…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 1:11
The great expectation of the modern church is to be caught up in the rapture, thereby escaping THE GREAT TRIBULATION. Is this what the Bible teaches? Is the rapture the great hope of the church? Did our Lord teach us to pray, “take me out?”
If the rapture is the great hope of the church, why is the word “rapture” not in the Bible? If escapism is God’s answer to trouble, why is there only one verse in the Bible that the rapturists base their whole doctrine on? The Lord established the “Law of Confirmation” by stating that; “At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established,” (Deut. 19:15) and “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (II Peter 1:20)
God tells us plainly that we cannot establish any matter based on one witness. Every valid doctrine in the Bible is evidenced by multiplied verses of scripture. Why then, is there only one verse of scripture to prove the ‘doctrine’ of the rapture?
God Delivers His People
There are many witnesses in the Word of God that clearly prove that God’s way is to deliver His people out of trouble, but never to ‘rapture’ them from off the earth. Psalm 34:17 states:
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivered him out of them all.”
The following are just a few of the many examples where God delivers and preserves His people during times of trouble or even severe persecution.
The three Hebrew children The Lord preserved them through the fire, but they were not taken out of the world.
Daniel in the lions’ den God closed the mouths of the lions, but he kept Daniel while still in the lions’ den.
David and Goliath God anointed David’s aim, but he did not remove David from the fight.
Israel in Egypt By the means of the ten plagues, God delivered Israel out of Egypt, but did not remove them from off the earth.
Israel at the Red Sea God took Israel through the Red Sea, but not from off the earth.
These are just a few of the many miracles that God performed for His children. Both Old and New Testaments are filled with many more such deliverances. The most elementary Bible student can see the hand of God over and over again in delivering His people out of troubles, trials and difficulties as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
In the life of Jesus, we see miracles on a daily basis. His life was one tremendous miracle from the beginning to the end. Jesus was also delivered countless times from death and destruction at the hands of His enemies. Many times the Gospels record that His enemies sought to kill Him. They took counsel together how they might trap him in His words in order that they could have good reason to charge Him with blasphemy and put Him to death. He was delivered out of their hands until the time appointed of the Father that He should lay down His life on the cross and thereby purchase our salvation and redemption.
Is there one example in the Scriptures of anyone being “raptured out” of any trial or trouble? The answer is NO. There is not one example anywhere in the Bible of anyone being raptured out of any situation. However, there are a multitude of examples of God preserving His people during times of severe trials and even bloody persecutions.
The Sacred Record tells us that there were those “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:33, 34).
In fact, the whole of Hebrews II shows God’s amazing grace in delivering and preserving His people throughout history. It looks like the whole of Scripture confirms the fact that Jesus is in the business of saving His people from all their afflictions.
The “Rapture” Text
I Thess. 4:16, 17 is generally considered to be the ‘proof text’ concerning the doctrine of the secret rapture of the church. Upon close examination, let us consider what the writer is really teaching.
“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: 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 “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” refers to the basic doctrine of the second coming of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Rev. 19:11 16. That is the blessed hope of each believer and the whole body of Christ.
The second coming of our Lord shall NOT be secret for “…every eye shall see Him” Rev. 1:7. Matthew 24:30 31 says that His coming shall be visible and with the great sound of a trumpet.
John the Apostle says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (I John 3:2, 3).
The phrases “With a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” describes the manner of His appearing. It is certainly not SECRET. It reminds us of the circumstances of the giving of the law to Moses with all Israel being present. The whole world would certainly be aware of His coming in such a manner. John the Revelator says, “Every eye shall see him” (Rev. 1: 7).
When the Apostle Paul states that “The dead in Christ shall rise first,” he is describing the resurrection of those in Christ. “Then we which are alive and remain” talks about those “in Christ” who are living and on the earth. “Shall be caught up” could mean 12 inches off the ground. It could be describing the joy of the experience, or various other things. It does not have to mean “go to heaven, cloud 19, paradise, Mars, Venus or any other place far removed in space. We have to gain our understanding of the Scriptures from the context of the Scripture. “Together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” describes the meeting place as the clouds and the air. Clouds could also refer to the “cloud of witnesses” which are people, Heb. 12:1 There is air at ground zero. We walk, talk and live in the air. We have clouds at ground zero which we call fog. One does not have to go very far UP to be in the clouds.
“And so shall we ever be with the Lord” tells us that we will always be with the Lord, not that we shall FOREVER be in the air. The simple, logical meaning is that we meet the Lord and will always be with Him from that time forward. The only other question is; where is the Lord going to be? That is answered in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ prayer was “thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” The Lord is coming back to establish His kingdom ON THE EARTH. Since the Lord is going to be on the earth, this is where His people will be also.
Jesus, Paul, and the Bible Never Mentioned The Rapture
Neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul ever mentioned the rapture. None of the writers of the Bible mentioned the rapture. The apostles, prophets, early church fathers, the great men of the Reformation never mentioned the rapture. In fact, it is a teaching that was publicized in 1830 from the writings of two Jesuit priests. It was the Roman Catholic answer to the Reformation. Are we going to believe men or are we going to believe Jesus Christ and His Word?
Jesus always delivers His saints out of trouble while leaving them on this earth.
The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
Most of the Christians down through the ages have recognized Christ’s second coming as the great hope of the Church (I John 3:3). “This hope” (of His appearing) purifies us. We are to look for His coming and not our disappearing.