Monday, February 28, 2005

Where is the Rapture in the Book of Revelations?

I should come clean about my feelings about the Rapture. I really do think it is going to happen. Where I disagree with the Rapture folks is the timing. Actually, the real debate is about timing and qualifications and less about if it will happen.

One thing I have always found interesting is that the book of Revelations is very ambiguous about the Rapture, in my mind, anyway.

The Rapture teaching comes primarily from two New Testament verses:

13: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15: For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18: Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
I Thessalonians 4:13-18


and then 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

51: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54: So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56: The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.


Now, if you are anything akin to a Bible literalist, as I am somewhat, it is very difficult to dismiss this double witness. In addition to that, throw Mt 24: 37-42

37: But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38: For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39: And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40: Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41: Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42: Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.


Okay, so there are three quite explicit scriptures from Paul and Matthew, but wither John, of Apocalypse fame?

There are three candidates for scriptures in Revelations that support the Rapture.

The first is Rev. 12:1-17. Note verses 6 and 14.

1: And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3: And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6: And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.[3 1/2 years]
7: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8: And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9: And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10: And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12: Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13: And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14: And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15: And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16: And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17: And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.


The problem is that verses 6 and verses 14 are two separate events. But the key indication that these do not point to rapture is verse 17. Verse 17 occurs after the dragon is angry at the woman and has tried to kill her unsuccesfully, then he turns to make life hell for "her seed." Now this is where the timing issue comes to play. The fundamentalists believe that the point of the rapture is so that believers do not have to suffer the reign of the anti-Christ. So for then Rev 12 can have no rapture event because believers would be among those left behind. On the other hand, they could very well argue that these "rest of her seed" are Catholics and other "nominal Christians" who are left behind and get rapture letters and by virtue of the Rapture, realize the error of our ways.

Then there's Rev. 14: 5-16

5: And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
6: And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7: Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
8: And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
9: And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10: The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
12: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
13: And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
14: And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
15: And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
16: And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.


Rev. 14 is far less likely to be the Rapture, especially since it comes after the reign of the anti-Christ, but that phrase "the earth was reaped" could signify another Rapture for those of us left behind, or it could be code for we all get martyed or something.

So the three candidates we have are Rev. 12:6 which specifies the three and a half years, then there's Rev 12:14 and Rev. 14:6. Of course, it all hinges on the fact that the woman in Rev 12 represents the Church.

My vote goes to Rev. 12:14.

4 Comments:

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