"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: 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." I Thess. 4:16-17
This is the famous scripture by Paul , circa 50 AD, when he promised to the early Christians that they would be taken from this earth someday to be with the Lord, Jesus the Christ. What did he really mean , and how would all this come about, and when? What is a rapture anyway?
As many care to point out, the word "rapture" is not in the Bible. However, the meaning of the word is there without doubt. It means a catching away from this earth with an epiphany! Paul of Tarsus was the most documented writer of this idea that we would someday be caught up into the air, i.e. clouds, to be with the Lord when He returns in the clouds. But even Jesus alluded to this concept of a sudden removal of believers in the days after the great tribulation, as one can read in Matthew 24 & 25. And in addition, there is the Revelation of John in chapter 14 of his little book, where we see Jesus, who from the clouds, gathers in the harvest of the earth (believers) at some point near the end , the time of His return.
Please take note of a very important concept here in regards to prophecy. Just because all these scriptures allude to a rapture event, they all don't have to apply to the exact same event! In other words there could be more than one rapture to satisfy the prophecy of the Bible in regards to "A" rapture. (As this same idea also applies to all scripture. For example: the word "antichrist" does not always have to apply to the same antichrist, person or spirit.) Here is one of our witnesses to you. It will take at least three rapture events to satisfy most of the prophecies concerning this in the Bible.
The first rapture must be "all those dead in Christ" as found written by Paul in the scripture of I Thess. 4:15-17. Take another close look at those verses, and you will find that there are at least two such events implied here by Paul. For it says clearly that all those dead in Christ are taken into the clouds FIRST. Since there is a first, there must be a second. Also, it says clearly, that "AFTER that, those who remain" at his coming will be taken into the clouds. Well, after what? How long a time is there to the second one? Many have assumed that this is all one event, but it can not be to satisfy the wording of the prophecy. There must be at least two events, and we in this church feel there must be even three all together.
The second rapture to take place in the end times will be a smaller one that involves God's two witnesses. Rev. 11 clearly describes the coming of two witnesses for God, that carry the very Power (Spirit), to use as a witness to those on the earth, but also to help God bring judgment upon the earth. These two will speak truth , that the rest of the world will rebuke, for the most part, and claim these two are evil and will rejoice at their demise in the streets where Jesus was crucified. At some point they become baptized with fire, the Holy Spirit, and then become true prophets with contact with God, Jesus and Angels. Their mission will end at the end of the 6th trumpet, but no one knows for sure when their mission, or lives begin, exactly. They must be alive on the face of the earth now, in order for these to be the very days of most of Revelation's fulfillment.
The two witnesses/prophets will bring a message for the world to return to true worship of the One true God of heaven and earth. They will help to reveal the mystery of God, which is fully realized during the 7th trumpet (Rev.10:7). The Holy Spirit will rest without measure upon these two beings, who eventually must also have spiritual contact, to be claimed as "prophets' in the 11th chapter of Revelation. We believe that the second rapture will occur when these two are taken to heaven from the streets of Jerusalem at the end of the 6th trumpet (a great war in the Middle East). Then will the Holy Spirit be taken out of the way (II Thess 2:7). None of the church on earth can go before these two go with the Holy Spirit resting upon them.
We currently believe that at least 143,998 Christians will be worthy to go with them. These being those who are the first fruits unto God AND unto the Lamb, Jesus. Those who would not follow the beast, Maitreya/Maarrduk, take his mark to buy and sell with, worship the image of the first beast (by joining the coming religious organization of Maitreya), or stay in false worship of God, Babylon. So, when the 7th trumpet sounds, the chance to escape the great tribulation will end. God then takes back reign over the earth (Rev. 11:15), and the physical wrath of God, the last plagues begins at the judgment hands of Jesus/Emmanuel, as the millennial reign begins.
The third rapture in this sequence will take place at the end of this great tribulation. Some of the children of God, the elect, will be on the earth during this 7th trumpet. (Matthew 24:22), because they failed to come out of Babylon worship. Oh, yes, they did refuse the mark and they did not follow the beast, but they lacked this one thing to make them worthy to escape this trial. Thereby, they did not join the church Philadelphia, by coming out of Babylon, the ONLY church to avoid the great time of trouble of the end times. (Rev. 3:7) Hence when Jesus returns in the clouds, "immediately after the days of this tribulation," He will send his angels to the four winds of heaven and earth to gather his elect, the eagles. (Mark 13:27) This will be the third rapture at the end of the 7th trumpet, at the time of the marriage feast of the Lamb, at the time of the battle of Armageddon (Har Megiddo). "When two will be at the mill and one will be taken. When two will be in the bed and one will be taken"... Matthew 24:40-41. Then three modern raptures will be complete.
The first resurrection and judgment of the elect will take place. Many will become priests and kings of Christ Jesus and help Him to reign over this earth for 1,000 yrs. Maitreya will be cast into the lake of fire, and Satan will be cast into the bottomless-pit, the same pit where his son, Maarrduk , was for many, many years. Peace will then reign over this earth, and Jesus will reign over it from the clouds. For the book of Revelation does not say He comes down unto earth to be with men until after the final battle at the end of the 1,000 yrs. This is why He will need and use the saints to reign over this earth for all that time. Where will He be then, in the clouds over the earth? In the New Jerusalem city, wherein is the temple of God in heaven? Will men see this city in the clouds? What are these things men now see in the clouds of the heaven of earth? What are these UFOs?
Again: "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. Comfort one another with these words." I Thess 4:17-18 Amen. Three raptures. First, those dead in Christ, which was witnessed on about Sept. 12, l988, the feast of TRUMPETS, after the first 40 years of modern Israel. The second, at the rapture of the two witnesses/prophets from the streets of Jerusalem, along with the church of Philedelphia, 143,998 others, at the end of the 6th trumpet just before the start of the 7th trumpet. These 144,000 being the first fruits unto the God AND the Lamb of the earth. The last, the third, then at the end of the 7th trumpet, at the time of the Battle of Har Megiddo, and probably after the second 40 years of modern Israel, about 2028?? Or 2018? Or 2038? No one knows. But THIS IS the season!
PS. And for those who are on the earth at the end of the Millennial reign and remain steadfast for Jesus, they too should be raptured just before the destruction of this planet and the heavens with fire. That would be a fourth rapture. :-) For the mysteries of God and the richness He has in store for those who love Him, are beyond the imaginations of men. Thank you Lord Jesus!
Thank you Lord Jesus Come Quickly! Amen