Many Christians who believe these are the last days view the events taking place in the world as imminent signs of a long awaited event wherein Messiah will make a preliminary appearance to believers only and remove them out of the Earth prior to tribulation. This event, called the "rapture" is possibly one of the most hotly debated doctrines in Christianity.
All doctrine learned of church leaders and denominations aside, it is not unimportant that we examine what scripture supports for or against an occurrence such as this. If error exists in a believer's judgment concerning the rapture, there is the real danger of being set up for serious deception regarding the end times in general. Knowing that this time is described in terms of the sheer magnitude of deceptions which will ensnare the inhabitants of Earth, it is reasonable that such a dramatic event which is so debated as the rapture of all believers would play a central role in that one way or the other.
Should a rapture occur, the danger for those who were never looking for one would hypothetically be that any left behind would not, as a consequence, repent of what had disqualified them for it in the first place. Should no rapture be forthcoming, the danger would be that those expecting one would lose faith as they began to experience the distress of tribulation events...or they would be easily deluded by a staged event meant to mimic a rapture.
There is probably no one on Earth, believer or otherwise, who would not be more than happy to be spared a period of time in the world that was matchless in it's upheaval and suffering. To be taken away from it all and transported to a place of safety and peace is an incredibly attractive idea. For many Christians, the idea of our Heavenly Father allowing His people to suffer along with the rest of the world is unthinkable. This is the root of where a strong and nearly unmovable conviction for the doctrine of rapture originates. We believe in an Elohim of mercy and therefor it seems altogether unmerciful for there not to be a rapture to spare Christians the tribulation.
We can not let that be our reason, though. Such a conclusion is drawn out of fear of facing such a horrific trial and out of a sense of entitlement as a believer to be assured comfort rather than adversity. A doctrine that we hold as truth can't be built upon the sandy soil of perception and feeling. It must stand or fall on the rock foundation of His word only, regardless of how we end up liking or disliking the outcome.
The word "rapture" itself is a concern. Often those who argue against the doctrine of rapture note as support for their position that the word is not anywhere in scripture. That's not my argument, as i take it as a fairly weak argument at best. The debate is not over a term, but over a concept that is simply summed up in a word. The question is whether or not the concept is in scripture. My concern with the word chosen to describe the concept is in the literal meaning of that word. Rapture... does not sum up a lot of very Christian ideas in its definition.
1. the state of mind resulting from feelings of high emotion; joyous ecstasy
2. (often plural) an expression of ecstatic joy
3. the act of transporting a person from one sphere of existence to another, esp from earth to heaven
(tr) Archaic or literary to entrance; enrapture
[from Medieval Latin raptura, from Latin raptus rapt1]
Feelings of high emotions...ecstasy. Every temptation and deception of Satan has always targeted a manipulation of emotions. The ability to create states of pointless euphoria has always been the lure of every sinful act. By becoming "enraptured", we're deceived by and addicted to sin. In essence, to be raptured is literally to "get carried away". If that seems much too critical of a mere word which is used to describe an event of being taken away from the suffering of the tribulation...then readers are free to ignore it, but lets examine the definition by which it is defined as doctrine. "the act of transporting a person from one sphere of existence to another, esp from earth to heaven."
By all reason..we are to understand this as believers not dying, but being given incorruptible bodies and being taken from Earth into Heaven. Likewise, the dead who believed on Messiah are also to be returned to their bodies and taken up Bodily with those who were still living. Clearly all believers taken in the rapture are removed in physical form..not as spirits, yet they are removed to Heaven..a place or state/place understood by most Christians to be a Spiritual abode. To what dimension or realm do these believers get raptured to where physicality in a human body is sustainable? That is not a question to discredit the idea of physical locations in Heaven...but one to galvanize some thought on the condition of the resurrected or perfected human state which is particularly designed to be sustained in a future perfected Earth.
"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no more sea. Then I, Yahuchanan, saw the sacred city, New Yeruwshalaim, coming down out of heaven from Yahuwah, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold! The tent of Yahuwah is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. Yahuwah Himself will be with them and be their 'Eloah." -Revelation 21:1-3
The origin of the doctrine of the rapture...(note: the origin of the Doctrine, not the Word) dates back only to around the early 1700's. It was supported and preached by Cotton Mather who is also notable as being an integral participant in the Salem Witch Trials. This idea was picked up and popularized later by other protestant pastors...particularly Edward Irving who preached a twofold return of Messiah such as many believers accept today. The doctrine of the rapture is a fairly recent one and does not date to the original church in the first centuries after Messiah came.
All these points aside now..here are the verses which are quoted in support of the rapture:
"For this we say to you by the word of the Master, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Master will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Master Himself will descend from the sky with a shout, with the voice of a high messenger, and with the trumpet of Yahuwah, and the dead in the Anointed will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Master." - 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17
The words "caught up" here are those which are used to translate to "rapture"...Harpazo: to seize or catch up or away.
In these verse, the most heavily relied upon to argue in favor for a rapture...we do not actually read anything which states that a pre-tribulation rapture is what is being described here. What is being described in the return of Messiah, the resurrection of the dead who belong to Him and the transformation of mortal bodies of believers into incorruptible bodies. If those bodies are then brought up to meet Messiah and fellow saints "in the clouds"...is that to be taken to mean they are "transported to heaven"? Do we normally Truly view the location of Elohim's throne and the abode of angels as the cloudy atmosphere of Earth?
The timing of what is described here is not clearly mentioned..however if one continues reading past these verses we see:
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I should write to you for you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Master so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman and they shall not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as others, but let us watch and be sober." - 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6
Here is a pointed warning to be watchful and sober, but the warning is not be watchful for an impending rapture...but the chaotic events of the tribulation. It would be reasonable to be watchful for those things...observable events which would prelude a return of Messiah. How can one, after all, be watchful for an event which is by definition sudden and without warning, preceding any tribulation such as the rapture would be.
"For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two grinding at the mill, one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Master is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." - Matthew 24:38-44
Here, it is often said is a description of rapture...."one taken..the other left". Is this realistically a portrait of a favorable event for those who are "taken" though? "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." If this is the comparison..then we cannot surely say that these who were swept away in the flood were met with favorable circumstances. Further, the description goes on to make a comparison to a master of a house which is "broken into" by a thief...again, not a favorable outcome for the master of the house.
Other verses referred to in support of a pre-tribulation rapture event are those which mention the transformation of the mortal body into the incorruptible form:
" As the man of dust, so also those of dust, and as is the celestial, so also those celestial. And as we have borne the image of the dust, we shall also bear the image of the celestial. Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Yahuwah nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold! I tell you a mystery! We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed." - 1 Corinthians 15: 48-52
Certainly, there is no room for denial in scripture that there will be a bodily transformation of living believers at the coming of Messiah or that those who have died in Him will be raised, likewise, incorruptible. No mention is ever attached to references of this event preceding tribulation on Earth or that there are appearances of Messiah prior to His final judgement before the millennial reign, though.
With the publication of a series of popular Christian books called "Left Behind", the belief in a doctrine of rapture saw a manifold increase. These books covered a fictional account of future prophetic fulfillment on the subject of the end times. The lengthy story begins with the pre tribulation rapture events wherein multitudes of believers all over the world are suddenly and inexplicably missing. Unbelievers who have been left behind have only the recollection of what their missing loved ones told them of the rapture to come to a conclusion about what has happened. As a result, many become saved, accepting, finally,what the missing believers had told them.
Apart from making the doctrine of rapture a central theme to the story, Left Behind also strongly relies on a position of staunch political Zionism to interpret the fulfillment of end times prophecy. Many Christians who have never attempted to read the entire Bible have, nonetheless read these books. As a result, multitudes of spiritually immature believers have come to treat these fictional stories as if they were prophecy themselves.
It might be prudent to give the benefit of the doubt to the authors of these books, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, as having "done their best' and with no intention to skew the perception of the millions of Christians (and non Christians who read them...but for the very questionable background of one of the authors in particular.
Tim LaHaye, an evangelical minister founded an organization known as the Council for National Policy of CNP. This organization, upon hearing the basic description provided by the same, sounds at once like one which is dedicated to everything Christian values can be said to be. There is, however, a very familiar air to the workings of the group, which not only mirror the sort of secretive, "behind closed doors" operations that we have come to expect of Masonic societies and government agencies, but have been branded the conservative counterpart to the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR, as many of us are well aware, is an extremely exclusive think tank of globalist elites who attempt to steer the nations policies toward a one world governement.
It is not at all unlike the controllers to put forth two sides of every issue and to control them both...this has been a very long standing game plan of theirs and can be seen in action in the two main political parties, left and right controlled media...etc. It is far more efficient to their goals to provide at least two camps for the public to choose from and adhere to, rather than one, obvious target which can be easily seen for what it is and countered.
The wealthiest and most powerful conservatives in the country belong to the CNP. The membership list is not made public and admission to the group is by invitation only...much like the CFR and Bohemian Grove. No guests are permitted except by unanimous approval of the executives of the organization. No matter their supposed "reasons"..we must seriously question any organization which conducts their business apart from the scrutiny of the public which is geared toward being a serious influence on the governing of the country. This is directly contrary to any notion of "We The People".
Aside from secrecy...Tim LaHaye's organization has gladly received million of dollars of funding from none other than Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church...for those not familiar with Reverend Moon, he ascribes to himself a status of being messiah himself. No true believer in Yahushua would ever accept a position of affiliation or receive support from someone who literally took on themselves the title of a pseudo messianic figure.
With these things in mind, it is reasonable to question the true intention of the publication of the Left Behind series which have so "enraptured" so many believers. With such strong political and anti-Christian ties...might we not wonder if these books were published precisely for the purpose of misleading Christians about what can and should be expected in true fulfillment of end times prophecy? It is always...without fail..a 100% error to lean on the understanding of men instead of seeking the truth of His word directly. How many have and will fall victim to an end times deception which includes erroneous expectation of pre-tribulation rapture?
Among many pieces of the puzzle which are falling into place in these days is a very serious trend toward a belief and interest in extraterrestrials and much of this recent excitement on the matter is focused on a spiritually benevolent aspect of alien visitation. We should also not allow ourselves to be unaware that mankind possesses technology capable of both projecting realistic images in sky and realistic synthesized emotion and vocal messages directly to human brains.
If it seems somehow highly unlikely that all these things are the present contributors to a future "strong delusion"... then perhaps that disbelief makes an excellent foundation for just that.
"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this reason Yahuwah will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie," -2 Thessalonians 2:9-11