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Rapture Theory: Is it Biblical?

Those who believe in a "rapture" - a supposed event that will whisk away Christians to heaven and from the tribulation time - has no biblical backing. Worse yet, it is responsible for a false hope that many are counting on, but which will NOT happen as they believe.

Let's address the rapture by looking at a number of scriptures that have to be answered that call into question any rapture taking place as many believe it will, prior to Christ's return.

1 Th 4:16 "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 :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."

The above verse is the primary scripture used to support a rapture theory. Of itself, this simply teaches that the dead in Christ and those still alive who are a part of the true Church will be raised... RESURRECTED to, or changed to, spirit.

Some make a big to-do about the words translated "shall be caught up" as if these words had some spiritual significance that supports the rapture theory. The words are taken from the Greek - ( to seize (in various applications): - catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force)). This simple means what it says and nothing more... that when the resurrection takes place, we will rise - be brought up to where Christ is... in the clouds. To build a doctrine out of this alone is dangerous.

Some believe the following scriptures "prove" people go to heaven because they believe Enoch and Elijah did...

Gen 5:23 "Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." NIV

Heb. 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

"Translated" is "metatithemi" and means "to transfer to another place." There is a preconceived idea being read into this scripture. It merely says God took Enoch... "lived for 365 years." He didn't "live" for 365 years, and then go on "living" when God took him. We have to be very careful in trying to force scriptures to say things we want them to say. Enoch later died as did Moses...

Deut 34:5 "So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. 7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated." KJV

Notice, Moses did NOT die of old age. He was healthy and very much alive when God took his life. Moses went to sleep and was buried. His body was hidden by God.

Jude :9 "...Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses..." NKJV

Satan wanted to do "something" with the body of Moses, but God prevented it. Moses died, like Enoch died. Now, what of Elijah?

2 Kings 2:11, " they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

Elijah was taken up into the sky, which is essentially the "first" heaven. (Gen.1:8). The "second" heaven is space (Gen. 15:5) and the "third" heaven is God's throne. (2 Cor 12:2, such a one was caught up to the "third" heaven). God simply moved him from one spot to another on Earth. Elijah was later mentioned in the bible long after this event, (2 Chronicles:21:12-15, and a letter he wrote after this event to Jehoram, Jehoshaphat's son, an evil king who reigned AFTER Elijah was taken away, approximately 7 years later...), so he wasn't taken into God's "third" heaven as some believe. He is now dead in the ground awaiting the resurrection, like Moses. (Study into the Transfiguration issue where "Elijah and Moses" are believed to be alive!

Remember "no one has ascended to heaven" as Christ tells us. (John:3:13). Is he lying to us about that? Also...

Acts 2:29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. :34 For David did not ascend to heaven..." NIV.

Let's look at scriptures speaking about the "church:"

Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, (3 and 1/2 years) from the face of the serpent. Rev 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. Rev 12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

In the above scriptures, we see a number of issues being revealed. The woman is clearly the Church of God... God's true people. This church is taken to a place of protection for 3 and one half years, away from Satan's influence and attacks. The scriptures show that this protection is right here on Earth, and lasts during the tribulation time. God provides miracles that protect this group of people and this makes Satan angry, after which Satan goes back to make war with... WHAT? The "remnant of her (the Church's) seed." This means those NOT protected in God's Church are having to face persecution and are STILL right here on this earth.

(NOTE: An interesting parallel or type of this can be seen in how God dealt with Pharaoh and ancient Israel. Pharaoh eventually allowed Israel to leave their bondage, led by God, but then changed his mind and sent an army to take them back. Pharaoh is a type of Satan who holds the world in bondage to sin. God provides escape for His people, and protects them from the people who want to put them back into bondage. God allowed the waters of the Red sea to swallow them up, just as the "earth" swallows up this "flood" or army being sent to stop these people of God from escaping. Interesting that it seems that the church is on its way to this place, and THEN the armies are sent to get us back, like a change of mind on the authorities part... as Pharaoh changed his mind...).

Luke 21:21 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her." NKJV

Rev 6:9 "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."

This scripture is NOT a literal situation. Why would God be keeping "souls" under an alter? This is simply acknowledging that there are saints who were killed and are now "resting" in death, because they were martyred, till they are resurrected to spirit life. Those to "BE" killed as yet during the tribulation time are NOT protected, but lose their lives.

Dan 7:25 "Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time."

Here we see the saints being given into the hand of the Beast for 3 and a half years... the time of the tribulation. If the rapture were true, they would not he there to be given into his hands.

Dan 11:35 "Some of the wise will stumble,(stumble=OT:3782 cast down, be decayed, (cause to) fail, (cause, make to) fall) so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time." NIV

Notice that this addresses God's own... who are tried, up to the end of this age, and Christ's return. There is no taking of these away from earth.

Next we have to ask, just when does Christ return to this Earth, and where does He return to ON Earth?

John 17:15 "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."

Christ's will was that His called were NOT to be taken out of the world, not raptured away.

1 Co 15:52 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.

Rev 1:7 Behold, he comes with clouds;

Notice this tells us that at the last trump... Christ will return and resurrect His saints to be gathered to Him in the clouds of our sky. When is this last trump that sounds so loudly and that ALL will see and hear?

Rev 8:6 "And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."

Rev 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 for ever and ever."

Christ returns to Earth at the sound of the last/7th trumpet, and every eye will see this return. This return is at the end point of the tribulation period as Revelation clearly shows, so how can a "rapture" take the saints to heaven prior to the last trump? Lastly, where does Christ Himself go AT His return? He meets the saints in the air as He is returning with the armies of Heaven, and at THAT time, he goes to a specific place...

Zec 14:4 "And his feet shall stand in that day (The last trump - Christ's return to Earth) upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east..."

Notice that Christ comes to resurrect the saints, gathering them from one corner of heaven to the other...

Mark 13:27 "And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven."

Notice that the elect are gathered from all over the earth... under, on and above. "Heaven" here is the first heaven, (sky-atmosphere) or the highest mountain tops, not people supposedly in the third heaven.

Also remember... Christ tells us in Mt. 24...

Matt 24:22 "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened".

If the Elect are raptured from the earth, why would Christ have to "shorten" the days "for the elect's sake?" They are already safe in heaven, right? No, Christ shortens the days so that His elect are NOT eliminated with all flesh on earth. He steps in to stop this destruction that would destroy the whole planet, including those elect who are on this earth waiting for Christ's return and the resurrection. The elect's "sake" likely also refers to Christ's promise to His saints of ruling with Him on this earth over the nations. If the earth were destroyed, God's plan, the millennium, etc., would not happen as He wills.

So, where does Christ immediately go after the resurrection of those who have died in Christ, and all those in the true church yet alive on earth? Christ then goes, that same day, to the Mount of Olives, (Zach 14:4 above) the very spot where He left His apostles long ago. In order to believe and accept the rapture theory, you have to disregard these scriptures that tell us the sequence of events that involve Christ's return and the resurrection of the saints.

The return of Christ is after (or at the close since there are yet 7 last plagues yet to be poured out AFTER the resurrection) of the tribulation period of 3 and one half years, NOT before it. The church - a portion of it - is protected by God on this Earth, while the other portion is persecuted and likely many, if not all, martyred.

Also keep in mind that the Two Witnesses of God...

    Rev 11:3 "And I will give [power] to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, (3 and one half years... tribulation period) clothed in sackcloth. Rev 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. Rev 11:8 And their dead bodies (they are not in heaven waiting...) [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified."
    Rev 11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; (resurrection of the entire church at Christ's return) and great fear fell upon them which saw them. Rev 11:12 And they heard a great voice (same great voices of Rev 8:6) from heaven saying to them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

... are alive and preaching to the whole world during the tribulation period, are killed, and then are resurrected at the same time ALL the saints are resurrected... at the last trump... when the loud voices in heaven are heard and EVERY eye sees Christ return, and they ascend to (the first) "heaven," the sky and clouds.

How many resurrections are there? At least two that we can see from scripture, possibly three. The FIRST resurrection is of the saints at Christ's coming. If the rapture were true, there would be a resurrection before the tribulation and one after it... then another one after the 1000 year reign of Christ, which by the way is ON EARTH, NOT in heaven where everyone thinks they will be. Why would you even want to go to heaven when Christ will be here on earth?

The greatest threat the rapture theory makes is in the hope countless people have who believe that it will occur prior to the tribulation... thinking it will save them from this time period. This creates a false sense of security and often makes for a sleeping and weak Christian belief system that prevents the bride, (the body of Christ) from "making herself ready."

The question, finally, to ask yourself is this: "What will you do if the rapture does NOT occur, as you expect?" Will this cause you to lose hope that God is in charge? Will you panic when things fall apart around you and you are not whisked away like you expect?

The greatest issue is not "escaping" tribulation, but drawing close to God so that we may be counted worthy to escape...

Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape (Rev 12:14-17) all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

This isn't saying to "pray that you may be counted worthy..." but to "pray always..." that the results of prayer, and drawing close to God in spiritual understanding, may allow you to escape "all these things" which Christ spoke about, and NOT have to be the remnant of the church who were NOT ready and had to be tried (Rev. 3:14-21) overcome, and be perfected.

The rapture as taught is a false teaching that will not occur as most expect it will. We need to be aware of the truth of Christ's return, and be preparing for it and to rule with Him once here on Earth.

This website is here to offer you hope even if you now refuse to believe what it teaches. You will remember what you heard here and can know that as bad as it gets, you have hope where you may think none exists.

Related Article: The Second Exodus: Who will be protected during the Tribulation, and who will not? 2014 Sermon

Also read Rapture Ready

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Web pages created and material written by Jeffrey T. Maehr. Common Law Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. Reproduction allowed if credit to this website is listed with material. Off site material and some articles authored as stated.