By Grant Phillips
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is one of the most hated, scorned and mocked subjects one could address in the world today. Terry James, of Rapture Ready, once said something like, “It hits a nerve with Satan.” I believe that statement rests on the very pulse of the problem.
Shockingly, even in the Christian community, anticipation of the Rapture is often dismissed as a frivolous, useless waste of time. Often, those who study and share prophecy are mocked as thrill seekers and failures in sharing the gospel.
I’ll grant you that the gospel is sharing the good news of available salvation to all who come to Jesus Christ in genuine belief. It is the good news of being born again spiritually into the family of God by coming to the Father through His only begotten Son, the only way to the Father by the way. This is wonderful news to any who will listen and accept the message, but isn’t Jesus’ return for us also good news?
Why would God dedicate 25-33% of the Bible to prophecy, if prophecy isn’t important? Why would Jesus speak so much about His return, if it weren’t important? Some will say that He never spoke of the Rapture of the Church, but I disagree and will come back to that later.
Many believe that those of us who believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture are escapists. We just want to escape the horrors of the Tribulation, so we naively believe that we’ll be ushered out before God’s wrath begins. For my part, I agree with them, except for the “naiveté” part. I would have to say that I am an escapist. I want nothing to do with the Tribulation and I’m thankful beyond expression that Jesus will remove His bride from this earth before He allows one day of the seven-year Tribulation to begin.
So if I’m convinced that I’m out of here at the Rapture, why do I continue to bring it up? I don’t have a worry in the world about going through the Tribulation, so why should I even mention it? I’m safe. I’m okay. Here’s the thing; if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, you’re not safe. You’re not okay. Unless you die beforehand, you will experience every horrible moment of the Tribulation, and that is why so many of us keep bringing it up. We want you to go with us in the Rapture, and not suffer the wrath of God during the Tribulation.
Even though I have no idea of when the Rapture will occur, I know it will. I’ve always felt it would occur in my lifetime, but it may not. That’s okay. I’ll still be coming back with Jesus to get you (if you are part of the bride) and my new heavenly body.
Folks, the rapture of the true Church (the bride of Christ) is just as real as the air we breathe, and it will occur prior to the Tribulation period. You can believe it or reject it. My prayer for you is that you first of all come to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then secondly that your interest in His return for us will be increased.
Satan hates the message of the Rapture and he hates mankind. God created man in His own image and gave him free choice. We, the Church, will one day rule over the angels. Those who belong to God through His only begotten Son have been given a higher position than even the angels. Satan hates everything about that.
Some say that the Second Coming of Christ is in two parts; (1) the Rapture before the Tribulation, and (2) His return at the end of the Tribulation. I agree, but I see the Rapture more so as Jesus scooping us (His bride) out of the way of danger. Just as you would scoop a small child out of the way of a charging bull, Jesus quickly removes us from harm’s way, the Tribulation (the charging bull).
“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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
The Greek word for “caught up” is harpazo and it means;
• To seize, carry off by force
• To seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly
• To snatch out or away
Satan would like to grab the bride of Christ and tie her to the railroad tracks, but Jesus seizes her and carries her off by force, eagerly claiming her as His own and saving her from the train of wrath roaring down the tracks of judgment. The bridegroom will remove His bride from harm’s way before He allows His wrath to fall upon His enemies, and His number one enemy is Satan. Satan thinks he is meeting God at the OK Corral, but he is preparing to meet God at Boot Hill.
I’ve often heard people say something like, “This is hell on earth,” or “I’m suffering hell on earth.” No my friends, if anything comes close to hell on earth, it can only be those seven years of Tribulation called the “time of Jacob’s trouble” or “Daniel’s seventieth week.” That … will be hell on earth, but even then, God’s grace will allow those to be saved who will.
Jesus’ first coming was nearly 2,000 years ago when He came to earth to go to the cross and suffer as the sacrificial lamb. His next or second coming to earth will be as the lion of Judah. He will draw the apple of His eye, Israel, back to Himself, while He pours out His wrath upon a fallen world. Many will be saved during the Tribulation. Many more will suffer terribly and die, and then face the final judgment of God at the White Throne.
I believe the Apostle Paul is emphasizing the Rapture and the Second Coming in his letter to Titus.
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
The “blessed hope” of the bride of Christ is the Rapture. Christ “glorious appearing” is the Second Coming.
There are too many differences in the Rapture and the Second Coming for them to be the same event. Consider just a few.
Rapture: Christ comes for the Church (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
2nd Coming: Christ returns with the Church (Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Jude 14; Revelation 19:14)
Rapture: Christ comes in the air, but not to the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
2nd Coming: Christ comes to the earth (Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 19:11-21)
Rapture: It is imminent (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6; Revelation 3:3)
2nd Coming: He clearly comes at the end of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8)
Rapture: There are no signs
2nd Coming: There are many signs
Rapture: It is a time of joy … for the bride (1 Thessalonians 4:18; Titus 2:13; 1 John 3:3)
2nd Coming: It is a time of terror (Joel 3:12-16; Malachi 4:5; Revelation 19:11-21)
Rapture: Satan is not bound
2nd Coming: Satan is bound (Revelation 20:1-3)
Rapture: Only the bride will see Him
2nd Coming: The whole world will see Him (Revelation 1:7; 19:11-16)
Rapture: Is a mystery (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Colossians 1:26)
2nd Coming: No mystery (Daniel 12:1-3; Zechariah 12:10, 14:4)
Rapture: Christ gathers His bride to Himself (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
2nd Coming: His angels gather the lost (Matthew 13:39, 41, 49; 24:31, 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
Rapture: Only for the bride, the Church (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
2nd Coming: For the redeemed of Israel & the Gentiles (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 11:25-27)
Rapture: Christ does not come on a white horse
2nd Coming: Christ comes on a white horse (Revelation 19:11)
Rapture: A resurrection of those who have died in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
2nd Coming: No resurrection (Zechariah 12:10; 14:4-5; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21)
The Church is not appointed to God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
The Church has been promised by Jesus to be kept from the hour of temptation; i.e. the Tribulation (Revelation 3:10)
Something else to consider during the Tribulation is that God will use 144,000 Jewish evangelists, two special witnesses (possibly Moses and Elijah) and an angel from Heaven as witnesses. The Church will no longer spread the gospel since it will be in Heaven with Christ. However, I’m sure that those who are saved during the Tribulation will witness, but at great peril.
I mentioned earlier that Jesus does refer to the Rapture. This can be noted in John 14:1-3 when He tells the Church, represented by the disciples, that He will return for us and take us back to be with Him.
Compare Matthew 24:36-39 with Matthew 24:27-31 and Luke 21:25-28. There can be no way these are the same event in my opinion. Matthew 24:27-31 and Luke 21:25-28 are pointing to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, but Matthew 24:36-39 is pointing to the rapture of the Church (the bride of Christ).
In Matthew 24:36-39 the world seems to be normal, but there is nothing normal about all that takes place in Matthew 24:27-31 and Luke 21:25-28.
I have no doubt that we are right on schedule with God’s plans to end the Church age, restore Israel, and judge His enemies. In my opinion, God is closer than we may think in ending the spiritual war that has been going on now for several millennia.
It is my opinion that our Lord will soon remove His own and begin the final count-down to the end. I believe this is the reason that so many have been called as watchmen on the wall to instill in us the urgency of looking for His soon return.
“Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7)
“And, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Revelation (22:12-13)
“I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)
“He who testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)