When is the Rapture?
- Appendix 6 -
The Timing and Circumstances of the Rapture
One of the hottest debates in Christiandom is the timing of the Rapture in the sequence of the events of End Times prophecy. The term “rapture” is not in the Bible, but the Latin Vulgate translation uses the term rapio, which is translated "caught up"; in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 - one of the key passages for the catching away of the Believers. So, the term "Rapture" was coined for that glorious event.
Most of those who don’t believe in a literal fulfillment of Bible prophecy don’t believe in a literal rapture, of course. But remember, this whole book is based on the assumption that the Bible, including its prophecies, is subject to a literal, common-sense, face-value understanding. And, with that understanding, Scripture clearly teaches that a time will come when Yahushua ("Jesus") the Messiah ("Christ") will return in the same way that he ascended after his resurrection - in the clouds (Acts 1:9, 11). And there will be no mistaking who He is, because (1) just before He appears, it will be almost totally dark on Planet Earth (Matthew 24:29-30; Revelation 6:12, 13), (2) He will be seen coming in “great power and glory,” with brilliant brightness, like lightning that flashes from horizon to horizon (Matthew 24: 27, 30), (3) His coming will be heralded by a tremendous trumpet (Hebrew: shofar) blast (Matthew 24:31), and (4) those who have trusted Him as their coming Messiah (BCE Believers) or as their present Lord and Savior (CE Believers), whether dead or alive, will instantly be given new, glorified bodies (those Believers who have died will be resurrected at that time) (1 Corinthians 15:52) and will be caught up to meet Him in the air, then be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Bible also teaches that when the Believers in Yahushua are resurrected, transformed, and gathered to the Messiah, He will take us to a place He has prepared for us in Heaven (John 14:2-3). What an incredibly glorious day that will be! Then (I have been happy to learn), we are not going to just float around in Heaven playing our harps forever. Oh no, that’s just the beginning of an eternity filled with joyful activity in Heaven and on Earth! But, I’m getting ahead of myself . . . back to the Rapture.
I have also been happy to learn that, besides the direct teaching of the Bible, there is another way to understand the events surrounding the Rapture: Everything that Israel did down through her history, including her festivals and traditions, was prophetic. Why do I use “her” as a pronoun for Israel? - because she is described in the Tanakh as the Bride of Yahuah ("God"). The whole book of Hosea was written to illustrate the Lord’s relationship with his Bride, Israel. Likewise, in the B'rit Hadashah, the Body of Believers in Yahushua is presented as the Bride of the Messiah (John 3:29). So, since history repeats itself (Ecclesiates 1:9), it is impossible to understand the B'rit Hadashah without understanding the Tanakh, and it is impossible to understand what Yahuah is going to do in the future with His Bride, the Body of Believers in Yahushua, without understanding what He has done in the past with His Bride, Israel. Make sense?
As an example of how amazingly prophetic Israel’s festivals and traditions are, let’s briefly look at Pesach (the Passover festival) and the Festival of the Firstfruits of the Barley Harvest. This is the sequence of events of those two Spring festivals, practiced by Israel since the formation of the nation at Mount Sinai in approximately 1500 BCE: Every year, on the 10th day of the Month of Aviv (Nisan) on the Jewish calendar (late March or early April on the Gregorian calendar), the Passover lamb was brought into the Tabernacle or Temple area for observation (it must be inspected and found to be unblemished). Then, on 14 Aviv, the lamb was bound to the altar at the third hour (approximately 9:00 A.M.), then was slain at the 9th hour (approximately 3:00 P.M.). Then, on the first day of the week following Pesach, the Festival of Firstfruits was celebrated. Now, let’s jump ahead approximately 1500 years, to the crucifixion of Yahushua. Historical records and the Bible tell us that it “just (coincidentally) happened” that the day He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was hailed as the Messiah and King of the Jews was on 10 Aviv, a Saturday. Then, for next next few days, he sat in the Temple courtyard, being questioned by everyone. Then, on 14 Aviv, at the 3rd hour (perhaps at the same moment the Passover lamb was bound to the altar), the Lamb of Yahuah was nailed to the cross (cf. Mark 15:34), then, at the 9th hour, when the Passover lamb was slain, He died. Then, after being in the grave three nights, He arose on the first day of the following week, the day of the Festival of Firstfruits. 1 Corinthians 15:20 states, “. . . [the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died.” I don’t know about you, but the uncanny “coincidences” of those events send chills down my spine.
Now that we’ve seen an example of the amazing accuracy and specificity of the prophetic implications of the Jewish festivals and traditions, let’s ask, “Which of those festivals or traditions might be prophetic of the Rapture?” And the answer is two-fold: the coming of the groom for his bride, and Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets).18
The events surrounding a Jewish wedding were also very specific and sequential. The prospective groom would go to his prospective bride’s home and pay her father a sum of money or property to “seal the deal.” They were then legally betrothed - as good as married - just not yet consummated in their marriage. The groom would then return to his own father’s home and build an addition for himself and his bride. Meanwhile, the bride and her bridesmaids would be preparing themselves for the wedding. When the father decided that his son was ready, he would release him to go for his bride. The son would then go get his bride and she (and her bridesmaids) would return to his father’s home with him, where the wedding ceremony, the consummation of the marriage, and the marriage feast would be held. There are numerous other details of the Jewish wedding that parallel the coming of the Messiah for his Bride, His Body of Disciples, but that’s the gist of it. Do you see the amazing parallels here? Do you see the illustration of the Redemption of the Believers in the elements of the Jewish marriage? Just as the groom left His father’s home to go to his bride’s home to pay the price to be betrothed to his bride, Yahushua, the Son of Yahuah, left Heaven to come to Earth to pay the price for our redemption and betrothal to Him. Then, just as the groom returned to his father’s home to prepare a place for his bride, Yahushua returned to Heaven to prepare a place for the Believers. Then, just as the groom’s father released him to return for his bride, the Father Yahuah will release the Son to return for His Bride. (“When that day or hour will come, no one knows - not the angels in Heaven, not the Son, only the Father” - Matthew 24:36.) Then, just as the groom returned to get his bride and take her back to his (and his father’s) home, the Son will come to gather the Body of Believers in Him (at the Rapture) and take her to her new home in Heaven. Finally, just as there was a wedding ceremony, celebration, and feast at the home of the groom’s father, there will be a wedding ceremony, celebration, and feast in Heaven:
Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give Him glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and His Bride has prepared herself - fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear. (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of [Yahuah’s] people.) The angel said to me, “Write: ‘How blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:7-9, paraphrased)
Yahushua told a parable to His Disciples based on the elements of the Jewish wedding:
The Kingdom of Heaven at that time [the Rapture] will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. The foolish ones took lamps with them but no oil. But the wise ones took flasks of oil with their lamps. Now the bridegroom was late, so they all went to sleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “Look! the bridegroom. Go out and meet him.” The bridesmaids all woke up and prepared their lamps for lighting. The foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” But as they were going off to buy, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Later, the other bridesmaids came. “Sir! Sir!” they cried, “Let us in!” But he replied, “In truth I tell you, I do not know you.” (Matthew 25:1-12)
The lamp oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the Believers in Yahushua (the Bride). Chilling, isn’t it?—especially when considered in terms of the Rapture, the Day of the Lord, and eternity to follow.
So, exactly when will the Rapture occur? Those who are aware of the “signs of the times” will not be caught unexpectedly or unprepared. Though we may not, at the present time, know the exact year, day, and hour of the Messiah’s return, as the time approaches, we can know within one or two days when that day will be. As was explained in the commentary on 7:13-14 and 11:14-19, that day is Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets on the Hebrew calendar. And the Yom Teruah of the resurrection of the Righteous and the Rapture will occur on the last day of the Final Seven Years, when the Last Trump, announcing the final plagues of the Wrath of Yahuah, is blown (cf. 11:15-19; 15:1). Those who object that Yahushua stated that no one except Yahuah can know the exact day and hour (Matthew 24:36), because that day will come as a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10), do not understand the context of those statements. Yom Teruah is the only feast day that does not begin on an exact day of the year. That is because it begins when the new moon is sighted in Jerusalem on Tishri 1 of the Hebrew calendar. And, at the time Yahushua made His statement, no one knew the exact day, although they did know within one or two days, when the Tishri 1 new moon would be sighted. Yahushua went on to give the example of the head of a household being prepared for a thief who breaks in because he was alert and aware of the signs (Matthew 24:43), but He harshly rebuked those who did not recognize Him at His first coming because they did not recognize the “signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3). Then the apostle Paul stated that sudden destruction would come as a thief in the night only on those who are “in darkness,” rather than on the “sons of light and sons of the day” who are alert and watching (1 Thessalonians 5:2-5). The Messiah’s first coming was exactly foretold by Daniel (9:25-26) and other prophets of Israel, and was rehearsed every year by the Feast of Pesach (Passover). In the same way, His second coming, the resurrection, and the Rapture is exactly foretold by Daniel (12:1-2) and other prophets, and has been rehearsed every year by Yom Teruah. So, although the exact year, day or hour of the Messiah's return cannot be known at the present time, especially by those who are "in darkness," it will not take those who are aware of the signs and who are watching and waiting, as commanded, by surprise.
Both the Tanakh and the B'rit Hadashah seem to indicate the following sequence of events:
- After the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews throughout the world in 586 BCE, 70 and 135 CE, Jerusalem to be “trampled” by the Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (will happen until the King of Kings returns to destroy those who trample Jerusalem)
- Ever-increasing distress in the world caused by human degradation and debauchery (happening)
- Ever-increasing natural disasters throughout the world (happening)
- Ever-increasing persecution and martyrdom of Yahuah’s People throughout the world (Jews and True Believers in Yahushua have never been more persecuted than they are today.)
- All of the above events coming to a climax during the "beginning of sorrows" - the first half of the Final Seven Years
- The annihilation of all life in Babylon the Great just before the midpoint of the seven years
- Antimessiah desecrating the Temple and declaring himself to be "God" at the midpoint of the seven years
- The escape of Yahuah’s people Israel into the "wilderness," where they will be protected and sustained for the remainder of the seven years
- The Great Tribulation (the wrath of Satan) during the last half of the seven years
- Great cosmic disturbances announcing That Day (the Day of the Lord), including the judgments and Wrath of Yahuah, is about to begin
- The six trumpet judgments
- The sudden, unexpected return (like a “thief in the night” for those not looking for it) of the Messiah for His Bride, the Body of Believers in Him (the Rapture), as rehearsed at the sounding of the Last Trump on Yom Teruah
- The "last plagues" of the bowl judgments of Yahuah poured out on Earth immediately following the Rapture, as rehearsed during the "Days of Awe" between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur
- The return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with the armies of Heaven (angels and glorified Saints) to destroy His enemies, separate the sheep from the goats (nominal Jews from “true Israel” plus those Gentiles who will enter the millennial kingdom from those who will not), and to establish His millennial kingdom on Earth, as rehearsed at Yom Kippur
- Life in the millennial Messianic Kingdom, as rehearsed throughout Israel’s history during the Festival of Sukkot
- The final destruction of the heavens and the earth
- The Final Judgment
Please read the verse-by-verse commentary for Scriptural references and details supporting the above scenario. Regarding the Rapture, pay special attention to the commentary on Revelation chapters 7 and 11.
Nevertheless, although we have all these “signs of the times” and the yearly rehearsal of the Lord’s second coming, the resurrection and the Rapture at Yom Teruah, I refuse to dogmatically argue about the timing of the Rapture or to make it a criterion of fellowship with my brethren in the Messiah. Although to this commentator the above second coming, resurrection and rapture scenario has the most textual support, he does not deny that other interpretations may have validity. For example, the resurrection and rapture of the Assembly of Believers in Yahushua (the “Church”) may be a separate event from the resurrection of those faithful Hebrew saints on Yom Teruah who have died believing in the coming Messiah but have not yet recognizing that He is Yahushua. As has been mentioned in other parts of this commentary, there are some indications in the text that the resurrection and rapture of the Believers in Yahuah may occur earlier during the last half of the seven years, before any of the trumpet and bowl plagues of the Wrath of Yahuah are poured out on the earth dwellers.
There are only a couple of dogmatic statements this commentator will make regarding the timing of the Rapture: (1) There will be no “pretribulation rapture.” That unfounded doctrine carries tragic consequences for the faith of those who believe it and who will be totally unprepared for “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21) soon to come. Scripture indicates that Believers in Yahushua will be exempt from the Wrath of Yahuah. (Whether that includes the plagues of the trumpet and bowl judgments or is His wrath executed at the Final Judgment at the end of the Millennium is not clear.) But nowhere does the Word suggest that Believers will be exempt from trials and tribulations, including the Great Tribulation (the wrath of Satan). (2) As was stated in Appendix 2 - Be Saved from the Wrath of Yahuah, the Rapture will occur after the Great Tribulation but before the “last plagues” of the judgments of Yahuah are poured out on this earth and its doomed inhabitants, whenever that occurs in relation to the seven years.
The point is that Yahuah’s Word (the Bible) is the Truth. And these terrible or wonderful (depending on your point of view) events will occur. So, regardless of exactly when or in what order they occur, please, please, I plead with you, don’t miss out on the amazing grace and wonderful love of Yahuah! There is hope of avoiding the terrible times soon to come on Earth. Believe the Truth and act on it. The Rapture will occur. As fantastic and “far-out” as everything that I’ve shared on this website may sound, none of it is a figment of my imagination. All of it, according to Yahuah’s sure Word of prophecy, will happen. And Yahushua tells us, as wise bridesmaids, to be prepared at all times for it. Are you? Or will you be the unprepared bridesmaid who is left behind?
If you are not sure, please visit “The Demise of True Christianity” and make sure that you are a true Believer in the soon-coming Messiah.
18There are numerous other Jewish festivals and traditions that have a prophetic bearing on the events of both the first and second comings of the Messiah. For an excellent, short, easy-to-read explanation of these, I highly recommend Joseph Good’s book, Rosh HaShanah and the Messianic Kingdom To Come, available through Hatikva Ministries. Or get Mark Biltz's DVDs on the festivals of Yahuah, available at El Shaddai Ministries, or Michael Rood's DVDs on the prophetic implications of the feasts of Yahuah, available at A Rood Awakening Ministries.
Continue to Appendix 7 -
In the End, there is GOOD NEWS!
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