Rapture Timing Tidbits

Part 1 of the Pretribulational Rapture

 

Many have different ideas of the timing of the rapture, so I’d like to share a defense of pretribulational timing in parts. I’ll start by covering some basic foundational truths that may help later. 

My intent is to share some smaller thoughts (or tidbits) over time to help people grasp the bigger picture on timing — thought by thought with the Word. Those who have honest questions are welcome to ask, but I can’t give a platform to those who want to give long teaching lessons on their own school of thought, there are plenty of other venues for that. So I won’t be debating or arguing with anyone who is not pre-tribulational. But I will absolutely answer orderly questions one at a time, if someone truly wishes a back-and-forth discussion. 

How many phases in the First Resurrection?

There is not only one raising from the dead encompassed in the first resurrection. The first resurrection is just the resurrection of the righteous, and has happened more than once starting with Jesus.  
 
For those who believe the rapture happens at the END of the tribulation, ask yourself, WHY did some in the church somehow think the resurrection had already happened if they expected it at the end of the age and they were still there? (2 Tim 2:18; 2 Thess 2).
 
They would know that Christ would be back reigning on earth, and the judgment would have happened, so where was He >if this was their understanding?
 
We know at the rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first, THEN the living right after (1 Thess 4:13-18), so why would their faith be overthrown if they were expecting it right before the Millennium? And why on earth would Paul the apostle, part of the foundation of the church, still be around to encourage them?

The Thessalonians were not talking about missing His second coming. They were still living. If they somehow expected their resurrection to be at the end of the 70th week, they wouldn’t still be walking around, not yet judged. This doesn’t make good common sense. They thought they had missed the gathering together to Christ in the clouds (See also John 14:1-3).

The only conclusion has to be that they expected the rapture (resurrection) before the 70th week of Daniel. No one would be comforted to know they were facing those seven years — which is exactly why they were shaken in mind and troubled. These believers in 2 Thessalonians 2 were concerned now that they were already >in the 70th week, that somehow they hadn’t believed rightly and they had missed the harpazo (rapture).
 
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some2 Tim 2:15-17

Prewrath teaching

PreWrath believes the resurrection seen in Revelation 20:4 happens sometime around the 5th year into the 7 year tribulation. They would obviously have to believe all the living ‘in Christ’ have already been raised up at the same time if they are applying that verse.
 
Part of the argument they give (for saying their timing makes more sense) is that in a Pre-trib Rapture, there would be no one left to evangelize if the church were removed. If Prewrath teachers are right (that the rapture is around 22 months before the end), then the living believers are all removed with the dead at that point. Who then would be left to evangelize any who had not taken the mark for the last two years? I don’t think that’s a sound argument.
 
Another argument they make is that pre-trib believers will be shocked and therefore become apostate. That pre-trib believers ‘just want to escape the tribulation.’
 
Does anyone pray for tribulation to reign down on them? Is it somehow by our power that we are brought through hard times? No, it is by His. To simplify, they identify the wrath seen in Revelation 6 as Satan’s wrath. They do not see the first five seals as God’s wrath. Most seem oblivious to the fact that the Judge of the Earth, (the one that the Father has committed all Judgment to), is opening these seals which I believe are identified as God’s wrath, as He takes back the earth and will put everything underneath His feet (John 5:22,27,30; James 5:9).
 
Satan overcomes the saints in the Tribulation, but Christ says the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. I believe the saints are only tribulation saints, and are not the church.

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Daniel 7:21-22
 
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  Matt 16:18
 

The Rapture is not Post-Trib

Why does their word ‘eat like a canker if the believers spoken to believed THEIR resurrection was at the end?
 

At the end of the tribulation, Scripture says Christ sets His feet down on the Mount of Olives (some say He goes to Edom/Bozrah first – Judah – then Mount of Olives to set His feet down – for another day though).

Wouldn’t the church would already KNOW that the Mountain had been split, and a GREAT valley formed (Zech 14:4) if the early church was post-trib?

How is it that both the believers in 2 Timothy and also at Thessalonica (2 Thess) were deceived by this thinking, (again IF) they thought the rapture was at the end of the Tribulation?

 
This cannot be that they think they missed the resurrection altogether (as some say) and somehow they are still walking around unjudged and that Paul missed it with them. They cannot believe it is the mid-tribulation either. Based on what is written in Daniel 9:24-27 and Matt 24, they would flee the city if they believed it was the midpoint. Because they >had already been taught these things. They were of the light, and they should have understood these times and seasons which Paul had already talked to them about in 1 Thessalonians 5.
 
No, again, I believe they think they have missed the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the living in Christ — the Rapture — the gathering to Him in the clouds. Clearly they expected this to happen BEFORE the unfulfilled 70th week (last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy), and before the midpoint. 
 
I know I’m seemingly repetitive on this, but it’s so you’ll be clear. These men’s words simply couldn’t have disturbed them if they were expecting the rapture at the end, or even 3-1/2 to five years into the Tribulation (depending of it you are mid-trib or prewrath). The church would have already seen other prophesied signs (from the OT) of the time of the Day of the Lord, the 70th week (also called the Day of Vengeance). The Great Tribulation would have begun. The words of Hymenaeus and Philetus are suggesting that they have missed that Day (day of resurrection), and are facing a time of Great Tribulation (and again they haven’t fled to the mountains).

2 Timothy was written between 61 – 65 A.D. (depending on whether people believe it was written during Paul’s first or second imprisonment). 2 Thessalonians is seen by most as having been written about 10 years earlier. Paul would have already taught them these things, yet people were still trying to shake some up saying the resurrection (rapture) was overpast (already happened). This just cannot be an understanding of a resurrection after the 70th week. The church understood the mystery of the rapture.

The Order of the First Resurrection

The first resurrection contains several events starting with the resurrection of Jesus. It is not just one event at the end of the Tribulation.
 
Here are some of the Bible verses speaking of those who have part in the FIRST RESURRECTION:
 
(Hyperlinks for Scriptures included so you can easily check Scripture).
 
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.  Rev 20:6a
 

Jesus Christ our Firstfruits

Jesus as the firstfruits in resurrection, is a picture of the Rapture, in His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). We shall be taken in like manner, up to the clouds

 

Earthquake-Saints at the Grave

Matt 27:50-53, Is this a picture of this prophecy from Ezekiel? A witness to those watching this resurrection, and seeing a foreshadowing by Christ’s resurrection, knowing He is the Lord?  Also later the awakening of Israel to come?

12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves14 and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.  Ez 37:12-14

Where did those saints who were resurrected at the crucifixion end up?

Many have asked what happened to these saints after they were seen. Did they die again? Did they ascend with the Lord? Are they still alive? The Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die, then the judgment (Heb 9:27) so I don’t believe they died again. Once resurrected they would have to have incorruptible bodies, or interim bodies until the resurrection of their bodies spoken of in Dan 12:1-2; also seen in Rev 20:4-5. I think if they were still alive on this earth, we probably would not know. But it is probably more likely they were with the saints that the Bible say Christ brought with Him when He ascended, the cloud, just like the cloud of witnesses spoken of in Heb 11. This is not definitive, because it is recorded that Jesus ascended alone, so it is just one way of explaining what might have happened. When He rose again the third day, it is possible it happened then. Jesus told the thief that day He would be with Him in paradise, so this is more potentially the timing — after He preached to the saints in prison. But again, we do not know.

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) Eph 4:8-10

However the Bible does not pointedly tell us what happened to them or to Lazarus. Were they raised in their old bodies or were they given glorified ones? Were they saints recently dead so not decomposed? Martha thought that in four days Lazarus would stink, so it must have been glorified bodies. Again though, we do not have a clear answer in Scripture, (that I know of) so something will likely have to wait to find out on that day.

The Church at the Rapture (yes, that is resurrection)
 
We are called a Royal Priesthood, (Kings and Priests to our God. Rev 1 & Rev 4 speaks about the Elders seen in heaven with crowns (suggesting they have already been at the Bema seat after the Rapture. And these elders are seen ►before the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). 
 
Some rapture passages: John 14:1-3; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:50-53; Phil 3:20-21; John 5:25,28-29; Rom 8:22-23; 2 Thess 2:1-3 (gathering and apostasia – departure)
 
The Two Witnesses 
 
I believe strongly they are another ‘type’ of rapture. The witnesses are killed and brought back to life, and caught up to the clouds in the same manner that we will be gathered to Him. 
 
Raised midpoint in the tribulation, caught up in the clouds – Rev 4:1; Rev 11:11-12; 1 Thess 4:16-17; 1 Cor 15:51-53
 
The Tribulation Saints (at the end of the 7 years)
 
Rev 6:9-11; 7:9-11, They are not the same as the elders spoken of starting in Revelation 4, they are the ones who came out of the Tribulation. They had to wash their robes in His blood, the church is already washed in His blood (Rev 1:5), already purchased and justified by that blood, saved from wrath, redeemed… (Acts 20:28; Rom 5:9; Eph 1:7; Col 1:20). Another thing to note is the waving of Palms. This is something pretty specific to Israel, but in essence, the church has already had that experience, but those who hadn’t believed in His first coming will still fulfill that from Lev 23:40-41;  Matt 21:8-11; Mark 11:8-10; John 12:12-16

Raised before the beginning of the Millennium – Called Priests of God and Christ (Rev 20:4-5). One small rapture timing thought for people to consider. If the saints at Thessalonica were awaiting the resurrection after the Tribulation (post-trib — or even anytime within the 70th week of Daniel (7 years  pre-wrath or mid-trib), they wouldn’t have had their faith overthrown. thinking they had missed the resurrection/rapture, and were already in the day of the Lord (2 Thess 2). Firstly, because they’d be expecting the Second Coming of Christ and nothing else. And why was Paul still with them? The church is not waiting for the second coming where Jesus will set His feet down on the Mount of Olives. The church is waiting to be gathered to Him in the clouds (Just like our first fruits, we will be raised in the likeness of His ascension to heaven — where He is there shall we be also).

The OT Saints
 
After the time of Jacob’s trouble – Dan. 12:1-2; Job 19:25-27; Ez 37:13-14
 

Part 2 available here

(Let us know what questions regarding the rapture you’d like to see answered).

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