Addendum 2 : The Rapture of the Church
   
 

By Lee. Y. Martin, Ph.D.,©1999

   
 
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Since the Internet is a worldwide communication medium, perhaps it would help some in other cultures if I gave a short synopsis about the Rapture for anyone who might not understand it and why I believe it will occur prior to the Tribulation Period. It is necessary to have a clear picture of what the Bible says about it in order to be able to correctly interpret any message from the Lord. Numerous books are available addressing the subject and the different positions, so I am only going to give a very short summary of my reading of the Scripture. Understand that one’s doctrinal position on the Rapture does not have anything to do with one’s salvation, only with whether or not you must go through the awful testing and cleansing of the world that is prophesied in Scripture just prior to Jesus’ setting up of His Kingdom on earth.

As a new believer unacquainted with the Word and its teachings, I was like any beginning student who knows nothing. I accepted what I was taught as gospel. I heard at the start of my quest for knowledge of God that every believer would be raptured regardless of how they lived simply because they were in the body of Jesus. Having spent nearly 40 years in the Word, I am not so sure that this is what the Bible actually teaches. One can find a proof-text for almost any doctrine afloat. What is necessary is to harmonize the entire field of God’s Word, which is the only way to obtain “sound doctrine” as Paul termed it [Titus 1:9]. “Sound” connotes health and “sound doctrine” is the only door to holiness. Frankly, I hope I am wrong.

 

The Bible calls it a mystery, which is something understood only by Divine inspiration. Disinterested persons will not be inspired to know about it, and for this reason it is something understood only by its initiates. It is God’s secret for His saints, but it will be revealed to anyone who wants to be included in Jesus’ bridehood, for it is a “snatching away” of Jesus’ chosen saints among believers to be His bride 1. The qualifications for becoming a bride of Christ are to have the righteousness of God conferred upon you at your new birth [this is your new garment without which you cannot enter into the marriage feast (Matthew 22:11-14)], and after salvation you must keep yourself pure and seek holiness.

It is necessary to the Interpretation of Scripture to have a clear picture of where the true church will be during the last week, the seven year period of Daniel’s 70th week prophecy in chapter 9 verses 24-272. This passage refers to the timetable God gave Daniel concerning the two comings of the Messiah. Where one places the “snatching away” of the church into heaven is integral to the determination of whom the chained prophetess represents in this vision. The same holds true in the interpretation of nearly all visions be they on this web site or not.

The Bride of Christ
 
"Caugth Up" Means to Depart
  I have read the arguments for and against the rapture, and I continue to come back to the simple rendering of two Greek words in 1 and 2 Thessalonians: harpazo [4:17] and apostasia [2:3] respectively.
The Rapture
 
  1Thes 4:16-18 
 

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 (Gr: harpazo) [raptured] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (KJV)

The first Greek word "harpazo" above is rendered "caught up" in the King James Bible and means to seize or take by force; and the second one "apostasia" immediately below is rendered "falling away" and means something separative, departed, or divorced.

  II Th 2:3
 

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (Gr.: apostasia) [departure] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (KJV)

The Greek word "apostasia" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is taken from a root word "aphistemi" which means “to depart”, “to remove”, or “to go away”. I have read an explanation by a respected Greek scholar who said that this root verb connotes in the vast majority of times "a departure" and not "a falling away", that is, one person departing from another person or place. It is translated "departure" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 in several notable Bibles constructed around the fifteenth century, namely, Tyndales' Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the Great Bible. In light of these facts it is my contention that Paul was pleading with them (and persuading me) in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 --by the coming of our Lord...and by our gathering together unto him” -- not to be anxious thinking that the day of the Lord had arrived. He did not want them to be deceived [v.3], “shaken in mind, or …troubled… as that the day of the Lord (was) at hand” [v.2] on the grounds of the specific information which he had received from the Lord about our gathering together unto Him in the clouds and which he had given to them in his first letter [4:17]. The two phrases underlined and emboldened above embody the promise from the Lord that Paul had passed on to them. In sum then, they were admonished to remember that the rapture was to occur before the day of the Lord could start. The entire passage in Second Thessalonians 2:1-12 is about this fact and Paul wanted them to be comforted by it [v.17]. In his first letter, he also encourages them to take comfort in the Rapture in 4:18 and 5:11. In my opinion, one has to have help to misunderstand what is written in both these letters. In a simple, literal, straightforward reading of the text in both letters I believe they teach that "the departure" [apostasia] Paul referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 was the "snatching away" [harpazo] or Rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

It is of no consequence that the two Thessalonian letters when read as a unit are the only places in Scripture where a clear and definitive teaching of the rapture is given. First Corinthians 15:52 refers to it very unquestionably:

  1 Cor 15:52
 

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 (raptured) (Greek means to become something else). (KJV)

Many other passages speak of it indirectly or allude to it through the context both in the Old as well as the New Testament. Moreover, the Trinity cannot be found anywhere in the Bible by name, but it is very definitely inferred throughout in the context of innumerable passages.

   
 

Three Little Words

There are three little Greek words in these two passages in Thessalonians, which also give me confidence that the Rapture precedes the Day of the Lord. In the first letter Paul distinguishes the Rapture of 4:17 from the awful day of wrath they wanted to miss with the use of the opening phrase “but of,” which begins chapter 5 and which translates the Greek “peri de.” This is a phrase Paul often used to denote a strong contrast between what he had just said and what he was about to discuss [confer 1 Thessalonians 4:9]. To make a weaker contrast in Greek a writer would use “de” without the “peri.” In the book of 1 Corinthians [7:1,25; 8:1; 12:1; 6:1,12] the KJB renders the phrase “peri de” either “now concerning” or “as touching”. The “but of” in 1 Thessalonians does not seem to give as great an emphasis regarding the change of subjects as does “now concerning,” which is unfortunate. However, the meaning is there in the Greek, and I will take the Greek scholar’s word for the fact that there is a change of subject from chapter 4 to chapter 5. The exhortation to comfort one another with this knowledge in verse 18 of chapter 4 closes the topic of the Rapture, and then in a logical manner Paul continues to explain why they ought not to be anxious, i.e., because they will not be around when the Day of the Lord starts. 3

In my own small way, I am trying to comfort readers of this paper concerning the Rapture as well. There is no comfort if your hope of being raptured before the Day of the Lord begins is gone, for we know that this Day starts with a seven-year period of darkness and not light. A period of labor pains ushers in the Millennium. In Divine time and Jewish time night always precedes day not the other way around. “The evening and the morning were the first day” [Genesis 1:13],…and “the second day,” etc. Before God created the heavens and earth, darkness was upon the face of the deep – and then there was light. Jewish days begin in the evenings at 6:00 p.m. our time.

“Now concerning” – pun intended – the second little Greek word in 2 Thessalonians which gives me comfort about the Rapture occurring prior to the Tribulation. The definite article "the" preceding the word "apostasia" in verse 3 of chapter 2 makes it refer to a particular happening and not a general falling away over a period of time. It is unfortunately rendered “a” in the KJB, but “the” in nearly all other translations. This is one of the few places in the KJB which ought to be changed because it gives the idea of a general separation over a period of time. I understand from Greek scholars that there is no indefinite article “a” in the Greek language so the inclusion of one in an English translation is arbitrary. Very often, the definite article “the” is missing in the Greek, but in this case, it is there. Therefore, we have a witness that “the departure” is a very definite one as was shown before. I would concur with Dr. Wuest who has commented that it could have a double meaning as so often happens in Scripture. It could also connote the church's turning away from orthodox teaching and hence have reference to a "falling away" or backslidden condition within the church. This is a very good reason we ought not to mess with God's Words as He penned them through His chosen amanuenses. He might very well want us to receive a dual message in a verse or passage, but if a translator audaciously selects a different word from that which God put in His original, the "word-changer" could render an unintended interpretation to a Scripture passage or delete something God intended for us to know. 4

 

The Trump of God

In verse 16 of 1 Thessalonians and in 1 Corinthians 15:52 quoted above, the word “trump” was italicized. I italicized them for the purpose of drawing your attention to them. Both of these passages referred to the Rapture occurring at a time when “the trump” is blown, and moreover at “the last trump” in 1 Corinthians. I have heard so often that the trumpet referred to here is the seventh and last trumpet of the judgments in Revelation. I have never believed that ever since I learned a number of years ago that the Hebrew Bible reads at the last Jubilee Year Trumpet (it might be footnoted). I have never seen this Bible myself, but the person speaking this knew Hebrew and was a reliable source of information. The Jubilee Year Trumpet in my estimation is not a judgmental trumpet. The very term jubilee connotes joy and not sadness, and there is nothing joyful about the trumpet judgments of Revelation. If it does refer to the Jubilee Year, we ought to find out why.

Since learning about the Feasts of Jehovah, I have always believed that they were tied in to Jesus' return. Keep in mind that these are God's feasts, not the Jews.

  Lev 23:2
 

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD [Jehovah], which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. (KJV)

The first three – the Feast of Passover, of Unleavened Bread, and of Firstfruits -- speak about Jesus’ first Advent and acted as a triplet pointing to God’s provision of salvation for men. They came to pass right on schedule, not a day late nor early. I believe the last three – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles – that address Jesus’ second Advent are also given as a triplet only this time aiming towards God’s judgment of men and will happened in the same manner. As a whole, the Feasts declare that you will either meet Jesus as your Savior or you will meet Him as your judge. Pentecost, the middle and fourth of God’s Divinely appointed seven Feasts happened right on time as well, but it signaled a long wait for the Savior’s return by virtue of its placement in late Spring several months prior to Jesus’ next appearance which is supposed to occur in early Fall. It ended the Jewish Age prematurely – the Savior Messiah was cut off at the end of Daniel’s 69th week – and began the Church Age. This Church Age intercalates (stuck in between the 69th week and the 70th week of Daniel) the Jewish Age by an unknown factor of time. The Age of Grace has been going on for 2,000 years, and Daniel’s last seven-year week has not yet occurred but must happen to hold fast God’s integrity, i.e., to keep Him from having lied.

The feasts were given to symbolize God’s plan of the ages. The next one on schedule is the Feast of Trumpets, which comes in early fall. Without getting technical I am going to briefly discuss this Feast in order to determine if there might be a connection between “the trump” in the two Scripture passages quoted above in which the phrase is tied to the Rapture of the church. We are told Jesus will come back as a thief. Since He comes for those who are watching for Him, He will not come to them as a thief. Paul says as much, (b)ut ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” [1 Thessalonians 5:4]. He comes as a thief to unbelievers and even believers who are not watching for Him – perhaps those who reject the Rapture theory? If we are expecting Him, how can He be a thief? He comes as a thief only for those who are unprepared and not anticipating His arrival, e.g., Posttribulationists or Amillennialists. This could be troublesome for those who buy into these doctrinal positions.

The only aspect of celebration in this Sabbath feast, for it was designated as a holy day of rest, is the blowing of trumpets. Every action, word, event, and happening in the Bible was put in for the purpose of revealing God and teaching men about His plans and purposes. Hence, the blowing of trumpets has a meaning. They were to be blown on the first day of the seventh month, which began the new civil year of the Hebrews. It signified a new beginning. The general harvest was over, and the rainy season for the softening of the ground for planting the next year’s crops would begin. The seventh Sabbath month conveys the idea of a time of rest from the harvest. For this reason I believe it is teaching that God’s work with the Age of Grace will be over at this Feast time. The harvest of souls completing the body of Christ is finished, time has run out, and God is ready to finish the last 70th week of Daniel in order to conclude the Jewish Age before setting up His Millennial Kingdom. Hence, the Day of the Lord includes this seven-year period plus the 1,000 years of the Millennium Age as was noted in the body text of this vision. Changeover time has come.

   
  The Hebrews always used trumpets for the purposes of calling an assembly and to warn of danger. Different blasts on different types of trumpets signified different things. For our purposes, during the Feast of Trumpets two shofar horns were used. They were the left and right horns of a ram. The left horn was blown 100 times with short blasts prior to the blowing of the right horn one long time. This last long Hebrew “tekiah gedolah” blast ends abruptly and I believe it is the “sound of the last trumpet” of our passages under scrutiny.
 

Notice the definition given in the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon for the word trumpet in the Leviticus 23:24 account wherein God inaugurated its use:

8643 teruw` ah-
(trumpet) an alarm, a signal, a sound of tempest, a shout, a shout or blast of war or alarm or joy
a) an alarm of war, a war-cry, a battle-cry
b) a blast (for marching)
c) a shout of joy (with religious impulse)

d) a shout of joy (in general)

From the above we can see that when the inspired Paul wrote about our Lord’s coming again, he had in mind all the above meanings about the trumpet blast in this Feast. To refresh your memory: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump (or blast) of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who 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]. From the lexicon’s definitions, we can deduce that it was to be a joyous occasion and indeed, it was so instituted. Moreover, it was a signal for marching – marching right up into the clouds to meet Jesus in the air. Glory to God in the Highest! Jesus in the air. 5 Glory to God in the Highest!

The Hebrews were instructed by God to use trumpet blasts to start marching during their wilderness years. We can assume that it is the same concept for the blast at the Rapture. Only this time our Lord Himself will descend from heaven to blow the trumpet blast. Why? Because He is coming for His bride. Did not Isaac go out into the desert to meet Rebecca, his new bride, when the servant of Abraham, who was a type of the Holy Spirit, brought her from afar? In the parable of the ten virgins there was a midnight cry made to awaken them to make themselves ready, for the bridegroom was on His way to get them [Matthew 25:6]. Could this Feast of Trumpets be the one? Perhaps, but it could be the next one, or the next one, or the next…. We do not set the day or the hour, but I believe that God intends for us to know the approximate time through His established Feasts. He admonished the Scribes of His day for not knowing it was the hour of His first Advent [Matthew 16:3; Luke 12:56]. So, we see that the blowing of the shofar trumpets was a solemn day of rest and a joyous occasion.

There is one other association to the Feast of Trumpets that is intriguing. The shofar trumpets were a pair, a right one, and a left one. The short blasts were blown on the left one, but the long blast was blown on the right one. Where does Jesus sit now in heavenly Zion? At God’s right hand. He is God’s right hand man coming to blow the right horn from a ram. The ram being a mature male indicates that Jesus is no longer the helpless Lamb chosen for slaughter. Indeed the word in Leviticus 23:24 for “(it is a) memorial trumpet blast” signifies in Hebrew “to be male” or having to do with “maleness,” i.e., strength. He is now the powerful masculine King, a lion coming for judgment. Horns in Scripture usually are symbolic of power. And He Himself will come down to blow the last long blast on a ram’s shofar horn to call for His bride to ascend in the air to meet Him on the one hand and to announce or call for war on the other hand. The Day of the Lord for judgment will have arrived.

First Corinthians tells us it is the last trump, the last Jubilee Year Trumpet blast to free God’s people from bondage to Satan. The Jubilee Year was established by God to free men from bondage and slavery and to return to them the inheritance they received when Israel was set up as a nation. All things are restored and start fresh and anew. This was God’s way of preventing economies from becoming monopolistic where a few men or even one could eventually wind up owning everything as anyone who has played the game of monopoly knows.

The church will have been loosed, but the Jewish people will now have an awful time before they turn to Jesus as their Messiah. There is a ten-day space between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonements suggestive of the Jewish Age’s 70th week of seven years, which must be completed. This Day, being the most solemn and saddest day of the year for Jews because it is the day they must recollect, contemplate, and confess their sins of the previous year, represents the time when they finally have their eyes opened and see Jesus as their true Messiah. It happens towards the end of the Tribulation period when they are in great distress at which time they realize their mistake in having rejected Jesus as their Messiah.

  Zech 13:6
  6 And one (the Jewish nation) shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (KJV)
   Zech 12:10
 

10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (KJV)

Prior to that last week of seven years, Israel’s best friend and ally, the true Church of Jesus Christ, will have disappeared via the Rapture. The harlot church is still around. There will be no restraint any longer upon the man of sin. He comes with vengeance to crucify all Jews and duped Christians in the mid part of the seven years. The Rapture signifies that the beloved saints of God are now free forever from the clutches of their adversary the devil. The fact that the Jubilee Year shofar horn was blown on the Day of Atonement to announce the restitution of all things predicted the salvation of the Jewish people and fulfills many prophecies in the Old Testament such as those presented above in Zechariah and Romans 11:25,26. After Jesus personally rescues God’s chosen nation of Israel from the clutches of Satan at the end of the Tribulation, the last, most glorious, and joyful Feast of Tabernacles can then be celebrated because the Millennium Kingdom will have arrived. There will be rest for all God’s family.

 

Exhortation

There are other arguments both academic and spiritual, which convey to me that the Rapture is one of the most important doctrines for Christians to know in any age. Some people do not like to hear about prophecy in Scripture. They think it causes men to become fearful. I disagree. If all you do is sit around and wait for the Antichrist instead of looking for Jesus as some do, then perhaps you will become fearful. Prophecy is the testimony of Jesus [Revelation 19:10] and without it you might not know who the real Jesus is! You ignore it at your peril. At least 30% of the Bible is prophecy, but overemphasis on it at the expense of other more pressing things such as getting the gospel message out and helping people become free of oppression can become a problem.

Since a comforting word about the rapture of the Church prior to the tribulation was set forth in the first two letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians, it is easy to see why the church today has lost her boldness in missionary zeal. Without an understanding of when the rapture occurs, believers can easily become frightened about things to come. Contending for the faith thrives in the atmosphere of a pretribulational rapture position. Without it, fear can grip the soul and cause Christians to lose hope -- the anchor of the soul [Hebrews 6:19]. Without hope that at any minute we could be snatched out of this sin-sick world where darkness is increasing, many Christians could defect to the other side to try to avert persecution. Bathed in the thought of being raptured out of here, as the darkness thickens the light of hope shines brighter.

My greatest desire for you dear reader is that you will search out the matter for yourself and not follow anyone's predilections about it including mine. See for yourself. You will have to answer for yourself at the judgment seat of Christ. A true bride always yearns for her lover to come get her and snatch her away. Eloping comes from this idea. But, a harlot cares not who knocks on the door. I advise you to beware whom you let into your house. Be savvy about the doctrine you feed on, and be cautious about whom you wish God speed. There are dire consequences connected with being ignorant [2 John 7-11].

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (KJV)

Please Note: For a more in-dept Study of the Rapture click here!

 

   
   
  (Click on highlighted word to return to your point)
  1 See Couplet, the first vision.(The )

2 See the vision entitled Three and a Half Times a Season for a partial explanation of this passage.(This )

3 See 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 where Paul tells them that the man of sin cannot be revealed till the restrainer is taken out of the way. The restrainer in my opinion is the church indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit who is the only person that can overcome Satan's power. So when the church is raptured, the Holy Spirit will be gone too and all hell will break loose for there will be nothing of comparable power to restrain the devil. Revelation informs us he has great wrath then because he knows his time is short. (In)

4 See the vision entitled Two Streams for a short discussion about the dangers of Bible selection today.(In)

5 See the page on our site Angel, Angel. (Glory) 

Click on the Blue Letter Bible for access to a KJV Bible Study Tools Online for use with this web site.

 
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Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2013 1:02 PM