By Irvin Baxter
When Will The Rapture Happen?
The Most Important Day
The most important day of your life and mine is the day of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to this earth. The Bible also refers to this as the “catching away.” The English word “rapture” is not in the KJV Bible. However, the word is biblically accurate because “rapture” originated from the Greek word “harpazo” which is derived from the Greek New Testament manuscripts of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and is translated “caught up,” which holds the same definition. This verse tells us that living saints will be caught up (raptured) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
If We are Born Again
The Bible teaches that a time is coming when Jesus Christ will return to the earth. We will be caught away if we are born again. If we are living for Jesus Christ at His coming, we will be caught up in the air to meet Him there, and we will be with Him forever. We will go with Him to the Battle of Armageddon. He will put down the thrones of human government. We will crown Him King of kings and Lord of lords. He will then rule the world for one thousand years, and we will rule and reign with Him as kings and priests.
Jesus warned His disciples that false Christs would arise in the last days and deceive many. Jesus admonished His disciples to not respond if they heard rumors that Messiah was in the desert or that He was in the secret chambers. Jesus said don’t believe it and don’t even go to investigate. He went on to explain why they should pay no attention to these false reports. He said, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be,” (Matthew 24:27). Jesus was simply saying that He would not show up secretly on earth at His Second Coming, but that He was coming like lightning in the clouds of heaven.
A Body Like His
When Jesus comes, if our bodies are changed supernaturally from mortal to immortal, the Bible tells us that we will have a body like Jesus had after His resurrection. He could walk through walls. He was not bound by the laws of space and time as we are now. Then the Bible tells us that we will be caught up to meet Jesus Christ in the air. That means we will have passed into eternal life. The reason it will be the most important day in your life and mine is because when that event occurs, if your feet leave the ground, if you rise to meet Jesus Christ in the air, then no matter whether you have a penny in the bank, whether anybody knows your name, whether you are world famous or relatively unknown, if you are prepared for that pivotal moment that will determine your eternal destiny, your life will be a smashing success!
Immediately After the Tribulation
Mathew 24:29-31 describes what happens after the Great Tribulation: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
You cannot read Matthew 24 without concluding that Jesus Christ placed the rapture immediately after the tribulation of those days.
The First Resurrection
The term “first resurrection” is found in only one passage in the New Testament, Revelation 20:4-6: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Though not explicitly called “the first resurrection” in these passages, here are some other places that speak of the event we refer to as the rapture:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
Regarding the timing of these events, 1 Thessalonians 4 says that the rapture will happen at “the coming of the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:52 says that this will happen at “the last trump.”
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 teaches that Christ is the first fruits of the resurrection…then afterward they that are His at His coming. The scriptures do not teach two comings. There will be one changing from mortal to immortal. It happens at the first resurrection as described in Revelation 20:4-6.
By reading Matthew 24:22-31 we know that the elect will be present until the time that Jesus sends his angels to gather them together unto Him (the rapture). The terms “elect” and “election” are used numerous times in the New Testament in reference to the Church. According to 1 Peter 1:2, the elect have the operation of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Furthermore, Jesus promised in John 14:16 that the Comforter (the Holy Ghost) would abide in believers forever. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 speaks of an entity that holds back the revealing of the Antichrist. Some people teach that the thing that “now letteth (restraineth)” is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the world. There is nothing in this passage that supports such an interpretation. The clue to the correct identity of this entity appears to be found in verse 6, “that he might be revealed in his time.” The thing that restrains the revealing of the Antichrist is God’s very own timeline. Just as Jesus, the true Christ, was not revealed until “the fullness of time was come” (Galatians 4:4), the false Christ, the man of sin, will not be revealed until God’s timeline dictates it.
Now even if you are the wealthiest person on earth, and perhaps everyone in the world knows your name, if you are not prepared, and your feet don’t leave the ground at the rapture, then you were an abysmal failure. You failed the one thing that is absolutely critical and mandatory in our lives. It is the most important day, because on that day, either we enter into eternal life or we don’t.
At Any Time
Even before the rapture, God can come for any one of us at any time: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:42,44