With regard to the issue of children participating in the Rapture, let’s face it, we will not know for sure until the Rapture occurs. But I do not think that your 2 examples are the “slam dunk” that you think they are:
Children who have not reached the age of accountability (i.e. knowing right from wrong) are innocent.
Every animal on Noah’s Ark represents the innocent.
Now, how can an animal represent an innocent person? Well, God permitted animals to be substitutes for people during the sacrificial system. Each one pointed to the sinless nature of the Lamb of God.
And when Peter had a vision concerning God’s desire to show grace to the Gentiles, he saw all kinds of animals being lowered from heaven in a sheet. Although he was told to eat from them, he refused – stating that he would not eat anything that was unclean. God tells him: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Acts 10:15. Later, when Cornelius, a Gentile, comes to him, Peter realizes that God was telling him not to call any person impure or unclean. (See Acts 10:28.) So, we have an example where God compares un-kosher animals to people.
Animals are clearly symbolic of people in the Bible. So, yes, Noah and his family entered the Ark through faith. But the animals entered the Ark through innocence.
And remember that both clean and unclean animals entered the Ark. God did not limit it to clean animals. But isn't that exactly what you are doing when you differentiate between the children of believers and the children of unbelievers? Who are you to call anything impure that God has made clean?
Sodom and Gomorrah
If you read the narrative concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, you will see that the Lord told Abraham two things: (1) that the barren Sarah would conceive a son and (2) that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed. See Genesis 18.
So, during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God preserved the baby Isaac at a separate location. Likewise, God will preserve children through the Rapture, saving them from the destruction of the Tribulation and at a separate location in heaven.
Alive apart from the Law
God has established a pattern where people can gain access to Him through either faith or innocence.
Take a look at who was permitted to enter the Promised Land:
"Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly …. And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad – they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it." Deuteronomy 1:35-39.
There is apparently a stage in a person's life where they are mentally incapable of knowing good from bad.
For example: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste." Isaiah 7:14-16.
It is during this albeit short period of time that a person is apart from the Law. They cannot be held accountable for breaking the law if they are unable to comprehend it.
Paul also talks about this brief period of time: “For apart from the law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” Romans 7:8-9.
Consequently, prior to the age of accountability, a person is spiritually alive.
Death versus Rapture
It is curious that you have no problem with the idea of children going to heaven after they die. Including those born of unbelieving parents. So, are these dead children part of the dead who will rise first in the Rapture? (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16.) And, if so, why would God differentiate between dead children and those who are still alive?
No offense, but if a child is innocent, then he or she is innocent. The beliefs of the parents are irrelevant. (“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.” Deut 24:16.) If a child’s innocence gains him entrance into heaven at death, why would it not also make him eligible for the Rapture?
Women will still get pregnant during the Tribulation – hence the verse you quoted from Luke 21: 23. And these children will undoubtedly suffer with everyone else in the world. (Just like kids suffer from the conditions of the world now.) So, I am not sure how that verse bolsters your position any. I do not believe that anyone is arguing that children will continue to be raptured throughout the Tribulation.
But how can you distinguish between the innocence of one child over another? Children are either alive apart from the Law or dead in their sins. And if they are dead in their sins, then they are no longer innocent. There is no middle ground.
– Lisa Taylor