n2tl - First there is no rapture,we simply gather back to Christ
Chapter 4 begins the prophetical future. Remember chapter 1:19: "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. That text presented 3 tenses and informed us that the Book of Revelation is written in chronological order: the past
- chapter 1; the present
- chapters 2 and 3 (the history of the 7 churches to the present time); and the future
- chapters 4 - 22.
Rev 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door [standing] open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard [was] like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."
John states, "After these things". After what? After the completion of the history of the 7 churches. After this John sees a door open in heaven and hears a trumpet-like voice loudly and victoriously crying, Come up here.
This is the rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ. When it occurs, multitudes from all kindreds, people, tongues, and denominations will meet the Saviour face to face.
What is the Rapture? It is the literal, visible bodily coming of Jesus Christ to call out of this world, literally and bodily, every born-again believer - first the dead , then the living. First we see that Jesus is coming bodily. Remember the cultists of bygone days who said that the Lord was about to return? Clothed in white sheets, they sat on the mountainsides in anxious anticipation - but Christ didn't come. Date-setting is wrong! Mat 24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Because of their embarrassment, these cultists immediately stated, "Oh, we were right; Christ did come, but it was an invisible manifestation. He came as a spirit." Not so! When Jesus Christ returns, both in the Rapture(chapter 4) and at his Revelation(chapter 19), He will come literally, visibly, and bodily. Proof? Acts 1:9-11: Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This [same] Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." The Lord will return exactly as he left.
How did He leave? In Luke 24:39, Christ appeared to his disciples and said,"Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." Then in verses 41-42, He went on to say - But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?"
So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.
And He took [it] and ate in their presence. The Lord Jesus Christ possessed a new resurrected body - a body that could be seen, a body that could be touched, and a body that could partake of food = a literal body!
1Cr 15:3-8 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
No doubt about it, when He returns and the shout, Come up here
, is given, we will see Him. At this glorious moment, we, too, shall receive new bodies. The Bible teaches in 1 Thess 4:16-17: 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.
Notice that the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then all of us together are caught up into the heavenlies to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the twinkling of an eye. 1Cr 15:51-54 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." How fast is the twinkling of the eye? GE company tells us that the twinkling of the eye is 11/100th of a second.
Just that quickly, at that blessed moment, we shall be changed to be like Jesus. David said, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness(Psalm 17:15). John adds that when we see Jesus, we shall be like him; for we shall see Him as He is(1 John 3:2) Then Paul under the direction of the Holy Spirit, states: who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.(Phil 3:21) This, then, is the Rapture.
Some Christians say they do not believe in the term Rapture. They argue that they cannot find the term rapture in the Bible. Interestingly, one cannot find the term Bible in the Bible either, but I'm holding one! Listen carefully: the word rapture, in English, comes from the Latin, rapio, rapere or raptus, which means "a snatching away." We have just learned from God's Word that all Christians, living and dead, are going to be snatched away in the twinkling of an eye, so whether one knows it or not, one believes in the Rapture.
The Bible also clearly teaches that there is a difference between the Rapture and the Revelation of Christ. We need to fully understand this truth because it is the basis for understanding the book of Revelation, prophetical truth, and the placement of signs. Simply stated, there are two aspects, or stages, in the process of Christ's second coming, and both begin with the letter "r". We have already designated the first phase as the Rapture. The second phase is called the Revelation. Chapter 4 describes phase 1, while phase 2 is described in chapter 19. The intervening chapters – six through 18 – basically cover a seven year period called the tribulation. The Rapture (chapter 4) precedes the tribulation, and the Revelation (chapter 19) follows the seven year period of judgment. Chapter 4 is a meeting in the air, whereas chapter 19 is a return to the earth. Chapter 4 removes a believer from the judgments described in chapter 6 through 18, and chapter 19 restores a believer to his earthly sojourn as he returns with Christ to planet earth. The come up here of Revelation 4:1 is synonymous with the call of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17: 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: 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.
Immediately following this event, the inhabitants of planet Earth experience seven years of incomparable judgment. This judgment ends with the Battle of Armageddon, at which time the door of Heaven is again opened (see Chapter 19, versus 11 through 16) in order that the believer may exit heaven with Christ for the return trip to earth.
This return of Christ with his saints is called the Revelation, and comes from the word revealing. At that time the Lord will reveal himself to all humanity, So why not call this event the revealing, or revelation, of Christ? Let's not quibble about the labels concerning the Rapture and the Revelation. The truths are there; believe them! The labels only help one organize the teaching systematically.
The question often arises, "Will the church of Jesus Christ be on earth during the tribulation hour?" The answer is an emphatic, "NO!" The Church is mentioned 16 times in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, but is not found in chapters 6-18 - the Tribulation period. Why?
First of all, the Tribulation is Israel's time of suffering. Alas! for that day is great so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:7) And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people [Israel]: and there should be a time of trouble, such as ever was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people [Israelites] shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1)
Secondly, the first 69 weeks of Daniel's prophecy involved Israel. Why wouldn't the 70th week? The Bible is plain: 70 weeks are determined upon thy people [Israelites] upon thy holy city [Jerusalem] (Daniel 9:24). That is why the signs in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17 and 21 have to do with Israel and the Middle East.
Thirdly, during the tribulation hour, the people involved are instructed to pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day(Matthew 24:20). Israel is eternally identified with this Sabbath day (see Ezekiel 20:12, 20).
Fourthly, when Christ returns to Jerusalem (see Zachariah 14:4), all the tribes of the earth mourn (see Matthew 24:30). The mourners are the 12 tribes of Israel, numbering hundreds of thousands of individuals who were brought to repentance by the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish representatives from each of the 12 tribes (12,000 per tribe).
Finally, the persons experiencing the woes of the Tribulation Hour are never called "a synagogue", but rather the church (Acts 2:47).
As already stated, the church cannot be found in Revelation 6 through 18, the portion of the book describing the horrible Tribulation hour. Israel, however, as seen in the midst of the Holocaust (see Revelation 12:1 – 13). This correlates with the elect of Matthew 24:22. Jesus said, and except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elects sake those days shall be shortened. This elect group is not the Church but Israel, for God has 2 elect groups upon Earth – the Church and Israel. First, let's look at the Church. According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Ephesians 1:4). This chosen group is called the elect in 1 Peter 1:2. However, the Church, the bride of Christ, elected to be His sweetheart and wife for all eternity, is not in view in Matthew 24:22. Instead, this text has Israel, the wife of Jehovah, in mind. What? How can that be? Where was Israel chosen? In Genesis 12:2,3 God said, And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great and thou shall be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
In Deuteronomy 7:7 and eight, the Israelites were again reminded of their elect status: The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more number than any people; for you where the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn on to your fathers.... [He chose you]. This oath chooses Israel as an elect of people has never been abrogated: for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance – or without change of mind(Rom 11:29), because of God's unchanging covenant or oath, Romans 11:26 – 28 declares, And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins... as touching the election (the elect), they are beloved for the father's sakes.
When God chose Israel as his elect wife, he chose her forever because the calling of God is without change of mind. Though Jehovah's spouse has often committed spiritual adultery by turning to iniquity and idolatry, still Jehovah loves her because God abides faithful. There is no doubt about it, Israel is the elect group mentioned in the Gospels for whom the days of judgment will be shortened. Israelites are the ones who will pray that their flight for safety will not be on the Sabbath(their day of worship); who will suffer persecution in their own synagogues (only Jews meet in synagogues); and who have the name of Jacob, and who will experience Jacob's time of trouble (see Jeremiah 30:7), for Jacob is Israel (see Romans 11:26).
Hence, a period of 70 weeks is determined upon Israel (see Daniel 9:24). The nation of Israel has seen Jerusalem compassed about with Armies (Luke 21:20), and will again observe the armies of the world posed against Jerusalem for the final war as God gathers all nations against Jerusalem to battle (Zachariah 14:2). This definitely is not the Church. All Christians slipped out through the open door in the fourth chapter before the judgments of heaven and earth began to be unleashed in the sixth chapter. They were evacuated when the shout come up here was given.
There are those who say that Revelation 4:1 is an exclusive picture of John the Beloved in a vision, being caught away in the presence of God. Therefore, they reason, this has nothing to do with anyone else, including the Church. This argument is fallacious because Chapter 4, verse 10 states: the 24 elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne. When will believers be crowned? immediately after the rapture. Proof: Thou shall be recompensed [rewarded] at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14). Again: and when the chief Shepherd shall appear [His coming], you shall receive a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4). Obviously, the judgment seat of Christ must take place before believers are crowned. Then they lay up these crowns at Christ's feet, in versus 10 and 11, meaning they are already in His presence. The only way they could have gotten there is through the come up here verse 1. We must also remember that John, the representative of all God's people, is showing the things which must be hereafter things that will happen, both in heaven and on earth. Chapters 4 and 5 picture that which takes place in heaven, while chapter 6 through 18 picture that which occurs on earth - the Tribulation.