The Rapture – Part 3 (The Season of His Return)
By Pete Garcia
The Rapture: Part 3 (When Will It Happen?)
A reader recently asked me something that I had been asked many times over the years. Paraphrasing him for brevity’s sake, he asked, what difference does it make which rapture position I hold too? The Rapture will happen when it happens regardless of whether it is Pre-Trib, Pre-Wrath, Post-Trib, or No-Trib. We will get raptured when we get raptured and our hope should be in Christ, not in the Rapture.
I get his point, honestly I do. As Christian’s, our ultimate hope is (or should be) living a life that is pleasing to Christ. Ultimately, we know God has this all under control and that one day, everything will change for the better. That is what I call the big-picture or macro-view of the Bible, and there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with holding that view.
…if that is the only view you hold too, then you are missing out on A LOT!
If God only wanted us Christians to cling to the big-picture view and nothing else, then our Bibles would only need to be a single page with five words- in the end, God wins. Seeing that as our Bible is more than just a single page, single book, or even single testament, I have to presume that God put all those details in there for a reason.
- He wants us to know how it all began
- He wants us to know where we came from
- He wants us to know what has happened in the past
- He wants us to know genealogies (these build credibility and are evidentiary)
- He wants us to know who Jesus was and why He came
- He wants the church to know how we should live
He also wants us to know that He has the past, present, and future in His hands by telling us what will happen before it does (Amos 3:7, John 13:19). This foretelling is what we call Bible prophecy. However, not all prophecy deals with the end-times or last days events, since many prophecies have already been fulfilled. Nevertheless, the bulk of Bible prophecy does deal with the last days. This study of last days (or the study of last things) in particular, is known as Christian Eschatology. Bible prophecy then makes up around 1/3 of our Bible, which…
According to “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy” by J. Barton Payne, there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These prophecies are contained in 8,352 of the Bible’s verses. Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume. (Source: Gracethrufaith)
So why study Bible prophecy? Well, Bible prophecy does many important and practical things for the Christian today.
- It helps ground our faith by reassuring us that God has it all under control
- It fills in the gaps of our understanding about what happened in the past, and what will happen in the future
- It peaks our interest (we are curious creatures by design) and turns our focus heavenward
- Bible prophecy distinguishes Christianity from all other religious holy texts through fulfilled prophecy (no one else can do it)
- It showcases the divine inspiration and supernatural nature of the Bible
- It serves as a filter (of sorts) to weed out false/errant theologies and hermeneutics (ex. Supersessionism, Hebrew Roots, Preterism, etc.)
- Our enemy, Satan, takes bible prophecy seriously, so should we (Gen. 3:15)
- Finally, it gives the believer of every generation hope
Another question many sincere believers have regarding the rapture is, if it happens in the twinkling of an eye, and all born-again believers are taken up regardless of their eschatological position, why bother studying it?
Part & parcel with the study of Bible prophecy, and eschatology in particular, is the next, big event on God’s prophetic calendar, the Rapture of the Church. And while it is true, the rapture will happen so fast that we probably will not have time to process. The study of the rapture isn’t so much for our sakes (once we understand it), as it will be for those who are left behind. Is it any coincidence that more information about the Rapture has been generated in the previous two centuries, than has for the entirety of the last two-thousand years?
As the old rabbinic idiom says, coincidence is not a kosher word.
I believe that God the Holy Spirit began purposefully stirring up godly men and women in the 19th-century to intentionally and exponentially give greater understanding to Bible prophecy. He did so because the time was right (see also Galatians 4:4). As time began drawing to a close, God wanted us to know what would happen before it happened. Not only that, but He knew deception would quickly intensify as the geopolitical/prophetic picture became clearer. That picture began to become clearer in 1897 with the world’s first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
Two world wars later, the nation of Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948 (Isaiah 66:7-8). While Satan cannot see into the future, he does know bible prophecy (Luke 4:1-9). Satan knows that most Bible prophecy centers around and/or is dependent upon, Israel becoming a nation again. Why do you think he tried so hard to exterminate the Jews during WWII? Why do you think Satan is trying so hard today? Just as he used the Third Reich then, he is using socialists, leftists, and Islamists today to try to erase the Jewish people and the borders of Israel so they can no longer be a nation.
Satan thinks if he can do this, he can either delay or disrupt God’s plan. Little did Satan know that by committing the holocaust, he was just fulfilling Bible prophecy. By the end of the war, there was just enough world sympathy for the Jews (due to the horror of the holocaust), for the newly founded United Nations to allow Israel to become a nation again.
By 1948, everything (technological, geopolitical, military, informational, economic, etc.) began to rapidly intensify in every possible direction. Mankind soon became overwhelmed by the proliferation of information. Things that had long been hidden from man (such as DNA, atomic energy, the Internet, etc.) were now opened like the proverbial Pandora’s Box. This was intentional, because Satan had to move quickly and bring man up to speed for what he needed done.
So far, everything I have written about has been rehashed stuff I have covered many times. I do not think I have ever written about what I am about to do now. Once the rapture happens, the world will be turned on its head. Honestly, we do not know when the Rapture will happen, but rough estimates (these four converging theories) seem to indicate the Rapture happening within the next 15-20 years. Here is how I come to that conclusion.
- Third-day theory-If a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day (2 Peter 3:8), then Hosea 6:2-3 has to be reckoned with. Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection will hit the two-thousand year mark right around 2030. A site that I highly recommend is Don Koenig’s The Prophetic Years, in which he has put a lot of time and energy into sorting through the different windows of time.
- Day/Age theory-modeling after the days of Creation as found in Genesis 1-2, we would be at the end of the sixth day, which was the day man was created. The seventh-day God rested (which we would point to as the coming Millennial Reign of Christ). Seems to solve the issue of why Jesus rules on the earth for 1,000 years (Rev. 20), as opposed to 500 or 8,040 or some other random amount of time.
- Church/Age theory-In Revelation 1-3, seven churches are mentioned that were operational when John wrote this in 95AD. These physical churches are no longer there, but the message for each of them from Christ, was for all who had ears to hear. The interesting thing is that because of the order these churches were put in, seems to fit the pattern of the prominent church ages over the past two-thousand years. Given what we see today, we would definitely be in the Laodicean stage of this timeline.
- The Fig Tree theory-When Jesus stated that the generation who saw all the signs He mentioned in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), that that generation would not pass away before they came to completion. One of those signs was the Jews and Jerusalem-
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:24
This first presumes that Jerusalem would be conquered and controlled by Gentile powers (ex. Romans, Muslims, Crusaders, Turks, British, etc.) until some future point in time. That time was fulfilled in 1967, when the Israelis miraculously fought back against overwhelming odds and retook the entire city in the Six Day War.
Secondly, while Gentiles still live in Jerusalem and administratively control the Temple Mount, the Jewish people finally have their ancient capital back after 1,897 years. Fast-forward fifty-years and the world’s first leader to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, came about through the Presidency of Donald Trump.
Granted, Gentiles will continue to trample Jerusalem throughout the coming Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th Week), but scripture seems to indicate the Jews never fully lose control of the city again until the mid-point of the Tribulation (see also Zechariah 12:1-3, Ezekiel 38-39, Matthew 24:15-22, Rev. 11:1-14). But two points to consider,
- The only people who want a rebuilt Jewish temple, are practicing Jews (Judaism)
- The only way they could rebuild their temple, was if they were back in control of the land of Israel and Jerusalem
- The Jews have just finished forty-years of testing (1977-2017) with the Land for Peace agenda only to see it fall apart again and again. They lacked the political will before, and now I believe that time has come to an end. There will be an earnest an renewed effort to rebuild the temple
- The only way the Antichrist is able to commit the abomination of desolation, is if there is a newly rebuilt Jewish temple (Dan. 9:27, Matt. 24:15, 2 Thess. 2:4)
Jesus stated at the outset of the Olivet Discourse, that the temple would be destroyed (Matt. 23:37-24:2) and so it was in 70AD. But then He states that it would be desolated in the last days. All the signs that He gave, He likened to birth pangs, in that while they were always present, there would be a process of intensification that progress through the ages, culminating in one, singular, generation. This generation (the one who sees all this), would not pass away, which means we have a rough-outline for how long this generation would last.
Since the definition for generation in the Bible is a little loose (40-100 years), the only metric we have left to measure time with is the length of a man’s life. Fortunately, Moses defined this for us in the only Psalm he penned, Psalm 90:10-
The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Seventy-years from 1948 is 2018. Eighty-years from 1948 is 2028
Seventy-years from 1967 is 2037. Eighty-years from 1967 is 2047
Therefore, the window of time that Christ could return is from 2018-2047
This means that we have about a 29-year window, from which we would subtract at a minimum, seven-years (the 70th Week), for when the Rapture could occur. That leaves us with a 22-year window. Considering all that has to occur in that 70th Week, there is very likely a gap of time between the Rapture and the start of the 70th Week (the Rapture does not directly start the 70th Week, but it primes it).
My personal theory is that the gap is exactly 3 ½ years in length, since Christ’s ministry was that same length. It just seems to round it out and bring the total to a full seven-year (one week). In that gap, we see the arrival of Elijah and presumably either Moses or Enoch who serve as the Two Witnesses (Malachi 4:4-6, Matt. 17:1-13, Rev. 11) at the conclusion of the battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39).
Regardless, whatever the length of time the gap actually becomes, we will not be here to find out. Only those who are left behind after the Rapture happens will live to endure it. It is to this point, that we go on and on about the Rapture of the Church. There may be a small window of time before the strong delusion kicks in, that frantic loved ones, friends, and the perplexed will search to find out the truth as to be saved.
Prophecy teacher Bill Salus brings up a great point regarding this gap between the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation by highlighting an oft-overlooked point, which the martyrs found in the Fifth Seal, are asking how much longer until they are avenged as if they do not know (Rev. 6:9-11). That brings in a contrasting point that if the martyrs are asking it in the Fifth Seal judgment, that the 70th Week has already officially begun. However, it could also mean that they do not know, because they don’t understand prophecy and God hasn’t revealed it to them yet. I don’t want go down that rabbit trail in this particular article, but let’s just agree that our concept of time gets a little fuzzy when bouncing back and forth between our realm and the eternal realm.
If we use the 3 ½ year gap, then our 22-year window has now shrunk to 18 ½ years. If the gap is longer than 3 ½ years, then we are in the 15-20 year time frame for the Rapture to occur. Again, this all points us back to the fulcrum of the overall 29-year window, which is around 2030. My good friend Randy Nettles has done a lot of work pertaining how and which Jewish holy days line up in the years to come. His conclusions is that the Rapture happens much sooner than even we anticipate.
And I am ok with that.
In closing, although we do not know the specific day or hour, we can know without any doubt that we are in the season of the Lord’s return. It could be today, tomorrow, or some point in the next few years, but we know it is near, even at the door.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
Even so, Maranatha!