The Rapture occurs in 2 parts
The 2 primary rapture verses;
PART 1-The Change
"Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
PART 2- The Leaving
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and 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, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Part 1 of the rapture… THE CHANGE
The rapture is considered to be an instantaneous event, here one minute… gone the next.
That is how it was portrayed in the “Left Behind” books and if there is any teaching on the rapture it is almost always described as “in the twinkling of an eye”....... we will be out of here.
The verses quoted above do not say that we will disappear from sight “instantaneously” in the “twinkling of an eye”.
The scriptures state that we will be CHANGED (part 1) in the twinkling of an eye and that we will be Caught Up (part 2) along with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”.
The change we go through is a change from the perishable to the imperishable, from mortal to immortal, “in the twinkling of an eye”.
What will that change look like?..... Isaiah 40:31 is a rapture verse;
“Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
This verse is not just a beautiful poetic stanza, it is the truth of what will happen upon the “change”.
Those “waiting” on the Lord would be His people, and we are waiting and we are waiting. See also the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25.
They shall renew their strength- Isaiah 40:31 describes our physical attributes when we receive our immortal, indestructible body….our strength shall be renewed…. no more physical ailments…no more old age...no more bad eyesight, no more paraplegics, no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain (Rev. 21:4) . We will not grow physically tired. The old will become young, those who have lost limbs in accident, war or by birth will be fully restored.
See Isaiah 35:5 and 6—“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame [man] leap as a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert”
“They shall mount up with wings like eagles”…..what does that mean. I think on the face of it, it means we will be able to fly, but I also think it indicates thought travel.
Acts 8:39-40 describes the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, a high government official…The Ethiopian eunuch was reading Isaiah and did not understand what it said, so God sent to him Philip. Philip explained the scripture and told him about Jesus. The Ethiopian wanted to be baptized and after Philip baptized the man he was ‘caught” away” by God to Azotus.
“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”
Jesus after his resurrection would appear and disappear at will.
“They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint”, as a result of our indestructible bodies we will not grow tired and lose our strength. We will not sleep.
Part 2 of the rapture… THE LEAVING
“caught up” is translated from “harpazo” (Strong’s Greek word #726) which means; catch up, take by force, catch away, pluck, pull, to seize and carry off by force, to snatch out or away.
While these meanings imply some amount of suddenness, they don’t indicate an instantaneous event. To be “caught up” could be an observable event. To snatch something out of the way is a quick happening event but it is an observable event.
What does the bible have to say about the process of how others have been taken from this earth to meet the Lord?
Enoch- In Genesis 5:24 it says that “Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him”.
· There is no indication of how God took him, but Enoch didn’t die. In Hebrews 11:5 it states that “By faith Enoch was taken up, so that he did not see death, and was not found because God took him up, for before God took him up, so it is recorded, he was pleasing to God.”
The word “took” used in Genesis 5:24 about Enoch is Strong’s word #H3947 which can be translated as “snatch”, “to take, capture seize” very similar to the word “harpazo” used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
Elijah- In 2 Kings 2:11 it says, “and it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”.
· Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?" And he said, "Yes, I know; be still." (2 Kings 2:3)
· The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?" And he answered, "Yes, I know; be still." (2 Kings 2:5)
· This event was witnessed by others and was not a secret event. This event occurred in the presence of Elisha and other prophets who were told in advance (by God) the specific date that Elijah would be taken by God (2 Kings 2:3 and 5). There is no indication as to the speed of the ascension, but it was slow enough to be observed. Elijah did not die and there is no indication that he was changed in any way.
The word “take” used in 2 Kings 2:3 and 5 is the same word used for Enoch in Genesis 5:24 and has the same “rapture” connotation”.
The word “went” used to describe Elijah leaving in 2 Kings 5:11 is translated from Strongs word #H5927 which means “ to ascend, to come up before God, to be taken up, carried away” again these have rapture like meanings.
Jesus- “So after the Lord had talked with them, He was received up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God”, (Mark 16:19). “While He blessed them He was parted from them and taken up into heaven”, (Luke 24:51). “He was taken up and a cloud carried Him up from their view”, (Acts 1:9).
· Jesus died and was resurrected. Jesus spent 40 days with His followers preparing them before He departed. This ascension event did not take place in secret. There is no indication as to the exact speed that Jesus ascended, but it appears that it was not in a moment of time as those present watched Him ascend.
· Matthew 27:52-53 also speaks of dead saints coming out of tombs after the resurrection of Jesus-.
“The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many”.
Paul – In 2 Corinhtians 12:2 and 12:4 Paul claims he was “caught up” (harpazo) to the third heaven where he heard unspeakable words. Paul uses the same word for his experience as he does in 1 Thess. 4:17 when we are “caught up” to Jesus in the air.
John the Revelator- At Revelation 4:1 John is commanded by Jesus to “COME UP HERE”.
· There are no other details of the event.
Two Witnesses- “They two heard a loud voice calling to them from heaven, “COME UP HERE”. And they ascended into heaven in a cloud while their enemies saw them” (Revelation 11:12).
· The two witnesses were killed 3 days earlier and had just been resurrected. This ascension event did not occur in secret. There is no indication as to the exact speed that the two witnesses ascended but it was slow enough for their enemies to view it and comprehend what happened.
From the above we know the following:
1. Enoch was taken by God in an unknown manner, although the Bible states he was taken “up”. Taken is translated as “snatch”
2. Elijah was taken up by God in a whirlwind, in the presence of others who were told in advance that God would take Elijah on a specific date. Elijah had not previously died. The word “take’ used with Elijah is translated as ‘snatch”
3. Jesus ascended in a cloud in the presence of other believers, there is no indication that any unbeliever observed the event. Jesus had previously died. Jesus spent 40 days with His followers preparing them before He left. Dead saints appeared with Jesus after His resurrection.
4. John the Revelator- In Revelation 4:1 John is commanded to “Come up here and I will show you what must take place hereafter”. John had just received a vision on earth concerning the Church. When Jesus says “I will show what must take place hereafter”, the hereafter refers to “after” the age of the church has been completed. Nothing that Jesus reveals to John after this verse (Revelation 4:1) refers to the church. John then in heaven received a stunning vision of the future set in the end times. There are no details as to how he was transported or if there were witnesses. John had not previously died.
5. The Two Witnesses received a command from heaven to “come up here” and ascended in a cloud in the presence of others, specifically their enemies. The two witnesses had previously died.
6. There is no indication that any of these events were transacted in a moment of time, and other than Enoch and John where the details of the event are not revealed to us, in the three other instances there were observers who witnessed the ascensions.Kurt S