The Rapture (What, Why, When, Who & How)
WHO WILL BE TAKEN IN THE RAPTURE?
Or, we could also ask the question, “Who will not be taken?” To begin with, let’s do ask that question. First, we can state the obvious: not everyone on earth will be taken. Why? Because there would be no reason for the Rapture if everyone on earth was included. If every man and woman had accepted God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, there would be no reason for God to pour out his wrath on a depraved world; thus, no point in “snatching” away believers to transfigure them, transport them, and protect them from the most apocalyptic disaster the world has even seen or will see again.
So, then, who will be left behind. Scripture is abundantly clear on this matter, as several passages in Revelation tell us. I will quote just one verse that yields a descriptive term for those who (by a choice they have already made) will remain on the earth. “And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world…” (Revelation 13:14, italics for emphasis). The “he” of this verse is the false prophet, and the “first beast” is the Antichrist. In the New Living Translation, the phrase, “all the people who belong to this world” is used several times in Revelation, and refers to those alive on the earth after the Rapture. They are the ones who deliberately (knowing full well what they are doing) take the mark of the Beast, which clearly seals their fate. Once that mark is taken, there is no turning back, no second guessing, no second chance (See Revelation 14: 9-11).
Unlike ambiguous conditions which currently exist on the earth, there will be no fence-riding or gray areas or indecisiveness concerning the choices to be made during the Tribulation period. And, there will be precious little time for procrastination. Either you follow and worship the Beast, or you die from starvation or execution. Either you see through the deception and lies of the Antichrist and (at the risk of intense deprivation, persecution, and death) turn to Messiah Jesus; or you forfeit everlasting life in Heaven and spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.
That’s why the Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2). Which means, don’t put it off. If death doesn’t claim unbelievers before the Rapture, then Antichrist will (lay claim to them) after the Rapture. The chances of a person turning to Christ after the Rapture are not good. The chances of taking the mark of the beast are quite good … who wants to be deprived of buying and selling, of home and property, of rights and freedom? Who wants to be hunted down and put to death? (See Revelation 13: 13-18). Which is why so many will literally sell their soul to Satan (through total allegiance to the Antichrist); meaning they will choose temporary safety and security over everlasting life. What a disastrous decision that will be. We have the same choice now, but without anything approaching the incredible pressure to choose “anti” Christ over the true Christ, during the Tribulation. Even now, what a tragic thing it is to die without believing and receiving Messiah Jesus as personal Savior.
They “belong” to the world because they love the things of the world and don’t want to part with pleasure, prosperity, prestige, power, or pride. Despite all the irrefutable evidence, not the least of which is the historically documented fact that Jesus arose from the dead, they refuse to believe that Jesus is the only way to God, the only source of salvation, the only means of everlasting life in heaven. “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Chris Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). During the Great Tribulation, the unbelievers will recognize and acknowledge that the majority of the apocalyptic catastrophes come from God and his Messiah, Jesus Christ. Yet (incomprehensible as it may seem), they will still refuse to repent … which means to change their minds, reject the lies foisted on them by the Antichrist and his false prophet, and accept Christ as their Savior, as the true Messiah (See Revelation 9: 20-21).
A Shocking Example of Those Who Belong to the World, Then and Now
I recently read an article on Prophecy News Watch in which (former) Archbishop of the South African Anglican Church, Desmond Tutu, said something to the effect that he would rather go to hell than live in heaven and worship a “homophobic God.” Does he have any clue what he’s really thinking or the implications of what he said? Be careful what you wish for! His reference to homophobic was in the context of LGBT equality rights; and, by implication, any other political or social issue in today’s politically correct world, that everyone is expected to be unequivocally tolerant about, such as all religions are equal to the Christian faith in finding a path to God. And his brash statement was transparently void of any Biblical truth regarding the subject that generated his comment, or his (lack of) understanding of our Great God and his attributes.
The last time I studied the attributes of God in the Bible (such as holy, love, omnipotent, omniscient, among many others) I didn’t see anywhere the attribute of “homophobia.” However, HE IS and speaks absolute Truth. Among many other eternal realities found in the Bible, God’s truth also deals with the issue of LGBT lifestyles. But, of course, if someone doesn’t happen to accept God’s truth or randomly picks and chooses what they believe, then all that person need do is to claim that Christians and even God, himself, are homophobic, and that makes it true. Then everyone is supposed to agree, because that’s what you do when you’re impartial and politically correct. But when they do that, aren’t they siding with what Mr. Tutu claims as truth, meaning that God must be homophobic if he doesn’t condone homosexuality? So they’ve taken the side of what they think is true, and when they take sides aren’t they being intolerant of those on the other side … those who claim that God’s truth IS truth?
Finally, Mr. Tutu apparently has no concept about hell either, which Jesus repeatedly described as … well, as a place you don’t want to be. And, from all people–an Archbishop. But that’s another thing the Bible says about the last days: good will be called evil, and evil will be considered good. When all is said and done, what can be so wrong in agreeing with our Creator, the true and living God?
THOSE TAKEN AT THE RAPTURE:
This is equally easy to comprehend. All those who have been “born again” (a term first used by Jesus, himself in John 3:3), will be taken. Jesus then explains to Nicodemus what born again means, i.e. a spiritual rebirth that is every bit as real and permanent as our biological birth. A born-again believer in Christ is absolutely guaranteed eternal life the minute he/she accepts Christ as personal Savior. You can no more be spiritually unborn, than you can be physically unborn. Heaven is a place where God dwells, a place promised to all true Christians when they die or when Christ takes them in the Rapture. Eternal life is a state of being, irrevocably given to us by God as a free gift the very second we place our trust in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Once you breathe your first breath of life, you are a real person on this earth. According to Scripture, you actually became a human being the moment you were conceived. Likewise, once you are born from above (spiritually), your spirit is instantly made alive. Before that, the Bible tells us that our spirit was “dead,” meaning unable to relate to God in any way, shape, or form. Think about it: Dead things can’t do anything. Then at the Rapture, our very bodies (whether dead or still alive) will be transfigured to enable us to live forever.
The minute we are redeemed, our citizenship in Heaven begins. Our real home now and then is Heaven. For the present, we’re living in a temporary shelter. But it’s just a matter of time before we move to our new address. We already have a passport … stamped, and sealed by God. On each passport is a picture of Jesus, just above these words: “Crucified, buried, and risen!” And our transportation is prearranged by Christ, himself … a catching up in the clouds to be with our Lord forever more! How good is that!
WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?
This may be the most difficult part of the Rapture to talk about, as there are many parents, even some Christian parents, who prefer not to think about the Rapture, let alone talk about it. It’s too unsettling, too uncertain, too interruptive … just too everything. And, unfortunately, many pastors/teachers in the Church consistently avoid preaching or teaching on end times prophecy. It’s disconcerting, bewildering, maybe even unnerving.
*Note: Here I need to be completely compassionate and sensitive to these thoughts and views about the end times. Meaning to relate to those (parents) who, when it comes to their children– especially those past the age of innocence–are apprehensive about not only the Rapture, but the entire scenario of the last days of this age.
Normally those Christian parents, who prefer not to think about these things, don’t like the idea of a happy home being suddenly disrupted (by anything). And, at face value, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that sometimes we forget God’s promises in the Bible such as found in Ephesians 3:20, New American Standard Bible: “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Notice, that the Apostle Paul says, ask OR think. There are some things we don’t need to ask for, such as eternal life, or the Holy Spirit, or a resurrected body. These and many other things are promised and/or freely given to us at the moment of our spiritual rebirth in Christ. On the contrary, we only need to think about these things. But whether we ask or think (or both), guess what Ephesians 3:20 promises: We can multiply exponentially what the Lord will do for us and give to us. That’s what “exceeding” and “abundant” clearly convey. When applied to the Rapture and everlasting life it means that our home and relationships (for example, with our children) in heaven will be exceedingly abundant above even the best of times we have on this earth, more than we can possibly imagine. The New Living Translation of the Bible says, “infinitely more than we might ask or think.” So, it’s okay mom and dad and kids. We will instantly realize beyond all doubt that, “We’ve never had it so good.”
The prevailing thought among many Christians, including Bible scholars, pastors, and teachers is that ALL children who are still at the age of innocence–those who do not yet have the capacity either in their heart or mind to understand and, therefore, choose (accept) the free gift of salvation offered by God–will be taken in the Rapture alongside of older children and adults who have already made a decision to accept Christ as their personal Savior. The fact of the matter is that on this side of eternity, we do not know for sure; on the other hand I believe there are significant precedents in Scripture that give us cause/reason to take a second look at the children. These precedents do not support the premise that ALL children will be taken when the Rapture occurs.
In my first book, a novel entitled, O Israel, this topic is addressed, through one of the main characters, Avram Levitt. You’ll find it in the final three pages of the novel, which is the 7th world-wide email sent by Avram to those alive during the Tribulation. If you haven’t read O Israel, and would like a copy, let me know by email or on the blog site, and I will see that you get a copy.
My Premise & the Precedents:
First, a little more explanation as to the predominant view among most Christians that all innocent children will be taken in the Rapture, despite Biblical evidence to the contrary. The main reason (for some, the only reason) can best be summarized as a deduction, based mostly on sentiment; one, however, that at face value, is also logical and appealing. It’s one that any Christian, including me, would want to see happen; as we would not want innocent children exposed to the horrific things that will take place during the Great Tribulation. We would hope that they would be spared from the wrath of God’s judgments, and, of course, from the evil that will be prevalent throughout the earth, compliments of Satan and his man of lawlessness.
But, there is actually a positive or up-side to certain children of unbelievers being left behind. You might ask: “How could there be any good from leaving children behind at the Rapture?” The answer lies in I Corinthians Chapter 7, especially verse 14. We’ll get to that passage, shortly. For now, let’s examine the two Biblical events that establish a principle or pattern; with each event strongly suggesting a similar or even an identical correlation to the Rapture.
(A) The Great Flood: Here, I’d like to quote my O Israel character Avram Levitt’s analysis of God’s monumental historical judgment in the context of all children living on the earth at that time; and as placed in the context of the Rapture which had already taken place when Avram wrote this and other emails. Avram postulates, “Scripture is clear as to the purpose of this calamity: to deal with the irreversible wickedness and depravity of man. But this judgment also gave mankind another chance to acknowledge and serve his Creator. Noah and his family were spared to repopulate the earth. What is the relevance of this example to the question of the children? The significance is that the children were not spared.” (Italics in this article for emphasis).
(B) Sodom & Gomorrah: As with Noah and his family, only Lot (with the exception of his wife, who disobeyed the angel’s command not to look back) and his family were spared from the complete destruction of these two cities (five cities all told) and obliteration of all the inhabitants. Because God knows the end from the beginning, he knew the wickedness of these cities was inevitable, perpetual, and irreversible … including the innocent children who would grow up to be as or even more wicked than their parents. Same thing with Noah’s flood.
So, I would ask the question: “If God did not spare the children from the Great Flood or from the utter destruction of Sodom, is there any reason why children of “those who belong to the world” wouldn’t or couldn’t or shouldn’t be left behind at the Rapture and, thereby, go through all or part of the Tribulation. Incidentally, only God knows whether a child has passed the age of innocence and reached the point of accountability. Some say the age of 7, some say 8, others say 12 or 13. For example, in Jewish culture a boy or girl becomes a man or woman at the age of 13, after their Bar Mitzvah or Bat (for girls) Mitzvah.
Why do I suggest that only some of the children (age of innocence) will be left behind at the Rapture. Answer: I Corinthians 7: 14. “For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.” The Greek word translated “holiness” in English does not mean perfection. Rather, like the Old Testament Hebrew word, it means “set aside for a specific purpose.”
What is the Apostle Paul saying in this passage? He’s telling us that when a wife, or a husband, or (by implication and by the same principle) when a child is saved, there’s a strong probability that one or more other members of that family will also come to Christ. The “holiness” is the influence transferred from the Christian family member to unbelieving members. And, to continue the principle, both Lot and Noah’s children were taken out of harm’s way before the floodwaters covered the earth and before the fire/brimstone destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So, too, will the innocent children of those believers caught up in the Rapture be taken with their parent or parents. But the children of the unsaved, those who are left behind, will remain. Yet, I’m convinced that God will use these children to help influence, if not persuade parents (if they have any love or concern for their children) to turn to Christ, rather than to give allegiance to the Antichrist.
Either view (all children taken or only those belonging to at least one saved parent are taken) is ultimately a matter of some speculation. When, however, it comes to “spiritual” speculation, the speculating is much more viable if it has some foundational evidence in the Bible to back up the supposition. The premise that I’ve presented has Biblical support through two very strong precedents … Noah’s children and Lot’s children were spared. Conversely, the children of the Great Flood and of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction were not spared. Both establish a remarkable parallel to what probably will take place at the Rapture, concerning not only the adult believers and non-believers, but also the children.
Next week we will take a close look at the How of the Rapture, which is the fifth and final articles in this series. It includes shouts, trumpets, a speed of light transformation, and such things. And it will present a stunning alternative to the commonly accepted view of how the Rapture takes place. Don’t miss it!
Things to Ponder:
– Do you think it will be easier, harder, or about the same for someone to believe in and follow Christ during the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation (which is the time that Antichrist is given great power and authority throughout the earth), than it is now, before the Rapture?
– Can you think of any other Biblical event or events in which the children of the ungodly were not spared?
– Early in the article, I indicate that those who remain on the earth after the Rapture, will remain by choice. How can it be their decision when God is supernaturally orchestrating the Rapture?
Great articles Gary… On the “who will be taken article”, quoating Matthew 24:37-39, I once heard a catholic priest refer to these verses in just the opposite of how we, as believers do. He was telling his listeners, that because Noah and his family were left upon the earth, so shall it be with Catholics. Meaning that those taken are the unbelievers and those left behind are the true children of God. I’m convinced that the many millions who embrace this teaching, will in turn, embrace the antichrist.
Welcome to Eye of Prophecy. Yes, the Catholic Priest got it backwards, as have some Protestant churches. It was Noah and has family that was “taken” from the earth and placed in an ark to survive the flood waters that judged those who were “left behind.” It was Lot and his daughters who were “removed” from Sodom, and taken out of the city before it was destroyed by God. And, your conclusion is very perceptive: the Antichrist will twist the truth and reality of the Rapture, by reinforcing this reversal of those taken from and those who remain on the earth. And many will buy in to that lie, i.e. that they are the ones chosen to usher in world peace and utopia.
Once again, another great article. In answer to your 1st question, I guess I’d have to respond with…”Who can say, really?” Those left behind will have witnessed first hand some truly extraordinary events. First, the Rapture itself…which I believe should have gotten them thinking, perhaps doubting their previous position concerning God, and then second, the advent of the antichrist who will waste no time capitalizing on the emotional confusion and trauma of the world. My guess, and that’s all it is, a guess, is that many will turn to God immediately following the Rapture, but as time goes on, it will become exponentially more difficult for those left behind to first, take that first leap of faith in Christ, and then to follow God’s will. Blessed are those who will. … Regarding your 3rd question: It is by choice they are left behind, because it was by choice they refused to believe in God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
Some good insight and analysis regarding the increasing difficulty of those left behind to choose the true Messiah, as the Tribulation progresses in intensity (especially when the mark of the beast is required). Yes, I agree: While on this earth, our decision to choose Christ as Lord and Savior will determine our eternal destiny. And, the miraculous events of the Rapture will set that destiny in motion. Because God created us with the freedom to choose (free will), he will honor the decision of those left behind by keeping them on the earth. Which, after all, is what they really want; and which is a great tragedy.
Question – There are many people who truly believe they are on the right road to heaven. I think some if not most of this can be laid at the feet of so called teachers who neither know the real truth or care that they are leading so many astray. I personally know several people who are putting their entire eternal future in the hands of the Catholic church. Anything the Pope and his bishops/priests say is gospel. They are totally blind to the truth. I would assume those in positions of power have much to answer for – but what about their followers? They have made the choice to believe a lie but they think it’s the truth. They truly worship Jesus/God, but are putting their trust in rituals and other lies the church has perpetrated. This is so sad. They need the truth but they think they already have the truth.
In response to Margie’s post for the benefit of all readers:
Did you know that in order to finance the first crusade, the pope was selling ‘writs’ that guaranteed entrance to heaven for a reasonable donation to the cause, and that people believed it and purchased the writs? The catholic pope was selling salvation, and people bought into it. Furthermore, they bought into it and subsequently financed some of the worst atrocities ever committed by so called ‘followers of Christ’. Without the Truth, and the wisdom gained from the enlightenment of the Truth via the Holy Spirit, people will certainly believe almost anything and call it the ‘truth’. Because we love God, we do have a loving concern for these people who are led astray by bad shepherds such as the pope, and others who are lost in darkness because they buy into philosophical theories such as evolutionism. We know also though that everyone who has not chosen to believe in God’s one and only Son for salvation, will stand before the judgment throne of Christ without excuse. They will be without excuse because they rejected the Truth; that is to say, the Son of God, Savior, Redeemer, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Having a loving concern for these people, we can give them the Truth, or remind them of it and hope that God the Holy Spirit moving in them will convince them of the Truth so that they might choose to believe in Christ, and we can live our own lives as pleasing to God, and so reflect the Truth, the Love that is in Christ Jesus out into the world for them to see. As I am sure Gary would say, it is saddening to know that many of these people will not be caught up with us at the Rapture of the Church, but we can rejoice in the knowledge that in our own lives, we did the will of God as witnesses for His Son. Jesus gave us the greatest commandment, saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” He also gave us the second, saying it was like the first, “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” And, we know that Scripture tells us that “For God so loved the world he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” In matchless grace, God offered salvation through the work of His Son on the cross to the entire human race, but He requires repentance (a change of heart and mind about God) and faith in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. If you believe in Christ for salvation, then you will know that the Truth is IN YOU, and that the Truth which is in you, will set you free. In Christ, who is the light of the world, you will walk in the light as a child of God and citizen of heaven, and never walk in darkness knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ IS the good shepherd who laid down His own life for His sheep. He will never lead us astray. We know that on that day, every knee will bend(bow) to acknowledge Him, and the absolute Glory will be manifest in Christ, the one who fulfilled the Father’s plan, revealing the Father and taking away the sins of the whole world.