The Rapture – When Does the Bible Place it?


In my late teens I displayed a sticker in my car warning passengers that their driver could disappear at any time. It was a sticker made possible (and popular) by the expectation of the imminent rapture – when Jesus would return secretly, without warning, to snatch His people from the earth, prior to the period described as “The Tribulation”, when God would start pouring out His judgement on the non- believers who were left behind.

I accepted that “pre-tribulation rapture” teaching for the first few years of my Christian life – after all, that’s what best selling Christian books were teaching, and it was the accepted doctrine of the church I attended. As I’ve said in previous posts, my views changed when I eventually studied what the Bible really says on the topic.

This morning I decided to follow up a little more by looking at the Bible references that speak about the time when Jesus will catch His people up from the earth. In my previous post I listed a few references that I remembered that specifically and clearly spoke of the Lord returning and believers being caught up from the earth to be with Him.  So today I looked for websites supporting the “pre-tribulation rapture” to see if they could add any additional references that spoke clearly about that event.

I found that none of the verses they added to the few I’d already referenced, specifically and categorically referred to  living believers being taken from the earth to be with Jesus. Only through some very creative interpretation could their additional verses be MADE into references to “the rapture”.

I even saw one site where a pre-trib supporting contributor said: “To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for why Jesus doesn’t mention the Rapture in His Matthew 24 discourse”

I have to shake my head in disbelief at that – because Jesus clearly DOES speak of such an event in that discourse, the only problem for the pre-trib camp is that it contradicts their belief.

So the search left me with the same few verses that I’ve already mentioned. The only additional quote is the gospel of Mark version of my quote from Matt 24.

Here are all of the quotes again:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt 24: 29-31)

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven. (Mark 13: 24-27)

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 Cor 15:51-53)

While those verses from 1 Corinthians don’t specifically refer to a “catching up” they do complement 1 Thess 4: 16-18 (see below) making reference to the same event when some who will be changed without dying, and that the timing of that change will happen “at the last trumpet” when those who have died will be raised from death.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thess 4:16-18)

These things are made clear about the timing of the catching up (rapture) of living saints to be with the Lord forever.

It will happen AFTER the events described in Revelation as the effects of opening the sixth seal:

I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs (Rev 6:12-17)

It will happen after trumpets are blown, and in particular after the “LAST trunmpet. Note that the sixth seal mentioned in the previous quote is followed by the seventh seal, the opening of which brings about the blowing of seven trumpets (see previous post).

Is there any way that the above quoted references – the ONLY Bible references that clearly and undeniably describe the “rapture” of the saints – can indicate something that happens earlier than those events mentioned in Revelation?

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I have a request.

Anyone who can provide a clear, categorical and unambiguous reference to a catching up of the saints that places it before the prophesied events of darkened sun, moon turned to blood and falling stars, PLEASE post the reference in the comments section below. But note: the reference has to be straight forward and able to stand on its own without needing the preconceived assumption that it occurs “pre-tribulation”.

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