A Look at the Rapture pt. 2 of 3

SOME ITEMS THAT RELATE TO THE RAPTURE

It is plainly evident from the scriptures that a rapture event is going to take place. The majority of Biblical scholars will agree on this. The only question left to ask is, when does the rapture take place? It is in this area of study that the debate greatly heats up. There are several schools of thought when it comes to this issue: Pretribulational, Partial Rapture, Midtribulational, and Posttribulational to name a few. As the names imply, the debate has to do with the relation of the Rapture to the Tribulation. So before taking close looks at the various schools of thought, one must have an understanding of why the Tribulation time period must occur.

The Tribulation Period

In Daniel 9:24-27, a prophecy is given that reveals the future of Israel. The angel Gabriel comes to Daniel and tells him there will be seventy weeks (or seventy units of seven). These weeks have come to be understood as years, so in total a period of 490 years is predicted. Starting with verse 25, Gabriel states that the 70 week countdown would begin with the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. After that, 7 weeks and 62 weeks would pass by (69 weeks, 483 years). The Messiah would then be present on earth, but He would be cut off and killed and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city again. After that, the last week will take place when this new prince makes a covenant with many, but break it half way through.

By looking carefully at the text, it can be seen that the death of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem occur after the 62 week unit and before the final week. This shows that there is a gap, or definite amount of time between the 69th and 70th week. This time period has come to be known as the church age. The majority of scholars also believe that the 70th week of Daniel is the Tribulation period Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. Benware states “the focus of Daniel 9:24-27 is exclusively Jewish.”[1] So from this observation it is clear that the tribulation period has to do with Israel. Dwight Pentecost succinctly states “the first great purpose of the tribulation is to prepare the nation of Israel for her messiah.”[2] Understanding who the Tribulation pertains to and its overall purpose is immensely important in determining the time of the Rapture and how it relates to the Tribulation. This will be explored in more detail later on.

Imminency

It is clear that the Christ is coming again sometime in the future, of that one can be certain. But is there any way to determine how soon? Over time scholars have begun to use the word “immanent” to describe the time frame of Christ’s return. Showers offers a good explanation at what the word means:

An imminent event is one that is always hanging overhead, is constantly ready to befall or overtake a person, is always close at hand in the sense that it could happen at any moment. Other things may happen before the imminent event, but nothing else must take place before it happens. If something else must take place before an event can happen, that event is not imminent. The necessity of something else taking place first destroys the concept of imminency.[3]

In other words, the rapture is ready to happen at any moment, but could happen in the next ten seconds or ten thousand years from now.  So is there any way to determine how soon the rapture will occur? No, there is not. It is incorrect to say that the Rapture is “coming soon,” because that implies a set amount of time must pass for the rapture to occur. The doctrine of Imminency is also helpful in finding out how the Rapture relates to the Tribulation.

Some scriptural passages that teach this are Romans 13:11 and 12b: “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near.” 1 Corinthians 1:7 says “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our lord Jesus Christ.” Other passages include: Rom. 13:11, 12; 1 Cor. 1:7; 1 cor. 16:22; Phil. 3:20; Phil. 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:10; Titus 2:13; James 5:8; Rev. 22:10, 20.

Other teachings and statements from the New Testament writers also point towards the imminency of Christ’s return. Over and over again the author’s state in their epistles that believers are supposed to forward to the rapture as a “blessed hope.” Titus 2:13 says we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”


[1] Benware, Paul N. Understanding End Times Prophecy. p. 221

[2] Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come. p. 237

[3] Showers, Renald. Maranatha Our Lord Come! p. 127

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