The Rapture

We are one day closer to His coming than we were yesterday!

The Rapture is a future event when Jesus will snatch all believers away from the earth and return with them to heaven.  The most explicit passage on this topic is in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-7

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

Though Jesus will come down from heaven He will not come all the way to the ground.  Christians will “meet the Lord in the air” indicating He will stop in the sky.  Dead Christians will come out of their graves first and be gathered up with Jesus.  Immediately afterwards, living Christians will be “caught up” to join them.  This will be the ultimate reunion with dead Christian spouses, parents, grandparents, children, and friends.

This will be the ultimate reunion with dead Christian spouses, parents, grandparents, children, and friends.

The Greek word for “caught up” is “harpazo” (ἁρπάζω) and it literally means “snatched”, “seized”, “carried off by force” “to claim for oneself eagerly”.  Think of a thief snatching a woman’s purse in public.  Or a dog seizing your pizza slice off your plate when you turn away.  Or a hawk catching and carrying off a squeaky little treat.  

However, while the passage tells us we will join the Lord in the sky it  doesn’t tell us where we go from there.  John 14:2-3 helps us out,

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for  you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

We seem to have our answer:  once we’re in the sky with Jesus He will turn around and take all of us to heaven (a.k.a., “Father’s house”).  Arriving we’ll find the “places” He “prepared” for us.  

At the moment of the Rapture all Christians will be glorified.  Glorification is when we finally get those new bodies the Bible keeps promising us,

…we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom. 8:23)

…we eagerly await a Savior from there [heaven], the Lord Jesus Christ, who….will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body (Php. 3:20-1)

Paul was bursting in 1 Corinthians 15 when he spoke of all this,

We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (v51-2)

Just like we read in 1 Thessalonians 4, we see again that some will be asleep and others will not.  Those who are “asleep” are dead Christians, who will be raised up with new “imperishable” bodies.  Those who are not asleep – who are alive at the Rapture – will be “changed” in a split second.  They will be suddenly transformed into their new bodies.

When will the Rapture happen?  At EFC we hold to the Pre-Tribulation view, which means the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation begins.  There are other views such as the “Mid-Tribulation”, the “Pre-Wrath”, and the “Post Tribulation”.  Each one has its own merits and flaws, but, we find the Pre-Tribulation view makes the best sense.  If our view is correct, then at any moment we could be Raptured.  What do you want to be found doing when Jesus suddenly takes you away?   Just think – we are one day closer to His coming than we were yesterday! Maranatha!

Now redemption long expected,

see in solemn pomp appear,

all His saints by man rejected,

now shall meet Him in the air

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,

the Day of God appears.

~Charles Wesley

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