem to mirror the events described by John in Revelation 6 and 7. However, we see something that sounds like the rapture that occurs after the tribulation has began. We see another account of the harvest of the earth in revelation 14:14. “I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.”

This scripture appears several chapters after the beginning of the tribulation. It actually appears in the middle of the tribulation. The mid-tribulation camp claims that the verse that states we are not appointed unto wrath is still applicable as none of the events in the tribulation are labeled as “wrath” until the bowl judgements which are called the bowls of God’s wrath. All of the events prior to bowls, pale in comparison.

The final camp is the post-trib school of thought. I have not been able to find any scripture that would support the rapture not occurring until the end of the tribulation. If you are in the post-trib camp please feel free to post your thoughts on the comments section to provide evidence for why you believe what you believe.

My thoughts on the differing opinions

I see strong arguments for both the pre-trib and mid-trib views. Within the pre-trib school of thought you will often hear people who do not see the need to prepare. Some say that Jesus will come before anything bad happens. Perhaps they don’t watch the news, live under a rock or don’t believe the newspaper. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation.” We are guaranteed tribulation whether we are raptured  before or during the great tribulation. people who think bad things can’t happen to them have chosen to stick their heads in the sand. Since the year 2000, Argentina has seen a complete financial meltdown, The USA has suffered the attacks on 9/11, Japan has experienced one of the worst tsunamis on record, and Haiti has been leveled by  a terrible earth quake. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 24:6-8 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Does any of that sound familiar?

For our mid-trib friends, don’t get to comfortable. Jesus clearly taught that his return was imminent. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42

I would say the day seems to be approaching. “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it [The End]  is near, right at the door.” Matthew 24:32-33. You should read Matthew 24 for yourself this week and see what you think.

If you never read any of the “Left Behind”series, I would highly recommend it. I have read the first 11 books. There are 16 in all. The New York Times #1 best selling fictional series chronicles the tribulation from a pre-trib view point. The Authors, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are well respected biblical scholars. All the events in the books are backed up by scripture and will make the hairs on your neck stand straight up! The first in the series is “Left Behind” and is available from Amazon through the link on the right hand side bar of this post.

If you are new to prepping or would like to learn more about how to prepare for tomorrow, please read our 7 Step Preparedness Plan. Come back every Sunday for a new Prepper Bible Study! The most important prep of all is knowing GOD. Jesus said “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul?” Prepper translation: “What good will it do you to survive the coming economic collapse, nuclear war or even a zombie apocalypse if you don’t know you will go to heaven when you die.” A recent study found that 10 out of 10 people die! On that day we will meet our Maker. It only makes sense to be prepared for that day. Click here to learn more about knowing GOD.

Have a blessed day and happy prepping!