A SUPERNATURAL VANISHING OF CHRISTIAN PEOPLE
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
The three incredible aspects of Christ’s prophecy are:
1) All Christian people, both living and dead, will be instantly “taken away” to Heaven (paralambanoin the original Greek)–which is to say they will physically vanish;
2) Those who are taken must be prepared in advance (e.g. “Watch therefore”), and
3) It will happen as a surprise.
The Apostle Paul’s prophecy concurs with all of these points in Christ’s prophecy:
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all die (e.g. 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 15:51-52)
Isaiah’s Rapture prophecy is probably one of the oldest in scripture:
Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.
WILL THE RAPTURE HAPPEN BEFORE, DURING, OR AFTER THE GREAT TRIBULATION?
First, we must clarify what the Great Tribulation is and what it is not.
Many people misinterpret the persecution of the church as being the Great Tribulation of scripture, but this is entirely in error. The Great Tribulation of scripture is God’s wrath poured out upon mankind whereas the persecution of the church is man’s wrath poured out against the church. Confusing the End Times persecution with the End Times Tribulation is perhaps the primary cause of the mid-trib and post-trib doctrines. Many prominent figures have made this gross error of associating the persecution in China with the Great Tribulation, and thereby wrongly concluded that the Rapture would occur post-trib.
The Bible clearly teaches that there will be persecution against the Christian church in the end times. This is more prevalent worldwide than many Western churches are aware. A recent article (January 2010) in Christianity Today described Christianity as the single-most persecuted religion in the world. Christians are being physically persecuted in many parts of the eastern world with beatings and death, and legally persecuted in many parts of the western world. But the persecution of the church is not the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation will be a seven year period when God’s wrath is poured out in full measure against unrepentant humanity.
Therefore, we believe that the clear teaching of scripture is in a pre-tribulation Rapture, that the Rapture will happen before the Great Tribulation.
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you...for God did not appoint us to wrath…”
(1 Thessalonians 5:1, 9a)