What Will The Rapture Be Like?

There is no way to know what the rapture will be like until it happens.  So this is only my opinion, based on Scripture.  

Here are some passages I believe refer to the rapture:  

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."  (1 Thess. 4:16-17)

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."  (1 Cor. 15:51-52)

"For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."(Matthew 24:27)

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.  People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark.  Then the flood came and destroyed them all.... It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  On that day, no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them.  Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.  Remember Lot's wife!  Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other one left.  Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."  (Luke 17:26-35)

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.... So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."  (Matthew 24:36-44)

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."  (Luke 21:34-36)

"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8)

Okay, so these are some of the passages that I think refer to the rapture.  Not everyone agrees, though.  (And I have only recently begun to think that the Luke passages refer to the rapture, explained more in this post).  But I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Basically, to boil it all down, I think the rapture will happen when life is going on as normal.  The "as it was in the days of Noah" passages show that people will be living normally - eating, drinking, marrying, etc. - when "one is taken and the other left."  

Life will not be normal during the tribulation (when there is war, famine, mass martyrdom, etc.), so this has to happen before the trib, when Christians and non-Christians are sleeping and working side by side.

I think the one who is taken is the faithful believer, raptured out by Jesus.  And the one who is left is the unbeliever and unfaithful Christians.  (More on this in the next post.)

Jesus will come at a time when things are going on as normal and we are not expecting Him, which is why we are instructed to watch for Him and to be faithful in doing His work.  Life will be so common and normal that the church will be tempted to get lazy and "fall asleep."  

But we are supposed to watch carefully and do our work till He comes.  We are supposed to always be ready because He will come at the rapture when we are not expecting Him.  

The "be prepared, you don't know when He's coming" passages can't refer to the tribulation because during the tribulation things will happen according to a clear, prophesied, discernable time-line.  We will know exactly when to expect Him at the 6th seal because it's all been written out for us.  But the rapture will have no signs, no pre-written time-table.  It can happen anytime.

[Lots of Christians think that 2 Thess 2:3 tells us two things that have to happen before the rapture: the "rebellion" ("falling away") and the revealing of the "man of lawlessness."  They say the rapture can't happen until there is a great apostasy in the church (a great falling away from the Bible's Truth) and until the Antichrist is revealed, either when he signs the treaty with Israel or when he enters the Temple halfway through the trib to declare himself god.

And this could be the case.

However, I have begun to believe that 2 Thess 2 isn't talking about the rapture or what has to happen before the rapture.  I think 1 Thess talks about the rapture, but 2 Thess talks about what happens before Jesus's visible coming at the end of the trib for Armageddon.  And therefore, the rebellion and the revealing of the Antichrist happen before Jesus's "end of trib" coming, not before His "pre-trib" coming to rapture the church.]  

No one knows exactly what the rapture will be like.  In the movies, people always disappear unexpectedly, without any warning.

But I am starting to wonder something.

I am starting to wonder if we will have time to figure out that the rapture is happening before we are taken.  

It says that "at the last trumpet" we will be changed.  This means that there are earlier trumpets before we are changed.  I think there will be a series of trumpet blasts that we will be able to hear, making us aware that the rapture is happening (at least for those who are expecting it).  And then at the last trumpet blast we will be changed, in a flash, in one quick moment. 

I think the world might be able to hear these trumpet blasts, too.  Although they won't know what to make of it.  But we who are ready for the Lord will know what it means.

And I wonder if the world might actually see a flash, since I also think the 'lightning from the east is seen in the west" passage refers to the rapture.  Maybe the moment we are changed will look like a flash of lightning to the rest of the world.  Just speculation.

I don't know if the world will be able to actually see any of the events taking place - the dead and living Christians rising, Jesus coming in the air, etc..  Maybe the world and Christians will experience things differently.  But whatever happens, the rapture will catch everyone by surprise, expect those who are watching for it and anxious for the Lord's appearing.

I don't think the rapture happens in one single moment, but that it will take a little time for the whole thing to play out.  We might actually hear the archangel's command and hear the series of trumpet blasts and somehow sense that the dead are rising.

And this will give Christians time to decide if we will "stand before the Son of Man" or if we will run back inside our homes.  ("No one in the field should go back for anything.  Remember Lot's wife!")

I know most people won't agree (and I could totally be wrong), but the more I read the Bible, the more I think we will have a choice in that moment:  Go with the Lord in the rapture or be left behind!

Lot's wife had a choice.  In fact, she was on her way to safety.  But she chose to look back, to long for her life, to mourn what she was leaving.  And she paid the price for it.  When the angels said "Don't look back," they meant it.  

When God says "You must be ready, because the Son of Man comes at an hour when you do not expect him" and "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen" and "Do not go back for anything.  Whoever tries to save his life will lose it..." ... maybe He really means it!

Maybe He really means it's possible to not be ready for Jesus to return.  That there are consequences for not being ready.  That we have the chance to escape what's about to happen but that we could end up not escaping because we "looked back" at our lives.

I think our readiness and willingness will affect whether we are raptured out or left behind.  (More on this soon.)

I think unbelievers will be left behind for sure, but even self-serving, unprepared Christians ("servants," Matthew 23:48-51) will be left behind because they were not ready for the Lord to come.  (This isn't too hard to imagine considering the condition of many churches today that have traded in the truth of the Gospel for more socially-acceptable, pleasing-to-the-ear messages.)  

Will we stand before the Son of Man in confidence and faithfulness and readiness, choosing to go with Him ... or will we try to "keep our life" and then lose it, like Lot's wife who could've escaped the destruction but looked back instead?

Those who are expecting the rapture will not be taken by surprise.  Those who are faithfully doing the work He has given us will be able to stand before Him in confidence.  Those who are anxious for the appearing of the Lord will be ready for Him at any moment.  They will be ready to go when He calls, instead of hiding in fear and confusion.

But those who are not ready will be left behind.  Because they were not expecting Him or living like they were expecting Him.  

(However, I do believe that after the rapture, there will be many who come to Christ and many who return to Christ, who finally get serious about their faith seeing as how they just missed the rapture.  This is the "great multitude" taken out at the 6th seal.)

One other interesting point, remember in an earlier post when I said that God sounds the trumpet for the rapture but that Jesus sounds the trumpet at His visible coming at the 6th seal to gather the great multitude?  And I said that this shows they are two different events?

y is this distinction important?

Because, contrary to what some others believe, I think it shows that the Matthew 24:36 and up passage (the "as it was in the days of Noah ... one will be taken, the other one left" stuff) is about the rapture and not the tribulation.

Matthew 24:36 says, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

Jesus Himself doesn't know when "that day" (the rapture, I believe) will happen.  God alone knows when the rapture should start, so God gets to sound the trumpet to start it (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

But Jesus - and everyone else - will be able to figure out when the 6th seal will happen, which is why Jesus sounds the trumpet then (Matthew 24:31).

["But," you might be asking, "why does Jesus talk about the tribulation in Matthew 24:26-35 and then start talking about the rapture in verse 36?  Why not talk about the rapture first if the rapture happens before the tribulation?"

Great question!  And here's my best guess:

He is answering the disciples' questions in the order they asked.  

In Matthew 24:3, they ask three questions: When will the temple be destroyed?  What will be the sign of Jesus's coming (I believe they mean His visible coming, His "final" coming)?  And what will be the signs of the end of the age (I believe they mean the age they were in, that they started - the "church age")?

So Jesus answers them in order.  First is a description of what will happen at the destruction of the temple (which I think is also a foreshadowing of what will happen in the tribulation).  Then He switches to the events surrounding His visible coming in the tribulation.  And then He talks about the event that will start the "end of the age" (the rapture which ends the church age).

But if the rapture is supposed to come before the tribulation, why isn't it listed as one of the signs that happen before His visible coming?  Wouldn't that be a huge sign?  So why doesn't Jesus include it when He talks about the tribulation?   

It took me many years to find it because I kept assuming He was talking about His 6th-seal visible coming, but I think Jesus does refer to the rapture as one of the signs that happen before His visible coming.

Matthew 24:27"For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."  

I think this "like lightning" coming is the "in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye" rapture (1 Cor. 15:52).  And Matthew sandwiches it between a time when Jesus's absence causes people to search for Him, for a god, for someone to worship ("in the desert" and in their own "inner rooms") and between the "distress of those days" (the tribulation).

After a time of Jesus's absence, while people are looking for a god to follow, He comes back like lightning to take His people out.  And this rapture ushers in the "end times," the distress of the tribulation.

(Luke expounds on this in Luke 17:20-37.  When you read Matthew 24 and get to verses 27-28, flip over to Luke 17:20-37.  It fits right in.)  

And what will the trumpets sound like?  I don't know.  

But is it possible we are getting a taste of it in these trumpet-like sounds heard all over (if these sounds are even real)?  It makes you wonder!

Previous "end times" post:  The Stages of the End Times

Next "end times" post:  Should Christians Worry about being Left Behind?  

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