Let me start off by saying I understand that the word “rapture” is not in scripture, but the concept is. The “rapture” is the idea that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day take his church from the Earth. Believers are split on if this will take place before the great tribulation, in the middle of the tribulation, or at the end of the tribulation. Then there are some who teach that there won’t be a rapture at all. Through my years of blogging here, I’ve touched on the rapture as part of other posts and comments, but I’ve never devoted a single post entirely to it, so here goes.
The origins of the idea
It has been argued by some theologians that this concept of the rapture as understood in today’s church was started by Englishman John Darby in the 1800s. However, the linchpin of the concept comes from 1 Thessalonians 4 which says:
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.
The phrase “caught up” is “raptura” in Latin, which gave us the word that we use colloquially today–rapture.
What is the great tribulation?
In order for us to understand the rapture, it’s good to get a working definition of what the great tribulation is since the two concepts are tied together. The concept of the great tribulation comes mainly from one of Christ’s teachings in Matthew 24 where he said:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)…
…then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [verses 15, 21]
This teaching is then further explained throughout the book of Revelation, which helps us understand that the great tribulation is the time when God shall render his wrath on the Earth and its inhabitants before Christ physically reigns on Earth.
Historical examples in the Bible of the rapture
Everything God inspired the writers to record in the Bible were given to us as examples for understanding how God operates and what we should expect [1 Corinthians 10:11]. Here are the historical examples God gave us about saving his worshipers from his wrath:
- Noah: when God “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” he decided to destroy it with a worldwide flood. But Noah and his family feared God, so God delivered them by telling Noah to build an ark.
- Lot and his daughters: when the sins of Sodom, Gomorrah, and their surrounding towns got so bad that God had to judge them with destruction, he sent angels to take Lot’s family out of the path of his wrath because Lot was a believer.
- Moses & the Israelites: when God decided to punish Pharaoh’s wickedness and save his people Israel, Israel did not suffer from the plagues placed on the Egyptians. This was especially true in the Passover.
- Ebedmelech the Ethiopian: when God decided to use Babylon to destroy Jerusalem for their sin, Jeremiah was sent by God to Ebedmelech to tell him that he would escape the wrath because of his trust in the Lord [Jeremiah 39:16-18].
Promises from other scripture of a pre-tribulation rapture
Not only did God give us examples of saving saints from his wrath, he gave us prophecies and promises his people would not endure his wrath in the great tribulation. Here are a few of them:
Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. Zephaniah 2:3
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Thessalonians 5:9
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. Isaiah 26:19-21 (this was Paul’s basis for 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Since the tribulation is the time of God’s wrath, and believers who are saved before the great tribulation will not be under God’s wrath, a mid-trib or post-trib view just doesn’t add up to me. Thank God for his words of comfort.
For more on this topic see:
Dr. David R. Reagan. The Origin of the Concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: From Man or the Bible? Lamblion.com