The Rapture: What Is It?
The Rapture is an "end times" event ("eschatological" event) where Jesus Christ returns for His Church and believers who are "alive and remain shall be caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This is the time of the resurrection, where each Christian receives his or her resurrected body. First to receive their new bodies are those who have died as Christians, and then, those who are "alive and remain."
Take notice, I am telling you a secret. We shall not all die but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed"
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
The Rapture: When Will It Happen?
The rapture will be instantaneous, in "the twinkling of an eye" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Scripture nowhere encourages us to try to determine the date of Jesus' return. Rather, we are to “keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). We are to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when we do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:44).
The timing of the Rapture sparks a great debate within Christianity. Does it occur before, during, or after the tribulation period? The tribulation is a seven-year period that immediately precedes the return of Christ and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, which lasts for 1,000 years. The first 3 ˝ years of the tribulation will be a time of peace and cooperation, and the second 3 ˝ years of the tribulation will be a time of war and catastrophe. At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself god and require worship from all people of the world. Many will bow down and worship the Antichrist, including taking his mark of worldwide registration. Some will refuse to worship the Antichrist and receive his mark, and many will be killed for this act of disobedience. The second half of the tribulation is referred to as the "Great Tribulation." There will be extraordinary catastrophes all over the world during this period. (For scriptural support, see Revelation 3:10, Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 17).
So, the main debate on the Rapture is not what it is, but when it will occur in relation to the tribulation. In summary, the pre-tribulation view is that the rapture will happen before the tribulation period; the mid-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur half-way through the tribulation period; and the post-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation period.
The Rapture: Does the Timing Matter for Believers in Jesus Christ?
The pre-tribulation rapture is a wonderful hope for believers in Jesus Christ. However, whether we live to see a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture, or whether we die prior to any type of rapture at all, the key to eternal salvation is, in all cases, our belief and faith in Jesus Christ alone. Be secure in your relationship with Christ, and nothing else really matters.
"...For I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when I have gone and have prepared a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself so that where I am, you also will be"
"For with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven, and those who died in Christ will rise first. Afterward we, the living who remain, will be cauht up along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall forever be with the Lord"
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
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