The Rapture: Harmonizing Differing Viewpoints
When trying to understand any doctrine it is good to stand back and gain God’s perspective. As I mentioned in some of my previous essays understanding Gods word is often hindered by a type of scriptural myopia that some develop when they get bogged down in the minutia of His word. In my view this is what has happened too many who hold different doctrinal positions on the rapture. People divide into different camps based upon certain scriptures that they believe prove the validity of their positions while other vehemently oppose them based upon their viewpoint. The reality of the situation is that neither one understands the underlying reasons for the rapture and thus cannot see the forest for the trees.
In the beginning God had an original plan for mankind that did not include sin. Had Satan not introduced his sin from outside the perfect system God had created Adam and his decedents would have taken a much different path. Here is a truth,
“What we term as the rapture is just God’s way of moving people around “
Originally, God determined that man should live forever if he ate of the tree of life. Obviously, however slowly man procreated, the Earth would eventually become overpopulated. God’s solution to this was to translate or rapture people who became perfected to the point where they could life with Him forever in heaven. This was God’s original plan and is the reason for catching people away. We see an example of this in this scripture,
“And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”
The key to understanding the rapture is simply to realize that it is not a single event but an ongoing method that God uses to transport people back and forth to heaven. A modified version of it is when God instantaneously shifts people around on Earth. Viewed in this way, we see many raptures when we examine the Bible. Enoch, Elijah, Those raised from the dead when Jesus died, Christ at his ascension, Philip when he was caught away laterally after witnessing to the Ethiopian Eunuch, possibly Paul when he visited the third heaven, the Philadelphia church, the two witnesses, the 144,000, the two reapings at the end of time etc. In fact, there have probably been many more raptures of individuals and even whole groups that we are not aware of down throughout the ages.
Those who hold pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib doctrinal positions on the rapture are all partially right and all are partially wrong. They are right to say that a rapture does occur at these times but they are wrong to assert that raptures do not occur at the other times. The only people that are mostly wrong are those who decry our blessed hope and say there is no rapture at all.
You can never work out the details of a doctrine correctly if you start with wrong assumptions about it in the first place. You may be very enthusiastic about digging for gold and willing to work long hours to find it but if you don’t dig in the right place to begin with you will have little success. This is why we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us into all truth for left to our own natural devices we will not know where to look for it. After we have been led to the correct place by His Spirit we can then use the tools we have been given to uncover the vein of scriptural truth that lies beneath our feet.
Revelation is just that: a revealing of that which is hidden or obscure. The book of Revelation is a book that reveals who Christ really is. Christ is the one who is worthy to take the little scroll from our Father and loose the seven seals so that he can read it. The scroll is in fact the lambs book of life that is written within and without with the names of those who are provisionally saved. However, the seven seals have to be removed to finally bring about our salvation experientially. This is why you hear in heaven that now has come salvation. Most of the book of Revelation is concerned this event and the consequences thereof. Only after Jesus has loosed the last seal is he able to read the scroll, descend with a shout, and raise the dead through resurrection. The shout that Jesus gives at that time is simply the calling out of all the names written in the lambs book of life. When we hear Him call our name our mortal body is quicken and we are raised from death incorruptible. Those which are alive and remain are raptured together with the resurrected to be with Jesus where He is forever. After a time we descend with Him into a New Heavens and New Earth (a reverse rapture) where we will live with Him in His everlasting kingdom. Raptures will still take place as God has need to move people about according to his purposes.
In conclusion, much of the misunderstanding of God’s word stems from our lack of His perspective. Unless God points us in right direction we will never arrive at His desired destination. People often times, out of hubris; think they can crack these biblical doctrines through sheer force of their intelligence and hard work. This is simply not so. The Bible is constructed so that even a fool need not err therein but it is a closed book if the proud try to understand His truth by force. Our minds, when submitted to God in humility, are valid tools to be used in discovering the riches of His word yet let us never overestimate our grey matter when it comes to our personal contribution in actually understanding it.