"Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."
The internet, television, and other media forms are full of those who deny the rapture of the church as a biblically based doctrine. Many see it as a recent edition to the list of Christian doctrines, and one peculiar to many evangelical denominations. Some even claim that it is a subversive doctrine that has influenced American politics to the point that the nation has been infested with weirdos who feel that the world is going to come to an end. If the rapture is discussed, venomous hate seems to flow from both religious and secular sources. They are all asking the question, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." 2 Peter 3:4?
Can the rapture of the church be found in the Bible? Is is just a recent doctrine? Is it in the Old Testament? Are all references to the rapture just types and shadows? Is the more focused doctrine of an imminent pre-tribulational rapture found in scripture or is it just an over-imaginative girl's dream as some claim? It is impossible to answer these all now so the focus here will be on the rapture in the Old Testament. Specifically, this post will analyze one portion of text from Isaiah. More will follow later.
Yes! The Old Testament does allude specifically to the rapture in several places. Some of the references are types and shadows, while others, like the text above, speak specifically to the timing of the event. It is first important to see that there is no "end of the world". Consider this verse from Matthew 24:3. "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Doesn't it clearly say end of the world? Not actually! The Greek word used here is not the standard Greek word for the Earth, cosmos. Also consider John 1:9, "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Here, Jesus is the light that comes into the world--cosmos. However the word in Matthew above is aiōn. This is the word for an age or dispensation (which is another anger buzzword for many). The world will always be but the age of Satan's free reign will end. This is clear from scripture. God will create a new heavens and a new earth, but there will clearly be a world here to live on even after the new is formed. It is renovation and rejuvenation and not a destruction believers are looking for. It is the age when Christ reigns and then the period of a new world that follows.
Before this Millennial Reign of Jesus is the 7 year period where God allows man and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3-5) nearly unhindered destructive power (world here again being aiōn). Satan, the god of this age will empower the Antichrist to wreak havoc and make one last bid to destroy the Israelites. God, of course, is also busy bringing the entire Jewish people to the knowledge of Messiah Yeshua, their soon coming King. Furthermore, He is pouring out his wrath as believers in this time will once again pray imprecatory prayers that will be accepted, something that the church was forbidden to do. It will be a dark time and seem most like the famine that the patriarch, Israel, and his sons were trying to live through when the fathers of each tribe of Israel went to Egypt to buy grain from their hidden brother, Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery and left for dead by his brothers who did not realize that he had become the ruler of Egypt. Jesus Christ is that hidden Egyptian with a gentile bride revealed to his brothers even as Zechariah would later reveal (Zechariah 12:10). Oops! I said I was not going to share types in this post--sorry!
God is going to war with a world that is in a desperate attempt to cast off His rule. Before any war, national leaders always recall their ambassadors. The members of Christ's body are God's ambassadors. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says that. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." The message of the church is reconciliation to God. "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 The rapture is the recall of the ambassadors before the battle, and this is the message of Isaiah 26:19-21 quoted above.
Notice that the timing here in Isaiah follows the classic rapture text of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. First the dead in Christ rise as is stated in verse 16 of Paul's letter. Compare this with verse 19 from Isaiah, "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." Paul then states that the living saints will be drawn to God too. Isaiah reveals the same thing in verse 20. "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers (bridal chambers?--look up the Hebrew definition of cheder), and shut thy doors about thee:" The world will then be cast into the darkness of God's anger, Satan's wrath, and man's folly combining all at once as Isaiah 26:20b states, "hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." Finally, Christ comes out of His place, riding a white horse and returns just in time for the great battle of Armageddon. "For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." At this battle, the blood will flow to the horses' bridle (Revelation 14:20). How much clearer does this parallel to Paul's revelation of the rapture need to be? For those who still hate this idea of a rapture, I plead with you to just fall in love with Jesus. No teaching is more important than that. There is still time for you but hurry. Undoubtedly, Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!
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