- Appendix 7 -
The Timing and Circumstances of the Rapture
One of the hottest debates in the Community of
Believers in Yahushua (the “Church”) is the
timing of the Rapture in the sequence of End-Times events. 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 the Messiah (Jesus 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) 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), (2) His coming will be heralded by a tremendous trumpet (Hebrew: shofar) blast (Matthew 24:31), and (3) those who trusted Him as their coming Messiah (BCE Believers), although they didn’t know Him as Yeshua, and those who have trusted Him 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 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! (Read In the End, there is GOOD News!) 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 Old Covenant Scriptures as the Bride of Elohiym (God). The whole book of Hosea was written to illustrate the Lord’s relationship with his Bride, Israel. Likewise, in the Renewed Covenant Scriptures, the Body of Believers in Yahushua is presented as the Bride of the Messiah. So, since history repeats itself (Ecclesiates 1:9), it is impossible to understand the Renewed Covenant Scriptures without understanding the Old Covenant Scriptures, and it is impossible to understand what Elohiym 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 the Pesach (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 Yahudic ("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 tied to the altar at the 3rd hour (approximately 9:00 A.M.), then killed 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 seventh-day sabbath. Then, for next few days, he sat in the Temple courtyard, being questioned by the religious leaders. Then, on 14 Aviv, at the 3rd hour (at the same moment the Passover lamb was tied to the altar), the Lamb of God was nailed to the cross (cf. Mark 15:34). Then, at the 9th hour, at the moment the Passover lamb was slain, the Lamb of God 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 one answer is: the coming of the groom for his bride. 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 Yahudic ("Jewish") wedding that parallel the coming of the Messiah for his Bride, the Body of Believers in Yahushua, 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 Yahudic 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, Yahuah the Father 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 His Bride (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 [Yehovah]’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)
Chilling, isn’t it?—especially when considered in terms of the Rapture, the
Day of the Lord, and eternity to follow.
The lamp oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the believers
(the bridesmaids) in the Body of Believers in Yahushua (the Bride). The foolish bridesmaids, who have no oil in
their lamps, are the members of the apostate “Church” who do
not have allowed the indwelling Holy Spirit to dissipate from their lives (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Only the true Believers, who have the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 8:9), will be
taken to Heaven where, as Lamb’s Bride, their union with Him will be
consummated, followed by the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.18
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 know the exact day and hour of the Messiah’s return (Matthew 24:36), He told His disciples that when we see the “end-of-the-age” events happening as He had just described (Matthew 24:3-31), we will know that the time of His return is “near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33). And, each year as the time gets closer, we can anticipate a particular part of the year when His return might occur. How? As was explained in the introduction to the commentary on Chapter 19, for 3,500 years the Hebrews have been keeping the spring and fall “feasts” (Hebrew: moed – appointed times) commanded by the Lord. And, as was explained above, although the Yahudim ("Jews") were not aware of the prophetic significance of those festivals, and, although the festivals did not foretell the year of the Messiah’s death, burial and resurrection, they were exact—to the day and hour—rehearsals of His sacrifice and victory over the grave. Likewise, the fall feasts are rehearsals of His second coming. So, why would the fall feast that rehearses the resurrection of the righteous and the coming of the Messiah not be just as exact in its prophetic significance? 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 coming of the Messiah will occur immediately following the last day of the Final Seven Years, when the Last Trump, announcing the final plagues of the Wrath of God, is blown (cf. 11:15-19; 15:1).
Those who object that Yahushua stated that no one except Yahuah can know the exact day (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 or hour, 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 on Yom Teruah. So, although the exact day or hour of the Messiah's return cannot be known, 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 Old Covenant Scriptures and the Renewed Covenant Scriptures seem (to this commentator) to indicate the following sequence of events:
1. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews throughout the world in 586 BCE, 70 CE and 135 CE, Jerusalem will be “trampled” by the Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). This will happen until the King of Kings returns on the Day of the Lord at the end of the Final Seven Years to destroy those who come against and trample Jerusalem – Zechariah 14:1-3, 12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
2. Ever-increasing distress in the world caused by human degradation and debauchery will occur until The End, when the Wrath of God will be poured out on the earth (Romans 1:18-32; Revelation 16).
3. Ever-increasing wars and natural and supernatural disasters will occur throughout the world until The End (Matthew 24:6-7; Revelation 6, 8 and 9).
4. Ever-increasing persecution and martyrdom of Yehovah’s People throughout the world will occur until The End (Matthew 24:9-13; Revelation 6:9-11; 13:7, 15). (Jews and True Believers in Yahushua have never been more persecuted than they are today, and the persecution and martyrdom are increasing.)
5. All of the above events will accelerate during the "beginning of sorrows" - the first half of the Final Seven Years, during which time, after deceitfully forming a covenant with Israel, the anti-messiah will be going forth, clandestinely, to conquer the world (Daniel 9:27; 11:23; Matthew 24:8; Revelation 6:2-8).
6. All life in Babylon the Great will be annihilated just before the midpoint of the seven years (Revelation 17:16-18:2).
7. Antimessiah will desecrate the Temple with the “abomination of desolation" - sitting in it and openly declaring himself to be "God" - then set up his global kingdom at the midpoint of the seven years (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:5, 7).
8. Yahuah’s people Israel will escape into the "wilderness," where they will be protected and sustained for the remainder of the seven years (Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6, 14).
9. The Great Tribulation of the Saints caused by the wrath of Satan will occur during the last half of the seven years (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 12:12, 17; 13:5, 7).
10. The plagues of the trumpet judgments of the Lord will be poured out on the earth during the second half of the seven years (Revelation 8-9).
11. The seventh and last trumpet will sound, announcing the end of the world controlled by Satan, as we have known it all our lives, and the beginning of the reign of “the Lord and His Messiah” over Earth (Revelation 10:7; 11:15).
12. 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, will occur (Matthew 24:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 5:2).
13. The "last plagues of the Wrath of God” will be poured out on Earth immediately following the Rapture, as rehearsed during the "Days of Awe" between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur, and as previewed when the sixth seal was broken (Revelation 6:12-17; 15:1; 16).
14. 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 and Sukkot (Revelation 19:11-20:4).
15. Life in the millennial Messianic Kingdom, as rehearsed throughout Israel’s history during the Festival of Sukkot (Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 20:4-6; 21; 22)
16. The final destruction of the heavens and the earth (Revelation 20:11)
17. The Final Judgment (Revelation 20:12-15).
18. Eternity (not mentioned, except in vague references, in the prophetic Scriptures), when there will be no more Yahudim ("Jew") nor Gentile, bond nor free, male nor female, for all of Yahuah's Redeemed will be one in the Messiah Yahushua ("Christ Jesus") forever (Galatians 3:28).
Please read the verse-by-verse commentary for
Scriptural details supporting the above scenario. Regarding the Rapture, pay special attention
to the commentary on the Revelation chapters 7 and 11.
Nevertheless, although we have all these “signs of the times” and the yearly rehearsals in the Fall Feasts of the Lord of His second coming, the resurrection, and the Rapture at Yom Teruah, the pouring out of the “last plagues” of His Wrath during the Days of Awe, His return with the armies of Heaven for the final execution of His judgment on His enemies at Yom Kippur, and the establishment of His Messianic millennial kingdom on Sukkot, and although, to this commentator, the sequence and timing of the second coming, resurrection, and rapture scenario is crystal clear when the prophetic Scriptures are read in a common sense, literal, face value manner, as he believes our Heavenly Father intends them to be read, he refuses to dogmatically argue about that sequence and timing, or to make it a criterion of fellowship with his brethren in the Messiah.
There is only one dogmatic statement this commentator will make regarding the timing of the Rapture: there will be no “pretribulation rapture.” That unfounded doctrine of demons 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 God (the plagues of the bowl judgments that will be poured out on the Day of the Lord at the end of the Final Seven Years). But nowhere does the Word suggest that Believers will be exempt from trials and tribulations, including the Great Tribulation (the wrath of Satan) during the last half of the seven years.
For more details and for a timeline chart of the Final Seven Years and beyond, see “Appendix 3—Be Saved from the Wrath of God”
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 whichever order they occur, I plead with you, don’t miss out on the amazing grace and wonderful love of Yahuah! There is hope of avoiding the horrible holocaust soon to come on Earth. Believe the Truth and act on it. The Rapture will occur. Don’t miss out on it. 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 (2 Peter 1:19), will happen. And Yahushua tells us, as wise bridesmaids, to be prepared at all times for it. Are you? Or will you be one of the unprepared bridesmaids who are 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 Yahudic ("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 Yehovah, available at El Shaddai Ministries, or Michael Rood's DVDs on the prophetic implications of the feasts of Yehovah, available at A Rood Awakening Ministries.
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