With so much controversy involving the topic of the Rapture boiling today, I thought it good to look a little closer at that event internally. That is, it might prove interesting to examine the Rapture within the Pre-Trib view to look at a divide that exists.
Mostly, preachers don’t want to address prophecy or, in particular, the doctrine of the Rapture at all. Since the call of Christ to His Church is next on God’s calendar of events, in the view of Pre-Trib proponents, ignoring this great promise of rescue from human history’s most terrible time is something that both baffles and disturbs.
We who are familiar with that great future event know, at least cursorily, the differences within the various views of when the Rapture will occur. Whether it will happen Post-Trib, Mid-Trib, Pre-Trib, etc. is sometimes hotly expressed by the various proponents. However, the vast numbers of preachers in America’s pulpits today would tell you that the Rapture is a mystery to them, as is most of Bible prophecy.
Indeed it is a “mystery” to them, because they never have opened their Bibles with the thought toward looking into the Rapture–the very thing Paul said is a ” mystery” he was showing us–that is, showing believers. They like to use the joke: “I’m a Pan-Millennialist. I believe it will all just pan out in the end.”
Again, it isn’t the hot debate between the Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, and Post-Trib views of the Rapture I wish to address. To me, the debate is over. The Pre-Tribulation view is the only one in total context of what the Bible says about that great promise that rings true–that makes sense. Paul’s “mystery” unveiled, from the Pre-Trib perspective, is what I hope to dissect a bit.
The Scripture, of course, that sets up this great event is as follows:
Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Paul says he is presenting a “mystery.” That is, he is dealing with an heretofore unknown matter–unknown to (not understood by) believers in Christ. And this “showing” of this “mystery” is the nuance of truth I wish to examine within the Pre-Trib view of the Rapture–the view I’m convinced is the one the Bible presents through Paul’s unveiling of this most important doctrine.
The seminaries within fundamentalist-evangelical Christianity hold mostly that the Rapture was never dealt with in anyway whatsoever until Paul “revealed” it. The most academically inclined among these will tell you that this “mystery” was never alluded to in the Old Testament. They go on to say it was never mentioned in any way by Jesus and the prophets. It is, they say, only in the Pauline epistles that the Rapture is unveiled.
I believe this is untenable, except by those who refuse to consider that Paul was “showing” the mystery–the mystery of the Rapture that had already been made manifest. He was explaining it, not just pulling it out of the hat for the first time. Paul was unveiling the Truth about what Jesus, Himself, indeed had alluded to as given in the Gospel accounts.
The first mention of this “mystery”–the Rapture–by the Lord we look at was recorded by John:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
Jesus said that He will “receive” us to Himself, exactly like Paul reveals in 1 Corinthians 15:51 when he says we will be changed–transformed–for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15: 50). That translation into Christ’s presence Paul further unveils in the following prophecy:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:7)
The next words of our Lord about this “mystery” Paul is “showing” us is found in the Gospel of Matthew–in what is known as the Olivet Discourse:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:36-41)
Jesus further gave prophecy regarding that future, catastrophic break-in on human history as recorded in Luke 17:26-30. I think it is unfortunate that the most purely academic among fundamentalist theologians within the ranks of Pre-Trib Rapture proponents can’t see Jesus’ “mysterion” mention of the Rapture in the Gospels–the “mystery” Paul is plainly unlocking for understanding for all believers.
I believe that we are very near the moment of being the generation of believers who will be beneficiaries of that twinkling-of-an-eye moment when the Lord shouts, “Come up here!” (Revelation 4:1).