When is the Rapture?
By Thomas Taylor
Pre-trib, Mid-Trib, Pre-Wrath, or Post-Trib?
I have found that most Christians do not study the Bible on this subject. They mostly go by what their preacher says then read the prophecies through that filtered mindset. So where did that preacher get his teaching on the subject? Hopefully, he studied the Bible for himself without being biased by a denomination or seminary but, sadly, this is seldom the case. I want to challenge you to study this subject for yourself. Listen to what your preacher says or what I say, then go and see if those things are true. Do not accept those things taught unless you see it for yourself in the Bible. It’s tragic but eschatology happens to be one of those subjects where preachers have become lazy and have just depended on someone else to do the study for them. Therefore, there is a lot of wrong teaching out there. But do not let that be said about you; find out if those things you have been taught are so.
The Rapture is at the Sixth Seal
When understanding the timing of events, we always start with the prophetic teachings of Jesus particularly in Matthew 24 which put the prophecies of the Old Testament and Revelation in a perfect chronological order.
Matthew 24:29-31 KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Verse 29 gives us a definite time signal: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days.” There is no need for this to be confusing. Jesus mentioned tribulation, hard times, previous to this, then He says something will happen “immediately after.” We do not even need to be concerned with the content of that tribulation because we are focusing on the rapture timing. We need to see what will happen because after it happens is when, “shall appear the Son of Man” and the gathering of the Church in the Rapture. So, what will happen? The sun will be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven.
These signs of the sun, moon, and stars, are the things that are clearly stated as happening right before He comes to rapture His Church. Do we have any information when these signs of the sun, moon, and stars take place? Because if we figure that out, we will know when the rapture happens. Yes!:
Revelation 6:12-13 KJV And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; (13) And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Revelation clearly says these signs of the sun, moon, and stars take place at the Sixth Seal. Obviously, the Sixth Seal takes place after the previous five seals but before the Seventh Seal. The previous five seals describe the following:
Seal 1 – False Christ/Christians and the the Spirit of Antichrist over religion
Seal 2 – War and the Spirit of Antichrist over government
Seal 3 – Famine and the Spirit of Antichrist over economics
Seal 4 – Death and Hell and the Spirit of Antichrist over nature
Seal 5 – Persecution & Martyrdom of Christians
The first four seals describe the major forces that determine the life of mankind on earth: religion, government, economics, and nature. The spirit of Antichrist will rise to a place of controlling much of that in the end. Then the Antichrist man will use that power he has gained to destroy Christians and Jews. Then the Sixth Seal occurs and Jesus comes to Rapture His Church and pour out His wrath on those remaining. Then the Seventh Seal describes Armageddon and the completion of His wrath being fulfilled by the complete destruction of His enemies.
Therefore, we understand that Christians will be here during the first five seals, including a time of great tribulation, in the form of persecution and martyrdom just like Jesus said in Matthew 24:9:
Matthew 24:9 KJV Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
The Rapture is at the Seventh Trumpet
Going back to the words of Jesus in the original passage of Matthew 24:
Matthew 24:31 KJV And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Notice Jesus is very clear that a trumpet blast will occur at the Rapture – the time He gathers His elect using angels. But is this just any trumpet or is it a specific trumpet mentioned somewhere else in the Bible? Consider 1 Corinthians, the great Resurrection/Rapture chapter:
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 KJV (51) Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Notice it mentions a “last trump” then the Resurrection. Again, the timing is very clear that the last trump will sound then the Resurrection, also known as the Rapture, will take place. That is exactly what Matthew 24 mentions: a trumpet then the Resurrection/Rapture. Paul against mentions this trumpet in his dissertation on the Resurrection/Rapture in 1 Thessalonians:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 KJV (16) 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: (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.
So this “last trump” is absolutely associated with the Resurrection/Rapture. But last in relation to what? What came first? Obviously, there were at least one other trumpet calls previous for this to be the last. There is only one place in the Bible where a series of trumpet calls take place and that is in Revelation 8, where the first six trumpets occur, and Revelation 11, where the last trumpet, the Seventh Trumpet, occurs. Let’s look at that last trumpet and see if we find the Resurrection/Rapture:
Revelation 11:11-15 KJV (11) And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them [the Two Witnesses of God who died], and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (12) And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (13) And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (14) The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. (15) And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
So, we have the two witnesses being Resurrected/Raptured. When did this happen? During the Second Woe of the Sixth Trumpet. Then quickly comes the Third Woe and Seventh Trumpet – the Last Trumpet. So we do not have a description of all saints being Resurrected/Raptured here but the Two Witnesses are Resurrected and Raptured at this time right before the Last Trumpet. This coincides perfected with what Jesus and Paul taught. That there will be a great last trumpet and the dead in Christ will rise first, then those that remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds.
What happened in the previous trumps because this will help us understand what we will see, and the timing, before the Last Trump?
Trumpet 1 – Third part of trees burnt up by hail and fire
Trumpet 2 – Mountain cast into the sea and third part of sea life died
Trumpet 3 – Star falls poisoning third part of rivers
Trumpet 4 – Sun, moon, and stars struck and darkened by one-third
Trumpet 5 – Locusts attack men who have not the seal of God
Trumpet 6 – Four angels in the Euphrates loosed to kill 1/3 of men
What happens at the Seventh Trumpet? The Resurrection/Rapture and Woe Three – the wrath of God just like at the Sixth Seal. Again, we see clearly that the Resurrection/Rapture takes place at the Seventh Trumpet which happens to be the same as the Sixth Seal.
The Rapture is After the Abomination of Desolation
Matthew 24:15 KJV When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Verse 15 obviously comes before verses 29- 31, where we started this article talking about the Sixth Seal and the Rapture. So also, the Abomination of Desolation comes before Rapture. But when is the Abomination of Desolation? Is it in the middle of the final seven years? No, not according to Daniel:
Daniel 12:11 KJV And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Daniel says the Abomination of Desolation takes place 1290 days AFTER the taking away of the daily sacrifice – which is in the middle of the final seven years! Daniel 9:27 says the sacrifices will cease in the “midst”, approximate middle, of the final seven years. So that puts the Abomination of Desolation at very end of the final seven years – Daniel’s Seventieth Week! Daniel 12:11 proves there is a definite gap of time, 1290 days, between the taking away of the Daily Sacrifice and the setting up of the Abomination of Desolation.
Jesus goes on after Matthew 24:15 to comment on the hard times, “great tribulation,” after the Abomination of Desolation in verses 16-26. This coincides with the Battle of Armageddon. Because the nations of the world will be gathered together again Israel, many Jews will flee Jerusalem. Some will stay and 2/3 will be slaughtered. This is the time of the Sixth Seal, the Seventh Trumpet, and right before the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath are poured out.
Revelation 15:1-3 KJV And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. (2) And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. (3) And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Revelation describes the wrath of God about to be poured out. But notice at this time the saints are in Heaven at God’s Throne which is where the sea of glass is! We have been raptured BEFORE the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath are poured out on those armies of Armageddon. So after the Abomination of Desolation but before the Wrath of God, the Rapture/Resurrection will take place.
When you line these events up, they give you the following chart (regardless of what is traditionally taught):
I find it interesting how Eschatology teachers determine the timing of the Rapture in relation to the “Great Tribulation” rather than the other events, like the Seals or Trumpets or Bowls of God’s Wrath? Hence the names “pre-trib,” “mid-trib,” and “post-trib.” It seems like they do this because they do not want to go through the “Great Tribulation.” That is what is foremost on their mind rather than the other events mentioned. However, the “Great Tribulation” should not be our concern. God’s Wrath is far more severe than that! It is most encouraging to know we will not go through the Wrath of God. This is why Paul said we could comfort one another with these words (1Thessalonians 4:18).