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What is the rapture? When will it happen? Did the rapture already happen? When is Jesus coming back? Many questions surround Christians about the return of Christ. The popular dispensational view is presented in The Book Of Signs, but is it truly Biblical? Does it accurately represent what the Bible teaches about the Second Coming of Jesus? Let’s compare the two.
The Rapture is the event in which all who have put their trust in Jesus Christ will be suddenly caught up from the earth and taken into heaven by Him. It is set to occur at an unspecified time in the future…I believe there will be two stages to the second coming of Christ. First, He will come suddenly in the air to snatch up His own. This is the Rapture, the “catching up” of the church, which will occur at the beginning of the Tribulation that is coming upon the earth. The Tribulation will be an extended time of horror, agony, and devastation like nothing ever before seen or imagined. The Rapture is God’s provision for His saints to escape the Tribulation. Jesus will return immediately before this time of world judgment to remove completely all those who have put their trust in Him. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 155-156). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The Book Of Signs declares that there are seven important things we can learn about the Rapture in 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
But 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. NKJV
According to The Book Of Signs, there are no signs of the rapture coming.
No signs will be given to prepare us for the arrival of the Rapture. It can occur at any moment—possibly before you finish reading this chapter. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 157). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
As evidence of this no signs of the rapture coming idea, the book refers to Titus 2:11 where Paul told Titus to be looking for the glorious appearance of Jesus. What I wonder is IF Paul told Titus that the Second Coming could happen at any time, what makes the author confident that the supposed rapture is happening in our generation [maybe before you finish reading this!]? Every generation for the last 2,000 years would have thought the same thing. Why are we different?
Is it because our world is worse than it was back in the 1st Century? We certainly have better communication of the evil that is happening and more people for it to happen to. However, consider the situation in the time of Jesus. Only one small nation in the entire world had any True Light, and even that nation was mostly in darkness - ever notice how many demon-possessed people Jesus encountered in Israel? Today over half the world’s population identifies as Christians. I am not saying they all have true faith, but it certainly shows progress. In the days of Jesus, murder, sexual immorality and perversion of all kinds were accepted, and there was no calling 911 if you were in danger. Medical help was extremely primitive at best. We perform child sacrifice through abortion and gender surgeries; the Romans left unwanted children on rocks to starve or be eaten by animals. Yes, there are major problems in our world, but that has always been the case. And Christians have and are stepping up to fill the gap, minister to the needy, promote justice and more. Why do we think this is the ‘terminal generation?’ Do we really believe that satan is about to overpower the Holy Spirit?
I would assume that if there are no signs of the rapture arriving, then it would be a surprise. Dr. David Jeremiah wisely avoids the errors of so many dispensationalists before in refusing to set a date. It amazes me that other authors in the past have continually been proven wrong in their date-setting, and yet Christians continue to buy their books and put faith in their next prediction. And although The Book Of Signs refuses to set a date, it strongly implies that it is likely to happen at any time - as you can see from the above quote.
There is no build-up to this event; it happens instantly. There is no time to react or change one’s mind. One second people are going about their normal lives, and the next second, Jesus is here.
Let’s take a break and consider what we mean by the rapture. How would we define the rapture? If what we mean by the rapture is Jesus coming back as He promised, literally and physically, and all Christians of all time rising to meet Him in the air, then we have something that every Christian believes in. And the first three points that we have looked at apply to it perfectly. The return of Jesus will not have any previous signs, it will be a surprise, and it will be a sudden event.
But this is not what Dr. David Jeremiah and many other Christians mean when they talk about the day of the rapture. As we will see, they break the coming of Jesus into two parts. The rapture, for them, is the first part where Jesus returns to take the Christians to heaven, and everyone else stays on earth for a tribulation period. This is a serious point of disagreement. In this series of articles, we are examining the Scriptures to see what they teach.
All three of the major passages that teach about the Rapture make it clear that it involves believers only. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 159). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
So what are these three major passages, and what do they teach?
“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, NKJV
What is Jesus teaching here? To whom is He speaking? In this context, Jesus is talking to His disciples. He has just predicted His betrayal and Peter’s denial. The disciples are understandably disturbed. Jesus comforts them with these words. The Book Of Signs is right in that this refers to what happens to believers only. However, it is an unwarranted assumption that nothing else is happening at this time. Jesus is focusing on one aspect of His Second Coming. For example, say a son borrows the family car, runs out of gas and has a flat tire. If the father comes and explains how to change a flat, that does not mean the father will not later instruct the son to put gas in the car. It simply means that is not what he is focusing on at the moment.
Here Jesus is focusing on what happens to believers, He is making no statement as to what happens to unbelievers at this time. None of these verses say that unbelievers face God’s judgment at this time, nor do they say that unbelievers are left behind for a tribulation period. Unbelievers are simply not the topic, so no assumptions can be made from these verses about what does or does not happen to them. That is taught elsewhere.
But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 1 Cor. 15:23, NKJV
This is cherry-picking Scriptures - I.e. taking them out of context. If we read on…
But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15:23-28, NKJV
Immediately after talking about Christ’s coming, Scripture says it is the end - not only the end in general but the end of all resistance to the rule of Christ. I thought maybe ‘the end’ was a technical term for ‘7-year tribulation fighting the AntiChrist,’ so I looked up the Greek word. It is the Greek word ’Telos’ which, surprisingly, means: end, termination, the last in any succession or series, etc. So how does this qualify as a ‘major passage’ teaching a Pre-Trib rapture? When Jesus returns, it is The End. Eternity begins.
The third passage mentioned is 1 Thess. 4:13-18, quoted above.
Yes, all three of these passages speak of what happens to Christians when Jesus returns. They are focused on one aspect of the return of Christ. To assume that this is the only aspect of the Second Coming is to ignore the Scriptural teaching in other places that speak of what happens to the ungodly at this same time. There is nothing in these major rapture passages that teaches the Second Coming is divided into two parts. The Biblical writers are simply telling Christians what happens to them at that time.
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. 1 Thess. 4:16, NKJV
This sound will be like a shout, ringing with commanding authority like the voice of an archangel. It will also be like the blare of a trumpet in its volume and clarity. And the sound will be exclusively directed—heard only by those who have placed their trust in Christ. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 161). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Someone once remarked that it is interesting how the loudest verse of Scripture is used to teach a secret rapture! Of course, only Christians will hear this. Maybe it is like a dog whistle? But how could a dog whistle be described as a trumpet sound? It is also interesting that The Book Of Signs uses Jesus calling Larazus out of the grave as an example, but surely everyone around Jesus heard what He said?
I agree that the real return of Jesus will be spectacular, but it is one event in which everyone will be involved one way or another, not two different events or even two parts of the same event separate by seven years. No one is going to miss it. No one will be left behind asking, "Did the rapture already happen?"
First: The Return
Jesus comes back.
Second: The Resurrection
The dead in Christ are raised from the dead. The way this section is worded, it almost sounds like the author believes in soul sleep, I.e. that people are unconscious from the moment of death until the return of Christ. The Bible uses the term ‘sleep’ in referring to death, but it does not teach soul sleep. The author did not intend to imply this, as he clearly states in another chapter that Christians are with the Lord in this Intermediate State.
Third: The Redemption
Our bodies are changed to their glorious eternal state.
Fourth: The Rapture
All Christians currently alive meet Jesus and the Christians who have previously died in the air.
Fifth: The Reunion
We have a joyous reunion with Jesus and all family and friends who were saved.
Much of what Dr. David Jeremiah says in this section is accurate IF we apply it to the single-event Second Coming of Christ. There is nothing here that indicates, let alone proves, that there is a separate rapture for the Christians and two comings of the Lord.
Again, much of this section is accurate IF we apply it to the Second Coming and not to a supposed special rapture. Naturally, the book goes on to try to scare people into salvation…
The firestorm is coming in the form of the seven years of tribulation, when no Christian influence will temper the evil that will plunge the earth into a cauldron of misery and devastation. But you can avoid the destruction and be evacuated…If your name is not in that book, when the Rapture occurs you will be left behind to experience horrors worse than anything the world has yet seen. I hope you will not wait another day; turn to Jesus Christ now, before it is too late, and become one of those who will hear His call on that great and terrible day. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 167). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I am not saying that fear cannot be a value motivation, but it should be a fear of the judgment of God, not a purposed Tribulation and AntiChrist. [I am wondering what horrors the world could have that it has not yet seen.]
Return To The Book Of Signs.
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