Will There Be A Rapture?

After studying this issue for many years, I have finally come to the solid conclusion that - yes - there will be a rapture.  And it will happen before the tribulation starts.

I know that Christians believe different things about this because End Times prophecy is very confusing, so I don't expect everyone to agree.  But I will share how I came to this conclusion and why I believe it so strongly.  (And if I'm wrong, then we'll all find out someday.)

Some think there will be no rapture of the church and that the church will have to go all the way through the tribulation.  Some think the church will go partway into the trib and be raptured out at the 6th seal, before the trumpet and bowl judgments.  And some think the church will be raptured out before the trib starts.

I believe the last one.  That the church will not be around to see any of the tribulation because Jesus will come back to take us out of the world before the seal judgments start.  

In short, this is the order of the judgments: seals, trumpets, bowls.  

But if I factor in the various comings of Jesus and the various groups taken out at different times, the "End Times" looks like this: 

-  the rapture (1 Thess. 4:16-17)

-  the seal judgments (Rev. 6)

-  Jesus's visible coming at the end of the seals (6th seal) to take out those who came to faith during the seals (Matthew 24:30-31, Rev. 7:9-17)

-  the trumpet judgments (Rev. 8-9)

-  the harvest of those who came to faith during the trumpet judgments, before the bowl judgments (harvested in Rev. 14:14-16, seen in heaven in Rev. 15:2)

-  the bowl judgments (Rev. 16)

-  Jesus coming again at the end of the bowl judgments for Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21)

-  the 1000 years of Jesus's earthly reign (Rev. 20:1-6)

-  the final battle/defeat of Satan (Rev. 20:7-10) 

-  the final judgment, separation of the sheep and goats, and the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev. 20:11 and up).

There will be a rapture when Jesus comes back "invisibly" and suddenly to take the church out before the trib starts.  And He will come again visibly at the 6th seal to take out the tribulation believers, before the trumpet judgments start.  

I strongly believe the rapture and Jesus's visible coming at the 6th seal (usually called "the Second Coming") are different events.  (I am talking about this 6th seal coming when I refer to "Visible Coming" or "Second Coming.")  And here's a bit of why I believe this:

1.  I believe the elders in crowns around the throne in Revelation 4 represent the raptured church who was taken to the "Father's House" (the New Jerusalem which is seen coming out of heaven in Revelation 21).  The elders are around the throne before the first seal is open, before the start of the trib.  This is why I think we are raptured out before the trib starts.  (Strong's concordance says that the word "elder" is never used of angels.  So they have to be human.  Why would humans be around the throne before the tribulation starts?  Because they were raptured out before the first seal was opened!)

2.  As I recently studied and compared all the possible rapture and Visible Second Coming passages, I noticed something that helped me identify which event the passage is talking about.

Key:  When it talks about Jesus coming "in power and great glory, with the angels," it's always about His Visible Coming at the 6th seal, during the tribulation (or about His visible coming at Armageddon, the end of the tribulation).  But the rapture passages never refer to Him coming "in power and great glory, with angels."  Rapture passages simply refer to His coming.  

Although sometimes the Visible Coming passages don't use the words "power and great glory, with angels."  Sometimes it just says "His coming."  But you can tell it's the Visible Coming from the context.  

[FYI - I have never heard of anyone else noticing this distinction until quite a while after I "discovered" it.  In an online hunt to find other like-minded people, I found one other person who had noticed this "with power, great glory, and angels" distinction, too.  So the two of us may be very off.  But the more I read, the more it fits and the clearer things get.  Try it.  You'll see!  

The reason I point this out is because I want you to know that this distinction is there - in the Bible as it's written.  I'm not just restating what someone else taught me to believe about these passages.  I had never heard this distinction before.  I found it myself.  In fact, I found it only when I decided to read the Bible without previously-held beliefs and preconceived ideas affecting my interpretation.  This distinction is there, in spite of what I've previously been taught to believe.  It's there.  And once you see it, you can't unsee it.  And it clears up a lot of confusion and the pieces begin to fall neatly into place.] 

3.  The rapture passages and Visible Second Coming passages are too different to be the same event.

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)  

Visible Second Coming at 6th Seal:  "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect ..."  (Matthew 24:30-31)

This is just one passage for each event.  There are more.  But even just from these two, you can see how different they are.

In the rapture passage, the Lord comes down without angels but with the voice of the archangel.  God sounds the trumpet.  And the dead Christians rise first.

In the visible second coming, Jesus comes with power and great glory and angels.  Jesus sounds the trumpet.  The angels gather the elect (the tribulation believers) but there is no mention of the dead Christians rising first.

These are two different events:  one to take out the church before the trib starts (with the dead believers rising first) ... and one to take out those who came to Christ after the trib started, at the end of the seal judgments but before the beginning of the trumpet judgments.

4.  Some passages only make sense with a rapture.

For instance, Jesus's promise to take us to the "Father's House" (John 14:2) can only be explained with a rapture.

I believe the Father's House is the New Jerusalem where the church is taken after the rapture while the elders represent them around the throne.  

But if the church doesn't get taken until the great multitude is taken out at the 6th seal, where is the "Father's House"?  

The great multitude doesn't go to a "Father's House."  They go to the throne room of God.  

And if the church is taken out at the end of the trib, once again there is no "Father's House."  In fact, there's no "rising to meet the Lord and being taken anywhere" at the end of the trib because Jesus comes back to stay on earth 1000 years.

Also, the church-age believers are promised a crown (2 Tim. 4:8 and Rev. 3:11, where the Philadelphia church represents the faithful church that will be raptured).  

And who do we see in heaven wearing a crown?  

The elders around the throne.  

The great multitude doesn't have crowns; they have palm branches.  And the harvested group in Rev. 15:2 doesn't have crowns either.  They have harps.  

Only the elders have crowns.

And once again, if the raptured church is part of the great multitude taken out at the 6th seal, why is there no mention of the large group of dead believers who would have had to rise first according to 1 Thess. 4:16-17?  

The passage on the great multitude makes no mention of dead believers.  Rev. 7:4 describes the great multitude simply as "they who have come out of the great tribulation."  And I think that's exactly who they are.  

There is no mention of risen dead believers because they rose earlier with the rapture of the church.  The great multitude consists only of those who went into and came out from the great tribulation, not of those who were believers before the rapture and trib.

Some passages only make sense with a rapture.

I believe this is what the Bible teaches.  I may be wrong, but I've only grown more convinced of it the more I have studied.  In fact, I don't see how it couldn't be true.  (And if I am wrong, at least I know what to expect during the tribulation.  Either way, I won't be taken by surprise.)

(For a long, confusing post on The End Times, click here.  This contains most of what I'll be writing about the "end times" in the upcoming posts.  And click here to see someone else's post on why they believe in a pre-trib rapture.)

Previous "end times" post:  Songs about the Rapture and Heaven

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

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