The Rapture of the Church is one of the most anticipated events ever looked for in Christianity. It is the next event sought for on the Christian calendar. Nothing needs to precede it but much needless confusion has surrounded it.
Firstly, it is worth noting that then word Mayday has nothing to do with the spring festival held in the other hemisphere on the 1stof May, even though I have committed to doing a series on Prophecy in the month of May. Only wanted to use it as a memory construct.
The word Mayday began to be used as the universal, verbal distress call of life threatening concern in 1927, it does over the radio what the SOS signal does over Morse Code. The word itself is the French word M’aider and is pronounced Mayday! It simply means “Help Me”.
Over the radio it needs to be called three consecutive times to ensure it is a distress call. Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. The signal is recognized around d the world, what better Title can be used for a world in distress.
This Mayday series is in regard to what the Bible teaches is The Blessed Hope, also understood as a strange event known to us as The Rapture of the Church.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
The Strangeness of The Doctrine
The letter is one of the Pastoral Epistles, it is distinct from the letters written to different churches like Romans, and Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians etc, it is written to a man, a pastor of a Church. Paul begins that chapter saying to Titus, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:” (Tit 2:1)
“Sound doctrine”, the things that are true, all that will be needful to the Church, all that which will warn them, encourage them, challenge them and
Those things that will help them to grow, to focus on that which is needful and beneficial, that they might be witnesses of Christ in their manner of life, (v10) “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
These are some of the things Paul is advising the Godly man Titus, concluding with that which would draw the focus of the Church to encourage them
THE KEY VERSE IS “13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
The entire passage is one of encouragement, “That Blessed Hope”. The entomology of the word Blessed relates to happy, blissful, pleasant. And that is just how the word is used here. Beloved, the position I hold relating to the Rapture of the Churchis unabashedly Pre-Tribulational. I want to make certain that you do not need to get to the end of the MAYDAY series, through twists and turns deceptively trying to persuade you through subtilty before you understand what I am teaching.
The blessed and happy hope I am looking for is the appearing of the Lord JesusChristBEFORE the pouring out of Gods wrath upon a wicked world. The entire periodknown as the Tribulation, a period of seven years, is a period of Gods Wrath.
My desire is to teach what Paul is telling Titus; to preach the wonderful words of the Lord, to exhort with all long suffering of the dangers in this world, to preach the Gospel of Christ and always Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
But not all are Looking for that blessed, or happy hope. Some expect to go through misery before the coming of the Lord.
Dr Ed Hindson, the author of “Can We Still Believe in the Rapture”, was listening to an amillennial pastor friend preach a message on the second coming. He concluded with the words, “And so we see that there never will be a rapture. All we have to look forward to istrouble, trouble, and more trouble!”At which point his congregation let out a loud moan.
Hearing this, the Author ‘was tempted to jump up quote 1 Thessalonians 4:18, “Therefore comfort one another with these words”.
This pastor was however reminded that there will be a Rapture, the only question most argue about is the timing of it. This first point we need to consider the Strangeness Of The Doctrine
13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are aliveandremain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For 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: 17 Then we which are aliveandremain 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Those words in verse 17, “Caught up” are the words employed in the Latin phrase Rapture. It is a word that relates to
In the passage here Paul states first that the dead in Christ will rise, Then we which are aliveandremain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:Paul tells both of the removal and the destination.
But how can this happen?Does the Bible literally say that people are going to be physically and visibly taken? Like people flying through the air and going into the clouds?
Well, not exactly. We have examples of it happening before in the Bible and can perhaps glean some clearer detail.
Turn to the book of Acts 8:36.
We know the account of Phillip and how the Angel had instructed him to go toward the south into Gaza and his meeting with an official from Ethiopia. Phillip heard him reading from the book of Isaiah and came to explain the gospel to him more perfectly. The official believed the gospel and;
36And as they went ontheirway, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See,here iswater; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught awayPhilip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.Acts 8:36-40
That phrase ‘Caught away” is the same as that found in our Thessalonians passage, the Greek word Harpazo. Notice that after they came out of the water the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was
Turn to 2 Cor 12:2-4
2I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught upto the third heaven.3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught upinto paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Paul was understood to be referring to himself, but honestly tells that he was not completely sure if it was a vision or a physical occurrence. What he does know however is that it was not something that he was actively attaining to. Let’s take a look at another passage that we have always looked upon as one describing the Rapture.
Turn to 1 Cor 15:51
Beloved, according to Paul’s testimony in that 2 Corinthians passage, Paul had received of the Lord
51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In 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.
God knows the atomic structure of every material thing. Theoretical Science today claims a form of “Beem me up Scotty” is not outside the realms of possibility due to the very nature of our atomic
Hebrews 11:3 says “Through
No, the Rapture is not a visible witness of seeing people flying through the air by anybody “LEFT BEHIND”; but Yes, the doctrine of the Rapture is very Strange, yet it is both Biblically presented and certainly scientifically conceivable.
The Purpose Of The Doctrine
13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Turn to Isaiah 26:20-21
20Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For,behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
In John 14:1-3 Jesus said;
notyour heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am , thereye may be also.
A permanent abode is no doubt referred to here, but perhaps every word of God should be taken more seriously than we do. Our Isaiah passage begins; 20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee. Might this be the personal abode the Lord said he would prepare in John 14?
Turn back to 1 Thessalonians and consider chapter 5 with me.
Consider the passage of 1 Thess 5:1-10 in context and do not let a single word slip.
1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
Remember, no thief has good intentions for his victims, this is not a positive passage in verse 2, and that is explained in verse 3…
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, asdoothers; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
Beloved, the context is plain, it refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and something for which will not be overtaken by, For God hath not appointed us to wrathTHE FIRST PURPOSE IS THAT GOD HAS NOT APPOINTED THE CHURCH TO WRATH. This is consistent with his removal of us prior to the outpouring of his wrath!
But there is a second purpose
Turn to Daniel 9, for no study of this wonderful doctrine is complete without at least a look at Daniel 9.
25Know therefore and understand,thatfrom the going forth of the commandmentto restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Princeshall beseven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereofshall bewith a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall makeitdesolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.Daniel 9:26-27
There is more to say about this passage than I have time for here, if you’d like to study more on it, please attend prayer meeting! We are looking at the timing only.
He writes that thatfrom the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Princeshall beseven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:
The “weeks” refers to years, periods of 7-year blocks.
Daniel was in captivity in Babylon and the angel was providing for him a timeline that from the time the commandment is given for the people to return to the land, up to the coming of the Messiah, will be a period totalling 69 blocks of 7 years (seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:) ie 7 x 7 years + 62 x 7 years.
Or simply put 483 years exactly from the DAY the decree is given until the presentation of the Messiah to the nation.
Did you ever wonder why it was that each time the people wanted to take Jesus to make him King, he escaped out of their hands? But when the time he wanted to have himself presented as King, the time he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the Scripture prophesied in Zech 9:9, he not only permitted it but arranged it all?
Did you ever wonder why Jesus cried against Jerusalem on that very day saying;
Turn there, but keep a finger in Daniel; Luke 19:41-44
41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belongunto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.Luke 19:41-44
Consider, with the multitude of prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah in the Old Testament, and its eternal value to the nation, would it surprise usthat God not only gave all the signs that lead to his coming, (The place of his birth, which city he would come from, Arriving on a donkey, the performance of miracles, his betrayal, how much he would be betrayed by etc) but also the very date he would present himself?
Jesus held them accountable to KNOW the exact date of his appearing, all of this based ONLY UPON Daniel’s prophecy in Chapter 9. They knew not only the details of the decree, but they were told in Isaiah exactly who it would be that would make the decree, Cyrus. There is one thing the Jews know how to do better than any nation on earth, and that is how to keep records. They know how to keep dates and details and yet they knewest not the time of thy visitation, 483 years from the day of the decree of Cyrus to the day of the appearing of Jesus Christ as King.
26And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, That’s immediately after he is presented as King, not another year will go by, and he is cut off, “out of the land of the living” (Isa 53:8)
but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereofshall bewith a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Notice that there is NO TIME separating the death of the messiah and the time of the end here. In fact, the next verse makes it plain;
27And he shall confirm (who shall confirm? “The prince that shall come”shall confirm) the covenant with many for one week (That’s one week of years, IE 7 years): and in the midst of the week (After 3 ½ years) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall makeitdesolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Can you see? No time is found between the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the pouring out of Gods wrath upon the desolate. The Church is a Mystery in the Old testament.
Turn to Luke 4:18 as I conclude this point; and I will ask you to be patient with me as I read these two verses
18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.Luke 14:18-19
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prisonIsaiah 61:1-2
to themthat are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Beloved, as you read the passage in Luke, I read the FULL PROPHECYin Isaiah 61:1-2.
Luke 4:19 says To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
But Isaiah 61:2 says 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
But in Luke, Jesus Closed the book, sat down, then in verse 21 states with authority “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
I have one question, did he miss anything?
and the day of vengeance of our God.
Why? Because that part was not YET fulfilled. That comma between the acceptable year and the day of vengeance has lasted almost two thousand years so far.
I could take you to numerous passages in the Old Testament where this very period simply rolls on without a break and yet the Church splits the historical narrative. The first purpose for the Rapture was that the Church is not appointed to wrath.
What is the second purpose for the Rapture of the Church?
God restarts the clock and deals with Israel again.
The world was given a two-thousand-year reprieve, but after the Rapture of the Church that day of vengeance will come.
The Expectation of The Doctrine
13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
We are not looking for anti-Christ beloved, but for Christ. Any position other than that which the Bible plainly makes is not one that encourages an opportunity for our reward for those who also ‘love his appearing’ (2 Tim 4:8).But Paul made plain that it is an expectation he too was prepared for.
Recall in 1 Thessalonians when he described the hope he said also;
That the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are aliveandremainshall 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. Whereforecomfort one another with these words.
“Wherefore”, it is why therefore you should comfort one another with these words. In the very next
Turn to 2 Thess 2:1-6
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, andbyour gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us,as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Paul was speaking to brethren, beseeching them by the coming of the Lord and their gathering together unto him. The passage makes clear that he did not want them
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
This is antichrist, this is “the prince that should come”, this is who will make himself apparent, when? During the day of Christ. Paul was making plain that the day of Christ is to be identified first by the falling away or the apostacy, which we see preparing itself today, and then that man of sin be revealed.
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Paul’s desire was to comfort them because Satan’s horde had been teaching error even through a forged letter as if it was from Paul.
But this is not the first time;
Turn to 2 Tim 2:16-18
16 But shun profaneandvain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
This resurrection is what occurs when the believers receive their glorified bodies. It occurs the in part at the Rapture of the Church and is concluded at the end of the millennium when ALL those saved during the 1000 years also receive their glorified bodies (Rev 20:5-6).
Remember that we are a tripartite being, Body, Soul and Spirit.
Our Sprit was Quickened, ie made alive when we were saved.
Our Soul was Redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ
But our Bodies are vile and reprobate, corruptiblethat needs to put on incorruption.
But Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
The overthrow of the faith occurs when the only expectation is tribulation. According to these two men we are only expecting “Trouble, trouble and more trouble”!
By the time of the second letter, the Thessalonians had already experienced much tribulation and it did not take much to ‘overthrow’ their faith. Their surprise was the thought to have MISSED the Rapture of the Church and are caught up in the Day of Christ as it unfolds on Earth.
The Church is not appointed unto Wrath, the expectation Paul desired to encourage them in was Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. And he desired all believers would “encourage one another with these words”, what words? The words that have a lively expectation that “we which are aliveandremain 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.
The Preparation For The Doctrine
We will close with this last thought.
One of the oft stated arguments against a Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church is not related to what the Bible plainly teaches, but to what is thought of as a consequence of the view.
If you believe you are going to be Raptured at any moment, they say, you won’t be thinking of being the best you can here. You won’t share the Gospel and you won’t take any responsibilities.
Beloved, as usual, the Bible’s doctrine/ teaching demonstrates the exact opposite.
Lets turn back again to Titus 2
1But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, thatthey bein behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5To bediscreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrineshewinguncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 9Exhortservants to be obedient unto their own masters,andto pleasethemwell in allthings; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Beloved THAT IS WHAT I REALLY BELIEVE WE SHOULD BE, Zealous of good works. Lot did not receive word from the Lord to work diligently to fix the city of Sodom in Genesis 19. The message was for him to gather all whom he could, “hast thou here any besides?”.
Why such a concern?
V13, For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. (Gen 19:13)
The world is such a city, its not about fixing the city, trying to make the world a better place is what is getting the world into the mess that it is. Salvation is the only hope for lost man.
Your work beloved is not to get distracted, you are to be Zealous of good works, don’t fill your time with vanity, “blessed are the feet of them who bring glad tidings”, share the gospel of hope that those in this city of destruction can have hope.
Hitchcock, Mark. Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? . Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.