Tying up the loose ends – Rapture

Rapture

According to Wikipedia: “the rapture is an eschatological concept of a minority of Christians, particularly within branches of American evangelicalism, consisting of an end-time event when all Christian believers who are alive, along with resurrected believers, will rise “in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” 1Thessalonians 4:17 … Differing viewpoints exist about the exact timing of the rapture and whether Christ’s return will occur in one event or two. Pretribulationism distinguishes the rapture from the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth. This view holds that the rapture will precede the seven-year Tribulation, which will culminate in Christ’s second coming and be followed by a thousand-year Messianic Kingdom. Adherents of this perspective are referred to as premillennial dispensationalists” and goes onto say “Dispensationalism is a religious interpretive system and metanarrative for the Bible. It considers biblical history as divided by God into dispensations, defined periods or ages to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles”.

While Wikipedia is hardly an authoritative source for theological definitions, I do not wish to disagree with the above statements but would want to elaborate. As far as orthodox Christian belief goes, Christ is coming again which, noting the focus of this book, is something the Hebrew prophets looked forward to. When Jesus ascended into heaven, we read: “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 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 1:10,11. The Nicene Creed reminds us: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end”. While Bible believing Christians agree on the Second Coming, as Wikipedia reminds us, only a minority believe in the rapture that is to take place, usually before the Tribulation period which is discussed in Revelation 6-18, but could be at anytime before Christ returns in Revelation 19.

During the course of my writing this book, I have tried not to get sidetracked by going down paths that are controversial and unprofitable. Besides which, it is a huge subject and I am merely able to give headlines. I am conscious there will be those reading this book who will regard themselves as “pre-tribulation rapture, dispensational, pre-millennialist” and those who aren’t. The only part of that label I fully subscribe to is “pre-millennialist”, for reasons discussed in this book. A plain understanding of end time prophecy leads me that conclusion. I am also of the view Israel has not been replaced by the Church and regret that this has not been the dominant view throughout 2000 years of church history.

While I am but a mild dispensationalist (I am not going down that rabbit hole to explain what and why that is), I understand when it comes to the Jewish enigma (a people chosen by God, yet presently rejecting their Messiah, Jesus) why with the Rapture, with the focus of attention turned once again on the Jews (with the Christians having left the scene), when the question is begged, how all that will change, dispensationalism may help provide answers. The Jews will come into their own and turn to their Messiah. It becomes a question for Bible students to marry the teachings of the Hebrew prophets with that of Revelation. But as I have said all along, other than opening up these scriptures and now recognizing the different positions of the Church and Israel, more study is required on how it ends up, and it may well be more needs to happen before it becomes very clear.

We read at the end of the Tribulation: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn … And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” Zechariah 12:10, 14:4.

As a young Christian, in a Brethren Assembly, it would be true to say that the majority view was: “pre-tribulation rapture, dispensational, pre-millennialist”, but because I have done what I encourage readers to do and take on the Berean mindset and check everything out, I refuse to accept any position unless I can be convinced by the scriptures. Moreover, I find the thought that Christians escape any tribulation when Jesus tells us to expect it, goes counter to what He taught, what many of my brethren experience and our calling to bless our communities – the need to get involved, yet are taken from Earth when we are needed most?

Regarding when Jesus is coming again, even though Jesus told us nearly 2000 years ago: “surely I come quickly” Revelation 22:20, I am happy to accept it can be anytime (just as Jesus said would be the case, Matthew 24:36) and the main thing for us is that we are ready for His return. Whether His return comes in two stages (secret rapture and openly in glory) I don’t know. What I do know, and in the light of the various yet to be fulfilled prophecies picked up in the course of our studies, is when Jesus does come, all will be. The future is a glorious one for the Church and believing Israel but a fearful one for those who reject Him.

 

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