No singular Christian issue today has arguably been transplanted into mainstream secular culture as the modern church’s view on Tribulation and the event coined as “the rapture”. Although the term does not appear in scripture, the term rapture comes from the Latin verb,’ Rapere’, which means, “to be caught up”. Scripture tells us of a very real and apparent supernatural event during the final days in which true believers in Christ are literally “caught up” in the air to reclaim their position with Jesus in heaven. The concept of the rapture has been the converted into countless books in the Christian world, such as the popular Left Behind series or The Harbinger, to dozens of movies in both Christian and secular forms from The Remaining to This is The End, and the Omega Code. This concept of a pre-tribulation rapture is a great springboard for fiction across numerous mediums.
All followers of Christ Jesus are bound by the belief in a supernatural resurrection after his death on Calvary for our sins. Secondarily, we are told that Jesus will ultimately return, in flesh, once again to save his remaining followers during the end times on this earth. The prevailing view of the modern fundamentalist church concerning biblical prophecy as it pertains to the final days and the Great Tribulation calls for a singular unified concept of when this mysterious and very dramatic, overt, and supernatural miracle takes place. While the vast majority of Christians believe in a pre-tribulation rapture and maintain scriptural backing of their ideas, what would be the ramifications if they were wrong? What if there were political or even sinister motivations for promulgating a false narrative behind this huge piece of biblical prophetic events?
After careful study of scripture and review of the giant media and mega-church machine pushing the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture, I firmly believe this concept is erroneous and at its core, intentionally meant to mislead good-meaning and even educated Christians away from the truth. Although some might argue the timing of this rapture event, has no bearing on our salvation or our relationship with our heavenly father, I do believe we, as Christians, have the moral and spiritual obligation to reprove, rebuke, and exhort all things, particularly when they pertain to issues of the holy word of God. Additionally, the Great Tribulation period is a literal and supernatural and spiritual fulfillment of all the dispensations in scripture and thus pertains to all of humanity. While I cannot say for fact or certain we are living in end times or in those times preceding (surely every generation since the time of Christ has believed he or she lived in end times), we should always remain vigilant, as scripture tells us, no man knows the time or the hour in which these events shall come to pass. There are four main points that lead us away from this concept of the Pre-tribulation rapture and towards a post-tribulation rapture:
1) Jesus’ Own Words: The Book of Revelations is noted more than any other chapter in the bible when it comes to biblical prophecy. However, there are prophetic texts relating to the end times, all throughout the bible. The most widely circulated “proof” of a rapture even comes from Matthew 24. In the chapter Jesus of Nazareth is asked by his disciples what are the signs that will proceed the end of the world and his ultimate return. In doing so, Jesus explains a moment in which two shall be in a field, one would be taken while the other remains. Two women will be grinding at a mill, one taken, while the other remains (Matthew 24:40). Many in the modern church cite this as scriptural proof of the rapture event. If this is true, they isolate this text and neglect to mention the very important first portion which begins at the beginning of the chapter. Jesus clearly states many MAJOR events precede this event including the rise of false prophets, major world wars, earthquakes and earth changes, persecution of the church, Satanic signs and wonders, the darkening of the sun, among many others BEFORE the final event, which is the taking away of one, while leaving the other. If this is scriptural proof of this supernatural event known as the rapture, Jesus very clearly spells it out in very specific chronological order.
2) Biblical Precedent: In the current atmosphere prevalent in the modern church where a false prosperity message outweighs and outsell sound biblical principles, there is little discussion of the reality of the extreme level of long-suffering and sacrifice that true believers of Christ endured. This of course even pails to the suffering and tremendous the ultimate sacrifice that God gave in the form of his son Jesus of Nazareth. Some churches even choose to look over this most basic and undoubtedly the most important tenant of our faith, in lieu of personal antidotes that are pleasing to the ear but belong on the motivational speaker circuit and not on the pulpit. The modern church’s view of a pre-tribulation rapture fits a convenient package for those believers that find no value in suffering or being tested for their very faith in Jesus Christ where in scripture the Bible tells us countless accounts of the exact opposite! Throughout the bible, many believers lost their earthly lives for their proclamation of our heavenly father. James – Executed by sword, Saint Peter – crucified at Rome upside down, Jude – executed by axe in Beirut, Paul – beheaded in Rome. This is not to mention the countless figures throughout history, even the thousands that face persecution, torture, or even murder today. This is in stark contrast to those so-called church leaders living in mansions and flying private jets worldwide to preach a convenient message of Jesus coming to rescue an undeserving church from the period of tribulation.
3) Paul’s Words: Paul’s epistles are often overlooked when it comes to the End Times, however he is uniquely suited in ways I hope to detail in the near future. These same reasons cause him to be overlooked and overshadowed by other writers in the bible, at least in respect to the modern fundamentalist church. One of Paul’s verses, often cited as support of the Rapture, is 1 Corinthians 15:52. Paul states, that, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Once again, a most important an obvious detail emerges but is so-often overlooked. Paul states this event happens at the final trumpet, (The other trumpets referencing all the other major events that proceed this supernatural event). Once again, this event is chronologically placed at the end.
4) Jesus’ Return for His Bride, The Church: The definition of the church has been widely misconstrued as the building of brick and mortar where believers or parishioners gather. The true biblical definition of the church is the collective body of Christ. In Ephesians 5:27, Paul refers to Jesus returning for his church, which is his believers. He compares us to a perfect bride, having no spot or blemishes. He is to return to a perfect church without a single spot or blemish! Can you imagine Jesus returning to the church today? Is this body of Christ the most spotless or blemish-free church in history? Surely not. We probably fit Paul’s definition of the majority of the people found in the end times as he describes in 2nd Timothy, than we do by his definition in Ephesians. However, I’d imagine, a church persecuted, praising Jesus throughout the worse afflictions mankind has ever endured on earth during a coming tribulation period, might be better situated as a bride of Christ than our flock in its current state.
In summation, I believe the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture is not only an erroneous message given to and even espoused by well-meaning Christians, it is potentially a false gospel with far reaching effects meant to mislead the body of Christ during these most important times. If this is truly an erroneous message, how did it come to be such a prevalent force in modern Christianity and who stands to gain by spreading this message? We will explore this topic next time.