The Rapture of the Church and the Time of Tribulation

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The Rapture of the Church and the Time of Tribulation

Introduction

There is an event that is yet to take place that will significantly affect the eternal destinies of millions of people. It is NOT the Second Advent of Christ, though that is important, it is the Rapture of the Church…which is the Body of Christ. There is no prophetic event that must take place before the Rapture happens; no world wars, pestilence, or any other such thing. The Rapture of the Church is the very next prophetic Biblical event to take place.

It is when the Lord Himself will come down to the clouds and call us up to Him. It is to occur on a day that no one, other than God the Father, knows according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36  But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only and Matthew 24:44  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. These verses must be referring to the Rapture, and not the Second Advent of Christ, because once the Rapture takes place and the tribulation starts, we DO know when His Second Advent will be. (More about that later).

Knowing that no one but the Father knows the exact time of the Rapture, we cannot use current events as a sign of the timing of the Rapture because we do not know. We can only use current events as a sign that the Bible is true when it says 2 Timothy 3:1  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (and then all the signs Paul lists out in Verses 2 – 5 of that chapter.

Other than this, we must not use current events but we must heed the words of Jesus when He says in Matthew 24:5-6  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  (6)  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (In other words, “Don’t be using these events as a way to try to time the Rapture just right so you can still try to enjoy ungodliness and then slide into the pearly gates right at the last second. Just love God enough to obey Him every day and you will be just fine!” Another way of saying it, John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Also, remember what Paul the Apostle says about these people in 2 Timothy 3:5  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. These kinds of people tend to get all caught up in end-time prophecy almost in a cultish way and tend to make these things super complicated. They’ll talk more about some so-called prophet or preacher they follow than they do the Bible because their ideas don’t tend to connect well with the rest of the Bible (and they’ll get mad when you point that out). You’ll hardly ever hear them talking about their love for lost souls or winning souls to the Lord.

           So, when a YouTube prophet, Facebook prophetess, soothsayer, or any other person starts trying to use current events as some form of prophecy or way of “connecting the dots”, don’t pay them any attention. Just remember what Jesus says in Matthew 24:6  but the end is not yet. If you hear these things being said, just keep telling yourself “but the end is not yet…but the end is not yet”. As a matter of fact, when you hear someone saying things like that, tell them, “Yes, but as Jesus says in Matthew 24:6  but the end is not yet. It shouldn’t take long for them to leave you alone. Just keep it simple and stay Biblical and you’ll be safe!

The Word “Rapture” Is Not In The Bible

The word “Rapture” is not in the Bible, but the concept is there in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17  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” from the Latin word rapio and the Greek word harpazo both mean the same thing; to seize upon; to take up to oneself; to get carried away. This is in harmony with the words of Jesus in John 14:3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. The phrase receive youis from the Greek word paralambano, which also means to take to oneself.

In Revelation chapters 1 – 3 the Lord is dealing with the churches (that’s right now). The Rapture of the Church (the Body of Christ) is typified in Revelation 4:1-2  After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.  (2)  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

We know it will only be those who are ready to meet the Lord because of their obedience and love for God that will be caught up to the Lord in the Rapture. This is why holiness of living everyday is so important. This does not indicate that we must perfectly live some legalistic life of church traditions in order to make it in the Rapture, but it takes simply having a heart that is full of love for God and allowing God to be our all-in-all.

This is why Jesus was so adamant when He said Luke 9:23  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

           Since we do not know the time of the Lord’s return, and that we must be ready at all times, we must live holy like the rapture could happen at any time (because it could), and yet work and live for the Lord like we still have 100 years left to work the works of Him who sent us!

There Are 4 Major Raptures That Take Place

  1. The first rapture is that of the Church (the Body of Christ). This one is a two-part rapture of the dead in Christ and then the living in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17  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.)
  2. The second rapture is of the man child in (Revelation 7:1 – 3). (we’ll discuss this later)
  3. The third rapture is of those who get saved during the tribulation (Revelation 6:9 – 11 (This is the rapture that many people mistake as the rapture of the Church – the Body of Christ)
  4. The fourth rapture is that of the two witnesses, we now know to be Enoch and Elijah. (Revelation 11:3 – 13)

Two Major Time Frames

There are two major time frames of which we must be aware: 1) The time of the Jews and 2) The time of the Gentiles. We are currently living in the time of the Gentiles. God once allowed the Gospel to be preached in Israel to the Jews, but there was a point, after they crucified Christ, that God turned from the Jews and took the Gospel to the Gentiles Acts 13:45-48  But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.  (46)  Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.  (47)  For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.  (48)  And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

The Rapture Of The Gentiles Is Before The Tribulation

This has to be the case because 1) the tribulation is not for the Gentiles, it is for the Jews. Daniel 9:24  Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city (and it would be apparently as some form of judgment. We now know it was for the crucifixion of Messiah, but they didn’t know that at the time)…to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (This speaks of the Second Advent, defeat of Antichrist and satan, and the establishing of the kingdom of Christ upon the Earth. All of which takes place after the Tribulation (70th Week).

Of course there will be some Gentiles who were not given the chance to believe the Gospel and repent as we are given and 2) We come back with the Lord at His Second Advent to the Mount of Olives and in order to come down, we must first go up.

We know the Rapture of the Church is BEFORE the tribulation and then the true Antichrist will be revealed according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: (meaning the spirit of antichrist is already at work in the world see also 1 John 4:3b -…and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.) only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.  (8)  And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming

Some believe the one being “taken out of the way” is the Holy Spirit, but that neither makes sense nor does it harmonize with the rest of the Bible because the Holy Spirit will still be on the earth convicting men and women of their sin and their need for Christ just as He is now, but it will be focused on the Jews rather than the Gentiles

The Tribulation Was Prophesied of in Daniel 9

Daniel 9:25-27  Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.  (26)  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.  

(27)  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

These 70 weeks are broken into three main stages:

1. Weeks 1 – 7 (49 years) for the rebuilding of Jerusalem (starting with Ezra around 450 B.C. and then Nehemiah and the construction finishing around 401 B.C.)

2. Weeks 8 – 69 (62 Weeks = 434 years) from the completion of Jerusalem until Messiah is cut off (crucified) at around age 33.

3. Week 70 (7 years) the time of Tribulation

Who Preaches the Gospel to the Jews in the Tribulation if the Church is Gone?

This is a question asked by many people who believe the Church will be raptured during the tribulation rather than before the tribulation. We know that God will set aside and sanctify 144,000 Jews (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes) to preach the Gospel when He turns back to the Jews to give them another chance to receive Christ during their time of judgment (the Tribulation).

Revelation 7:3  Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. These servants are sealed by God to preach the Gospel to the Jewish people. They are listed by tribe in Revelation 7:4-8  And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.  (5)  Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.  (6)  Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.  (7)  Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.  (8)  Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

This group of Jewish men is known prophetically as the man child in Revelation 12:5  And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: (and then they are raptured in the second rapture mentioned earlier) and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

The Lesser Tribulation and the Greater Tribulation

The tribulation is comprised of two 3 ½ year timeframes: 1) The lesser tribulation where the Antichrist will partner with and protect Israel and 2) The greater tribulation where the Antichrist will turn against Israel and they will run to a place God has prepared for them according to Revelation 12:6  And the woman (speaking of Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. 1,260 days is 3 ½ years. Again keep it Biblical and you’ll be safe!

The Mark of the Beast

The mark of the beast is an economic mark of some sort that is taken in the forehead or the hand. Without it no one will be able to buy or sell according to Revelation 13:16-18  And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:  (17)  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  (18)  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

The number 666 will simply be the number associated with the name of the Antichrist. There’s nothing to fear about the number itself. There was a time when people thought that being assigned a social security number was the mark of the beast. There is nothing to fear about the number 666 or the mark of the beast because this will all be DURING the tribulation and the Rapture of the Church will be BEFORE the Tribulation, so those taken in the Rapture of the Church will not have to worry about taking the mark of the beast because they will already be gone….they won’t be here. If you are still here during that time, it’s too late for you because it means you missed the Rapture and there won’t be another one for you. Those who are hearing the Gospel preached now, during the time of the Gentiles, and who miss the rapture of the Church will NOT be given another chance. They likely will not even know what happened because they will believe a lie and be damned according to 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  (12)  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Why is all this important to know?

It is not as important to know and understand end-time prophecy as it is to be ready for the Rapture in these last days! That’s more important than anything, and we taught this subject so God’s people can be educated on the truth so they are not deceived into believing a lie. We also taught it so God’s people would not live in fear, but could be at ease with knowing that if they just keep their eyes on Jesus and learn to love and obey Him, they have nothing to fear!

Have you made sure you are ready for the Rapture of the Church? All it takes is a prayer of faith to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and He will guide you in your heart from there!

Published by Pastor Fulmer

Pastor Fulmer is currently the Pastor of New Testament Christian Church in Pyeongtaek, South Korea (near Camp Humphreys). His life's mission is to lead men and women to THEIR next level of living and into a closer relationship with Christ through Evangelism, Education, and Example.

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