Will the Rapture of the Church Come Later Than Expected?
by Marshall Beeber
Most evangelical Christians in the world today believe in the "Second Coming" of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and the "Rapture". The Rapture is the popular term used to describe one aspect of the Lord's return as presented by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The word "rapture" comes from the Latin rapere used by the Vulgate to translate the Greek word harpazō , which is rendered by the phrase "caught up" in most English translations. See below:
1 Thes. 4:16-17 KJV "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an , and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."
Many evangelical Christians believe the timing of this event will occur before the Great Tribulation. This doctrinal teaching is termed Pre-Tribulational. A smaller segment of evangelical Christians believe the scriptures allude to part of or most of the Tribulation occurring before the Rapture. The most popular of the mid or post tribulation rapture theories today is called the "Pre-Wrath Rapture Tribulation" theory, originally authored by Rev Marvin Rosenthal. The term "Pre-Wrath" refers to the Rapture occuring after the Anti-Christ has been revealed. The Anti-Christ and all those alligned with him will cause great persecution to Israel and the Church. The Rapture then will occur just before the Lord judges this entire earth and its inhabitants with His wrath.
Jesus statement regarding the timing of the Rapture
Pre-Wrath teachings base their doctrine on key passages by Jesus (Matthew 24:29-31) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).
Matthew 24:29-31, KJV
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:29-31 emphasizes a gathering of the elect of G-d before the "Great and Terrible Day of the Lord". This passage indicates the Rapture will take place during tribulation, following the shaking of heavenly powers and sign of Son of Man in heaven.
Mid and Post-Tribulation Rapture teachings interpret Matthew 24:29-31 as referring only to a single Rapture occurring during a time of tribulation, where Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine interprets the same passage as referring to two Raptures, (one for the Church before and one after the Tribulation.)
Isaiah 11:6-9 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. ... They will no longer injure or destroy on my entire royal mountain. For there will be universal submission to theLord’s sovereignty, just as the waters completely cover the sea. (2nd coming: Upon Messiah Yeshua's reign, He will supernaturally transform the natural world that we live in to be devoid of predation. His kingdom will have domain over the entire earth., Ref. Zech 14:9)
Paul's statement regarding the timing of the Rapture
From a biblical perspective, only one of these doctrinal stands can be correct. Let us move forward to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9 to shed more light on the topic.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-9
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
Prophetic Timeline of the Prewrath Tribulation Theory (click for chart)
(Chart taken from Bibleprophecyblog.com)
Those who support Pre-Wrath doctrine believe they represent the correct escatological viewpoint of the timing of the Rapture. They also believe the effects of Pre-Tribulation doctrine within the Church is the spread of apathy and Spiritual slumber, thereby leaving believers unprepared for the Great Tribulation. Pre-Tribulationists also say they represent the only correct doctrine. They also accuse the Mid and Post Tribulationists of needlessly scaring the Church and promoting a general disbelief that God will deliver believers from such an awesome cataclysm.