Although there is no verse in the Bible that tells us exactly when the Rapture will occur, we may be able to determine some of the events and conditions that will be present at the time of it.
Signs of the Church Age
On the day of Pentecost, when Jews from every nation heard Spirit-filled believers speaking in languages that they understood, Peter stood up and addressed the crowd. He specifically applied this event to a prophecy from the book of Joel:
"Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" Acts 2:14-21.
To this day, people continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit when they become believers in Jesus Christ. But there are certain parts of this prophecy that have yet to be fulfilled. Certain signs in the heavens and on earth that must still occur before the Day of the Lord.
It is possible that these are the signs which will close the Church Age. And, if so, they may give us a hint as to what else may be happening at the time of the Rapture.
A Blood Red Moon
Author Peter D. Goodgame wrote a book called Red Moon Rising which discusses the connection between the Rapture, the blood red moon of Joel 2:31, and the 6th Seal of Revelation 6.
He believes that the fulfillment of the passage from Joel is found in Revelation 6:12-14:
"I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place."
I think that he is right. In fact, a blood red moon is only referenced in Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, and Revelation 6:12.
So, the Blood Moon prophesied by Joel is applied to the Church by Peter, and fulfilled at the breaking of the 6th Seal of Revelation.
Earthquake Resurrection Confirmed?
In addition to the signs in the sun and the moon, Revelation 6:12-14 reveals the additional occurrence of a great earthquake. One of global proportions.
According to author David Lowe, earthquakes will occur as a result of the transformation of mortal bodies into immortal ones. For example, we find earthquakes occurring after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:2, some Old Testament saints in Matthew 27:51-52, and the 2 Witnesses in Revelation 11:11-13. Consequently, Lowe believes that because the Rapture is a resurrection event involving multitudes of people, it will be accompanied by a global earthquake. He also believes that this earthquake is the same one that occurs at the opening of the 6th Seal in Revelation 6:12-17.
I believe that his theory is Biblically sound.
When the recent earthquake occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, I wondered if it was a confirmation of the Earthquake Resurrection theory. The simple pairing of the name Christchurch with a massive earthquake seems to be too much of a coincidence. That and the fact that no deaths occurred as a result of this earthquake made me think of the Rapture. It illustrated the fact that the members of the Church of Christ, who are alive at the time of the Rapture, will not experience death.
The Rapture Earthquake
Since the Bible includes descriptions of the Rapture, it seems likely that it would also include a description of the catastrophic earthquake which will be caused by the Rapture.
Author Douglas Berner, in his book The Silence is Broken, connects the 6th Seal and the 1st Trumpet of the book of Revelation to the Gog and Magog Invasion of Ezekiel 38-39. Both have similarly impacting global earthquakes, as well as a rain of hail and fire.
“In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against God on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with the plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 38:19-23.
Berner also surmises that the earthshaking events will throw dust and debris into the atmosphere, causing the sun to appear almost black and the moon to appear a dark reddish hue.
I personally believe that the earthquake that occurs during the Gog and Magog Invasion is the Rapture Earthquake because it marks an important shift in God's focus:
"I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of." Ezekiel 39:7-8.
We see the Lord revealing Himself to Israel – and in dramatic fashion!
The Apostle Paul specifically tells us when this shift will occur:
"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved …." Romans 11:25-26.
[Side note: Paul actually quotes from the same passage in Joel that Peter quoted from on Pentecost. He does so as part of his description of the Church Age – a time where both Jews and Gentiles will come to Christ. “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:12-13. See also Joel 2:32.]
The end of the Church Age will see the full number of Gentiles coming into the Church. At that point, God will turn His attention back to Israel. And His intervention at the Gog and Magog Invasion seems to be His way of gaining the attention of Israel.
The earthquake at the Gog and Magog Invasion could mark both the departure of the Church and the salvation of Israel.
Feast Day Connection?
There is an interesting verse in the Bible which links the Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of Tabernacles:
"Sound the ram's horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast; this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob." Psalm 81:3-4.
The Feast of Trumpets falls on Tishri 1 at the time of the new moon; while the Feast of Tabernacles is weeklong festival which begins on Tishri 15 – the time of the full moon. Tabernacles is commonly referred to as the Feast throughout the Old Testament. (For those who believe that the number 21 may be relevant to the Rapture, please note that Tishri 21 is part of the Tabernacles timeline.)
God requires that a trumpet be sounded on both of these festivals: first on Trumpets and then on Tabernacles. Therefore, the blowing of trumpets at the beginning of the month will not be complete until sometime in the middle of the month. Could this final blowing of the trumpet on the Feast of Tabernacles anticipate the Last Trump of 1 Corinthians 15:52?
Furthermore, the Feast of Tabernacles is linked to the full moon. Could this point to the timing of the Blood Moon?
Lastly, Jewish tradition puts the defeat of Gog and Magog on the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, one of the Haftarah readings for Tabernacles is Ezekiel 38:18-39:16. (The Haftarah is a selection from one of the books of the prophets. It is read after a selection from the Torah.) Can you imagine the impression that it would make on the Jews if the Gog and Magog invasion actually occurred during the time that they read the prophecy concerning it?
Rapture on the Feast of Tabernacles
I will not rehash the reasons why I think that the Feast of Tabernacles is a good candidate for the Rapture. Fellow Dove Robert Belanger has already posted a previous post of mine which sets out those reasons: http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/aug2010/robertb827-1.htm.
But I would like to provide some clarification for the comments that I made about the Sign of Jonah:
I believe that the 3 Pilgrimage Festivals (Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) constitute a pattern IN ADDITION to the pattern established by all 7 Feasts in Leviticus 23. God distinguished these 3 feasts by requiring Jewish males to observe them by going to Jerusalem on an annual basis. I believe that it is significant that they are also highlighted separately from the other feasts in Exodus 23:14-17 and in Deuteronomy 16:1-17. This shows that God has no problem pulling these feasts out of the larger group. The 3 Pilgrimage Festivals are unique in that they both part of the 7 Feasts of the Lord and yet set apart from the other feasts.
I agree wholeheartedly that the Feast of Tabernacles represents the Millennium Kingdom of Jesus Christ. But the Feasts of the Lord can have more than one prophetic application. For example, Tabernacles could also point to the Rapture because we will dwell with God ("and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them" Revelation 7:15), to the time when the Jews will once again be provided for by God in the desert during the Tribulation (see Revelation 12:6), to a 7 day wedding feast that precedes the Millennium, to the Millennium Kingdom, and finally eternity with God. "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." Revelation 21:3.
So do not limit the prophetic application of the Lord's Feasts to only one possible fulfillment.
The Birthday of Jesus Christ
Many scholars believe that Jesus was born in the fall. It is possible, then, that His birth is prophetically connected to one of the three fall feasts.
Tabernacles is a weeklong feast with an eighth day tacked onto the end. The Israelites were to live outside in temporary structures for one week. The first and eighth days were to be observed with a sacred assembly. See Leviticus 23:33-44. Coincidentally, the first and eighth days of a Jewish male are very important, in that the male is to be circumcised on the eighth day from the day of his birth. If Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, His circumcision would have been celebrated on the exact day that people were assembling to celebrate the last day of the Feast.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph literally lived outside in a temporary structure, a place for animals, during the time of His birth. "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7. Think about that! Jesus actually complied with the mandate to live in a booth or tabernacle as a infant. So, whenever you see a nativity scene in someone's yard at Christmastime, remember that you are seeing a Jewish family living outside in a temporary structure. Which is exactly what happens every fall during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Jesus also took on a mortal body – a temporary structure – when He dwelt with us. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14. Please note that the Greek word used for "dwelling" literally means to abide in a tabernacle or tent. So, in a larger sense, Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Tabernacles by His very presence here on earth.
Two significant things happened to Jesus Christ on His eighth day:
“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.” Luke 2:21.
He received His name Jesus and He was circumcised.
Circumcision is the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant that God made with the Jews:
“Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you …. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.” Genesis 17:10-13.
There may be a connection between this and the Church of Philadelphia of Revelation 3:7-13.
Philadelphia is the church that God promises to keep “from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” Revelation 3:10. Its members are associated with those who will participate in the Rapture. Philadelphia is told the following:
“Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.” Revelation 3:12.
Every overcomer will have the name of God, the New Jerusalem, and the new name of Jesus Christ written on them. Will the new name of Jesus, written on our flesh, be a sign of the New Covenant? And will we receive this name and sign on the eighth day of Tabernacles?
Finally, we are told that Philadelphia will be made a pillar in the temple of God. At the time of the Rapture, the members of the Church, each living stones, will be assembled together as the Temple of God:
“As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5.
"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord." Ephesians 2:19-22.
Perhaps not coincidentally, during the Feast of Tabernacles (on Tishri 21), the prophet Haggai was given the following prophecy about the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem:
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with the glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Haggai 2:6-7.
Will the Lord assemble His people into a Living Temple on some future Feast of Tabernacles? And will He also fill this Temple with His Glory while the heavens, earth, and nations are shaking below?
I realize that I have connected a lot of dots in this post, along with much speculation. It is my hope, however, that you will be encouraged to wrestle with some ideas that you may not considered before. Regardless of whether the Rapture is on Tabernacles or during an invasion in Israel, it is close. Do not get discouraged with the wait. Keep watching.
Maranatha.– Lisa Taylor