Why There Is No Rapture of the Church Part III
This far in our study of the theory of the rapture of the church we have examined the origins of the theory, the background of the 1 Thessalonians 14 passage where we find Paul speaking about the resurrection of the dead and not a rapture and the 1 Corinthians 15 passage where we fond further evidence of a resurrection of the dead and the gathering of the church at the second coming of Christ. In addition, we also studied the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 24 and Revelation 1 – 3. The background of Matthew explains and gives us the context of those who are taken or left, this comes during a time of war, famine and disease not during the rapture of the church. Revelation 1-3 provides further evidence of Jesus preparing the church to face difficult days ahead. He church is told repeatedly to not fear, overcome and to be prepared for suffering and tribulation.
In part three we will continue our examination of the theory of the rapture as we look at further selection concerning the church in Revelation. First up is chapter 6 and the breaking of the fifth seal.
“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”
Revelation 6:9-11 (NASB)
Who are these souls under the altar? Are they new believers converted within the tribulation period? Saints gone before us? A close reading tells us these were killed because of the word of God and the testimony “which they had maintained.” These are NOT new believers but believers who have had the word of God within their heart and they have kept their testimony even through persecution. This is part of the church, true Christians who do not and will not deny their God. At this point the tribulation is winding down but the great tribulation is still future.
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 7:13-17 (NASB)
Once again, we find the church under the altar waiting redemption. These, in particular, come out of the great tribulation; notice the angels specifically says, “who come out of the great tribulation.” There may be some new believers because of the witness of the church but these will be believing saints who have survived thus far into the great tribulation.
One of the arguments for the “rapture” of the church is the belief that believers do not face the wrath of God; this is true, and Scripture shows how God will supernaturally protect believers in chapter 9. Where else is this seen in Scripture? Once again, we need only to turn to the pages of the Old Testament and the plagues on Egypt in Exodus 7-11. There is also a picture of this protection for the great tribulation in Revelation 12.
In chapter 9 as the wrath of is poured out we are told that men/people will not repent of their sin; these are the ones who face the wrath of God, not believers who are repentant. Notice the following verses as they explain who is affected by the wrath of God.
They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Revelation 9:4 (NASB)
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.
Revelation 9:20-21 (NASB)
The entirety of chapter 12 is how Satan, the dragon, has persecuted the church, seeking to devour the offspring of Israel, Jesus. When he is unsuccessful in killing Jesus at the cross, he turns to persecute the church and the children of the church, born again believers. During the tribulation period the church is supernaturally protected by God.
And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Revelation 12:5-6 (NASB)
In these verses we see Jesus taken to heaven in His ascension and the church protected for a specific period of time, three and one-half years, the great tribulation.
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Revelation 12:17 (NASB)
A restatement of the above passages, there is greater detail in verses 7-16 but they have been omitted for clarity of the current topic, the war against Christians by Satan.
It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
Revelation 13:7-10 (NASB)
A close reading here shows the church, called the saints, will not escape persecution. In fact, we will be overcome by the wrath of Satan.
Chapter 14 is where the church is finally taken from the earth, not in a rapture, but in the harvest of those believers still alive and the “grapes” for the final pouring out of God’s wrath. This is in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon. If you insist upon calling it the rapture, this is still the place it happens!!
We must understand that John is seeing things that he can only describe with things that existed in his day and in ways that he would understand living in the time period he was given the vision. In addition, John can only describe one part of the vision at a time, and thus he goes back and forth between events happening, in some cases, at the same time. For example, when describing the four horsemen, John describes one rider at a time with details the reader needs to understand. However, this does not mean that the rider before ceased to exist or stopped what he was sent out to do, it simply reflects the human limitations of John as the vision is unfolding.
In the conclusion of this short series, we will examine the words of Jesus found in John’s gospel account. Once again, we will find that Jesus has no plans to remove the church but to protect those who are His.
Coming Soon – Why There is No Rapture of the Church – Part IV: The Conclusion