Amy VanGerpen (16 Apr 2011)
"Secret Rapture?"

In regards to the discussion about the rapture and the resurrection of the Old Testament Saints, I thought I would post my "Secret Rapture" excerpt from my "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers" study.
Amy Van Gerpen
Secret Rapture?

Scripture points to two ascensions of Jesus (a non-public and public ascension) to heaven after His resurrection. The following could be a prophetic parallel for the return of Jesus in a two-phase event (the rapture of the Church before the Tribulation and the 2nd Coming after the Tribulation):

Leviticus 23:9-12 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD.
John 20:17-18 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
John 20:19-23 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
John 20:24-29 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

According Leviticus 23, Christ would have had to physically offer His blood on the altar in heaven on the Sabbath after He was resurrected, according to the Law. Therefore, we see that He went to heaven sometime after He met with Mary and the ten disciples. Jesus returned to Earth by the eighth day, where He met with all eleven disciples.

Hebrews 9:11-15 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Christ was also specific on His reasoning for Mary not to touch Him: "for I have not yet ascended to My Father" and then He says: "I am ascending to My Father". It seems pretty clear that He had "ascended to the Father" before inviting Thomas to touch Him. This is because according to the Law, if Jesus would have been touched, He would have become ceremonially "unclean" before He was able to offer His blood, being our sacrifice of "Firstfruits". Also, Jesus would have had to do this in the Temple in heaven, so that we would be reconciled to God and be able to dwell with Him in heaven:

Colossians 1:19-20 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

The following is not "proof" of a pre-Tribulation rapture, but rather a possible parallel:

Zechariah 12:10 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

Note that there are two times in John 20 where the "door" is shut. We also have at least two times in scripture that the "door" to heaven is shut: before the Tribulation, where unbelievers will be punished in the Tribulation, and after the Tribulation, where unbelievers will be sent to eternity.

Isaiah 26:20-21 Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.
Luke 13:25-28 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.

Even more intriguing, is the verse that says Jesus preached to captives in the heart of the Earth, before His resurrection.

1 Peter 3:18-19 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison

On the day of Christ's Resurrection, there were resurrected Saints appearing to people in Jerusalem.

Matthew 27:51-53 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many

We are also told in Scripture that Jesus lead a band of captives to heaven.

Ephesians 4:8-10 Therefore He says: " When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended"-what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
It would appear that these resurrected Saints received their glorified bodies right after Christ did. They were then taken with Him to heaven, 7 days before He returned to Earth again. In the prophetic parallel, these Old Testament Saints would represent the "dead in Christ", that will go with Christ at the rapture. Those in Christ will be in heaven 7 years during the Tribulation, before Christ returns to Earth again at His 2nd Coming.