The Rapture is Confusing

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So, I’ve been doing a lot of research on this strange phenomenon dubbed “The Rapture.” I’ve talked to a lot of my Christian friends and everyone has a different story or version of the events that transpire. To make matters more confusing, the rapture is never mentioned in the bible. So everyone and I mean everyone has a different timeline, interpretation, and philosophy of those occurrences.  What I find discouraging is the amount of belief these people have that the Rapture will occur versus the evidence that is available to support its occurrence. When I ask them why they believe how they do I don’t get solid answers. “You have to have faith” is their favorite reply.

The general consensus is that they will be teleported away, quicker than a flash of lightning, Star Trek teleporter style into heaven. Almost all Christians that I spoke with believe we are living in the “end of days” due to world events. After the rapture then the shit realllllllllly hits the fan. And this is where most people have no idea what’s going to happen. Nobody knew exactly how long this era is going to last, what happens when it’s over. They just knew they wouldn’t have to endure the process.

For the record this is an educational workshop piece, your input, suggestions, corrections and opinions will be praised and are very welcome. Here is what I know.

During the 1800s a man named John Darby invented Dispensationalism which basically divided the bible into sections. By doing this he developed the idea of The Rapture.

The tribulation will occur for 7 years. This is God’s wrath being brought upon the non believers. Half way through this period the Great Tribulation begins. This is an even more harsh period.

There are 3 version of the rapture. The pre, mid and post tribulation rapture. (Self explanatory I hope).

After the tribulation Jesus will come to reign for 1000 years. There is much debate as to how long 1000 God years are.

That’s basically it. This is what I’ve learned reading and watching documentaries on the subject. No references anywhere. Please comment if you know more. Thanks you.

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6 thoughts on “The Rapture is Confusing

  1. Major tl;dr warning – since you’re looking for a solid answer, I’ve given one that’s fairly thorough:
    When speaking of the capital ‘R’ Rapture, you’re almost always looking at pre- or midtribulation; posttribulation has an event that could be described as a rapture, but not the population conception of the Rapture. These are all subdivisions of a school of thought in Christian eschatology called premillenialism. The pre-, post- and amillenialism debate is based on Revelation 20:1-10, which talkes about a period of 1000 years during which Satan will be bound and Christ will reign on earth. The issue with Revelation is that, being written in the apocalyptic genre, it heavily relies on symbolism. Premillenialists assert that this passage is to be read in a mostly straightforward fashion, and therefore there will actually be a visible reign of Christ on earth for a long time (1000 is a standard symbolic value for “big”, and therefore it need not literally be 1000 years). Amillenialists assert that the whole passage is symbolic of the Church era, and that since Christ’s death and resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Satan has metaphorically been bound and Christ is figuratively reigning. Postmillenialists hold that there is a time yet to come when the Church will become so dominant on earth that it will be as though Christ is reigning through them, and that this is the time the millenium in Revelation 20 refers to. I strongly dislike postmilllenialism, and it has never really been the dominant understanding throughout the history of Christianity – you may, however, hear it from people who seek to impose Christian dominance by force. Amillenialism isn’t terrible, although it doesn’t have particularly strong Biblical support. After its acceptance as the official religion of the Roman Empire, amillenialism gradually became the majority opinion of the Church, however, and if I recall correctly it remains the opinion of the Catholic Church today. I, as could be concluded by process of elimination, am a premillenialist, which was the majority understanding of the early Church and is quite common in Protestant Christianity today.
    As mentioned earlier, the tribulational theories are sub-categories within premillenialism. Pretribulational premillenialism is also known as dispensational premillenialism (because of its roots in dispensationalism), while posttribulational premillenialism is also known as historical premillenialism (because it has been the traditional form of premillenialism throughout Church history. Midtribulational premillenialism is often seen as a variation of pretribulational premillenialism, with fundamentally the same sequence of events with a very slight difference in timing. All three names refer to when Christ first returns to gather up the believers relative to the timing of the tribulation – in pretribulation, the Rapture removes the Church before the tribulation begins, in midtribulation, the Rapture removes the Church halfway through the tribulation, prior to the Great Tribulation, in posttribulation, the Church is present for the entire tribulation.
    At this point, it’s necessary to take a moment to talk about dispensationalism. I am not a dispensationalist, and therefore I may not give it an entirely fair hearing. However, to put it simply, dispensationalism says that different people in different times are under fundamentally distinct arrangements for how they should relate to God, referred to as “dispensations”. Old Testament Israel, for example, is under a different dispensation to the New Testament Church, so Old Testament Israel received their salvation through faith and the Law, while the New Testament Church receives their salvation through faith and the New Testament teachings. Promises made under one dispensation to one group must be fulfilled under that dispensation to that group. There are a few alternatives to dispensationalism – one is called supercession, which teaches the Church replaced Israel, and thus promises to Israel became promises to the Church. I personally see the Church as being born from the remnant of faithful Israel, and therefore it is, in a sense, “true” Israel. However, it’s necessary to understand dispensationalism to understand some of the arguments that are made to read dispensational premillenialism from the Bible.
    The Biblical passages that are most often referred to when discussing this topic are:
    (1) the later chapters of Daniel, particularly chapter 9
    (2) Matthew 24:1-31 and the parallel text in Luke 17:20-37
    (3) 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
    (4) 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
    (5) Revelation 3:7-13
    Daniel 9 is a very strongly disputed prophetic/apocalyptic chapter – the last 3 verses in my study Bible occupy 2 pages because of the volume of commentary associated with them. Daniel 9:24 speaks of a period of 70 weeks, generally interpreted as referring to a period of 490 years (in prophecy, 1 day often refers to 1 year). There is debate regarding the events that take place during the 70 weeks and when they have been/will be fulfilled. Dispensationalists hold that the first 69 weeks were elapsed prior to Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, that Christ’s death on the cross introduced “the Great Parenthesis” into the 70 week period, and that the tribulation at the end of time marks the 70th week (with the Great Tribulation beginning halfway through the week). Another view, called the preterist view, holds that the 69th week ended with Christ’s baptism, that his death marked the midpoint of the 70th week, and that the latter half of the week is nonliteral in length, concluding with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Yet another view is the covenental view, which holds that the 69 weeks concluded with the beginning of the New Covenant with Christ’s death on the cross, that the midpoint of the 70th week corresponds to AD 70 and that tribulation at the end of time marking the end of the 70th week (again making the final week nonliteral). The interpretation of Daniel 9 is important for dispensational premillenialists because, if they’re right, it will be blatantly obvious when the time for Christ’s return has come. Daniel 9 gives some fairly specific events that will need to happen – the “Abomination of Desolation”, whoever that might be, must enter the Temple. Because dispensationalism requires the prophecy to be fulfilled under the Jewish dispensation, this requires that the Temple be rebuilt before Christ returns. This also gives a strict timeline for the events – a period of 7 years, with the Abomination of Desolation entering the temple after 3.5 years.
    Matthew 24:1-31 (and its Lukan brother) directly references Daniel 9, and adds to the propechy. Most historians hold that, at least in part, Matthew 24 predicts Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70, supporting the preterist or covenantal interpretation. However, verses 29-31, at the very least, do seem to be end times prophecy (or, at the very least, apocalyptic in genre); dispensationalists hold that the entire passage is therefore about the end times. Once again, if this is the case, there are a set of very clear events to be expected prior to Christ’s return, if the dispensationalist interpretation is correct. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is another prophecy similar prophecy that is treated very similarly.
    This becomes notable in light of 1 Thessalonians 5:2 – “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” The return of Christ has to be a surprise. If the dispensational interpretation of the prophecies in Daniel and Matthew is correct, Christ’s return, at least to the believers, must come prior to the events of the 70th week. This objection is negated if the dispensational understanding of the prophecies is wrong, of course.
    Dispensationalists further build their argument by using Revelation 3:7-13, with particular focus on verse 10. In a letter to the Church in Philadelphia, given through revelation to the Apostle John, Christ promises that he will “keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth”. The counter argument is that, given the context and audience, this is more likely to be an immediate promise that the believers in Philadelphia would actually have seen its fulfilment (such as the persecution the Church would soon experience at the hands of the Roman Empire).
    Following the dispensational line of thought to its conclusion, we then come back to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” Based on their belief that Christ has to return before the events of the tribulation, dispensationalists hold that this describes a Rapture of the believers only, after which the tribulation then begins (as a posttribulationist, I find very interesting the fact that the Greek wording reflects a situation in which a group of a city’s nobles would go out to greet a visiting dignitary and enter the city with them; to me, this describes the events at the end of the tribulation when Christ comes to usher in the millenial kingdom). The Bible doesn’t explicitly state the necessity of a Rapture as taught by the dispensationalists but, based on their interpretation of a few key passages, the Rapture is a logical conclusion to arrive at.
    Hopefully you find the information you were looking for somewhere in the midst of that gigantic wall of text. If there’s anything you want further elaborated on, or if you have any other questions about Christianity in general, feel free to ask 🙂

  2. The Rapture was invented to preserve the inerrancy of the Bible when it claims, simultaneously, that the Lord will come like thief in the night, yet there will be many signs that he is coming (temple desolation, antichrist performing miracles, etc). Also it betrays a fear of death that is surprising in what are ostensibly believers. Everybody wants to go to heaven but they don’t want to actually take up their cross and follow Jesus there through the passage of death. So they have this story of beam me up Scotty, where true believers escape the coming wrath of God, based on a few cherrypicked verses like Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

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