One of the most talked about subjects in the Bible is the rapture. People have many opinions on the topic, to be sure. From myth to reality, from literal to allegorical – and everything in between. However, when believed to be literal, it is then placed all over the eschatological spectrum. Did it already happen? Will it happen before the tribulation? During the tribulation? After? In other words…there are more views about the rapture than we can shake a stick at. I don’t intend to write another article defending the pre-tribulation and pre-millennial rapture, but here we go. I will state my position from the start and assert that the rapture will occur before the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (the Great Tribulation) begins.
Incidentally, there is more than one Rapture mentioned in the Bible. Including the Rapture of the Believers, there are possibly eight different Raptures. Enoch was raptured in Genesis 5:24, Elijah was taken up in 2 Kings 2:11-12, and Yeshua was caught up in Revelation 12:5. Philip (Acts 8:39-40) and Paul (2 Corinthians 123:1-4) were temporarily raptured. John was possibly raptured in Revelation 4:1-2, the believers will be raptured according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and finally, the two witnesses in Revelation 11:11-12. So, the future Rapture of the believers is one of several, but definitely the most important in the history of mankind.
Taking a pre-tribulational and pre-millennial position, when we read 1 Corinthians 15:52, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed,” we are told of a “last trumpet.” Many will argue that this is a reference to the last trumpet in God’s prophetic program as in Revelation 11:15. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, the subject is the Church being caught up in the sky to be with Yeshua. The trumpet of God’s grace sounds to announce that event. It also connects to the Tekiah Gedolah or last trumpet of the Feast of Rosh Hashanah (this doesn’t necessitate for the Rapture to happen on Rosh Hashanah. It could, but it doesn’t have to). On the other hand, the trumpet in Revelation 11:15 is within a different context. It relates to a fallen, rebellious world and the judgment of sinners and is part of a progressive series of judgments during the Great Tribulation. There is no thematic connection between 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Revelation 11:15.
Two more pressing questions must be answered:
What happens one second BEFORE the Rapture? Since the Rapture is imminent (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 5:4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 John 3:2-3), anything can be happening one second before the Rapture. There is absolutely no exact sign that we can expect before the Rapture. Some people call it “signless. It could happen at any moment. In his book Kept from the Hour, Gerald Stanton defines the imminence of the Rapture as follows: “The certainty that He may come at any moment, the uncertainty of the time of that arrival, and the fact that no prophesied event stands between the believer and that hour.” Other events may happen before the Rapture, but certainly not because they must happen. Too often, those who believe in the pre-millennial rapture of the church try to pinpoint exactly when that is expected. However, they probably have the rapture and second coming confused. It is easy to identify the timing of the Second Coming since it will happen at the end of the Seven-Year Tribulation. At the Rapture, Yeshua gets the believers and takes us to Heaven, and He never touches the ground. At the Second Coming, He touches the ground and splits the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) as He returns with the believers.
In other words, nobody knows the moment of the Rapture, so we’d better be ready. Live like it could happen any second, but plan like it won’t. Those of us who believe in an imminent pre-tribulational Rapture should not adopt an attitude of escapism, but we should double up our efforts to speak the Gospel truth to those who don’t yet have a personal relationship with Yeshua.
What happens one second AFTER the Rapture? This is the real question to focus on because Yeshua Airlines consists of only one flight up, and that’s it. Once we fly away, whoever is left behind will have to deal with the consequences triggered by the Great Tribulation one way or another. The Great Tribulation, also known as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), will last seven years (Daniel 9:26-27). It is a time when God will refocus His program on Israel and the Jewish people. Sadly, the result of that period is that two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish (Zechariah 13:8-9). The most intense trouble doesn’t start until the Tribulation’s mid-point when the Antichrist reveals His true nature and demands to be worshipped. That is also when people will take the mark of the beast or refuse it. The sad truth about that time is that one second after the Rapture, it is too late for people to escape the upcoming wrath of God. It is not too late to refuse the mark of the beast and not worship the Antichrist, but that will almost certainly result in people suffering great harm and dying as Tribulation martyrs. It could all have been avoided if they had been Raptured.
Ultimately the choice is ours. We are not coerced into anything; we are just invited to trust that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and the Savior of the world. One second before or one second after seems like nothing, yet it makes all the difference in the world. Will you be on the flight, or will you go through the fight? This is a flight you shouldn’t miss, but this will be a gruesome fight you might not win.