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Bible verses about Rapture
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Daniel 9:27

Protestants try to ascribe the covenant of verse 27 to the Antichrist because "he," they say, refers to "the prince who is to come." But this cannot be! Remember the poetic organization! The key is the word "many." It is literally "the many," and whenever it is used in the Old Testament, it refers to either the covenant people Israel or to the saints, that is, true believers. Jesus says in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Christ makes the covenant, not Antichrist!

Confirm means "strengthen" or "make firm"—almost to the point of being unbreakable. This helps substantiate its reference to the New Covenant, an everlasting covenant that strengthened the basic requirements of the Old Covenant. Significantly, when Christ in the Olivet Prophecy gives His disciples the signs of the end, He does not mention a covenant or treaty to be enacted between the Antichrist and the Jews, Christians, saints, or anyone! He does mention both of the events Gabriel mentions here: the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 24:2) and the abomination of desolation (verse 15).

What about the final three and a half years of the seventieth week? They have yet to be fulfilled, but Gabriel leaves us hanging regarding when they occur. He does not mention them. When could they be fulfilled?

  • The seventieth week has been completely fulfilled by the three and a half year ministry of Christ. This seems to be the least likely of these options.
  • Christ will complete His ministry in the first three and a half years after His return, before Satan is locked in the bottomless pit. But the Bible does not indicate that any time elapses between His return and Satan's binding in Revelation 19 and 20.
  • They are the years of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, during which Christ will complete His ministry through the Two Witnesses and/or to the church in the Place of Safety. Again, this is only speculation—although Paul's training in Arabia may provide a precedent (Galatians 1:11-18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'


 

Daniel 9:27

This may be the most abused verse on the subject of the end times, and it is a linchpin in the Pre-tribulation Rapture theory: "Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering." "He" in this verse refers to Messiah, not Antichrist, for the main subject of this section is Messiah.

Protestants, referring to Isaiah 28:15 and "a covenant with death," say that the Antichrist makes a peace treaty for one week—seven years—with the Jews. But this makes no sense! Why would the Beast "destroy the city [Jerusalem] and the sanctuary" (Daniel 9:26), and "then . . . confirm a covenant . . . for one week" (verse 27) with the vanquished Jews? The timing is wrong! Verses 26-27a speak of events that occurred in the first century.

It makes more sense to attribute this covenant to our Savior. He was "cut off, but not for Himself" (verse 26a) by His redemptive death in AD 31. He had spent 3½ years "confirm[ing] a covenant [the New Covenant] with many," and "in the middle of the week He [brought] an end to sacrifice and offering" (verse 27a) by the sacrifice of His perfect life. This simply restates what is said in verse 26a.

If this is the case, the whole idea of seven years of tribulation vanishes.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 

Matthew 24:15-22

How will the days be shortened? Is God going to lessen time than would normally come? That is a part of the explanation. The implication, though, within the context, is that God will stop short what is occurring lest everybody be killed. If He allowed the events that were taking place to continue, everyone would die. When He stops the event, time in a sense stops—at least as far as this event is concerned.

To whom are the pronouns referring here? Verse 15, "Therefore when you." Verse 16, "Then let those." Verse 17, "Let him." Verse 18, "Let him." Verse 19, "But woe to you." These pronouns refer to those who understand the prophecies and are alive at the time these things are taking place. How many people are involved? It is unspecified.

One thing is clear. There is no doubt that, in this prophecy, deliverance involves flight (at least to those who are around Jerusalem during this unprecedented distress). In this case, to flee in no way implies flying. The verb here is phuego, and it means to flee, to escape danger. It indicates nothing other than escaping by running—shoe-leather express.

The context of the chapter is "literal and physical." It is not "figurative and spiritual." It involves physical survival worldwide, though the prophecy itself focuses on Jerusalem. It is worldwide because verses 21-22 make it clear "that no one would be saved alive." He means no one on earth, not just that no one around Jerusalem would be saved alive. This time is so bad that even the elect would die, except for God's intervention. Notice that God, through His servant Jesus Christ, says, "Don't stay in the midst of the trouble—get out."

Considering the timeframe, Psalm 91 would have to be modified to apply it directly to us, because our understanding from other portions of God's Word is that He expects us to get out, to flee to some designated place called "your chamber" or "her place." It involves segregating ourselves away from something. We can also understand that we will have help from God in segregating ourselves, as I Corinthians 10:13 indicates. He makes a way of escape that His people can take, just as He did for Israel. He opened up the Red Sea so that they could escape. They walked to safety, fleeing from the Egyptian army. Nevertheless, God intervened.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 1)


 

1 Thessalonians 4:15-16

Paul mentions the exact timing of this event twice! In verse 15, he says that this occurs at "the coming of the Lord," and in verse 16, Christ "descend[s] from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God." To combat these clear time markers, Protestants have to say that Christ returns twice and that there are two different blowings of the trumpet!

Paul himself quashes this argument in I Corinthians 15:50-52:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

How did this teaching of the apostle Paul ever come to be called the Rapture? The answer lies in the word translated "shall be caught up" (Greek harpagésómetha). In Latin, this word is rapere, from which "rapture" is derived. Free of any arcane or mysterious interpretation, it simply means "to be caught up," "snatched," or "seized."

The trouble begins when people confuse this meaning with another definition of rapture that has nothing to do with the biblical concept: "a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion; a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things." When people blur these meanings, a picture develops of a strange, otherworldly experience preached by fire-breathing preachers to compel sinners to repent before God's wrath burns them to cinders.

Those who teach the Rapture frequently begin with I Thessalonians 4:16-17, but soon afterward they move into areas unsupported in the Bible. They make assumptions that are suspect. Worst, they fail to consider the clear order of events presented in Revelation, pinpointing when this astounding miracle will occur.

What do they believe? They believe that at some point in the near future, Jesus Christ will return and "snatch away" all Christians on the earth. Those who "believe" in Jesus will rise to meet Him in the air, and He will whisk them off to heaven for a 3 ½-to-seven-year Marriage Supper. In the meantime here on earth, untold destruction occurs when professing "born-again Christians" suddenly vanish while at the controls of cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, heavy equipment, and the like. "Unsaved" relatives and friends will frantically and unsuccessfully search for their raptured loved ones. The media will provide 24-hour coverage of the mysterious disappearance of millions of people, speculating wildly on its cause—everything from a mass alien abduction to shifting dimensions and levels of consciousness.

On the other hand, the biblical teaching of the first resurrection is more straightforward. On the day Christ returns to earth to establish His Kingdom, the dead in Christ will rise first, and those who are alive and converted will follow. They will meet Him in the air and immediately return to earth as a vast army of spirit beings to defeat the Beast and False Prophet in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Revelation 19:14; Joel 3:1-2; Zechariah 14:1-5).

Notice two vast differences in these scenarios:

  1. The Protestant Rapture takes place either 3 ½ or seven years before Christ's return, while the Bible shows it will occur at His second coming. For this reason, the Protestant concept is often called the "Pre-tribulation Rapture."
  2. When believers are "caught up" in the air, Protestants believe, they will go immediately to heaven for a long, spectacular feast. The Bible shows, though, that the saints will return to earth to fight in Christ's heavenly army and to help establish God's Kingdom.

Succinctly, then, the two differences are in timing and destination.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Because Paul writes, "And thus we shall always be with the Lord," many assume that since Christ lives in heaven, the changed saints will too. But is this assumption valid?

They Bible shows that the reward of the saved is eternal life as kings and priests ruling and teaching here on earth (Matthew 5:5; Revelation 5:10). But where will the saints go at the moment of Christ's return? The clearest verses that show Christians immediately returning with our King to the earth are Zechariah 14:3-5, 9:

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. . . . Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You [Him, margin]. . . . And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. (See I Thessalonians 3:13.)

If our Savior is going to rule "over all the earth," the saints will have to settle for earth too!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Some churches attempt to prove from this verse that heaven is the reward of the saved—that Christians will go to heaven and be there with Christ forever. But where did the idea that heaven is the reward of the saved originate? Does the Old Testament teach it? Did Jesus and His apostles teach it?

A perusal of various encyclopedia articles on "heaven" will show that this doctrine originated with the pagan, polytheistic Greeks and Romans. Their deified heroes and other favorites of their multiple gods were supposedly given admission to their "heaven," which they called "Elysium."

Various peoples evolved their own versions of Elysium. The Germans and Scandinavians had their Valhalla. The American Indians had their Happy Hunting Grounds. The eastern Buddhists have Nirvana, which offers the dubious promise of "the extinction of all desire and personality." Interestingly, the Western, professing Christian heaven is more similar to the original Greek concept.

The Old Testament shows clearly that when Jesus Christ returns to earth, it will be to set up the Kingdom of God—on earth, not in heaven.

Daniel 2:36-43 describes four major kingdoms, empires, or governmental systems that have ruled over the greater part of the civilized world: the Chaldean-Babylonian Empire (625 to 538 BC); the Medo-Persian Empire (538 to 330 BC); the Greco-Macedonian Empire (333 to 31 BC); and the the Roman Empire (Established 31 BC. The imagery suggests that it will exist in some form until the end of the age.) Clearly, these physical empires existed on earth. But verses 44-45 say that God's Kingdom will encompass all of these previous kingdoms—on earth! Daniel 7:17-18 says much the same.

Daniel 7:27 adds a vital piece of information to our understanding of where God's Kingdom is:

Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.

God's everlasting Kingdom, then, shall not be in heaven but "under the whole heaven"!

Why then should we be surprised that God's Kingdom will be on earth? God tells us through Moses that ancient Israel was a type of God's Kingdom and, in fact, could have been His Kingdom had they obeyed Him (Exodus 19:5-6).

The very churches that misuse I Thessalonians 4:17 could better understand its meaning by studying the words of the so-called "Lord's Prayer": "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10; see Micah 4:8). Jesus instructs His people to pray for God's Kingdom to come—to earth—not to be taken away to it!

Obadiah 1:17, 21 tell us specifically where God's Kingdom will be set up. Likewise, Micah 4:1-2 shows that Jesus Christ will dwell on earth in Jerusalem, accessible to physical people and nations.

Matthew 24:3 shows that the disciples knew, and therefore were taught by Jesus Himself, that He would come back to this earth, when they asked Him, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

In His reply, Jesus continually repeats that He will come back to this earth:

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west; so also will the coming of the Son of man be. . . . Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. . . . But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (verses 27, 30, 37; see also verses 39, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50)

Some might argue that, because Jesus went to be with God the Father in heaven after His death and resurrection, we must go to heaven to be with Him. However, in John 14:3, Jesus tells His disciples that He will come again to earth and will here receive them to Himself to be with Him: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." If He wants us in heaven, why would He have to come here to get us? The Parable of the Minas or Pounds (see Luke 19:11-15) also makes this clear.

After all of Jesus' teaching, the disciples, although still limited in their knowledge and understanding, knew for sure that Jesus was to restore His Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). In Acts 1:9-11, their understanding is greatly enhanced:

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

He will come down from heaven, through the clouds, and will set down on the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4). He will be clearly visible to human eyes.

Christ reveals to the apostle John in Revelation 19:11-21 that He will not return meekly or unnoticed to this earth. His return will be witnessed by the whole world whose kings and armies (verse 19) will gather to battle against Him. No secret, quiet "rapture," whisking Christians off to heaven, but the most terrible battle in man's history.

Consider the context of I Thessalonians 4:17, and notice the previous verse: "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first" (verse 16). This clearly proves that the timeframe is that of the second coming of Jesus Christ, not the death of each Christian.

Notice also that Christ is descending from heaven. We will not meet Him in heaven but in the atmosphere of the earth as He is on His way down.

Now comes the central question of this matter. We have just met Christ in the air! Where do we go from here? Up to heaven or back down to earth? I Thessalonians 4:17 says that we are to be with the Lord forever, but where will the Lord be? Again, many scriptures give the clear answer, but Zechariah 14:4 gives a concise one:

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.

Could this be some "heavenly" Mount of Olives? No, it is the one "which faces Jerusalem on the east"! Could it be some "spiritual" Jerusalem? No, Jesus is going to split it in half!

He will have arrived on earth. Who will be with Him? The second half of verse 5 tells us: "Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You." All the resurrected saints or holy ones will be with Him.

Will He stay on earth? Notice verse 9: "And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—'The LORD is one,' and His name one." Yes, He will stay. The Kingdom of God and the reward of the saved are on this earth! As Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

Jesus will come again to earth, this time with His saints and with His army of angels too. He will take His rightful place on His glorious, earthly throne and share power with His saints over the physical nations of the earth (Revelation 2:26-27). God tells us in Revelation 5:10: "And have made us [the saints; verse 9] kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

Staff
Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?


 

1 Thessalonians 5:9

Pre-tribulationists point to this verse to show that Christians will not be on earth but in heaven when the Great Tribulation occurs. Notice, however, that they have read into it something it does not say. It mentions neither heaven nor earth, and thus it has no bearing on the physical whereabouts of the saints when Christ returns.

This scripture does, though, make a good point about God's plans for us! He does not intend for us to feel His wrath in the Day of the Lord (I Thessalonians 5:2). With His calling, His Word, and His Spirit, we should be soberly watching world events, keeping tabs on the approaching crisis at the close of this age (verses 4-6). More than that, we should be applying the armor of God daily, preparing for our roles in the coming Kingdom of God (verse 8; Ephesians 6:10-18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 

Revelation 11:15-18

This last - seventh - trumpet announces the coming of Christ, the establishment of God's Kingdom, the judgment upon the nations, and the rewarding of the saints. They occur simultaneously!

The last trumpet sounds when Christ returns, not 3½ years before! If we compare verses 11-13 (the resurrection of the Two Witnesses) with verse 19, the "great earthquake" ties the resurrection of the saints with the beginning of the Kingdom (see also Revelation 16:18). In addition, an angel tells John in Revelation 10:7 that when "the seventh angel . . . is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished." There will be no more mystery about man becoming God when the saints are resurrected or changed to eternal spirit beings!

Matthew 24:30-31 also verifies this scenario, showing that the trumpet sounds to send the angels to gather the elect from all over the earth to meet Him upon His return. To clinch the argument, verse 29 very plainly says, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days. . ."! Isaiah 27:12-13, Joel 2:1-11 and Zechariah 14:3-5, 9 also confirm these events.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Caught Up in the Rapture


 

 




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