What Saith the Scripture?
The Wisdom of More Than One Rapture
"And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him"
by Tom Stewart
Conventional wisdom at the time of the First Advent of the LORD Jesus Christ would have taught the Jews that Jesus was a fraud because the Messiah was supposed to be a King to deliver them from the oppression of their enemies, not a meek Saviour with a strange agenda. "15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone... 51 I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world... 66 From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him" (John 6:15, 51, 66). [See C. G. Finney's "The Relations of Christ to the Believer" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Voice/Relations.Christ.Believer.html -- for an entirely sanctifying discussion of Christ as the Bread of Life, and His other relationships to the Believer.] However, the spiritually minded Jews received Jesus, i.e., "Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel" (1:49), and came to understand that He would return in His Second Advent "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ" (2Thessalonians 1:8). "6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, LORD, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth. 9 And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward Heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven" (Acts 1:6-11).
At the present time, the Professed Church is faced with a similar puzzle concerning the Second Advent of the LORD Jesus Christ, but this deals with the corollary concept of the Rapture or Catching Up of the Saints to Heaven without dying. "15 For this we say unto you by the Word of the LORD, that we which are alive and remain unto the Coming of the LORD shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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 together with them in the clouds, to meet the LORD in the air: and so shall we ever be with the LORD" (1Thessalonians 4:15-17). For those who have come to the understanding of a Rapture or Catching Up of those who "are alive and remain" (4:17), the question of the timing of that Rapture Event has come to be represented by various prophetic labels, such as Pre-Tribulational Rapture, Mid-Tribulational Rapture, Pre-Wrath Rapture, Post-Tribulational Rapture, etc. "Knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth" (Proverbs 14:6). Just as the Early Church discovered the concept of More Than One Advent for the Messiah, this article will attempt to demonstrate that there will be More Than One Rapture to take place, in the Wisdom of God. "Wisdom is justified of Her children" (Matthew 11:19). [Also, see our article, "The Character of God Is Revealed in the Rapture" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Timeline/Character.of.God.in.Raptur.html --, for more on the faithfulness of God in providing a way to escape.]
Enoch: Raptured to Return in Judgment
Scripture infallibly records the Rapture of Enoch. "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Enoch was Raptured because he did what all must do-- He implicitly trusted God to do what He said. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5). Little is known of this antediluvian patriarch, except that he had the sterling testimony that "he pleased God" (11:5). The point of his commendation is that all should likewise please God through the simple placing of confidence in God. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (11:6). Whether we read Moses or Paul, the words "took him" (Genesis 5:24) or "translation" (Hebrews 11:5), both indicate the same conclusion, that Enoch "should not see death" (11:5).
Enoch, whose name meant dedicated, instructed, or trained up, was the seventh generation from Adam, i.e., "Enoch also, the seventh from Adam" (Jude 14). He is remembered by the Almighty as a man who "walked with God" (Genesis 5:24) in faith. Prophesying against the wickedness of his times, his message contained a double meaning:
(1) God would soon judge the wickedness of the Earth with a Flood, as witnessed by the meaning of his son Methuselah's name, "when he dies is the emission (flood)". Ussher's Chronology places Methuselah's death 1,656 years after Creation, in the year of the Flood (circa 2348 BC).
(2) The LORD God would come again to the Earth with His Saints-- with Enoch in attendance-- to execute judgment upon all the world's ungodly sinners, i.e., at the Second Coming of Christ. "14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the LORD cometh with ten thousands of His Saints, 15 to execute Judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him" (Jude 14-15).
Elijah: Raptured to Return in Restoration
Another Scriptural example of a Raptured Saint is the case of the prophet Elijah, who restored Israel to the worship of the LORD God as the True God. "21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word... 36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy Word. 37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the LORD God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again. 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, He is the God; the LORD, He is the God" (1Kings 18:21, 36-39).
Elijah so notably held the office of prophet that people often asked John the Baptist and the LORD Jesus Christ, if they were Elijah. "And they asked him [John the Baptist], What then? Art thou Elias [Greek, Elijah]? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No" (John 1:21). "And they said, Some say that Thou [Jesus] art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets" (Matthew 16:14). The expectation that Elijah would appear again to Israel in the Latter Days is promised by the prophecy of Malachi to restore faithfulness to God's people. "5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the Earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6). But, the unusual circumstances surrounding the departure of Elijah from this world, were perhaps some of the reason for the Jews' anticipation of the return of Elijah at a time of great trouble for Israel. "12 But I say unto you, That Elias [i.e., John the Baptist] is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist" (Matthew 17:12-13).
The LORD gave Elijah the clear understanding that he would be translated to Heaven without dying. "And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into Heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal" (2Kings 2:1). Elisha, who was Elijah's pupil and successor, also knew in advance of the day of his master's imminent departure. "And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace" (2:3). The Almighty willingly gave Elijah a precursory indication of his upcoming Rapture, when He allowed Elijah to part the waters of the Jordan River, for the functional purpose that they could cross over, but more importantly, that they would see Jehovah magnified. "And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground" (2:8). Though both were anticipating Elijah's departure that very day, as they were conversing, the sudden appearance of a "chariot of fire, and horses of fire" (2:11) running on the ground and coming between the two prophets, immediately taking Elijah "up by a whirlwind into Heaven" (2:11), so emotionally charged Elisha, that "he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof" (2:12). "And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces" (2:12). [Please see our study, "Elijah and the Prophets of Baal" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Stories/Stories.of.Faith/Elijah.Prophets.of.Baal.html --, for more on the life of Elijah.]
Pre-Tribulational Rapture: Raptured to Remove the Restraining Influence
The Professed Church's uncertainty of Rapture or no Rapture-- and, if Rapture, then when-- is interesting, considering the fact that there have already been at least two Saints that have been Raptured, i.e., Enoch and Elijah-- and that, before the New Covenant! "But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a Better Covenant, which was established upon Better Promises" (Hebrews 8:6). Old Testament Israel was quite familiar with the concept and promises of deliverance and escape for the Godly of Israel.
Even still, the Godly of the Professed Church may now lay hold of similar promises of escape and Pre-Tribulational Rapture.
May the LORD richly bless those Godly, who do not adhere to this particular prophetic interpretation of the Rapture, i.e., More Than One Rapture. "38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy Name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My Name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part" (Mark 9:38-40). [Please see our article, "The Seventy Weeks of Daniel" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Timeline/Seventy.Weeks.of.Daniel.html --, for an enlargement on the concept of the Tribulation Week.] It is only with the belief that promoting the understanding of More Than One Rapture is "speaking the Truth in Love" (Ephesians 4:15) and will encourage the "unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (4:13), that we teach it. [See our article, "Must There Be a Pre-Tribulational Rapture?" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Prophecy/Must.Pre.Trib.Rapture.html -- , for an exposition of 2Thessalonians 2, in particular, explaining that "Only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way" (2Thessalonians 2:7) is another way of saying, "Only He (the Holy Spirit) Who now restrains will continue to restrain, until He (the Holy Spirit) be taken out of the way (at the Pre-Tribulational Rapture)."]
The Judge of All the Earth Cannot Judge the Wicked Until He Is Ready to Remove the Saints. We know that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26); but, where He has told us what He cannot wisely do, we must account that as His own divinely imposed limitation. "In hope of Eternal Life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2). Likewise, His judgment of the world, must wisely take place in successive stages, as pointed out in the Parable of the Tares Among the Wheat. "24 Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man [the 'Son of Man' (v. 37)] which sowed good seed [the 'children of the Kingdom' (v. 38), which are the "righteous" (v. 43)] in his field [the 'world' (v. 38)]: 25 but while men slept, his enemy [the 'devil' (v. 39)] came and sowed tares [Tares are a kind of weed (Lolium temulentum) that are indistinguishable from wheat in their early stages, but when the wheat grain has headed out, so have the tares-- finally making them distinguishable. However, if the grains of the L. temulentum are not separated out at harvest, and eaten, they may produce convulsions, and even death. For this reason, 'tares' are False Professors of Christ or 'children of the wicked one' (v. 38), who are the 'all things that offend, and them which do iniquity' (v. 41).] among the wheat [True Saints], and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest [the 'end of the world' (v. 39)]: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers [the 'angels' (v. 39)], Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them ['cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth' (v. 42)]: but gather the wheat into my barn ['Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father' (v. 43)]" (Matthew 13:24-30).
In the Harvest at the "end of the world" (Matthew 13:39), by judging the world in successive stages, the "Lord of the Harvest" (Luke 10:2) allows Himself the liberty to gather in the Righteous and the Wicked at the appropriate moments, i.e., in the "fulness of times" (Ephesians 1:10). He thereby preserves the best of the harvest in its greatest quantity, as well as ensures the Eternal Punishment of those that would destroy the blessedness of Heaven. "And there shall in no wise enter into it [New Jerusalem] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life" (Revelation 21:27). The Only Wise God (1Timothy 1:15) cannot judge the Wicked, until He is ready to remove the Saints-- as demonstrated in Christ's Parable of the Tares Among the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). And, through More Than One Rapture event, the Judge of All the Earth (Genesis 18:25) allows Himself the freedom to "let the sinners be consumed out of the Earth" (Psalm 104:35) "in due season" (Galatians 6:9). "The righteous is taken away from the evil to come" (Isaiah 57:1).
Until the Pre-Tribulational Rapture removes the salty influence of the True Saints from the world, the Restraining Influence of the Holy Spirit that dwells within the Saints will not permit the wickedness of the world to ripen to the point that its sinful fruit must be judged by the opening of the Seal Judgments of the Tribulation Week (Revelation 6). "Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither" (Genesis 19:22). Not only would the Almighty not begin His judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah until Lot's family was safely out of the way-- as agreed upon through Abraham's intercession, i.e., "Wilt thou also destroy the Righteous with the Wicked?" (18:23)-- but, He did not destroy the Earth with a Flood, until Noah's family was securely in the Ark. "1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the Ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation... 4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the Earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the Earth" (Genesis 7:1, 4).
The Saviour Must Draw As Many As Wisely Possible to Himself. The Apocalypse assures us that a "Great Multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9) will come "out of Great Tribulation" (7:14), indicating a great reclamation of the Backslidden and conversion of the Lost will take place, if you can receive it, after the Pre-Tribulational Rapture. "9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a Great Multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the Throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 13 and one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9, 13-14). Though judgment of the wicked is central to the progress of the Seventieth Week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27), i.e., "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity" (9:24), the God Who "is love" (1John 4:8) magnifies Himself in demonstrating great mercy on Sinners. "To the LORD our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him" (Daniel 9:9). Because Laodicean Christianity, i.e., "lukewarm" (Revelation 3:16), predominates prior to the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, the LORD Jesus Christ is forced to seek admission into the hearts of both those who never knew Him, as well as those who formerly knew Him. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (3:20). Consequently, Laodicean Christianity will miss the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, for they do not truly watch and pray, and cannot "be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36). This will leave a great host of Professed Christians to be redeemed by the LORD from their sin and selfishness after the Pre-Tribulational Rapture-- during the Tribulation Week. "When He slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and enquired early after God" (Psalm 78:34). The Father's chastening of the Elect among Laodicean Christianity by causing them to pass through the fires of the Tribulation Week, will yield to the LORD of the Harvest bountiful fruit. "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11).
Jesus Christ, Who Is the Faithful Witness, Will Require the Martyrdom of the Elect Among Laodicean Christianity After They Have Missed the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, to Secure Their Entrance Into Heaven. Because Laodicean Christianity has no true concept of holiness or perseverance as a necessity for Gospel Salvation, the difficulty of so large a group entering Heaven in such a short space of time, forces the LORD to most likely martyr the greatest part of the Elect among them to ensure their fitness for Heaven. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses [Greek, martus, a witness or martyr] unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth" (Acts 1:8). Holiness is perceived by Laodicea as only a theological possession, and not a practical walk required by those who will see the LORD. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the LORD" (Hebrews 12:14). [See our article, "Must We Then Sin? -- Or, A Response to the Doctrine of Sin Nature or the Doctrine of Original Sin-- Or, A Clarification of What is Sin, Why We Sin, and How Not to Sin" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Fellowship/Must.We.Then.Sin.html --, for a discussion of this crucial topic of sin and holiness.] Perseverance has been incorrectly perceived by Laodicea as solely a birthright, and not also a necessary and willing cooperation by those who must "continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43). "And ye shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22). [See our article, "He That Endureth to the End Shall Be Saved-- Or, The Biblical Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints-- Or, Endurance is Necessary for Eternal Salvation" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Fellowship/He.That.Endureth.to.the.En.html -- , for an explanation of perseverance.]
Since it is necessary for the Professed Christian to die or be Raptured in faith, i.e., "These all died in faith" (Hebrews 11:13), in order to enter Heaven, i.e., "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24), martyrdom is the Almighty's most appropriate vehicle to accomplish the Final Salvation of the Elect among Laodicean Christianity. In our "Commentary on the Book of Revelation" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/The.Holy.Bible/Commentary.Revelations.1.html -- we discuss the martyrdom of a Great Multitude of Christians during the Tribulation Week in our comments on Revelation 7:9-10:
"'[Revelation 7:9] After this I beheld, and, lo, a Great Multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the Throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;'
"This 'Great Multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues' (7:9) speaks primarily of the Gentile Believers that come out of the Second Half of the Tribulation Week, i.e., 'out of Great Tribulation' (7:14). '15 When ye therefore shall see the Abomination of Desolation [at the Middle of the Tribulation Week], spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)... 21 For then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be' (Matthew 24:15,21).
"But, how can this be stated prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1), which occurs at the Middle of the Tribulation Week? Notice that this Great Multitude is standing 'before the Throne' (7:9) in Heaven-- apart from any clock or sense of time, i.e., in eternity. It is as if the LORD is giving us a look into eternity at the martyrs of the Second Half of the Tribulation Week, which makes this passage parenthetical or unchronological. The same unchronological discussion takes place when Israel is remembered as a woman, 'being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered' (Revelation 12:2), immediately after the Seventh Trumpet Judgment is described (11:15).
"'[Revelation 7:10] And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb.'
"How do we know that these who are arrayed in 'white robes, and palms in their hands' (7:9) have been martyred? First, in the Fifth Seal Judgment, we are told that those martyred under that Seal have been counseled to be patient until 'their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled' (6:11), i.e., their brethren of the Great Multitude of chapter 7. Second, they are also given 'white robes' (7:13), just as the martyrs of the Fifth Seal Judgment, i.e., 'white robes were given unto every one of them' (6:11). And, third, the events of chapter 7 occur as the Mark of the Beast is ready to be implemented-- Middle of the Tribulation Week-- where it is promised that 'as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed' (13:15).
"This Great Multitude of glorified Saints enthusiastically worship and praise the Living God. 'Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb' (7:10). Evidently, one of the results of removing the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, working in the Pre- Tribulationally Raptured Saints-- 'For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth [restrains] will let [continue to restrain], until He be taken out of the way [via the Pre-Tribulation Rapture]' (2Thessalonians 2:7)-- is the repentance of many that are left behind. That repentance is why there is a 'Great Multitude, which no man could number' (Revelation 7:9) that 'came out of Great Tribulation' (7:14), i.e., out of the Second Half of the Tribulation Week." --from "Commentary on the Book of Revelation: chapter 7" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/The.Holy.Bible/Commentary.Revelations.7.html --.
Pre-Wrath Rapture: Raptured to Resurrect the Saints
The Pre-Wrath Rapture occurs shortly before the End of the Tribulation Week, but in time to cause its participants to miss the final and most awful of all the judgments of God-- the Vial Judgments. "And I heard a great voice out of the Temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the Vials of the Wrath of God upon the Earth" (Revelation 16:1). When greater attention has been given to examining the Soon Return of the LORD Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will drop the scales from our eyes, as He did for those Old Testament Saints who watched for the Advent of the Messiah more than 2,000 years ago. "10 Of which Salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (1Peter 1:10-12).
The difficulty of the Church in perceiving More Than One Rapture is the same as when Christianity discovered the essential distinction between the Second Coming and the Rapture. "Surely the LORD GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). The Second Advent focuses upon the returning Messiah, i.e., "7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the LORD Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ" (2Thessalonians 1:7-8); while, the Rapture or Catching Up focuses upon removing the Living Saints from the Earth, i.e., "Then we which 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" (1Thessalonians 4:17). Just as there was an unexpected gap of time between the First and Second Advents, i.e., "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven" (Acts 1:11), there will be an approximate gap of seven years separating the Pre-Tribulational Rapture from the Second Coming. "22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him... 27 And he [the Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years]: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 2:22; 9:27). [Our article, "The Seventy Weeks of Daniel" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Timeline/Seventy.Weeks.of.Daniel.html --, briefly outlines the time concept of the seven year Tribulation Week, which Sir Robert Anderson's book, "The Coming Prince" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Voice/The.Coming.Prince.html --, develops in depth.]
The Pre-Wrath Rapture Completes the Body of Christ by Resurrection and Rapture. A text often used to demonstrate the concept of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture is more appropriately describing a Pre-Wrath Rapture, i.e., "13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, Brethren, concerning them which are asleep [died in Christ], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. 15 For this we say unto you by the Word of the LORD, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the LORD shall not prevent [Greek, phthano, meaning to come before or precede] them which are asleep. 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 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" (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Just as we understand the necessity of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture for the removal of the Restraining Influence, completing the Body of Christ prior to Christ's Return is also necessary by means of a Pre-Wrath Rapture and Resurrection, i.e., to "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven [Already Raptured Saints], and which are on Earth [Tribulation Week Saints]; even in Him" (Ephesians 1:10), to more completely fulfill the meaning of the Apostle Paul's words of comfort to the Thessalonians (1Thessalonians 4:13-18). And, only as we see the Unity of the Body of Christ, i.e., "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1Corinthians 12:13), can we see the necessity of completing the Body of Christ by Rapturing the living Tribulation Saints toward the End of the Tribulation Week and Resurrecting the "Great Multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9) of Tribulation Week Saints who will be martyred. [Our article, "Martyrdom: They Loved Not Their Lives Unto the Death" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Prophecy/Prophecy.Martyrdom.html --, is written especially for those for whom physical escape will no longer be an issue.]
Removing Away the Tribulation Saints Through the Pre-Wrath Rapture Is Essential in Preparation for the Final Vial Judgments. Just as the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, gave the Almighty the opportunity of greater dealing in judgment against the sin in the Professed Church and against sin in the world, the Pre-Wrath Rapture-- only days before the End of the Tribulation Week-- will enable the Judge of All the Earth, even greater freedom in completing the final stage of judgment before the actual return of the LORD Jesus Christ. "The LORD knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2Peter 2:9). Picture the LORD Jesus Christ, who is the LORD of Sabaoth (James 5:4), standing outside the door, awaiting entry, either by personal invitation through repentance and faith, or by governmental decree, where "every transgression and disobedience" will receive a "just recompence of reward" (Hebrews 2:2). "Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the Judge standeth before the door" (James 5:9). Mankind has enough trouble with finding its own way, without instructing God about how He should go about this matter of judging the Earth. "O the depth of the riches both of the Wisdom and Knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His Judgments, and His Ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).
The Doors spoken of by the LORD Jesus in His Olivet Discourse, refer to More Than One Rapture. "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the Doors" (Matthew 24:33). The remnant of Philadelphian Christianity (even in this Laodicean Age) would be associated with the Pre-Tribulational Rapture through:
(1) its "Open Door" (Revelation 3:8),
(2) its Promise of being kept "from the Hour of Temptation" (3:10), and
(3) the prophetic description of that Rapture as the First Come Up Hither, where a "Door was opened in Heaven: and the First Voice which I heard was as it were of a Trumpet talking with me; which said, Come Up Hither" (4:1).
The Pre-Wrath Rapture would then be associated with Laodicean Christianity's repentance and revival through:
(1) its "about-to-be-opened-but-still-closed" door, i.e. "Behold, I stand at the Door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and Open the Door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (3:20),
(2) its Second Come Up Hither, i.e., "12 And they heard a great voice from Heaven saying unto them, Come Up Hither. And they ascended up to Heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them... 15 And the seventh angel [i.e., the Last Trump] sounded; and there were great voices in Heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our LORD, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever" (11:12, 15), and
(3) its Door finally being opened, as implied by the opening of the door of the Temple of God in Heaven, i.e., "And the Temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in His Temple the Ark of His Testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail" (11:19). [Consult our "Commentary on the Book of Revelation" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/The.Holy.Bible/Commentary.Revelations.1.html -- for the context of Revelation 3 -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/The.Holy.Bible/Commentary.Revelations.3.html --, 4 -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/The.Holy.Bible/Commentary.Revelations.4.html --, and 11 -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/The.Holy.Bible/Commentary.Revelations.11.html --.]
Final Preparation of the Bride for the Second Coming of the Messiah Is Accomplished Through the Pre-Wrath Rapture. The Church of Jesus Christ is one of the mysteries that has been made known to the world through the preaching of the Gospel, i.e., that all nations, and not just Israel, may be partakers of the commonwealth of God. "25 Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the Commandment of the Everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:25-26). The Mystery of the Church, i.e., "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Ephesians 5:32), will not be finished until the Seventh and Last Trump (Revelation 11:15). Remembering that the Pre-Wrath Rapture is also the occasion for the Resurrection of All the Saints Throughout Time, the Seventh Trumpet Judgment will sound days before the end of the Tribulation Week, to complete the Bride. "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" (1Corinthians 15:52). That Seventh Trumpet Judgment, which is also the Last Trump, will definitively complete the Mystery of God, which is the Church. "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the Mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets" (Revelation 10:7). [See our Tribulation Chart -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Timeline/Big.Chart.Intro.html -- for a pictorial representation of the events of the Tribulation week.]
Read an excerpt from our article, "A Tale of Ten Virgins: Or, A Sober Warning to Those Who Look for the Pre-Tribulational Rapture" -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Prophecy/A.Tale.of.Ten.Virgins.html --, to see a description of the Bride:
"Who is the Bride of Christ? 'Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife' (Revelation 21:9). What did the angel show the Apostle John? 'And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that Great City, the Holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God' (21:10). Is the Lamb of God to be married to a city? No, Jesus will be married to what the city represents-- His people. Israel's Twelve Tribes will be represented by the City's twelve gates. 'And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel' (21:12). The Old Testament Saints are identified with Israel, just as the New Testament Saints are identified with the Church. Abraham looked for the New Jerusalem. 'For he looked for a City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God' (Hebrews 11:10). The Church will be represented by the City's twelve foundations-- one for each Apostle. 'And the wall of the City had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb' (21:14). Both Israel and the Church are the Bride of Christ."
Jesus is coming again, and the Living Saints must be removed before He returns, i.e., "then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the LORD in the air" (1Thessalonians 4:17). One of the Great Truths of the New Testament is the Promise that Jesus will come again to receive His people to Himself. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). Day-to-day, Godly Living goes hand in hand with the knowledge of the Soon Return of our LORD Jesus Christ. "And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (1John 3:3). Watch, as the Apostle Paul uses the reasoning that Sanctification encourages us to watch for His Coming, and His Coming ought to encourage us to Holy Living.
- "9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the Living and True God; 10 And to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1Thessalonians 1:9-10).
- "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication" (1Thessalonians 4:3).
- "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the Coming of our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Thessalonians 5:23).
The Pre-Wrath Rapture Provides the Circumstance for the Final Conversion of Israel as Well as Sundry Gentiles, Which Also Provides for a Godly Seed to Physically Inhabit the Millennial Kingdom. Israel is obstinately lost and apart from God, and like the Modern Professing Church, it would take the most extreme measures for God to persuade them that they need to repent and turn in faith to the LORD Jesus Christ, as their Messiah. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37). If it was possible to send an apostle to convert the Jews, then the Jews would already be converted, for the Apostle Paul already attempted to evangelize the Jews-- with limited success. "1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures" (Acts 17:1-2). During Paul's lifetime, he voiced his heart's desire, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved" (Romans 10:1); but, he confessed that Israel "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (10:3). And, the Modern Laodicean Church is not very much different-- "thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17)-- oblivious to its spiritual poverty.
By clearing away the remaining Tribulation Saints through a Pre-Wrath Rapture, which occurs only days before His Second Coming, and pummeling remaining mankind with the most awful of His remaining Vial Judgments (Revelation 16), if Israel is ever to be saved, it is then. "When He slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and enquired early after God" (Psalm 78:34). For if they do not then repent, they would soon be dead. If the Vial Judgments or the LORD's Second Coming did not kill them, the LORD would have to cast them live into Everlasting Fire. "31 When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the Throne of His glory: 32 And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats: 33 and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left... 41 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into Everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:31-33, 41).
However, it appears that all of surviving Israel is Elect, and consequently, saved at the last possible moment-- just as the Messiah appears in the clouds at His Second Coming. Israel becomes a Nation-Born-in-a-Day. "Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the Earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children" (Isaiah 66:8). Most all of remaining humanity does not repent, but wails loudly when they behold the returning Judge of All the Earth. "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the Earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen" (Revelation 1:7). Even among the remaining Gentiles, there appears to be those who are Elect and repent at the last moment, for Scripture records that, "Thus saith the LORD of Hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23). All that can be saved, are saved. Thus, the "Earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).
The possibility of More Than One Advent for the Messiah has given the Church the Doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and it has also given the Body of Christ the legitimate expectation that More Than One Rapture will yet provide for the Son a worthy inheritance. "7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. 8 Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for Thy possession... 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him" (Psalm 2:7-8, 12). The examples of Enoch and Elijah only reinforce the concept that the LORD God has wisely seen fit to accomplish More Than One Rapture already, setting the precedent for the future. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1Corinthians 10:11). Man's tradition is most often an impediment to the understanding of More Than One Rapture. "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?" (Mark 7:5).
The benefit of understanding the concept of More Than One Rapture is that we may presently cooperate with God in praying for the fulfillment of prophecy. "Thus saith the LORD GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock" (Ezekiel 36:37). Intelligently praying for the LORD to bring about His prophecy is taught through the LORD's Prayer. "Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done in Earth, as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Also, the joy of knowing that the "LORD knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations" (2Peter 2:9) through More Than One Rapture comforts us in our "present distress" (1Corinthians 7:26), because we know that He will deliver us now, as well. May God give us the understanding that we need. "If any man will do His Will, he shall know of the Doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself" (John 7:17).
[See our Tribulation Chart -- http://WhatSaithTheScripture.com/Timeline/Big.Chart.Intro.html -- to see a graphic illustration of More Than One Rapture.]