PART 2 - The Church in Prophecy - The Rapture of the Church

THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCHWe are presenting the panorama of Bible Prophecy as it predicts what must take place as the world moves toward the KINGDOM. We saw that the Church-Age is a MYSTERY hidden in God revealed only by Christ and the apostles. This Age ends with the RAPTURE (the snatching away or removal) of the Church from the earth.
The Rapture is part of the Mystery:
Behold I tell you a MYSTERY we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed (1Corinthians 15:51).
This means it was not revealed in the Old Testament. This distinguishes it from the Second Coming of Christ when He returns to judge the earth after the Tribulation (Revelation 19) because this event is the subject of much Old Testament prophecy.

The RAPTURE is the Coming of Christ for the Church in which He instantly catches up all living believers to meet Him in the air and translates them into immortal bodies without experiencing death.

I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord
will by no means precede those who are asleep.
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.
Then we who are alive (IN CHRIST) shall be CAUGHT UP
together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1Thessalonians 4:13-17).

The word rapture is from the Latin translation of the Greek word harpazo in v17 translated as CAUGHT UP. It means to seizeor to snatch away. It will happen suddenly to all those who are IN CHRIST.

The completion of our salvation - the resurrection of our bodies to immortality and the release of God’s glory into and through it:
Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (the Rapture) who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to himself (Philippians 3:20,21).
Our bodies will be just like Jesus' resurrected body! As the HEAD (Jesus) has been resurrected so the BODY will be resurrected. The BODY is completely united to the HEAD forever.

Thus at the Rapture we will be presented:
a glorious church, not having spot (no blemish-physical or spiritual) or wrinkle (no sign of aging) or any such thing (all marks of the fall removed), but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).
God is able and will: present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).
See also 1Thessalonians 3:12,13

Behold I tell you a MYSTERY we shall not all sleep
but we shall all be changed, in a moment (an atomic second)
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet shall sound,
and the dead will be raised incorruptible and WE SHALL BE CHANGED. For this corruptible (body) must put on incorruption,
and this mortal (body) must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible (body) has put on incorruption
and this mortal (body) has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O Death where is your sting. O Hades where is your victory?
The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labour is not vain in the Lord (1Corinthians 15:51-58).

Who will be raptured? Some teach a Partial Rapture where only on-fire believers go up, while the rest go through the Tribulation. But 1Thessalonians 4:16 defines the group as those who are IN CHRIST (all the dead in Christ will rise so we presume the same qualification applies to the living). Salvation (including the Rapture) is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), so all genuine (born-again) believers will go up. At some point soon there will be a last person who accepts Christ and then the Body of Christ will be complete when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25) and it will be raptured and God's programme on earth will then be the salvation of Israel as its blindness is fully removed (v25,26). The Head will be united to the whole Body - not parts of it! A partial Rapture means a blemished, incomplete Bride being presented to Christ for marriage. Notice Paul chose the carnal Corinthian Church when He said: we shall all be changed (1Corinthians 15:51).

After the Rapture is the Judgment Seat of Christ and Scripture emphasises that: we (Christians) shall ALL stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10). So all true (saved) believers will be raptured.
However at this Judgment, Christians who have not lived for Christ will lose eternal rewards of glory.

The catching up of 1Thessalonians 4:17 will be like a MAGNET held over a box of different materials - only those with the same iron-nature as the magnet will go up. Things that look like they are made of iron but are really plastic, will not go up. Thus plastic, ‘pretend-Christians’ will not go up. But anyone with Christ within (who is Born-Again) will be drawn up to meet Christ in the clouds by powerful attraction!

The Rapture as a Thief in the Night.
In Part One we saw the first mention of the Rapture where Jesus was giving the signs that come just before the Tribulation. He was answering the question: What shall be the SIGN of of the end (consummation) of the age? (the TRIBULATION). He gave the Rapture as the final sign that would happen just before the Tribulation starts.

Matthew 24:36-44: But of that day and hour (of the Rapture and start of the Tribulation) no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be TAKEN and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be TAKEN and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the THIEF would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
This is the foundational Biblical passage on the Rapture. It teaches that the Rapture is imminent - that is - it could happen at any time. No one knows the day or hour of the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation. God has done this so that we get ready and stay ready. So, there will be no special signs preceding the Rapture, as there will be before the Second Coming. The Flood came during normal conditions on earth with men eating, drinking, and marrying. Likewise the Rapture will come at a time when people will be at their normal work, not suspecting that something major will happen (v40,41).

Luke gives a parallel teaching on the Rapture in Luke 17:20-37:
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said,
The kingdom of God does not come with observation;
nor will they say, See here! or, See there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you (or in your midst) (v20,21).
Jesus is saying the Kingdom was present in Him and also indicating the Mystery Age that would come before the Messianic Kingdom.

Then He said to the disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, Look here! or, Look there! Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His Day (v22-24)
The Second Coming will be in power and glory, visible to all (see also Matthew 24:23-27).

But FIRST (before the Second Coming in glory there must be:)
1. The Cross: He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation (v25).
2. The Rapture: And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all (v26-27, see Matthew 24:37-39). Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot.
They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;
but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed (the believers will be removed and the the Tribulation judgments will fall, v28-30).
In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house,
let him not come down to take them away
(Be always ready at a moments notice to drop everything and go up in the Rapture). And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife (who was not ready because she was attached to and trusting in her possessions and her old-life, so she looked back and suffered the judgment on unbelievers, v31,32).
Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it (v33).
I tell you, in that night (of the Rapture) there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left.
Two women will be grinding together:
the one will be taken and the other left.
Two men will be in the field:
the one will be taken and the other left”
(Notice it is a world-wide event for in some places it is day and in other places it is night! This also proves that Jesus knew the earth is a sphere, v34-36. See Matthew 24:40,41).

And they answered and said to Him, Where, Lord? (This question refers to the original subject of the Second Coming in v24). So He said to them, Wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will be gathered together (v37, see Matthew 24:28). The location of the Second Coming will be Israel, because there Jesus must return to fight the armies of the world (the vultures) who are gathered together to destroy the carcass of Israel.

TO THE WORLD, THE RAPTURE will be the coming of a THIEF in the night, taking the precious things from the earth. As Noah was removed before the judgments of the Flood suddenly fell on the world, so the Church will be removed before the judgments of the Tribulation suddenly fall upon the whole earth. The sign for the world that the Flood was about to fall was the disappearance of Noah. Likewise the sign for the world that the Tribulation is about to start will be the disappearance of the Church. The Church is TAKEN by Jesus to be with Him. Thus the Rapture is described here as the coming of a thief in the night, who comes and goes unseen by the unbelieving owner (Matt 24:43). Whenever this phrase is used later, it refers to the Rapture.

Jesus said he would come as a thief in the night.
1. His Coming will be sudden and unannounced, at a time no one would expect, with no warning signs. The word used for the Church being caught up (1Thessalonians 4:17) is the same as that used for Philip's sudden translation (Acts 8:39) and Paul's catching up to heaven (2Corinthians 12:2). There'll be no signs for the Rapture. Some say the Church must be glorious first (Eph5:27) but this can only be fulfilled after the Rapture.

2. This picture shows the RAPTURE is IMMINENT, which means it can happen at any time, soon. It will be unexpected, catching the world off guard and unprepared.

3. He will come when the world is in darkness.

4. It will be secret, He comes and goes unseen. Jesus will come, do His work and go and the world in darkness won’t see Him. All they will know is that something has been taken from them - millions of Christians!

5. He comes like a thief to take the precious jewels (believers) from the house (the earth). To the world, it will look like a theft but we belong to Jesus - we’re in the world, not of it. Jesus is coming to claim His own - to snatch us away from the earth and take us back to His home. He's not really a thief because He has purchased us with His Blood.

Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you (Revelation 3:3).
Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches (Rev16:15)
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Luke 12:39,40).
But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (2Peter 3:10).

In the context of speaking about the Rapture (1Thessalonians 4:13-18), Paul said that from the world’s viewpoint: The Day of the Lord (the Tribulation) so comes (begins) as a thief in the night (the Rapture will be a total surprise to the world!) For when they say, Peace and safety! (there will be no special warning, with normal conditions on earth) then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman (the start of the Tribulation). And they shall not escape (1Thessalonians 5:2,3). The whole earth will be affected. It will be too late to be part of the Rapture. As God shut the door when Noah entered the Ark, so the door into Heaven will be shut immediately after the Rapture). The thief removes something that must be a restraining force, resulting in a sudden onset of destruction (the final labour pains described by Jesus in Matthew24:8).

But this will be the experience of those in darkness (who are not ready), not of those in the light, who will go up in the Rapture.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day (the Tribulation) should overtake you as a thief
(the Coming of Christ in the Rapture will not be as a thief for the Church, but for the world. The sleeping world will be caught by surprise and awake to find many people suddenly missing).
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness (v4,5). For us, it is the time of our salvation that we have been waiting for and expecting.

So, we must make sure we are alert and ready for the Lord’s Coming.
Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation (the Rapture).
Our expectation is not the Tribulation but we wait for our salvation (resurrection) and our meeting with Jesus in the Rapture. For God did not appoint us to wrath (the Tribulation), but to obtain salvation (deliverance from wrath and salvation of the body in the Rapture) through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing (v6-11).

So we must be always ready for at any moment we might be caught up to meet the Lord in the air! We are to be eagerly waiting and looking for His appearing at the Rapture:
Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (Hebrews 9:28).
How you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath (Tribulation) to come (by a resurrection) (1Thessalonians 1:9,10).
Looking for the BLESSED HOPE and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

In Matthew 24:36-44, we saw that Jesus told us to watch (to be ready) so that we will escape the Tribulation, by going up in the Rapture. Noah was ready, but the others carried on, oblivious to the threat of judgment. Noah was removed to safety, they were swept away. You can prepare and be ready like Noah or just carry on like the rest. Those who were ready were those who were saved. Those who were lost were the unprepared. Likewise at the Rapture there is a separation into two groups. Some will be ready, others not. Believers will be removed to safety and soon after, the judgments of the Tribulation will come upon the whole world.

In a parallel passage Luke 21:34-36 states this warning very clearly:
But take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that Day (the Tribulation) come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth (don't be like those in Noah's time who ignored the warning and got destroyed in the flood). WATCH therefore (get ready, be alert that Jesus is coming soon and live accordingly ) and PRAY always (don't be spiritually asleep and prayerless) that ye may be counted worthy (ready) to escape (in the Rapture) all these things that shall come to pass (in the Tribulation), and to stand (resurrected) before the Son of man" (in Heaven - by means of the Rapture)

Take heed (be alert) WATCH and PRAY for you know not what hour your Lord shall come (Mark 13:33). WATCH and discern the signs of the times (know that we live in the last generation). This will keep us spiritually alert and praying, staying ready for the Lord's Return.

(1) Receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. The main way we get ready is receiving and trusting Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross as our salvation, and following Him as Lord (Luke 21:34, Matthew 24:42).
(2) Prove the genuineness of your faith by a changed life. Those who carried on same life in Noah’s time proved their unbelief by their lifestyle, they were not ready because they did not believe. Some may have professed faith but it was an empty profession because it did not change their life. They carried on oblivious to Noah’s warnings.

The Rapture as the Bridegroom coming for His Bride.
TO THE WORLD THE RAPTURE is Jesus coming as a THIEF but TO US, THE RAPTURE is Jesus coming as a Bridegroom for His Church.
Jesus is the Bridegroom (John 3:29; Matt 9:15; 25:1-10; Mark 2:19,20; Luke 5:34,35).

The second mention of Christ's Coming for His Church is in the tender words of Jesus the Bridegroom to His Bride, the Church, promising to return and TAKE us home: Let not your heart be troubled, you 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 to myself, that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3).
This will be fulfilled in the RAPTURE. This is our blessed heavenly hope - the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ for His Bride (Titus 2:13). He is coming soon to take us home. Redemption is a Divine Romance which comes to a climax in the Rapture. Many scriptures can only be fully understood from this viewpoint.

Understanding the marriage customs of Bible times gives us much prophetic insight.
1. The marriage is planned and arranged by the father of the Bridegroom, who chooses a Bride for his son.
God, the Father planned a marriage for His Son Jesus Christ and chose the Church as his Bride (Ephesians 1:3,4).

2. He negotiates with her family and a Bride-Price is paid, representing her value.
The price was paid for the Bride, the Blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25).
Jesus came the first time to win His Bride by demonstrating His love, laying His life down for her and thus paying the Bride-Price.

3. Once agreement was made, they would eat and drink wine together, signifying they were now in covenant. At this point the couple are BETROTHED.
When we receive Christ, accepting His offer to belong to Him, we are BETROTHED to Him (2Corinthians 11:2, Romans 7:4). We now belong to Christ, spiritually united in covenant through the Blood, destined to be His wife.

4. Gifts would be given to the Bride from the Bridegroom.
Gifts and blessings are poured upon us by the Holy Spirit representing Christ.

5. They may never have seen each other face to face.
We have not seen Jesus face to face, but we love Him and eagerly await His return (1 Peter 1:8,9).

6. Next, the Bridegroom goes away to his father’s place and prepares the marital home. Only when the father says it is ready and the preparations for the feast are complete can the Bridegroom return (the time was a maximum of two years). Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us and has promised to come back for us (John 14:1-3).

7. Meanwhile the Bride makes herself ready, she is to make herself glorious. She prepares her wedding dress - all bright, full of jewellery, and silver, and gold, with beautiful embroidery (Isaiah 61:10; Jeremiah 2:32; Psalm 45:13,14; Revelation 21:2). She dresses like a Queen, she makes her face to shine like polished marble. She wants him to be pleased when he looks upon her. She keeps herself pure, for all her hopes are now looking toward the day of her marriage when she will see her Bridegroom face to face and be with him forever.
We are now to prepare for Jesus. This is sanctification through the Blood and the washing of water of the Word, so that when He returns we will be fully ready. Our wedding garment is our good works (Ephesians 5:25-27; Rev19:7,8).
At His Return He will reward us according to our preparation at this time (2Tim 4:7,8)

8. No one knows the exact time of the Wedding, which happens when the Bridegroom returns for His Bride. Even the Bride does not know exactly when the Bridegroom will come for her. She must stay ready even if he seems to be delayed.
No one knows the time of Christ’s return for His Bride when He takes her away in the Rapture.
He tells us: I am coming soon.
He is standing at the doors of heaven eager and ready to return (James 5:8,9).
There is great excitement and anticipation in heaven and earth as the time gets near (Revelation 22:7,12,17,20).

9. At the father’s signal, when he judges all things to be ready (including the marital home), the Bridegroom returns for His Bride.
When the Bride is ready and complete, when the full number are saved,
then the Father will turn to the Son and says: Go, get her! (Romans 11:25; James 5:8,9).

10. The Bridegroom (dressed as a King) goes in joyful procession with his friends to the Bride’s house. There is great excitement. He enters the house and carries the Bride out, and brings her back to the place he has prepared for her.
When Jesus returns for His Church it will be to TAKE His Bride home to be with Him forever. His Coming for His Bride is the Rapture of the Church where He lifts us up to a higher level. He comes in a joyful procession with shouts, angels and trumpets (1Thessalonians 4:14-18). We will be lifted up to meet the Lord in the air. This is a romantic moment as He carries off His Bride, delivering her from the Tribulation, in order to be with Him forever.

11. Back at his house, she makes her final preparations to be ready for brief family Wedding Ceremony, including putting on her wedding dress. At the Wedding, she will be unveiled and presented to Him in all her beauty.
Back in heaven, the Bride must be presented spotless and glorious to Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27; Jude 24).
To be ready, she must go through the Judgment Seat of Christ first, where she is cleansed from all unworthy, dead works that she is wearing (1Corinth 3:11-15).
She is also rewarded for her good works with a corresponding glory that will be released through her (Philippians 3:20,21, 1Cor15:50-58, Eph5:25-27) and that will radiate out of her, which is now her clothing (her wedding-dress). 'His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:6-7).
Now rewarded by her glory having been manifested, she is now dressed only in white glorious linen (her righteous works that have been approved at the Judgment).

12. In the Wedding Ceremony she is unveiled and presented to him in all her beauty and they see each other face to face for the first time (she has been veiled until now). They are now MARRIED and she is now His WIFE.
Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her (the Bride-Price), that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word (the Preparation time), that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot (no physical blemish) or wrinkle (no sign of age) or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (inwardly pure and perfect) (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
We will then see Him face to face: Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1John 3:2-3).

At this point they will be MARRIED, and the Church (the BRIDE) will now be the WIFE of the Lamb.
We will have our eternal marital home in the New Jerusalem (John 14:1-3; Rev 21:2,3,9-11).

13. The couple next go into a special bridal-chamber. The marriage is consummated, they are joined physically. The two become one.
There will a consummation, a time of close face to face fellowship with Christ where our union with Him, that has already happened spiritually will be brought to completion on every level. His glory will fill our spirits, souls and bodies. In prophecy, there is now seven years of this special time in heaven before the next stage.

14. They then appear together and the procession leads on to the Marriage Feast, often in a different place. Someone goes ahead announcing: the Bridegroom comes! so that the invited guests know to come to the Feast. (Matthew 25:6).
We then reappear with Christ as HUSBAND and WIFE and return to the earth for the Wedding Feast (His Second Coming) where the Marriage Feast takes place and the wedding garment of glory we will wear is based upon our good works that will have passed the test of His Judgment Seat. Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the Marriage of the Lamb has come (happened), and His WIFE has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write: Blessed are those who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God..... Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True (the HUSBAND), and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.
He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean (the WIFE), followed Him on white horses” (Revelation 19:7-14).
This confirms that the Rapture must take place before the Second Coming.

15. The invited guests join in the celebrations which last for a week. General invitations had already been sent out to friends to invite them to the Wedding so they could be ready to come, although the exact time was not given (Matthew 22:1-13). When it was time, they are bidden to come to the Feast.

The prophets had sent out the original invitations to Israel to be in the Kingdom of God. When John and Jesus preached, they were urging Israel to get ready and bidding her to come to the imminent Feast, but they were not ready and refused to come, so it was delayed while invitations were sent out to the whole world (Matthew 22:1-13).
The Wedding-Guests for this Feast (that will open the Millennium) will include the Friends of the Bridegroom (Matt 9:15) - the resurrected saints from before the Church-Age, such as John the Baptist (John 3:29) and the Tribulation martyrs. Those also invited are the virgins (the companions of the Bride) who the believers on earth at the end of the Tribulation. During the Tribulation, the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached urging all people to be ready and bidding them to come to the imminent Feast. Only those who are ready will be able to enter into the Feast (and the Millennium). Those who are not ready, who are not believers (having no oil) will be excluded. This is the scenario in Matthew 25:1-13 where Jesus returns with His Wife to earth at the end of the Tribulation for the Marriage-Feast (Millennium). The virgins are not the Bride but the companions of the Bride in the Feast. They are the people alive on the earth when the Bridegroom returns. They are waiting for Him and when He comes He separates them into two groups depending on whether they are ready or not.

So the Rapture is part of a joyful Wedding Procession (hence the shouts and trumpets) as the Bridegroom comes to TAKE His Bride to Himself to be with Him forever face to face, fulfilling His love for her. He delivers His Bride from this evil world and lifts her up to a higher life with Him where He fulfils all His loving promises to her. In the time in between, the Bride must prepare to meet Him and be ready when He comes and they can see each other face to face for the first time, receiving a full revelation of each other.

Pictures of this Romance of Redemption’ are seen in Old-Testament marriages which are Types of Christ and the Church. This includes Ruth, who is redeemed by Boaz to become his wife, and Esther who after a long period of preparation and beautification is presented before the King who then marries her.

Three more of these stories contain pictures of the Rapture.
1. Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:18-25).
2. ISAAC and REBEKAH (Genesis 24).
3. Solomon and Shulamith (the SONG OF SOLOMON).

1. ADAM and EVE.
God had a Plan for us before sin came in, which was revealed before the Fall in the marriage of Adam and Eve - a picture of Christ and the Church. His Plan is deeper than redeeming us from sin, but for us to be eternally united with Christ as His Bride. It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him (Genesis 2:18). Adam, given dominion over God’s creation, is a type of Christ, the Second Adam. God’s purpose revealed in Adam is fulfilled in Christ. It is not God’s best for Christ to rule alone (Eph1:23, 1Cor12:21). He help-meet was found suitable for him in the creation (v19,20). Likewise, nothing in the old-creation could be Christ’s Help meet (Bride). So, the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept and He took flesh and bone from Adam’s side and made Woman from it and BROUGHT (presented) HER to Adam (v21,22) who called her bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (v23). Likewise the Father provided a Bride for Jesus through his sleep of death. This sleep represents an aspect of Christ’s death that has nothing to do with sin. Rather, it is the laying down and giving up of His life to release it to us and to make His Bride. In death, His side was opened and out came blood and water (John 19:34). The Church was taken out of Christ being brought forth from His side (v23). The Church was created from Christ’s own life and spiritual DNA and so corresponds to Him and qualifies to be His Bride.

Eve was formed out of a wound in Adam’s side. She derived her life and nature from Adam. She was perfect like him and became one with him, sharing his dominion. She was built and prepared by God to be presented to and meet her future Husband. In all these ways, Eve is a picture of the glorious Church. At the Rapture the Church is presented before Christ in perfection and with the same words of acceptance (v23). Christ will own her as His Wife forever.

2. ISAAC and REBEKAH (Genesis 24).
Isaac, the special son of Abraham represents Jesus - the only begotten Son of the Father. In Genesis 22 he voluntarily let himself be offered up as a sacrifice and was (in a figure) raised from the dead. This represents the basis of our salvation. The next time we see Isaac the picture continues showing the outworking and completion of this salvation.

It is a story of a marriage made in heaven - a picture of the Divine Romance.
Abraham (the Father) plans and initiates everything.
Isaac (Jesus - the Son) is to inherit everything (he received this promise after his death and resurrection).
But this promise will be fulfilled in and through him and his wife (not him alone).
The Chief Servant of the Father (the Holy Spirit) is sent by the Father, in the Name of the Son (John 14:26; 16:13,14).
He manages and administrates the inheritance (v2,10).
The Church, the chosen Bride is Rebekah.
The Father’s Plan is to provide a Bride for His Son. After His death and resurrection the Son asked the Father to send the Spirit to call, prepare and fetch His Bride. As God brought Eve to Adam, Abraham brought Rebekah to Isaac, so the Father undertook to provide a Bride for His Son.
He started this process by sending the Servant to where she lived. Likewise, the Father's Servant (the Holy-Spirit) was sent to the earth at Pentecost, to find and call out a Bride, to extend the offer to belong to Jesus (as the call was given to Rebekah to be Isaac's). Through the Gospel she is called out of the world and chosen to belong to Jesus. We hear of Jesus through the Spirit Who is sent to us.

Meanwhile Isaac could not leave the promised land (his inheritance).
Jesus must stay in heaven while the Bride is being prepared (v5,6).
The Bride must be brought to the Bridegroom.

The Servant came loaded with blessings and gifts for the Bride and her family (v10) just like the Spirit when He came.

Rebekah responded positively to the Servant (v11-28). In the house the Servant told them everything about the son, his sacrifice and resurrection, his character, his rich inheritance, and the promises and covenant from God that assured his future (v32-48). Of all these she could partake in Isaac. This is a picture of the Spirit preaching the gospel to every person, calling them to Christ. Then he proposed marriage and pressed for a decision. If it was no, then he would go elsewhere for a Bride (v49).

Rebekah believed his message and said yes (v51,58). When we say yes to Jesus, we are then betrothed to him (1Cor11:2, Romans7:4). Then the Servant gave many gifts of jewels and clothes to Rebekah (v53) which she could use on the journey. These marked her out as the Bride. When we believe in Christ we receive many gifts and blessings and are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and given the garment of praise.

Abraham had told the Servant to TAKE (fetch, carry away) a wife for Isaac (v3,4).
Her family understood this: Here is Rebekah before you; TAKE her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife (v51).
This was only be fulfilled when she stood before Isaac. Firstly, she was called. Then, leaving her family (her old-life), she went on a journey with the Servant, carrying her gifts which were just a small part of her final inheritance (v61). Finally, she was presented to Isaac to be his wife (v62-67). Likewise to TAKE the Church to be Christ’s Wife, the Holy Spirit calls us to Christ. Then, He takes us out of our old-life in the world and takes us on a new journey with Him that has a heavenly destination where we will stand before Jesus. Finally, at the Rapture we are taken into Christ’s Presence to be His Wife.

After accepting his offer to be betrothed, the Servant wanted to take her immediately on the journey to Isaac, but the family (old-life) tried to delay them. God wants no delay in our starting our new life, our journey with the Holy Spirit, to our eternal inheritance. The decision was Rebekah’s: Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go. (v57).
She decided to leave the old-life behind and start at once on the new journey with the Servant. This journey in the wilderness is a picture of the present Christian life in this world (v61). She was now a disciple, following the leading of the Servant, who knew the way. Her priorities had changed. Now Isaac was the most important One for her, even above her family. She went with God’s blessing of fruitfulness and victory (v60). We are called to leave the old-life and follow the Spirit, Who leads us closer and closer to Jesus.

She (and her gifts) were carried on the camels and she followed the Servant. On the journey he was her source of knowledge about Isaac. She did not see Isaac yet, but believed in him, loved him and was committed to him, rejoicing in the hope of seeing him (1Peter 1:3-9). It was a long and difficult journey of faith to reach her final and permanent destination and inheritance. But she had a Personal Guide and Helper (Comforter means one called alongside). On the journey the Servant would tell her all she wanted to know about Isaac and his inheritance (the Spirit glorifies Jesus to us). She knew that the journey was temporary, just a preparation. In the hardship she was inspired by the thought that soon she would be face to face with Isaac and live with him forever in their inheritance. she went to Isaac wearing the gifts and clothes he had provided, led by his Servant, carried along by the Spirit’s power, not her own strength (the camels). Her thoughts were focused on when she would see him.

The Rapture. The last time Isaac was seen was when he was sacrificed (Genesis 22) - a picture of Christ’s First Coming. He is then unseen in heaven (the promised land) until He comes again to meet his Bride. He has been waiting for her and preparing a place for her. As Rebekah was reaching the end of her journey in the wilderness Isaac came for her out of his dwelling place (v62). At the end of the 2000 year journey of the Church, Jesus will come from heaven to take His Bride. Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming (v63). At the Rapture, Jesus will come down from heaven to the atmosphere and signal the Holy Spirit to take (lift) us up to meet Him in the air (1Thess 4:16,17), between heaven and earth as Rebekah was brought to meet Isaac in the field between the wilderness and Isaac’s house. Rebekah saw Isaac for the first time:
Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and she saw Isaac (v64) as we shall see Jesus, but she was veiled until the Wedding (v65).

Then Isaac was told all about her response to Him (v66).
Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent (where she could make final preparations for the Wedding including cleansing from the journey - corresponding to the Judgment Seat) and he took Rebekah and she became his wife (this is the Wedding Ceremony where she was unveiled and presented to him in her full beauty and glory), and he loved her (they enter into a full union of love) (v67). This speaks of the completion of our salvation at the Rapture, when we shall be resurrected and glorified and stand face-to-face with Christ and be married. Then we will enjoy an eternal face-to-face fellowship united with Him and sharing His glory and authority as His beloved Wife (John 17:22,23; Rev19:7, 20:6).

As Rebekah was brought into Isaac's presence, to see him face to face and dwell in his tent as his wife, so in the Rapture will be our face-to-face meeting of love with our Eternal Husband . At the Rapture, we will be lifted up, transformed and presented before Christ as His glorious Bride (Ephesians 5:25-27). This is when the Marriage takes place and is consummated and we will be united with Him on every level.

Solomon = Christ. Shulamith = the Church. This story deserves more attention than we can give it here. One day King Solomon (dressed as a Shepherd) is inspecting his flocks and meets a country girl and they fall in love (this is Christ’s First Coming, dressed as an ordinary man, His majesty veiled). They enjoy a wonderful courtship where He reveals Himself as the Good Shepherd. Finally he proposes, she accepts and they become betrothed, declaring vows of undying love. Then He goes away to Jerusalem to prepare a place for her as well as the Wedding Feast. He tells her He is the King and she believes without seeing him in his Majesty. In the time between she has to trust his word and prepare herself and not be disturbed by the ridicule of unbelievers. At last Solomon returns (3:6-10). This time, not as a Shepherd but as the King dressed in all His glory with all his mighty men (the Return of Christ with His angelic guard of honour). As she looks she recognises the King as her Shepherd-Lover. He has come for her! (This is the Rapture of the Church) He takes her back to Jerusalem where they are married and have a Wedding Feast (3:11) The Song opens with her now as the Queen, sitting at table with Solomon and the virgins (her companions). She tells them all about him, and the story of their courtship up to that point and she also describes their developing relationship. It is perhaps the most beautiful picture in the Bible of the Divine Romance.

The Church-Age is a MYSTERY hidden in God revealed by Christ and the Apostles. This Age ends with THE RAPTURE (the snatching away or removal) of the Church from the earth (1Thessalonians 4:13-18) and so the Rapture is part of the Mystery (1Cor15:51). The RAPTURE is Jesus coming FOR His Church as her BRIDEGROOM. The Bride price is paid (Ephesians 5:25). He is coming soon to take us to our home in the Heavenly Jerusalem. We are to prepare to meet Him face to face (1John 3:1-3). At the Rapture our bodies will be transformed and we will be lifted up to meet Him in the air. According to the wedding-customs of the Bible, this is the time of officially becoming His wife. We will then stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where fire will cleanse us from our dead works and we will receive a release of glory within us (our reward) - the degree of glory we will be clothed in determined by our good works. Glorification is the consummation and completion of our union with Christ. Indeed Revelation 19:7-9,14 says this will be the wedding garment we will wear when we return to earth with Christ at the Second Coming. The Millennial Kingdom will start with a seven-day Marriage Feast on earth and those who become believers in the Tribulation will be the guests (Matthew 25:1-13).

Thus the Rapture initiates a series of events which complete the Bride's transformation into the glorious Wife of Ephesians 5:27 that will be presented before Him and all creation in her perfection. We will be eternally joined in marriage to Christ. The Marriage Feast (at the Second Coming) must come after the Wedding (the Rapture). This is one of many reasons why the Rapture is NOT the Second Coming of Christ to earth (in the Rapture, He comes to the air and we rise to meet Him there).

One of the most beautiful promises given to us is that of the morning star :
Rev 22:16: I, Jesus am the bright and MORNING STAR.
Rev 2:28: I will also give him (the overcomer) the MORNING STAR
2Peter 1:19: We have the WORD of the prophets made more certain and you do well to pay attention to it, as to a LIGHT shining in a dark place, until the DAY dawns and the MORNING STAR rises in your hearts.
These scriptures speak of the Morning Star as a special future MANIFESTATION of the glory of Jesus to believers.

Peter speaks of three manifestations of Jesus (THREE LIGHTS).
1. The light of Jesus shining now in our hearts, through His WORD.

2. The SUN bringing the DAWNING of a new DAY when it rises.
This speaks of the manifestation of Christ in His Second Coming, when He will rise upon the whole world, His glory shining outwardly and visibly, bringing a new DAY (the Millennium).
This symbolism is confirmed in Malachi 4:1,2:
The DAY comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud and all who do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the DAY that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear My name shall the SUN of righteousness ARISE with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
Hosea 6:1-3: After two days He (Christ) will revive us (Israel); on the third DAY (the Millennium)
He will restore us, that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to know Him. As surely as the SUN rises, HE will appear.”

3. The MORNING STAR which speaks of the manifestation of Christ in the RAPTURE.
It is Venus, which appears as one of the brightest stars. It rises a short time before the Sun. So, it appears when still dark in the world (the Rapture is the Thief in the Night - 1Thess5:1-11). Its appearance means the Sun is about to rise and the Day begin. It only appears to those who are watching. Only those who are awake, ready, and looking for the new Day will see it arise. It is a manifestation to true believers only. Christ will arise and shine from within their hearts. Everyone sees the Sun, but few see the Morning Star. Those who are not ready to see the Morning Star will miss it and instead be awakened by the Sun. After the appearance of the Morning Star the world remains in darkness for a short time before the Sun rises and all is revealed. The Morning Star is the sign that the Sun (Jesus) is about to come and bring a new Day when all shall see Him in His glory.

4. Therefore, the promise of the appearing of the Morning Star is referring to the Rapture!
This tells us that at the moment of the Rapture, the light (glory) of Jesus Christ will shine in our hearts. This revelation of the Morning Star will be a release of the resurrection power and glory of Christ from within (“Christ in us, the hope of glory”) that will transform our bodies and we will rise to meet the Lord in the air!

When is the Rapture?
The Church-Age on earth ends with the RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH. When is the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation and the Second Coming?

There are four main views:

(1) Pre-Tribulation (The Rapture will be before the 7-Year Tribulation, i.e. 7 years before the Second Coming of Christ).

(2) Mid-Tribulation (The Rapture will be half-way through the Tribulation before the Great Tribulation).

(3) Post-Tribulation (The Rapture will be at the Second Coming after the Tribulation).

(4) Pre-Wrath (The Rapture will be near the end of the Tribulation but before the seven Bowls of God's Wrath).

A Pre-Tribulational Rapture is a consequence of taking prophecy literally (in its plain meaning).
A consistently literal approach, which demands a clear distinction between ISRAEL and THE CHURCH (of being, nature and destiny) leads us to a Pre-Tribulational Rapture. The framework we have built-up requires it and provides the basic argument for a Pre-Tribulational Rapture as we shall clarify through Daniel’s 70 Weeks.

The clear distinction between ISRAEL and THE CHURCH.
God has two programmes for His two covenant peoples. They are two peoples with distinct laws and promises, natures and destinies. Not distinguishing these two (but combining them into one) leads to confusion (1Corinthians 10:32). When the Bible says Israel, it means Israel, not the Church. The Church is NOT spiritual Israel. The fact that in this time-period the Church is God's witness on earth rather than national Israel does NOT mean God has finished with Israel or that He won't fulfil His promises to Israel. God’s covenant with Israel, through Abraham is unconditional and He will complete His programme for Israel. This is the only explanation of the preservation of Israel and her national rebirth in 1948.

BEWARE REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY which teaches that the Church has replaced Israel as God's people and everything God promised to Israel, He will fulfil to the Church instead. This is heresy because it makes God a deceiver and a covenant-breaker towards Israel.

Daniel's prophecy of 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24-27).
70 Weeks (sevens) are determined (marked off) for your people (Israel) and for your holy city
(1) to finish the transgression
(2) to make an end of sins
(3) to make reconciliation for iniquity
(4) to bring in everlasting righteousness (5) to seal up vision and prophecy
(6) to anoint the Most Holy (the Temple)
God set aside 490 years for Israel to enter the Millennium.

Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (458 BC)...until MESSIAH THE PRINCE there shall be 7 weeks (49 years) and 62 weeks (434 years). The street shall be rebuilt again and the wall even in troublesome times and after the 62 weeks MESSIAH shall be cut off but not for himself

Daniel's prophecy of 70 weeks (of seven years) is CRUCIAL to knowing God's Prophetic Plan (Daniel 9:24-27).

This is Daniel's outline of time.
(1) The subject of the prophecy is Daniel's people, ISRAEL (the Church is not mentioned) (v24).

(2) 490 (70x7) years are marked off for Israel (on her clock) for the Kingdom to be established on earth through Israel (on a Great Jubilee) (v24).

(3) There would be 483 years UNTO MESSIAH (v25,26). Thus within a period of seven years Messiah would bring in the Kingdom (this was the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus).

(4) But now it gets mysterious: Messiah was to be 'cut off but not for himself', and instead of the Kingdom coming, Jerusalem is destroyed and Israel scattered (v26,27). Thus it seems the 490-year prophecy was not fulfilled and history confirms this.

5) However the prophecy finishes with the final seven years running at the end of the Age (v27). What this must mean is that God cut Israel off as God's witness in AD33 (for rejecting the King) and stopped their clock (Romans11)

In the Old Testament, ISRAEL was God's representative, His special people through whom He revealed Himself. But when they rejected JESUS as their Messiah, God had to postpone His programme of establishing the KINGDOM on earth, that He had promised to fulfil through Israel. This programme was put 'on hold'. He cancelled their last seven years in order to rerun them later. So her clock was stopped with seven years yet to run at the end of the age (the Tribulation) in which she will repent and at the end of which the 1000-year KINGDOM will be established. So, the programme for Israel is delayed but not denied. (This is a slight variation on the normal dispensational view which puts the Cross after 483 years of 360 days from 445 BC).

Thus, there must be a MYSTERY time during which Israel's clock is stopped and in which God must be involved in a distinct programme with a different group of people (the Church). This Mystery was a secret hidden in God, not revealed in the Old Testament but now revealed to us (Ephesians 3:3-10). With Israel's clock stopped, God introduced His MYSTERY = THE CHURCH - a new dispensation and God's programme now moves forward through her.

God inserted the CHURCH AGE as a Mystery parenthesis within the TIME of ISRAEL (before Daniel's 70th week) which only delays but does not cancel God's plans for Israel. It's like a PARAGRAPH inserted in a sentence before its end. It doesn't replace or change the main sentence but delays the end of it and adds something extra.

For example: Jim painted the room all morning -(except for a 20 minute tea break)- and finished it at noon. Likewise: ISRAEL - (CHURCH) - ISRAEL"

Israel has seven years left to run on her clock which can only start after the Church-Age is finished. The Church-Age ends at the Rapture - then Israel's seven years can run. This means that the Church-Age must end BEFORE the Tribulation begins - for it is part of the Age and Time of Israel. (The paragraph must end before the rest of the sentence can resume).

Thus the Rapture must come before the Tribulation.

For the Church (a new body where Jew and Gentile are one in Christ) to be brought in as God’s witness for this Age, God had to first cut unbelieving Israel off (Romans 11:16-20). When Israel was cut off, God's programme through her was put on hold and her clock rewound seven years and stopped. Now the CHURCH is the anointed of God. Thus Divine time is now measured by the Church. We are in a new dispensation (the Age of the Church) and God's programme now moves forward through her.

But God has not finished with ISRAEL, for when the Church is raptured, He will graft Israel in again and complete His plan for her.
Romans 11:23-27: And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (the Rapture). And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'

When the Church-Age is finished and the fullness of the Gentiles is in (when the Body of Christ is complete), the true Church will be RAPTURED. This Age will end with the Rapture of the true Church and the cutting off of the remaining apostate church (Revelation 3:16), so that Israel can be grafted back in as God's representative and witness on earth. Thus Israel's clock will restart and Daniel's 70th Week will run its course with God bringing His programme for Israel to completion in these final seven years (the Tribulation) by the end of which Israel will be fully restored and the Millennial Kingdom established (Daniel 9:25-27). By the end of these seven years all Israel will be saved (physically by the Return of Christ and spiritually through the whole nation entering into the New Covenant).

This explains why all Bible prophecy of the Tribulation centres on Israel and has a Jewish character - for it isn't part of the Church-Age. It will be a new dispensation of Israel (described in Revelation 6-19) which means the Mystery (Church-Age) must end before it begins. In particular, the Rapture which is part of the Mystery (1Corinthians 15:51), must be Pre-Tribulation. The Tribulation and Second Coming are revealed in the Old Testament and so are not part of the 'Mystery'; thus when earth is in the Tribulation the Mystery-Age must be over. This again proves the Rapture to be distinct from the Second Coming and that it must come before the Tribulation.

The Church-Age (Pentecost-Rapture) must finish before the Tribulation begins, for then (according to Daniel) God will measure time by Israel's clock. So for those in the seven years of Tribulation, the Church-Age must already be over. If the true Church were still present in the Tribulation, the Body of Christ would be God's representative and anyone who believed (Jew or Gentile) would join the Church. Thus Divine Time would be reckoned by the Church and not the nation of Israel.

Those who believe the Church goes through the Tribulation have to blur the distinction between Israel and the Church (and their programmes and destinies) - and this is to spiritualise prophecy.

Thus the very framework of prophecy, literally interpreted, requires the Pre-Tribulational Rapture. We will be strengthened in knowing that we have this structure right, as we see the remaining pieces fit into place.

The Pre-Tribulational Rapture fits well with the Book of Revelation

Revelation 1:19 gives the outline of the whole book of Revelation:
Write the things (1) Which YOU HAVE SEEN (1:1-19 - John’s vision of Christ)
(2) the things THAT ARE NOW (1:20-3:22 - Christ's evaluation of the Church-Age)
(3) the THINGS THAT WILL TAKE PLACE AFTER THIS (that is ‘after the Church-Age’- chap 4-22).

As we read on, it is clear that the things after the Church-Age refer primarily to the events of the Tribulation:
the Church in Heaven (4,5), the Tribulation (6-19), the Second Coming (19), the Millennium (20), the Eternal State (21,22).

(1) The Church Age ends after chapter 3 and the Tribulation (the things hereafter) starts in chapter 4.

Revelation 4:1 confirms this:
AFTER THESE THINGS (the things that are of 1:19 = the seven churches which represent the Church-Age) I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying, Come up here (a perfect picture of the Rapture) and I'll show you THINGS WHICH MUST TAKE PLACE AFTER THIS (this is identical to the phrase in 1:19).

This proves that this (Church) Age ends after chapter 3 and that the things after this (including the Tribulation) start in chapter 4.

Thus the Church-Age ends before the Tribulation begins - it is seen as a future dispensation that comes AFTER the Church-Age.

Notice at the end of the Church Age is a Rapture (4:1). John is caught up to Heaven as a type of the Rapture of the Church. After this Rapture, he observes first-hand the events of the Tribulation. Thus the Rapture is Pre-Tribulation. Likewise the raptured Church will observe the Tribulation from Heaven. John experiences a rapture to Heaven and is taken forward in time to see what happens after the Church-Age ends. (It is interesting that, as the Church-Age ends with the Rapture, so Revelation 3 ends with a rapture). Thus, events after Revelation 4:1 take place after the Church-Age, after the Church is raptured.

This is confirmed by the fact that the resurrected Church is seen in Heaven in Revelation 4 and 5 - represented by the 24 elders. They are redeemed men who represent the whole Church from every nation.

(2) The seven letters of Revelation 2 and 3 chart the course of the Church-Age. The two dominant churches at the end of the Age are Philadelphia (which is alive) and Laodicia (which is dead - apostate and unsaved). They are given promises concerning their two destinies:

To Philadelphia: Because you have kept my command to persevere I also will KEEP (ektereo - meaning to protect by causing to escape out of, rather than entereo- to protect by reserving you through the trial) you from the HOUR of Trial (delivered from the very hour itself! - a promise of the Rapture to the true believers alive at the end of the Church-Age) which shall come upon the whole world (a special period of time that can only be the Tribulation), to test those who dwell on the earth (earth-dwellers - unbelievers are here in view - who are of the earth, Rev3:10). Notice they will be delivered from the very hour itself! This is a promise of Rapture for the true believers alive at the end of the Church-Age

The final form of the professing church is Apostate Laodicia, who is given no such promise, and who will be rejected by the Lord: I will spew you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16, Romans 11:22). Now the Lord would not cast out any who belonged to Him, so all true believers must be removed first (in the Rapture). Then Laodicia is rejected and vomited into the Tribulation to suffer and be judged (Revelation 17,18).

So Philadelphia, the final form of the true Church, receives the promise of the Rapture leaving the false church behind to be rejected, while Israel become God's representative in the Tribulation (Revelation 7). Jesus also warns unbelievers in Roman Catholicism (Thyatira, 2:22) and in backslidden Protestant denominations (Sardis, 3:3) that they won't be ready for the Rapture and will go into the Tribulation.

(3) After the Church-Age (chapters 2 and 3) and the Rapture (4:1) we see the Church in heaven represented by the 24 elders (ch 4,5).

Revelation 4 and 5 shows the resurrected Church in Heaven.
These 24 elders are redeemed men who represent the whole Church from every nation:
The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:8-10). From their song, we see that by the time of the Rapture the Gospel has reached every people-group!

The elders have been rewarded: Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads (Rev 4:4).
They are clothed in white ROBES of glory, and wear golden CROWNS (of honour) and sit on THRONES (of authority). So they must have already been resurrected and passed through the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. What is true of the twenty-four elders must be true of the whole Church they represent. So we see the Church raptured to Heaven before the seven Seals are opened which start the Tribulation.

1. Eldership is a representative office. THE 24 ELDERS represent the whole Church. They are seen in Revelation 4:4,10; 5:5,8-11; 7:11-13.

2. Elders are always humans not angels. They testify and sing of their completed redemption (soul and body, 5:9,10).

3. They have Victor's Crowns (stephanos - as in Revelation 2:10) so they have passed through the Judgment Seat of Christ and have received their reward for overcoming. Thus they (with the whole Church) must be raptured at this point, since the Judgment of believers follows the Rapture. They are also clothed in White Robes (4:4) - only worn by redeemed, resurrected men (19:8,14); these too signify they have received their reward for overcoming (3:5). Their Thrones again show they have received their reward. Thrones are only promised to men, not angels and are specifically promised to the Church as reward for overcoming (3:21).

4. They are royal priests (5:10) who perform a priestly ministry - again identifying them with the Church (see 1:6). Twenty-four is the number of choruses of the Levitical priesthood (1Chronicles 24).

What is true of the twenty-four elders must be true of the whole Church they represent. So we see the Church raptured and in Heaven, praising the Lamb because He is worthy to open the seals. The seals are opened in Revelation 6, and this is how and when the Tribulation begins on earth. The elders represent the whole Church in Heaven, having been raptured, having passed through the Judgment Seat of Christ and having received their rewards, robes and thrones. So, the Church is RAPTURED and REWARDED in chapters 4 and 5 even before the Tribulation begins in chapter 6!

(4) The Tribulation is now seen in Revelation 6-19.
The Church on earth is not mentioned once in Revelation 6-19 (although she is seen in Heaven) or in any Old Testament prophecies of the Tribulation. Instead we see Israel. 'Saints' are mentioned, but this word can represent any believer. Israel is mentioned but not the Church. Why? Because she is no longer present!

For example, compare: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7,11,17, 29, 3:6,13,22) and If anyone has an ear let him hear (13:9).
Why are the churches no longer mentioned? You know why!

The absence of the Church in the Tribulation is most clearly seen in Revelation 7:14 - the 144,000 Jewish evangelists sealed as God's witnesses (v1-8) and bearing much fruit in the Tribulation (v9-14). They are identified as being of ISRAEL by their tribe (12,000 from Judah, Reuben etc) rather than as a member of the CHURCH. The Church must be absent, to create this vacancy to be filled by Israel. The fact that they are referred to like this means that in the Tribulation God is dealing with Israel as a nation and identifying them as a member of a tribe rather than of the Church. It means that God will no longer be dealing with the Church as His witness and representative on the earth, but that He will turn again to the nation of Israel. If the Church were present they would be in the Body of Christ where nationality is not relevant (Galatians 3:28). Their membership of the Church would override and supersede any natural relationships. Why does God have to anoint a new group of witnesses? Because the Church has left! A vacancy must have been created for Israel to fill. This vacancy is due to the Rapture of the Church. As 2,000 were anointed as witnesses at the start of the Church-Age, so 144,000 will be anointed at the start of the Tribulation dispensation. These will be sent as His representatives to preach the Gospel to the nations in the place of the witness of the Church.

So, we see Israel taking centre stage again because the Church has left. God will complete His dealings with Israel in the Tribulation and so the final seven years on Israel's clock (Daniel 9:24-27) will run, culminating in Israel's complete restoration in the Millennium. This is why the Tribulation is seven years long (as Revelation confirms).

(5) Revelation 12 gives the background to the spiritual warfare in the Tribulation.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labour and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron......And her Child was caught up to God and His throne......Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days (v1-6)

The WOMAN = BELIEVING ISRAEL (see Genesis 37:9).
She gives birth to a MAN-CHILD = CHRIST (v5)
The DRAGON = SATAN (v3,4) who tried to kill Jesus at birth but could not.
The child was CAUGHT UP (raptured) to the throne (the resurrection and ascension, v5). Then suddenly the prophecy jumps to the Tribulation where God protects the woman from the dragon (v6, 14-17).

As in Old Testament prophecy the CHURCH is hidden IN CHRIST.
But we can see the Church in Christ - the man-child (Christ is the head, we are the body!). The resurrection of Christ was only the first stage of the man-child's rapture. Revelation 12:5 (the catching-up of the man-child to God's throne) will be completely fulfilled in the Rapture of the Church! Immediately the focus changes to the Woman (Israel) in the Tribulation (v6) again indicating that the Rapture comes before the Tribulation. Throughout this Age, satan is after the Church but with the Man-child removed, satan will focus all his attack against the Woman (v13). It seems that the Rapture of the Church to the throne (v5) precipitates the casting down of the devil and his angels to the earth's surface (v7-9) which is one cause of the Great Tribulation (v12).

(6) The Second Coming (Revelation 19).
When Jesus returns to earth, He is already married and He returns with His Wife (the Church) to the Wedding Feast on earth (v7-9, 14). Thus a period of time must elapse between the Rapture and the Second Coming to allow time for the Wedding of Christ and His Bride, including her final Preparation (the Judgment Seat of Christ) and her Presentation to Christ in glory; as well as for face-to-face time before they go forth together to the Wedding Feast on earth (the Second Coming).

Thus the pieces of prophecy in the Book of Revelation agree perfectly with a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

Differences between the Rapture and Second Coming
Many assume that the Rapture of the Church takes place at Christ's Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation but there are many differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ which mark them out as separate events.

1. One (the Rapture) is a return of Christ to the AIR.
- The other is to the earth.

2. One is a joyous reunion.
- The other brings terrible judgment.

3. One is secret (as a thief in the night) for believers only.
- In the other Christ will be seen by all.

4. In one He comes as the BRIDEGROOM.
- In the other He comes as the KING and JUDGE.

5. One removes believers from the earth by translation.
- The other removes unbelievers by death.

6. In one Christ comes FOR His Bride.
- In the other He comes WITH His Bride.

7. One brings in the Tribulation (and trouble for Israel).
- The other brings the Millennium (Israel's restoration).

8. One is IMMINENT.
- The other is preceded by many SIGNS.

9. One is related to the Church.
- The other is related to Israel and the nations.
10. One is a Mystery.
- The other is revealed in Old Testament prophecy.

11. At the Rapture, believers will be judged.
- At the Second Coming, the Gentile nations and Israel are judged.

12. After the Rapture, Israel's covenants remain unfulfilled,
- but after the Second Coming, they are fulfilled.

13. After the Rapture, the earth is unchanged,
- but after the Second Coming, the earth is restored.

14. After the Rapture, evil (antichrist) is released,
- but at the Second Coming, evil and antichrist are judged.

15. The Rapture is before the Day of the Lord's wrath.
- The Second Coming concludes that Day.

16. The Rapture is for believers only.
- The Second Coming is for all.

17. The Rapture is the expectation of the Church, a heavenly hope of being taken into the Lord's Presence:
The Lord is at hand - Jesus is coming soon.
- The (Second) Coming of Messiah is the expectation of Israel, an earthly hope of being taken into the 1000-year Kingdom: The (Messianic) Kingdom (Millennium) is at hand.

More arguments for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
There are three more major arguments that prove the RAPTURE to be PRE-TRIBULATION.

1. The Restrainer Argument (2Thessalonians 2:1-3a):
Now brethren concerning the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to Him (THE RAPTURE),
we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled,
either by spirit (supernatural communication) or by word (a preacher)
or by letter, as if from us (a letter pretending to be from Paul),
as though the day of the Lord (the TRIBULATION) had (already) come (they were afraid that they were in the Tribulation) Let no one deceive you by any means: for that Day (the Tribulation) will not come until the falling away (apostasis = a DEPARTURE as in Acts 15:38) comes first.

He is saying that the Tribulation cannot begin until THE DEPARTURE comes first. It is a specific departure that is mentioned. Now Paul is not going to leave us in the dark as to what this departure is. It must be clear from the context. If we go to the start of this passage (v1) we will see that the subject is :
THE DEPARTURE OF THE CHURCH FROM THE EARTH = our gathering together to Him = the RAPTURE. Hence this is a clear statement of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture!

Next Paul gives a second event that must happen before the Tribulation can begin: and the man of sin (the antichrist) is revealed, the son of perdition (v3b). The seven years of Tribulation begins with antichrist making a seven-year covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27). In this way, he will reveal himself (soon after the Rapture). At this point, he is identified and takes centre-stage in world-affairs.

Paul now describes his activity in the Tribulation (interpreting Daniel 9:27):
who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the Temple of God (the rebuilt Jewish Temple), showing himself that he is God (v4).
This is when he sets up the abomination of desolation half-way through the Tribulation- see Matthew 24:15 and Revelation 13).

So, first the Church must be raptured, then antichrist is revealed, which signals the start of the Tribulation. This confirms what we said before - that the last seven years of Jewish time can only run after the Church is removed.

Why is the revelation of antichrist so closely linked to the departure of the Church? Why can he only be revealed after the Church is removed?

Paul explains: NOW you know what is RESTRAINING (antichrist)
that he (antichrist) may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness (the spirit of antichrist) is already at work, only he who now restrains (the Church) will do so until he is taken out of the way (in the Rapture). And then the lawless one (antichrist) will be revealed (during the seven years of Tribulation), whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His Coming (the Second Coming of Christ) (v6-8).

There is a RESTRAINER holding back the revelation of antichrist until he is TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY. This agrees with what Paul said before that there must be a Departure, a taking away of the Restrainer before antichrist can be revealed. Remember Paul's subject is the Rapture - the Taking Away of the Church from the earth. The CHURCH is the Restrainer. In the Church-Age, satan has opposed Christ and the Gospel (this is the spirit of antichrist). He does this by teachings denying the true Christ (His Person and Work) and by presenting false christs (to take the place of Jesus). However, satan has not yet achieved his ultimate purpose of manifesting his final ANTICHRIST through whom he hopes to rule the world. He wants to use the antichrist to completely displace faith in the true Christ (on earth - Luke 18:8). So, who is God's agent in the earth set in opposition to the spirit of antichrist and holding him back at present? It is the Church, the Body of Christ, also called CHRIST (1Cor 12:12, 2Cor 6:15), who has great authority in Jesus’ Name. The Church, by the power of the Spirit, is the salt of the earth, restraining corruption. As we use our authority as believers and release God’s Word in testimony, preaching, praise, prayer and intercession so the forces of darkness are held back. So, the Church must be removed by the Rapture before evil can come to its fullness and be judged by Christ when He returns. Thus in Revelation, after the Church is taken to heaven (chapters 4,5), we see a release of evil on the earth (chapter 6) led by the antichrist (v2). So this passage clearly teaches that the Tribulation starts with the revelation of antichrist and before he can be manifested, the one restraining him (the true Church) must be removed by the Rapture.

2. The Wrath Argument.
The whole Tribulation (the Day of the Lord - the time of God’s intervention to bring everything to its climax) is a time of God's Wrath and Judgment upon the whole world. But the believers (the true Church) are saved from wrath: Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Romans 5:9; see also Romans 8:1, and John 5:24).

Our expectation is not wrath but Christ, for we,
wait for His Son (to come) from heaven whom he raised from the dead (we await the Rapture), even Jesus who delivers (not delivered) us from the wrath (the Tribulation) to come (1Thessalonians 1:10).

Thus we look for the Rapture not the Tribulation, and Christ's Coming for us at the Rapture is a deliverance from wrath (this can only mean that He delivers us from the Tribulation).

For the world, the Day of the Lord (the Tribulation) will come as a thief in the night (with the Lord secretly taking His own in the Rapture): But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord (the Tribulation) so comes as a thief in the night (first the Rapture then the Tribulation, 1Thessalonians 5:1,2).

The world, taken by surprise, will be plunged into the Tribulation.
Notice the contrast between they & others (the unbelievers) and you &us (the believers) in these verses:
For when they (the world) say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them,
as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape (the Tribulation) (v3, also Matt 24:8).

But true Christians have a different destiny. We should be alert and ready for take-off!
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation (v4-8).
Rather than fear the Tribulation, we wear 'as a helmet the hope of salvation'. This is a future salvation - of our body in the Rapture and deliverance from the wrath of the Tribulation:"For God did not appoint us to wrath (the Tribulation) but to obtain salvation through (the Coming of) our Lord Jesus" (v9).

Verse 10 confirms this salvation is the Rapture:
...who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
So the teaching of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is comforting for believers (v11, c.f. 1Thessalonians 4:18). Thus Christians are to look for their 'Blessed Hope' - the appearing of Jesus in the Rapture (Titus 2:13). If the Church was going through the Tribulation, we would not have a blessed hope of Christ but would be looking in fear for the antichrist. Our focus is to be the Coming of the Lord - not the antichrist. God will deliver believers from Tribulation wrath. He always makes a way of escape for believers and the only escape from the Tribulation coming upon the whole earth is the Rapture (Revelation 3:10).

The principle of God removing believers before judgment can be seen in two pictures of end-time wrath (Luke 17:26-30):

1. NOAH was removed from the earth to the ark.
He disappeared and God closed the door before judgment fell.
Ambassadors are removed before war is waged.
2. LOT was removed by angels before judgment fell on Sodom.
It couldn't fall until Lot was removed (Genesis 19:22). If one man stopped God’s wrath falling upon Sodom, how much more must the Church be removed before God’s wrath falls upon the world in the Tribulation?

Thus, we will be removed before the judgments of the Tribulation fall.
Believers will be separated from unbelievers and removed to safety before judgment falls on the rest.

Would a loving husband would put his bride through hell before the wedding?
Would Christ, the Lord subject His own Body (and therefore Himself) to His own wrath?
The belief that we must go through the Tribulation to be purified is the heresy of purgatory. This would mean that the Blood is not enough!
We are purified by the Word, the Spirit and the Blood not by the antichrist and the Tribulation!
In any case, those who have died will miss this vital purification!

3. The Imminence Argument - The Church is told to look for and live in the light of His IMMINENT Coming to translate us into His Presence (John 14:2,3; Acts 1:11, Romans 13:11,12; 1Cor10:11; 15:51,52; Phil4:5; Hebrews 9:28,10:25; James 5:7-9; 1Peter4:7; 1John2:18; Revelation1:1,3, 3:11; 22:6,7,10,12,20). This means He could come AT ANY TIME. We have seen that Jesus said that we do not know the day or hour of the Rapture and so we have to stay always ready. He comes like a thief in the night (a sudden surprise with NO WARNING SIGNS that must come first). His final promise is: I am COMING SOON (Revelation 22:12,20). The Coming of the Lord is AT HAND; He is standing at the door ready to come (James 5:8,9).

The Church is to look for the Lord returning as her Bridegroom to take her home. So the Church is told to look for the Lord Himself, not for any signs that must come first (1Thessalonians 1:10, 5:6-10; Titus 2:13). God intended all believers to expect Jesus to come in their lifetime. Even the first Christians lived this way (John 21:20-23). This is why Paul included himself in the we who would be changed, rather than as one of the dead in Christ, who would be raised at the time of the Rapture:
the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1Thess 4:16,17).

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 (1Cor15:51,52).
Paul was not wrong to do this, for in obedience to God he lived in the expectation of the imminent Rapture. This was God’s will for him and for us. This way, the Church, watching for Him, will not be taken by surprise by the Rapture (Revelation 3:3)

Now if the Rapture was at the end (or in the middle) of the Tribulation, then it could not be imminent, for it would be at least seven years away and there would be many signs that must come first. Someone in the Tribulation could even predict when it will happen. Believing this makes us look for signs rather than the Lord's Coming, which is unbiblical.

Believing in the any-moment Rapture motivates us to get ready and to make the maximum use of the short time remaining. It isn't a teaching of defeatism and escapism, though some have made it so.

4. The Tribulation is to prepare Israel for the Kingdom.
This purpose has no relation to the Church (Romans 11:25-27).

5. We have a Blessed Hope.
We should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-13)
We are to look in hope for Christ not in fear for antichrist. We are to look to see the Lord - not the antichrist. Our expectation not wrath but Christ (1Thess 1:9,10). The teaching of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is a comfort (1Thess 4:18, 5:11). The teaching of a Post-Tribulation Rapture is not.

6. The Millennial Population would be zero if the Church is raptured (and therefore all believers resurrected) at Christ's Return to earth (post-tribulation)! The whole Church must be raptured otherwise the body would be dismembered. The Church has a Heavenly destiny. In order to have believers in the Millennium, they must be saved after the Church is removed. In fact, those saved in the Tribulation (after the Rapture) and still alive at the end will populate the earth in the Millennium in their natural bodies (Matthew 25:34).

7. There is no teaching in the Epistles to prepare the Church for enduring the Tribulation.

8. A significant interval is needed between the Rapture and the Second Coming because the Church in Heaven must go through certain events.
1. The Judgment Seat. 2. The Presentation of the Church to Christ. 3. The Marriage.

9. The problem behind 1Thessalonians 4:13-18.
I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Why would they sorrow for Christians who had missed the Great Tribulation? Christians were grieving wrongly, thinking that their beloved dead had missed the blessed Rapture. This grief can only be understood if they believed the Church is raptured before the Tribulation for otherwise they would be glad that the departed had escaped the Tribulation.

The Bible gives us many powerful motivations to live a holy life.
1. Based on FAITH - what Christ has done for us -gratitude.
2. Based on LOVE - God’s love poured into our hearts for God and for one another.
3. Based on HOPE - that Jesus is coming soon and we need to be ready for His return for us. Our blessed hope is the appearing of our Bridegroom and we are to live eagerly awaiting and preparing for His return. This is a major motivation in the New Testament. Because of the Rapture we are instructed to do many things as we see the Day approaching. Here are some of these scriptures to help you get ready:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1Cor11:26).

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints (1Thessalonians3:12,13).

You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:8,9).

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1John 3:1-3).
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14). Abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His Coming (1John2:28).

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, Who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God (1Cor4:5)

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing (the Rapture) and His Kingdom (the Second Coming): Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching (2Tim4:1,2; also Jude21-24, 2Corinthians 5:10,11)

8. COMFORT THE BEREAVED. 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. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1Thess 4:16,18).

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).

The focus for our lives should be the moment we are raptured and stand before Jesus Christ for His approval (1Cor 1:7-8, 1Thess 5:23).