Tag Archive: rapture

Many have become confused about just what will happen during the end times. I was quite confused with Revelation and other end-times passages for many years, but the books I’ve read about it have shown a pattern in the Biblical end times that all of a sudden seems mighty simple. This pattern is in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 & 7, and the parallels are fascinating. They show the events from the first hints of trouble to the time when God takes us up to be with Him. Read the passages for yourselves to see the parallels and the other details unique to each account:

1. Wars

Matthew 24:6: “you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars.”

Revelation 6:2-4: “a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow . . . and he went out conquering . . . a red horse went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth . . .”

2. Famine with war, among other things

Matthew 24:7: “for nation will rise against nation . . . and in various places there will be famines.”

Revelation 6:5-8: “a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand . . . a quart of wheat for a denarius [equivalent to day’s pay] . . . and behold, an ashen horse . . . Authority was given to them [Death and Hades] over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine . . .”

3. Tribulation and persecution of believers

Matthew 24:9 (onward through to 22): “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you . . . For then there will be a great tribulation . . . Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

Revelation 6:9-11: “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God . . . and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed . . . would be completed also.”

4. Sun, moon, and stars go dark

Matthew 24:29: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky.”

Revelation 6:12-13: “when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth.”

5. Jesus Christ appears in the sky, and the unbelievers cry in anguish

Matthew 24:30: “then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”

Revelation 6:15-16: “Then the kings of the earth and . . . the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves . . . and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.”

6. The rescue (rapture) of believers from earth

Matthew 24:31: “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

Revelation 7:9-14 (after an interjection about the 144,000): “I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne . . . ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.’”

These six events are the basic framework of the end times before God’s judgment comes upon the wicked. They do not encompass all the events leading up to the end, but they do help us see an overall picture of what it will be like. One particular event to look out for is the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars, because this event is a unique heavenly phenomenon and is one that will come right before Christ’s appearing in the sky. As 1 Thessalonians 5:4 says, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness.” Though the sky will be dark and all the world will wonder, we will know what is happening, because we are of the day. And God wrote down these events for us in advance so that we will know what to watch for as sons of the Light.


When Will the Church Be Raptured?

When will the church be raptured? The church, rapture, and end times are hotly debated issues. We have just seen the abuse of the rapture doctrine in the Camping fiasco, and this failed prophecy stresses the need to study the Scriptures for ourselves if we want to examine the true timing of the church’s rapture. To know when the Rapture occurs, we must carefully examine the Biblical timeline of the end. This timing, I believe, is indicated by passages in Matthew, Paul’s letters, and Revelation:

First, here are two rapture verses that are foundational to the discussion:

1 Cor. 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible.”

1 Thess 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven … with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

Notice how this description of the rapture is strikingly similar to what we find in Matthew 24 in Jesus’ description of the end times. When the Son of Man appears in the sky (Mat. 24:30), “He will send forth His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (v. 31). Interestingly, Jesus mentions that just before these events, there will be a tribulation of believers and that His people must flee (vv. 16, 21), and then the sun, moon, and stars will turn black (v. 29). So the sequence is tribulation → sun, moon, stars go black → Son of Man in sky → trumpet → gathering of elect in rapture

This same pattern unfolds in Revelation 6, where the fifth seal reveals that there are martyrs in Heaven, “those who had been slain because of the Word of God” (v. 9). They are crying for God’s justice and God says that they must wait until the rest of their brethren are killed in tribulation before He would enact justice. Immediately following this event, the sixth seal is broken and “the sun became black … and the moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth” (vv. 12-13). Following this event, the sky splits open and people cry out for the mountains to “hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne” (v. 16). Clearly, these frightened unbelievers have seen “the sign of the Son of Man … in the sky” (Matt. 24:30) and “the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:17).

Following this event, in the very next chapter of Revelation, we are told of “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation” (7:9). Tracing the breadcrumb of end-times events, we can see that this great crowd can easily be the great masses of the “elect” (Mat. 24:31) that has “[met] the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:17) after the transformation of the sun and moon and stars.

Interestingly, this crowd of believers is described a few verses later as “the ones who come out of the great tribulation” (7:14). Thus, Revelation 6-7 lines up perfectly with the established sequence of tribulation → sun, moon, stars go black → Son of Man in sky → trumpet → gathering of elect in rapture. And it lines up perfectly with the previous statement of the martyrs in Revelation 6, who asked God, “How long … will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (6:10), the martyrs who had to wait “until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed … would be completed” (6:11). If Revelation 6 were God’s wrath, then He would be pouring out His great and final judgements upon believers, His people. But what if Revelation 6 and previous chapters were the manifestation that “the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (Rev. 12:12). What if the tribulation described in Revelation 6 is the devil’s (the Antichrist) “great wrath” in the final countdown to the end of the world?

The wrath of God occurs after the rapture of the Church in Revelation 6, as displayed in the trumpet and bowl judgments. It is at the end of Revelation 6 that the people will recognize this and plead for the rocks to “hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).

We will have signs before the rapture, since we “are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light … We are not of night” (1 Thess 5:4-5). We won’t know the exact day and hour, but we’ll have some prior warning since we are children of God. (These warnings are the tribulation and sun-moon-stars signs.) We won’t go through God’s wrath, but only the final persecution of the evil one.

P.S. — written with the superb editing help of inhonoredglory

Why Didn’t It Happen? . . . May 21

Where were you on the waning hours of May 21st?

I heard of one man who spent $140,000 of his life savings on the evangelism of this date. Many more, I’m sure, sold houses and quit jobs in the anticipation of the rapture of God’s people. What did people like this feel as the hours drifted away and as Sunday was borne?

I can imagine you watching the hands of the wall clock, hoping, sitting with your family, waiting. The daylight fades and the toll of midnight tells you something you never thought of: that this date, this prediction, that you, were wrong.

Maybe you felt betrayed and maybe now you feel you can never trust any pastor, the Bible, even God Himself. But I want to tell you, no, don’t do that. You may have lost everything – your life savings, your job – but there’s one thing in the world that can’t be lost, and that’s God.

There are many false teachings in the world. There are many people, past and present, who have used what is good and right to promote what is bad and wrong. Harold Camping is one of those people. He had used the Word of God to promote something that the Book has never sponsored. The Bible says that “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven . . . . Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:36, 42). God never intended for us to know the future so exactly.

So don’t let yesterday deteriorate your faith in the Bible. Let this day be a learning phase, that through our errors, albeit hard, can bring us to a better place in our souls. Understand that times like these warn of the terrible consequences of failing to read our Bibles. When we do not know its contents for ourselves, we can more easily be deceived by some who misuse it. Please take it upon yourself to test every wind of doctrine that seems out of place with the basic nature of who God is. As is said in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Don’t give up on God’s Word. Though men may mangle with its contents and fit its words into concepts of their own making, the message of the Bible never changes. Its historicity, reality, and trustworthiness never changes. The people who use it do. That is why God gave believers the Holy Spirit. We have in our souls the power of God to interpret His Word, and we should use it to faithfully study His Word and prevent ourselves from falling for the false claims of a false prophet.

Don’t let your grave disappointment make you lose your faith in God. The Bible is not filled with secret revelations on the future or with hidden doctrines that only a few can learn. It contains a simple message and a very simple hope: that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth as a man, died to take the place of His people, died to become sin for them so they might live, and rose again on the third day so that His people may too rise from the grave when His time comes.

And that time is not something He chose to reveal. Beware of people such as Harold Camping who try to put a date on something for which He tells us “not even the angels of heaven” know the time.

Today is May 22. Let this be a new day, a new beginning, and leave yesterday behind. You know the truth now, that you must explore the Bible to see “whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (II Corinthians 13:5). We mustn’t let ourselves lose everything we own for the saying of one false prophet, for in this world what someone says of God is not necessarily what God says of Himself. And to find what He says of Himself, we must search the Words of God, not the words of men. Don’t give up hope on God.

May 21: Rapture and End of the World?

Will Jesus Christ come back to rapture His people on May 21, effectively bringing to an end the current world as we know it?

Even Drudge Report has it: Multitudes of Christians are proclaiming that the Rapture will occur this weekend. This “end of the world” hysteria is sweeping across continents as some Christians attempt last-minute efforts in preparation and evangelism, while atheists and other skeptics are capitalizing on the opportunity: Some have created an organization that will take care of “left-behind” pets of taken-up Christians. Skeptics are undoubtedly snickering at the religious fanatics who are fearing May 21. They cannot wait for May 22 to prove the Bible wrong.

To their surprise, the Bible cannot wait for the coming of May 22, either.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven” says verse 36 of Matthew 24, the famous chapter giving signs of Jesus Christ’s second coming to earth. A few verses later, it becomes clearer:

“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (40-42).

These verses in the Bible are extremely clear that no one will know the day when Christ comes. Why then is May 21 proclaimed the rapture date? The originator of this date, Harold Camping of Family Radio, is expressly known for his end-times “predictions” (note the plural). His prediction that the world would end during 1994 was shown to be false, though he claimed that God extended His mercy a little longer. But the clear fact remains that he and his followers are not following God at all, for Camping totally ignores the Bible’s clear declaration that not a human nor angelic soul will know the day that Christ returns.

This viral belief is a false teaching — plain and simple. The worst part of this whole thing is that most people hearing this stuff will not know that the huge majority of rapture-believing, fundamentalist Christians like myself do not believe in this deception. I can just imagine atheists on May 22 championing the falsity of Christianity based on this twisting of God’s Word — without ever bothering to see if the Bible even teaches this stuff. And they will lead many claimed Christians astray after the dust settles from May 21. I am posting this before “the big day” in hopes that skeptics and fervent believers alike will remember that despite the furor of end-times predictions, the Bible is in no way disproven by their failures. I hold the belief that we are very likely living in the end times, but we must not believe any old rapture prediction:

“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Camping is just another false prophet as promised for the beginning of the end, albeit without even any wonders. The real trouble is yet to come, and no one will be making date predictions on that day. Camping’s call of May 21 is like the boy who called wolf — the skeptics will laugh at all these false warnings, but when the real time of the end comes upon the earth, they will not be laughing. After all, the end only has to come once. Not on May 21, but don’t let that fool you.