I believe the next major prophetic event is going to be the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation of living saints into resurrection bodies. This will be followed by a literal “catching away” of those who believe in Jesus, taking them to heaven. This is commonly known as the rapture, from the Latin translation of “caught up” – rapiemur (from rapio). The Greek word is harpazo. Both mean “we are caught up” or “we are taken away”.
First, passages that promise to spare the saints from wrath:
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10 ESV
“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36 ESV
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:9 ESV
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 ESV
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 ESV
We are not destined for wrath! God has never poured out His wrath upon His righteous ones in the past, and He won’t do so in the future either. How is God going to spare us from wrath? It’s all a part of the gift of resurrection and transformation.
Second, examining the passages talking about our transformation from temporal to eternal:
Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed [allasso], in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 ESV
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20-21 ESV
Third, the passages predicting the “harpazo” of the saints:
Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him. Hebrews 9:28 ESV
“She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne” Revelation 12:5 ESV (see HERE for a thorough discussion of the “birth” and rapture connection. )
“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3 ESV (Note how Jesus will receive us unto Himself as you read the next passage)
Two men will be in the field; one will be taken [received] and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken [received] and the other left. Matthew 24:40-41; Mark 13:34-35 ESV (Interestingly, the word used, paralambanetai, is used elsewhere to represent “received” – as in, the ones taken will be received unto the Lamb)
David Lowe mentions in his book “Earthquake Resurrection” that although the transformation/resurrection is an instantaneous event (in the blink of an eye), and the catching up is a seizing which will also be a rapid event, there *may* be a slight gap of time between the transformation and catching up events. There is precedence for this in Matthew’s account of the resurrection of “many saints” at the same time as Jesus’ resurrection. These were walking around and were seen by many before they went to heaven – “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.“ (Matthew 27:51-53 ESV) If the same thing happens – transformation (pause) catching up, this might enable us to safely park our cars if we are driving, etc., but more importantly – to bear witness for Jesus one last time.
Fourth, passages containing the transformation, catching up, and sparing from wrath:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. [their souls] For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [their souls will rejoin with an eternal resurrection body] Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 ESV) (The trumpet in the Old Testament (shofar) was used to summon for worship or to summon to battle. To believers, this trumpet blast will mean – Come Up Here! To angels, this trumpet blast will mean prepare for battle! This is well described in Revelation 12)
As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so we were before You, Lord. We became pregnant, we writhed in pain; we gave birth to wind. We have won no victories on earth, and the earth’s inhabitants have not fallen. Your dead will live; their bodies will rise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust! For you will be covered with the morning dew, and the earth will bring out the departed spirits. Go, my people, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you. Hide for a little while until the wrath has passed. For look, the Lord is coming from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth will reveal the blood shed on it and will no longer conceal her slain. Isaiah 26:17-21 ESV
Fifth, Other Passages Where People are Harpazo’d:
And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried [harpazo] Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:39 ESV
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up [harpazo] to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up [harpazo] into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 2 Cor 12:2-4 ESV
And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force [harpazo] and bring him into the barracks. Acts 23:10 ESV
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch [harpazo] them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch [harpazo – pluck, seize] them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:28-29 ESV
Sixth, Salvation Before the Day of the Lord:
Note that God’s WRATH begins at the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is not defined by “tribulation” or “great tribulation” or “greatest tribulation”, but by God’s wrath encompassed in the Trumpets and Bowls. It begins once the Yom Kippur ceremony has been performed in heaven (at the end of Seal 7). The “greatest tribulation” that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 comes from the antichrist, who will be seated in the Temple proclaiming to be “god”. We will also be spared from this “greatest tribulation”, but that’s not why we are spared. We are spared from God’s wrath. This is shown in Acts 2, when Peter quotes Joel 2:
And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Note that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved – when? BEFORE the day of the Lord comes. Seal 6 marks this event:
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6 ESV)
Who can stand? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord can stand.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7 ESV)
I truly believe the scriptures above speak for themselves. God has not destined us for wrath, but for salvation. We are supposed to encourage one another with the words of our blessed hope – that we will be changed and received (snatched, seized by force, suddenly and without our consent) unto Jesus, to be with Him forever. We will be worthy to escape all these things that are coming upon the earth, through the blood of the Lamb. Yes, the church age is one of trials and tribulations. But God clearly is not going to pour his time of intense wrath and judgment upon His children.
As far as WHEN? The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
Recommended Rapture Resources:
- What is the Rapture of the Church? https://www.gotquestions.org/rapture-of-the-church.html
- What is the Blessed Hope? https://www.gotquestions.org/amp/blessed-hope.html
- What is the Difference Between the Rapture and the Second Coming? https://www.gotquestions.org/difference-Rapture-Second-Coming.html
From Jack Kelley, GraceThruFaith:
- 10 Reasons to Believe in a Pretribulation Rapture – http://www.unsealed.org/2017/06/in-moment-10-reasons-i-believe-in-pre.html
From John MacArthur:
- The Rapture – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYEeb2ysy6U
- Pre-Tribulation Rapture – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOsikYB0Vns
- Defense of the Pretribulation rapture – https://verticallivingministries.com/tag/john-macarthur-on-the-rapture/
- Rapture and Resurrection – https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-498/rapture-and-resurrection
- Will the Church go through the Tribulation? Parts 1, 2, 3 – https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/1324/will-the-church-go-through-the-tribulation-part-1; https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/1325/will-the-church-go-through-the-tribulation-part-2; https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/1326/will-the-church-go-through-the-tribulation-part-3
From Scottie Clarke:
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!