Hal Lindsey, of The Late, Great, Planet Earth fame, called it “the great snatching up.” The mental picture is of one of those old Jungle Jim films starring Johnny Weissmuller in his post-Tarzan days.
A leopard or other big cat would be stalking through a thick jungle and suddenly it would be violently snatched up when it hit a certain trip mechanism on the snare. A thick net would grab the beast and it would spring upward with the enraged cat, keeping it encased while it flailed mightily above the jungle floor. Jungle Jim would then have captured a leopard for a zoo or he would have rid the area of a man-eater. It was all very exciting for a boy of ten or so sitting in an air-conditioned movie theater munching popcorn back in those days.
Before those beasts could be caught up, of course, much preparation was made by the one doing the capture. Jungle Jim would usually order natives of the area to carefully place the net flat in a jungle pathway, then camouflage it. The sapling or thick branch was then bent to provide the tremendous spring the trap would need to capture and hold a 150-pound or larger leopard. With the big cat captured, the people left on the ground would be safe from its prowling about and possibly its attacking the most vulnerable inhabitants of the African countryside.
Hal Lindsey, of course, was talking about “the great snatching up”in reverse, so to speak. He, in his biblically prophetic study of times surrounding his writing The Late, Great, Planet Earth, was talking about the prophecy given by Jesus as recorded by the Apostle Luke:
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:34-36)
In this case, as laid out by the Lord, Himself, the viciousness of the beast world will be left on the earth, and the people to be protected will be snatched into the air to safety. Peter the apostle says this about the one who is even now on the ground that surrounds us, looking to attack us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The Apostle Paul tells us in great detail about this “snatching up.” Here is the prophecy most directly pertinent:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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 4:16-17)
Harpazo, as many know, is the Greek word to express being “caught up.” People who live to experience the Rapture and Christians who have died during the Church Age (Age of Grace) will be “caught up” or “snatched up.” It will happen in the “twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians15:52).
This instantaneous event that removes God’s people from deadly conditions on earth, unlike ol’ Jungle Jim’s snare that leaves people safe on the ground from the leopard while removing the evil, takes no preparation by any human agency. Jesus finished all preparation on the cross at Calvary when He said, “It is finished.”
All one must do to be removed in that twinkling-of-an-eye moment is to believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to Romans 10:9-10. While no preparation needs be made beyond simply accepting that call to salvation, the snare is set that will soon leave the world of rebels against God to face the roaring lion described by Peter.
We have, in these commentaries over the years, gone over in depth all of the signals Jesus and the prophets foretold will be in view at the time of this snare-like intervention into the affairs of rebellious earth dwellers. Those indicators are literally everywhere we look upon the planet’s end-times horizon. The spiritually attuned believer can know when that end-times generation will appear at the very end of the age.
Israel, the fig tree in prophetic symbolism, is the key sign.
Again, we look at Scripture to see that the snare is now set that will catapult Christians to Heaven.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. (Luke 21: 25-36)