WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THE RAPTURE?
First of all, to understand the Biblical concept of the rapture, we must put it into its Jewish cultural context. How would the Bible’s readers have understood what it is saying? Many believers today have the tendency to dismiss the Old Testament as irrelevant, preferring to focus on Jesus as though He was not born into a family with a history and cultural background. That leaves us open to all sorts of misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
Would it surprise you to discover that the Bible is about a wedding? When God met the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, His intention was to invite them into a marriage relationship with Himself. He spoke marriage talk to them. His language followed the Hebrew courtship process exactly:
Step 1: Exodus 6:7 – “I will take you as my own (segula) people …”
Step 2: Exodus 19:5 – “…out of all the nations you will be my treasured (lachah) possession.”
Step 3: Exodus 19:10 – “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash (mikvah) their clothes…’”
Step 4: Exodus 20:1-17 – The marriage contract (ketubah).
Step 5: Exodus 19:18 – “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace; the whole mountain trembled violently.” The wedding ceremony took place under the canopy (chuppa) provided in this case by fire and smoke.
In a Hebrew wedding ceremony, after the marriage has been contracted under the chuppa, the bride and groom are escorted to the bridal chamber, prepared by the bridegroom at his fathers’ house and approved by his father. The groom picks up (raptures) his bride and carries her over the threshold into the bridal chamber where the marriage is consummated. Then the bridal couple return to their waiting guests to enjoy their wedding feast.
At Mount Sinai, God invited His people into a marriage bond with Himself and treated them as His wife, even though they rejected Him and were unfaithful to Him. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell on the believers, the same phenomena occurred as at Mount Sinai, noise and fire. This time the people responded to God, and the church – the bride of Christ – was born. The consummation of that marriage awaits Jesus’ return for His bride – “I am going there (to my Father’s house – understood) to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2b,3).
When Jesus returns He will pick up (rapture) His bride and consummate His eternal spiritual union with her, followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb – Revelation 19:7,9. – “Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and the bride has made herself ready…Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”
In contrast to the theory that Jesus will come secretly to snatch His bride away, the Biblical picture is clearly that of a noisy affair. At Sinai there was the blowing of trumpets and the noise of shouting (thunder – which should be translated ‘voices’) – Exodus 19:16, which accompanied God’s proposal of marriage. At Pentecost there was the noise of a violent wind and tongues of fire when the believers responded to His proposal of marriage.
When Jesus returns, His coming will be announced by the blowing of trumpets and the shout of the archangel, hardly a quiet affair according to Scripture! “For the Lord Himself will come down with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17.
Scripture is clear that everything will happen simultaneously on Jesus’ return. “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10a.
There is never a hint of a third return of Jesus in Scripture. Two comings, yes! The first time Jesus came, He introduced us to His Father and prepared the way for us to be reconnected to Himself by His death. He invited us into a marriage relationship with Himself and the engagement period began at Pentecost. In the interim the bride is being prepared for her wedding day and the bridegroom has returned to His Father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber.
When He returns to claim His bride, that’s it! Like the five foolish virgins who were not ready, all who have not been made righteous by His blood and have not lived out that righteousness as a reflection of Him, – “…fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)” – Revelation 19:8 – will be shut out of the presence of the Lord and consigned to eternal separation from God.
Once again, if we understand Scripture correctly, we are never encouraged to be apathetic about living out our faith because there will be a second chance for those who miss it the first time. There is no second chance. When Jesus returns, all creation will know it and all humanity will be judged; the righteous raptured into the bridal chamber with Jesus and the unrighteous consigned to eternal fire – instantaneously. Too many people have been lulled by this false teaching into believing that they will have time to respond – a typical Satanic deception to lure people off course. Jesus had spoken – “Watch and pray. Do not be deceived.”
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!