When is the Rapture, and what is it about?
The rapture, the last day, the coming of the New Jerusalem, the last trumpet, the second coming, all these are of things that must shortly come to pass. However, it is set within an ideological framework, and this can be seen clearly in a number of ways. Therefore in another sense, these things are ultimately not time related.
Knowing the Season and the Reason for the Second Coming:
The wicked would be shut up in Jerusalem with no escape. (1 Thess. 5:3) Scripture does not simply say that the coming of Jesus Christ is at any moment, but rather that He is coming after certain signs have been fulfilled. God's elect would know the season clearly from Matt. 24.
God did not leave His Bride in darkness but kept her informed with many time statements about his coming as a thief and His coming to remove the temple.
About the last day.
1 Thessalonians 3:13-14 says "But I would not have you be ignorant brethren concerning them which are asleep For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Christ Jesus will God bring with him" Jesus taught that there would be a resurrection on the last day. The last day was when there was no more a sacrifice in Israel, 66 AD. Daniel says that a resurrection to judgment for the just and the wicked happen on the last day. It also says here that "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up" 1 Thess. 4:17 referring to the remnant on the last day.
The last days in Scripture refer to the time when the stone that is cut out without hands (Daniel 2:44 with Matt. 21:42, 1 Peter 2:7 also Revelation 21:16) would remove all opposition that stood in the way and Christ would be king. However, this is a spiritual kingdom having overcome by becoming Christ like, an age willing to die like Christ. At the same time the true meaning of the Millennium is not what the Jews who killed Christ sought after. They wanted Caesars kingdom. This is something foremost idealistic for all time, however it refers to when OT Israel and OT Rome (Daniel 2:43) would no longer stand as a nation effecting the kingdom of God, the Beast would be given to the burning flame. The reason for the destruction of these entities was that they had rejected Christendom, and sought to wipe it out. Christianity tormented them. And they had nothing in common with Christ. That generation would disappear because they would rather trust in their own righteousness and believed not Moses or the OT (John 5:46 “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” ) nor the NT, nor the truth. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 says, "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
On the last day mid-tribulation the 144,000 follow Christ in battle as Christ comes in judgment in Rev. 19:11-16 during the tribulation. This is where the martyrs are with Christ in Rev. 6:10 and then judgment can begin to be executed.
Arguments for a mid-trib rapture.
This was to be an unknown day prior to the meeting of the Lord in the air 3 1/2 years later which should have been a known day. The thief coming was to be a day of surprise after the Christians had left the "house." In the darkness, the Antichrists would not understand the deception or what day it was until it was over. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." Luke 21:36 says, Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
So we know from these verses, and that this rapture cannot refer to the end of wrath at the destruction of the temple 3 ½ years later, that is a *known day*.
Would Christians awaiting another coming after the thief’s coming know the day? Yes, it is to be exactly at the end of 1260 days after one sees the abomination of desolation. A known day is not in keeping with the time statements concerning the Lord’s coming, such as Luke 12:46 "The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers."? These day and hour statements refer to the sealing up of the wicked in Jerusalem. The language of the Bible points to it as a day of judgment, wrath and surprise for the apostates. So Christ is telling us to watch, in order to be delivered from impending doom by prayer, and by words which tells us where to be before 7/10/A.D. 66. (Matt. 24:15-20) Once a thief has broken into the house (Jerusalem), there is no need to watch anymore. When the thief finally comes, he is in the house to steal the temple, and there is no way to escape until after that period. And this day is the same as the wedding day, according to the parable of the ten virgins and the Comings of Christ in Matthew 24 and 25 and other places as well.
And as we can see according to Scripture the rapture is not the removal of men from the earth, but to leave the earthly temple in Jerusalem and flee into Judea unto a reality and a believing in the New Jerusalem and the Heavenly Temple. In this they were caught up into the clouds and into the air.
The account of Josephus to the end of the 1260 day Christian tribulation:
7/10/A.D. 66 On this date the Roman army waited three days for the Jewish people to submit to them. This was the time to see the thief coming and the time for escape of the Christians. (Wars of the Jews, II, XX,1) Josephus (maybe a Christian) says here "After this calamity had befallen Cestius, many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city, as from a ship when it was going to sink;" This was when the tribulation started with a false start in the 7th Jewish month of Tisri the 10th day A.D. 66. ( Wars of the Jews, II, XIX, 4) This was on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, when Roman armies were seen outside the gates of Jerusalem. When Ananus tried to let Cestius, captain of the Romans in the city gate, some of the Jews threw him down off the wall when Cestius delayed.
Answering arguments for the Rapture being after the 7 year tribulation:
Luke 12:35, 36 “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning: And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.” This verse could be argued to show two comings, one a wedding and one a coming thereafter. However the verse immediately before and after show a context for surprise: 37-40 “… And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. 40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” That’s not the end of the tribulation, those saint’s could count the days 3 ½ years.
The New Jerusalem is said to be mother of us all before Jerusalem fell. In one sense it is possible to push the wedding back to the cross, where salvation is secured, and it is still within the already but not yet. The seven churches of Revelation were invited to come to drink of the waters of an established Jerusalem. The conclusion here must be that that the New Jerusalem and its appearing has different aspects to it beyond AD 66 outside of one particular time. Certainly the coming of the Lord to Jerusalem and His coming to the Seven Churches was not in the same way.
1 Thess. 4:16 “meet”: 1 Thess. 4:16 is about meeting the Lord in the air. This word "meet" in the Greek means to bring back an important, newly arrived dignitary or magistrate, as seen also in Matt. 25:1 where the virgins go out to bring the Lord back to the marriage feast to their house, as was the custom of the day. See "Marriage" APANTESIS in Unger’s Bible Dictionary.
Can any of the Elect be Left Behind or is the Rapture to include all of Christianity?
The elect cannot be left behind because the rapture refers to the elect.
Mark 13:23-27 says: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.” “
Matthew 25:10-13 “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. “
The question is the same as to suppose, “Will Christ forget some of His virgins that are to be His bride and leave her in the tribulation?” This topic can be thoroughly argued with many Scriptures, it is impossible to prove that after the rapture there are any of the elect that are left behind. Too many verses to list, there is no argument. The rapture is the same as the great white throne judgment and end of the world. Any who are left behind thereafter, are as those left behind of Lot’s family who stayed behind in Sodom and Gomorrah after Lot was carried away by angels. Or as Noah closed the door to the ark, who is compared to this generation in Matthew 24:38, so likewise was the fate of any who missed the rapture. The purpose of the rapture is to forever separate the sheep from the goats. Mid-tribulation their fate is sealed.
This is the predominate rule and the ideology, literally there may have been some exceptions, but only if you take it ideologically. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. The Lord’s mercy is unfathomable.
What is the rapture about?
John 14:1-5 says Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The rapture happens and has to do with bring the Church to become like Christ in the world with a now very relevant cloud of witnesses, willing to live and willing to die like Christ, willing to love thy neighbor as thyself and to love God with all your heart soul and mind. Living and dead witnesses. This was a process, and once the Church was brought to this point the New Jerusalem could be identified as coming down Rev.21:2-3 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And 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.
The rapture is only one of many definitions of the second advent: As for a literal rapture, that is not the perfect type (the cross and Christ is the perfect type), Rev. 2:5 “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” shows that the typical rapture view cannot happen, it could not happen to all, and therefore will not happen in the way futurists (and some Full-Preterists) say it will.
The rapture refers foremost to martyrdom, it refers to being made like Christ and dying like Christ “her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” is the same case as it was for Christ as it is for the two witness back 11:12 “they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them”. And likewise with the case where “the dragon was wroth …and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”