What is the rapture?
Now, let’s look at how the Church Age is going to end. Just turn on over in Corinthians to Chapter 15, and we’ll quickly look at this. There’s coming a day, and we think it’s real soon, the way things are happening in the world, I don’t see how it can be put off much longer. But, we are fast approaching the day when the last person will be brought into the body, and that vessel will be full, and God’s going to have to take it out of the way.
I Corinthians 15:52
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Now, here again, these teachings you won’t find anywhere but Paul. Nowhere has it ever hinted that there’s ever going to be a day when living people are suddenly going to be translated. “Behold I show you another mystery,…“ another secret. “We (that is believers) shall not all sleep (or die), but…“, we have to be what?…“Changed” “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” in the split second of an eyelash, (at) “…the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ” Those who have been part and parcel now of the Body of Christ. Not the Old Testament saints. Daniel says he has to wait. We’ll look at that in another lesson. But now, it’s the Church Age saints. These who are in the body. “At the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we… Paul says (and he expected to be alive) …shall be changed.” In other words, when the trumpet sounds, and if we’re living – and I think we will be, the dead in Christ will rise first and then we will suddenly take flight and we will go up with him. Now, in order to culminate all of this we have to go to 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4. Here, some people just simply refuse the concept of the Rapture; and when they do that, they have to throw Paul away first. This is because Paul makes so much of it, and here is probably the clearest language in I Thessalonians:
I Thessalonians 4:13
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren (same language), concerning them which are asleep,” (that is our loved ones who have died),“that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” In other words, if we, as believers, have lost loved ones, we don’t have to weep and wail and carry on like the heathen do. Because we’re going to see our loved ones again someday.
I Thessalonians 4:14
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
“For if we…“ what’s the word? Believe! It doesn’t say if we are repenting and are baptizing. It doesn’t say if we join the church. It says if we believe. But we’ve got to be careful what we believe. Don’t just believe in God. We believe that Jesus died and rose again. There’s the Gospel. So, if we believe the Gospel, even so them also who sleep, or who have died, in Jesus; God will bring them with him. Now, watch the language. We know that the believer, as soon as he dies; his spirit and soul take flight to where? The presence of Christ in Heaven. And there they wait for this day of resurrection to be reunited with the believers resurrected body.
I Thessalonians 4:15,16
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:…”
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent…” – or go ahead of,“…them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven,” now you remember Isaac. He met Rebecca where? Part way, away from home. “…The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:…”
I Thessalonians 4:17
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (everybody) in the clouds (that is in the atmosphere), to meet the Lord (Where?)… in the air:…“ And then we go back into Heaven with Him to go before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and have the marriage of the Lamb; and then we’ll be ready to come back with Him seven years later, as time reckons it, at His Second Coming; as He comes then to …stand on the Mount of Olives… as it says in Zechariah 14. Read it when you have a minute at home. Those first six or seven verses. It says in part, “…in that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives.”
The other night I was teaching in Acts Chapter one, “…and there he stood with the eleven, and he went up, and the angels said, ‘why stand ye gazing up into Heaven, this same Jesus in like manner as you have seen him go, shall come again.'” I don’t say these things to be funny; I try to make it clear. He left how? Head first! He’s coming, how? Feet first. And He’s going to stand on the Mount of Olives just as sure as it’s there tonight; and that will usher in the Kingdom. And when He comes, we’re going to come with Him. In fact, I always like to use two prepositions – and that probably helps you remember as well as anything. When He comes at the Rapture, He’s going to come for us. When He comes at the Second Coming, He comes with us.
Editor’s Note: Les further explains in Book 25, Lesson Two, Part I that it is from the words “caught up” that we have coined the word “rapture” – caught up to meet the Lord in the air. We are not told when in the timeline the rapture will occur, only that it will take place before the seven-year tribulation period begins.
Now let’s come back and continue our study about this mystery given to Paul in Romans 11:25. Nothing in Scripture foretold that there would be a long 1900 + period of time that Israel would be spiritually blinded as we have seen them be. But now let’s see when the Scripture says that will be. Looking at the last part of verse 25 again we find:
“…that blindness in part (not forever) is happened to Israel, until…”
Now those of you who have heard me teach for a long time know that “until” is a time word. I shocked one of my classes a couple of weeks ago. They all know that I’ve always taught that there is no way we can know the day, month or year that The Lord is coming for the Church. It’s an eminent return, but we never set dates. Then I just shocked that class when I said, you’re all wondering when the Church is going to be raptured. Well I’m going to tell you exactly when it will be raptured, and some thought that I had gone out into left field. When is the Church going to be raptured? When the last person has been saved and completes the “Body.” Now I don’t know what day, month, and year that will be, but that is the “until.” Israel is going to remain blinded “until.” The rest of the verse reads:
“…that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Now what’s the fulness of the Gentiles? The Body of Christ.