The Feast of Trumpets and The Rapture: Connections and Assumptions

Each year, the end of summer means the Jewish High Holy Days are just around the corner. Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) are upon us. These Fall feasts are very meaningful to the Jewish people and have great significance, prophetically speaking. When we look at Leviticus 23, we can see all the feasts of the Lord given to the children of Israel in a particular order. All six feasts (or seven feasts, since some people separate Passover and Unleavened bread) are called yearly convocations and are divided into two distinct categories:

Spring Festivals
Pesach - Passover: Leviticus 23:4-8
First Fruits: Leviticus 23:9-14
Shavuot - Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-21

Fall Feasts
Rosh Hashanah: Leviticus 23:23-25
Yom Kippur: Leviticus 23:26-32
Sukkot: Leviticus 23:33-44

We can also derive a prophetic significance from these festivals, as they pertain to the redemptive career of Yeshua the Messiah. This can be both a blessing AND a curse depending on how we establish the prophetic connection and how much we assume. The study of biblical prophecy can suffer from friends and foes, and yet, it is critical that as modern-day disciples of Yeshua, we study the prophetic words of the Bible. The connections exist, and they are strong.

The Spring Festivals have been fulfilled by the First Coming of Yeshua the Messiah:
• Passover: Leviticus 23:4-8 - Death of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:5-8; 1 corinthians 5:7-8)
• First Fruits: Leviticus 23:9-14 - Resurrection of the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20-24)
• Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-21 - Birth of the Body of Messiah (Exodus 19:1, 3-8, Acts 2:1-4)
Prophetically speaking, these festivals are behind us, and there are three more to look forward to. They are known as the Fall Feasts and,

The Fall Feasts will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah:
• Rosh Hashanah: Leviticus 23:23-25 - The Regathering of the Saints (Isaiah 27:12-13 - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18;  1 Corinthians. 15:15-58)
• Yom Kippur: Leviticus 23:26-32 - The Great Tribulation (Ezekiel 36:24-25; Zechariah 13:8-9, 12:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10)
• Sukkot: Leviticus 23:33-44 - The Ingathering of the Messiah and the Believers (John 7:38-39, 8:12; Zechariah 14:16-19; Matthew 17:4)

Based on several biblical reasons–the Levitical Feasts of the Lord not being the least of them–I adhere to a pre-tribulational, pre-millennial view of the end times. In other words, Rosh Hashanah comes before Yom Kippur, which comes before Sukkot, so logically and biblically, we can look at the Regathering of the Believers, the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom in that order. These connections can be made on a biblical foundation, but how does that help us with the timing of the Rapture, or does it?

More books, articles and videos have been produced to prove that the Rapture will take place on Rosh Hashanah that I can count. There is no doubt that people are very interested in the Rapture, and they should, but can a date be set? The extent to which people go to calculate the date of the Rapture is mind-boggling. Let's try to connect some dots.

• Connection between Rosh Hashanah and the Rapture:
The Blowing of the Trumpet in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
 

Paul's Jewish audience couldn't have known about the trumpets of Revelation since the book had not been written when he addressed the Corinthians. They would know about the last trumpet of Rosh Hashanah, known as the "Tekiah Gedolah." When God brings an end to the Church age–which is the fulfillment of the interval of several months between Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah (Leviticus 23:22)–He will send Yeshua to gather the saints (dead and alive.) Shofars were used to call to battle, announce a new moon or call a gathering of people. So, there is a thematic connection between the Last Trump and the Rapture since it will be the time chosen by God to regather the Saints to Himself.

• Assumption between Rosh Hashanah and the Rapture:
Because of the Last Trumpet connection, many have come to place the Rapture on Rosh Hashanah, using other "proofs" from numerology, Talmudic writings and other sources. Could the Rapture happen on Rosh Hashanah? ABSOLUTELY! But, if it does, it will not be BECAUSE it is Rosh Hashanah, but because that will be the day God has picked in His infinite wisdom.

If we seek passages about Yeshua's return to get us, we cannot find a specific date, so the Rapture is signless. Nothing needs to happen before the Rapture takes place...NOTHING! We know that Yeshua is preparing a home for us and that He will return to get us all as we read in  Yet, the Bible doesn't tell us when by date, but it tells us that it will be before Yom Kippur since Rosh Hashanah always comes ten days before the Day of Atonement.

Rabbis teach that the fate of all Jews is decided on Yom T’ruah (The Day of Trumpets), but it isn’t sealed until Yom Kippur. This is a time of introspection and repentance when Jewish people go out of their way to seek forgiveness from anyone they might have hurt throughout the year. The sabbath that falls within these ten days is known as Shabbat Shuvah (the Sabbath of repentance.)

An event in Yeshua's redemptive ministry doesn't have to happen on the exact day of a feast to fulfill that feast, but the event's meaning and symbolism suffice to fulfill one of the Levitical feasts. That will be true for the Rapture, the Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom. If Rosh Hashanah, the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom are the fulfillment of the last three Fall feasts, while they do not require to happen on the exact day of each feast–but they could–they still will occur in the immutable order of the feasts found in Leviticus 23: Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot...That we know!

So, the real question is not "When will the Rapture take place?" but, "When the Rapture takes place, am I going to be taken up or left behind?"

If you have placed your trust in the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah for your sins, you have eternal life in God's presence and YOU WILL BE RAPTURED. Don't speculate on dates that cannot be calculated, but invest your time in boldly sharing our hope in Yeshua with the lost. You never know... The Rapture could happen before, during, or after Rosh Hashanah, but after it happens, our influence on those who don't know Yeshua will be gone. Let's use the time we have left wisely.

Have I been Wrong about the Rapture All Along?

I have been a believer for 40 years, and for that entire season, I have always believed that there would be a future event in human history when Yeshua would come into the sky and snatch believers away before the terrible time of the Great Tribulation started. In fact, it is through the reading of The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey that I first learned about the Rapture. It impressed me enough that it led me to invite Yeshua into my life as my Messiah and Savior. That was the Summer of 1983, exactly forty years ago. Back then, I knew nothing about the Bible or the end times; however, what I was learning about a just, loving and compassionate God seemed to make a lot of sense.

Fast forward to 2023, almost two decades of published daily devotionals, six books, and two degrees later, and the Rapture of the Believers is still on my mind. Frankly, it is probably on my mind more today than it was twenty years ago – likely due to all the world events occurring at a rapid pace in front of our eyes almost every single day.

The more I read my Bible, the stronger I feel about a premillennial, pre-tribulation Rapture (PPR). This has a lot to do with the approach to the word of God I have been taking for the last four decades. Early on, as I was told that God left me a love letter (the Bible) with a lot of instructions and direction about how to live with Him and for Him, I could never look at that book and not take its message literally. Otherwise, how many interpretations do we really end up with? This, of course, doesn't eliminate the use of figures of speech in the Bible, but we need to take God's counsel at face value and then, if necessary, seek a symbolic or allegorical meaning.

What happens if I have been wrong about the Rapture for the last forty years? So, I want to consider the possibility of the Rapture not happening.

One of the first things those who adhere to a premillennial, pre-tribulation Rapture (PPR) are often accused of is escapism. We are accused of trying to bail out before God's wrath when we should go through it. I guess it would be escapism if there were a sense of selfishness in those who believe in a PPR. The opposite is often the case. Those of us who believe in a PPR have a great sense of urgency, and the imminency of the Rapture is encouraging us to share the Good News even more so. Incidentally, the Bible never speaks of believers not going through difficulties, challenges and/or turmoil prior to the Tribulation. The days we live in seem to validate the idea that persecution is coming to believers as well as to Jews, and we have not even started the Great Tribulation yet.

Frankly, instead of a no-Rapture view, a lot of people believe in a post-tribulation Rapture that will happen simultaneously with the physical return of Yeshua the Messiah to the earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. Basically, the Rapture and Second Coming are separated by a few brief moments, making the Rapture less of an important milestone in God's program than it ought to be. One of the questions I have, is, "How could a Rapture happening at the end of a specific period of seven years be unknown and imminent?" How can the Rapture and the Second Coming be one and the same event when in John 14:1-3,  Yeshua promised, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

Additionally, when we look at Revelation 19:11-21, which is the New Testament passage about the Second Coming of Messiah, there is no mention of the Rapture whatsoever. Why would that be if both events are linked or one and the same?

Do we have solid, biblical reasons to believe that the Rapture and the Second Coming are two separate events? I think we do, and let me offer just a few:
• Signs that are given before the event:
Before the Rapture: None - 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Before the Second Coming: Many - Matthew 24:4-28

• Location for the event:
Location for the Rapture: In the air - 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Location for the Second Coming: The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem - Zechariah 14:2-4; Revelation 19:14

• People taken at the event:
At the Rapture: Believers (the Bride of Messiah) are taken from earth and unbelievers are left behind - 1 Thessalonians 4:17
At the Second Coming: Living believers (the Bride of Messiah) enter the Messianic Millennial Kingdom and unbelievers are judged - Matthew 13:41-42; 49-50

• Changes on earth at the event:
At the Rapture: No topographical change.
At the Second Coming: Many changes on planet earth - Zechariah 14:1-11

There is no doubt that both the Rapture and the Second Coming of Yeshua describe His actual physical return. At the very least, what believers should focus on is the fact that Yeshua is coming back. In other words, the story isn't finished yet; far from it! Many will claim that there will be no Rapture as a single event, but that Yeshua will indeed return to Earth.

I hold to a premillennial, pre-tribulation Rapture view. There is always a possibility that I am wrong, although forty years of Bible study have only reinforced my position from several vantage points in the Bible. The prophetic significance of the Feasts of the Lord found in Leviticus 23 have helped to strengthen my view and so has the understanding of the Jewish wedding system and the Bride of Messiah.

Yet, if I am wrong, I am very encouraged by the wise words of Charles Ryrie in Come Quickly Lord Jesus, "If His coming should be pretribulational, then we will praise Him because we missed that terrible time. If it is postribulational, then we will gladly suffer for His sake. Either way, we still have the blessed hope of His coming."

The Rapture: One Second Before and One Second After!

One of the most talked about subjects in the Bible is the rapture.  People have many opinions on the topic, to be sure.  From myth to reality, from literal to allegorical - and everything in between.  However, when believed to be literal, it is then placed all over the eschatological spectrum.  Did it already happen?  Will it happen before the tribulation?  During the tribulation?  After?  In other words...there are more views about the rapture than we can shake a stick at.  I don't intend to write another article defending the pre-tribulation and pre-millennial rapture, but here we go.  I will state my position from the start and assert that the rapture will occur before the Time of Jacob's Trouble (the Great Tribulation) begins.

Incidentally, there is more than one Rapture mentioned in the Bible. Including the Rapture of the Believers, there are possibly eight different Raptures. Enoch was raptured in Genesis 5:24, Elijah was taken up in 2 Kings 2:11-12, and Yeshua was caught up in Revelation 12:5. Philip (Acts 8:39-40) and Paul (2 Corinthians 123:1-4) were temporarily raptured. John was possibly raptured in Revelation 4:1-2, the believers will be raptured according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and finally, the two witnesses in Revelation 11:11-12. So, the future Rapture of the believers is one of several, but definitely the most important in the history of mankind.

Taking a pre-tribulational and pre-millennial position, when we read 1 Corinthians 15:52, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed," we are told of a "last trumpet." Many will argue that this is a reference to the last trumpet in God's prophetic program as in Revelation 11:15. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, the subject is the Church being caught up in the sky to be with Yeshua. The trumpet of God's grace sounds to announce that event. It also connects to the Tekiah Gedolah or last trumpet of the Feast of Rosh Hashanah (this doesn't necessitate for the Rapture to happen on Rosh Hashanah. It could, but it doesn't have to). On the other hand, the trumpet in Revelation 11:15 is within a different context. It relates to a fallen, rebellious world and the judgment of sinners and is part of a progressive series of judgments during the Great Tribulation. There is no thematic connection between 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Revelation 11:15.
Two more pressing questions must be answered:

            What happens one second BEFORE the Rapture? Since the Rapture is imminent (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 5:4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 John 3:2-3), anything can be happening one second before the Rapture. There is absolutely no exact sign that we can expect before the Rapture. Some people call it “signless. It could happen at any moment. In his book Kept from the Hour, Gerald Stanton defines the imminence of the Rapture as follows: "The certainty that He may come at any moment, the uncertainty of the time of that arrival, and the fact that no prophesied event stands between the believer and that hour." Other events may happen before the Rapture, but certainly not because they must happen. Too often, those who believe in the pre-millennial rapture of the church try to pinpoint exactly when that is expected.  However, they probably have the rapture and second coming confused. It is easy to identify the timing of the Second Coming since it will happen at the end of the Seven-Year Tribulation. At the Rapture, Yeshua gets the believers and takes us to Heaven, and He never touches the ground. At the Second Coming, He touches the ground and splits the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) as He returns with the believers.

In other words, nobody knows the moment of the Rapture, so we'd better be ready. Live like it could happen any second, but plan like it won't. Those of us who believe in an imminent pre-tribulational Rapture should not adopt an attitude of escapism, but we should double up our efforts to speak the Gospel truth to those who don't yet have a personal relationship with Yeshua.

            What happens one second AFTER the Rapture? This is the real question to focus on because Yeshua Airlines consists of only one flight up, and that's it. Once we fly away, whoever is left behind will have to deal with the consequences triggered by the Great Tribulation one way or another. The Great Tribulation, also known as the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), will last seven years (Daniel 9:26-27). It is a time when God will refocus His program on Israel and the Jewish people. Sadly, the result of that period is that two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish (Zechariah 13:8-9). The most intense trouble doesn't start until the Tribulation's mid-point when the Antichrist reveals His true nature and demands to be worshipped. That is also when people will take the mark of the beast or refuse it. The sad truth about that time is that one second after the Rapture, it is too late for people to escape the upcoming wrath of God. It is not too late to refuse the mark of the beast and not worship the Antichrist, but that will almost certainly result in people suffering great harm and dying as Tribulation martyrs. It could all have been avoided if they had been Raptured.

Ultimately the choice is ours. We are not coerced into anything; we are just invited to trust that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and the Savior of the world. One second before or one second after seems like nothing, yet it makes all the difference in the world. Will you be on the flight, or will you go through the fight? This is a flight you shouldn't miss, but this will be a gruesome fight you might not win.

The Rapture and the Second Coming: EXPLAINED!

The topic of the Rapture of the Church has been a controversial one for quite a while now. The pendulum swings from the Rapture being an invention or a myth all the way to being an imminent event to take place before the Great Tribulation, with a lot of adjusted theological positions in between. Additionally, many have come to look at the Rapture and the Second Coming as being one and the same event. The Bible does give us plenty of information regarding the timing of both the Rapture and the Second Coming to know how and when they will take place and who will be included. The differences will be looked at from a pre-tribulation/premillennial viewpoint, which means that the sequence of events is as follows: Rapture, Seven Year Great Tribulation (seven actual years), Second Coming of Messiah, Millennial Kingdom (1,000 actual years) and Eternal Order. Let's look at the timing, purpose and people for both events.

The Timing of the Rapture: As to the Rapture, the timing is clearly unknown to all people, except that most believers hold to what is known as "imminency". This means that the Rapture is as certain as it is signless Nobody knows when it will happen, but it will happen and there is nothing that needs to happen prior to the Rapture for the event to take place. The Bible is replete with verses telling us that the Rapture could happen at any moment:

1 Corinthians 1:7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Yeshua the Messiah,

Titus 2:13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Yeshua the Messiah,

Hebrews 9:28 so Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

We must also keep in mind that imminency means certainty as it is inevitable, but uncertainty as to when it will take place. Its imminency should motivate us to share the Good News with the lost and give us hope for the future.

The Timing of the Second Coming: Some people see the Second Coming as a separate event from the Rapture while others will see the Second Coming taking place in two steps: The Rapture and the Return. Regardless of how one looks at the Second Coming (one or two events), it takes place at the end of the Great Tribulation, at the climax of the Campaign of Armageddon, so in that sense, it can be timed with a certain degree of precision. From the signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel, there will be seven years, and then the Second Coming. Over three hundred references about the Second Coming can be found in the Bible (Zechariah 14:1-11; Revelation 19:11-19).

An often ignored, but key component of the timing of the Second Coming, is Israel's involvement. Yeshua promised at the end of Matthew 23 that Israel will not see Him again until they corporately say Baruch Haba Bashem Adonai, meaning "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord". This is based on the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn," that will take place at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, after two-thirds of all Jewish people living during the Tribulation will have been decimated

Zechariah 13:8-9 In the whole land, declares the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. 9 And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”

If this was to happen today, two-thirds of all Jewish people alive would be 10 million which is almost double the casualties of the Holocaust. God didn’t give us numbers here but a percentage of 2/3 and 1/3. The percentage will never change, and any casualty is a tragedy, but the final number of Jewish people dying during the Great Tribulation can be drastically reduced if Christians share the Gospel with their Jewish friends and more come to the Lord before the Rapture. Truly, today more than ever, time is of the essence.

Honestly, we should boldly proclaim the Gospel to our Jewish friends if we believe that their acceptance would secure them a place during the Rapture and would prevent them from the carnage of the Tribulation.

The reason why this is very important is that by the time Yeshua returns at the Second Coming the clock starts ticking for Satan's demise and the time is very short. Outside of a short time when he is released at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:7-10), Satan's fate is sealed and he is bound for eternal torment in the Lake of fire without relief. Satan is never the “boss” of Hell, but rather one of the first ones thrown in; and this is because of Israel's recognition of her Messiah, missed and rejected at His First Coming. The very Jewish people that are the apple of God's eye according to Zechariah 2:8b, are the people Satan hates the most, and are also the people that will become the catalyst for Yeshua's Second Coming. If the Jews don't call on Him, He simply will not return and Satan's job is secure. Pushing the Jewish people away from Yeshua has been Satan's entire career.  He's managed to work with antisemitism - by placing that hatred in the hearts of men - and done much damage to the Jewish people over the centuries.

The Purpose for the Rapture: As to the purpose for the Rapture, that should be clear. Messiah is going to come back at some point and call His children to join Him before the start of the Tribulation. Yeshua wants to save His children from the upcoming wrath

1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Yeshua who delivers us from the wrath to come.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah  

Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

Now, this is not a view shared by all believers, but for those who agree with the event, we can say that the Rapture is the first phase of the Second Coming of Messiah. This is the phase when He doesn't land on earth but calls us up. At such a time, two things will happen, as seen in

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

So, the dead in Messiah (deceased believers from the birth of the Church to that time) will rise first, closely followed by all other believers alive at the time. This can also be called the resurrection of the righteous. The book of Revelation does not make any reference to the Church after chapter 3. This seems to indicate that the Church will not be part of the Tribulation, since all the damage inflicted by the Antichrist from the middle of the Tribulation forward never mentions the Church once.

The Tribulation seems to coincide with the 70th week of Daniel 9:27 starting after the Antichrist signs a peace treaty with Israel. Simply put, as the first step of the Second Coming, the Rapture will take place because God wants to protect His people from His wrath on earth.

Daniel 9:27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

The Purpose for the Second Coming: No one knows how much time will transpire between the Rapture and the Start of the Tribulation, but common sense would dictate that the Antichrist will have to show up quickly and establish his hegemony with authority. At least seven years after the Rapture, at the end of the Great Tribulation, Yeshua will return to earth with those He had raptured. This will take place at the end of the Campaign of Armageddon when He comes to defeat the Antichrist

Revelation19:19-21 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

Messiah will come to fulfill His promise of return spoken of in the Old and New Testament (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:9-11).  Probably the most mentioned in the Tanach, is the fact that Messiah also comes to regather and restore the nation of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6; Jeremiah 30:10; Ezekiel 36:24-38). It will be both a physical and spiritual regathering. He is also coming to judge the living Gentiles (Matthew 25:31-46) and Jews (Ezekiel 20:33-38) who survived the Tribulation.

It is also after the Second Coming that Yeshua will resurrect the Old Testament saints Revelation 20:4-6 and

Daniel 12:1-2 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Yeshua will also bind Satan (Revelation 20:1-3) and reign as the Davidic King in Jerusalem for 1,000 years (Revelation 19:6; Daniel 2:44) so, this coming is literal, physical and future.

The People of the Rapture: For those of us who believe in a literal Rapture, it is actually quite simple to understand. Only those "in Messiah" will be included in the event, requiring them to be in Messiah by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13.) That includes all believers who died from the birth of the Church at Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) and all who are still alive, as we learned in Acts 2. The dead in Messiah first and then those alive, not long after. Nobody else will be included at that time.

The People of the Second Coming: Yeshua's Second Coming will deal with a different group of people. First, He will return with the believers (saints) in their glorified bodies that were raptured seven years prior. Our role in His return will simply be to accompany Him and be observers of the final chapters of history. The Campaign of Armageddon is between Yeshua and His enemies led by the Antichrist. We will be there, but uninvolved. It will be a literal, personal, sudden, visible and glorious return. The Second Coming includes a judgment of all people known as the Great White throne judgment (Revelation 20:12-13). It is for all those who died without trusting Yeshua. Many will be surprised as they thought that religion was the answer, but they truly didn't have a personal relationship with Yeshua, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:21-23).  It is different from the Bema Seat Judgment that believers will undergo after the Rapture (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). That judgment of the believers is connected to service to the Lord and rewards for service, but salvation is never in question.

The Rapture is very different from the Second Coming or is at the very least the first part of the Second Coming. The second part is the physical future return of Yeshua on the Mount of Olives to judge the world. Regardless of where one stands on the Rapture, most people will agree that Yeshua is coming back at some point in the future, and when that occurs, a lot of people will not make the cut. The question is: Will you?

Survivalists, Escapists and the Rapture in the Prophetic Future!

There are not that many topics in the Bible that cause so much controversy as the Rapture does. Some people believe in it, some don't. From those who believe that the Rapture is a real event that will be fulfilled literally–and I belong to that group–many positions exist. The Rapture might happen before the Tribulation, during or after. I personally believe that the Rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation, leaving behind all those who have not placed their trust in the atoning death of Yeshua the Messiah for their sins. So, on the spectrum of end-times events, we find many markers representing doctrinal positions. At each end of that spectrum, we find groups that I will identify as the survivalists and the escapists.

The survivalists, that we can also call preppers, are a group of people convinced that mankind will go through the Great Tribulation and suffer greatly. They are right that the Tribulation will be a horrible, bloody carnage. They believe that it will include unbelievers and believers together for seven years of unprecedented turmoil and persecution resulting in the greatest death toll of all human history. Preppers prepare. They buy food, supplies, weapons, ammo and some even build remote bunkers hoping to put all the odds in their favor for surviving the Tribulation. Preppers also have a tendency to succumb to the latest conspiracy theory. On the mind of most preppers is the inevitable end of the world that must be avoided at all costs

Am I saying that believers should trust the Lord in all things and not prepare for difficult times? Absolutely not! In fact, the Bible advises us to prepare and be ready in many ways:

• Be ready for Messiah - Matthew 24:44
• Be watchful and strong - 1 Corinthians 16:13
• Prepare supplies of food - Proverbs 28:19-20, 20:4
• Prepare with faith - Hebrews 11:7

Now, what I am saying is that our preparedness should not consume us to the point that we are ignoring other aspects of life. Preparing is good and necessary. We need to prepare for the future and, to an extent, we also need to prepare for the unknown and the unexpected, but I find many preppers being so obsessed with stocking up supplies in anticipation of doomsday, that they completely miss their many opportunities to be witnesses of the love and compassion of Messiah to the lost. God provides and protects His children. He does it directly through circumstances and indirectly through people. So, we need to be wise about preparing for the future, using common sense mixed with wisdom and discernment. We must not succumb to the temptation of overstocking and over-preparing. Satan loves to keep people busy with whatever people deem necessary, and in the meantime, nobody is sharing the Good News. Some even think that they are smack in the center of God's will by over-prepping for the end. A balance must be achieved.

Subscribe to Olivier's YouTube Channel for more teaching videos

Now, on the other side of the same spectrum, we find the escapists. Who are these people? Escapists are people who believe in a pre-tribulational Rapture as I do, but they are fixated on their imminent departure more than anything else. They believe that the Rapture will occur prior to the Great Tribulation and that they hold their ticket and reservation for the ultimate ride upward. Escapists look forward to the Rapture and are often heard pleading for Yeshua to come now and snatch away the believers immediately. Escapists are not only "Rapture-ready", but they also are "Rapture anxious".  They are chomping at the bit for the Rapture to take place.

This reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. It really rubs me the wrong way when I hear people use the word Maranatha all the time. I have nothing against this beautiful Aramaic word meaning "The Lord is coming" or "Come, O Lord"!  We shouldn't dismiss or ignore the beautiful hope that we have in Yeshua and His return. He will return as the Lion of Judah to rule the world from Jerusalem. What a glorious day this will be!  What troubles me, is the many believers who constantly say Maranatha as they express their strong desire for Yeshua to return NOW! The question that usually comes to my mind is:  "Are all the people you care about saved for you to be so anxious about Yeshua's return?" When could such a question be answered in the affirmative without any doubt by anyone? Never!

I find the escapist approach to be selfish. It is as if people are thinking, "I'm saved, I'm in and who cares about others"?  Again, and as always, I do not wish to paint with broad strokes, but I am greatly concerned with the escapist mentality found across the Body of Messiah. So where is the healthy balance between the escapists and the survivalists? I believe it is found in the person who trusts the Lord day-by-day, moment-by-moment, as they also prepare with common sense for possible financial, physical, political and spiritual difficulties. Planning is necessary, prepping is over-reacting.  Trusting the Lord is critical to our spiritual health and growth, but blindly trusting God for all things without any planning is irresponsible.

We need to expect His return at any moment because it can happen at any moment, but we also need to wisely prepare as if He will not return and/or rapture us immediately. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention that believers will not suffer prior to the Rapture. So, prepare, trust, obey and anticipate His return. If we combine all that wisely, we will find plenty of time and opportunities to witness the good news to those who have no hope, so that when He indeed calls the believers to be raptured, more people will join in this glorious departure. Until then, let us all gather in the center of that spectrum and get busy sharing with the lost.

The One End Times Prophecy You Can Take to the Bank Today!

The words "end times", "prophecy" or "prophetic" usually get people's attention when uttered, and they should! Unfortunately, a lot of false teaching is being done under the heading of "end times prophecies" and it can be very damaging. There is a proper, healthy way to look at the prophetic word, biblically. But let's start by defining what we mean by prophecy. The word "prophecy" comes from two Greek words meaning, “to speak for or before”. Thus, prophecy means to be speaking or writing about events for someone or before they occurred. All prophecies of the Bible are from God only, and none of them were from the prophet’s origin (2 Peter 1:20.) The prophet of God can either be used for forth-telling (inspired telling) or  foretelling (predicting). In both cases, they are directed by God Himself for the benefit of mankind. From that perspective, almost 30% of the Tenach (Old Testament) is prophetic, and almost 22% of the B'rit Hadashah (New Testament) is prophetic.

More and more people are wondering why we should even study prophecy. Intimidated by apparent biblical difficulties, inconsistencies or contradictions, people give up on prophecy and miss out on about one third of the counsel of God.  We should study prophecy for several reasons:

• It comforts and calms: God has always been in control of all events of history. We are comforted (John 14:1-4) with the fact that He gave us His unchanging word, especially messianic prophecies that were all literally fulfilled in ONE person, the future unfulfilled prophecies will likewise be literally fulfilled.
• It cleanses and changes: In light of the fact that Yeshua of Nazareth could return at any moment, we should strive to lead lives that are pleasing to Him. (Titus 2:14; 2 Peter 3:13-14). In the effort to lead better lives for Him, we cannot avoid growing closer to God.
• It helps us understand who Messiah is and who God is: By studying messianic prophecies in the Tenach (Old Testament), we discover that through progressive revelation, God has granted us with increasing knowledge about the person, character, timeline and redemptive career of Messiah. Eventually, as the prophecies are studied within the grammatical/historical context, they all point to the same person: Yeshua of Nazareth.

But we must be careful to properly approach the prophetic word. Many approaches to the study of prophecy have been introduced over the ages. It is important to use a consistent approach when studying prophecy, as switching between approaches might satisfy our desire for an interpretation that fits our needs or understanding, but would do a disservice to God’s word. The proper study of prophecy helps us understand the whole Bible and it motivates us to live godly lives.

Towards that goal, we must remember the David L. Cooper's “Golden Rule of Interpretation": "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise."  The bottom line is this; a text apart from its context is a pretext!

Regardless of all the warnings about taking Scripture out of context to fit the news or one's opinion (eisegesis), people thrive on speculating on end times events. Newspaper eisegesis is running rampant today. Especially in the era of the Internet and social networks, it is easy for someone to become a self-proclaimed prophecy teacher, throwing a bible verse here and there to impress their online audiences.

Trying to identify the Antichrist or pinpoint the exact date of the Rapture of the believers are two favorite topics for a lot of people. There have been more potential candidates for the office of antichrist over the ages, than we can count or list here. Some say that he will be a Muslim, others say that he will be a Jew or a Gentile. People are divided on that topic, but it preaches well, and it sells books even better. A thorough study of the prophet Daniel and the book of Revelation will equip us to understand that the Antichrist will be a Gentile leader (read "totalitarian dictator") who will appear on the world scene after the Rapture of the believers, as soon as the Great Tribulation starts (Daniel 9:27.)

As to the Rapture, people have been speculating on the exact date when it will occur, when in fact nobody knows the day or the hour. These, as Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock state, are "calculated guesses based upon interpretive assumptions" at best. We can learn from a study of God's word  that the Rapture will happen, and that it will be before the Tribulation, although not everybody agrees on the timing, but nobody should set a firm date. I often imagine Yeshua, currently at the right hand of God, looking down on us and each time someone sets a new date, He shrugs and says: "They set a new date for the Rapture, I got to postpone again!" I say this tongue-in-cheek of course, but there is some truth in that statement.

Now, I promised you at least one end times bible prophecy that you can take to the bank, I will actually give you two. This doesn't mean that the rest of the prophetic word cannot be trusted or is with error. It simply means that we should tread the prophetic landscape carefully, lest we have to back pedal on some unfounded dogmatic statement we made. As to the currents events that we can know for sure are part of the prophetic future, they are the apostasy of the Church and the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.

The apostasy of the Church is promised in the Bible. Paul said that the Antichrist will not be revealed to the world until “the apostasy comes first” (2 Thessalonians 2:3.) Additionally, Yeshua prophesied that “many will fall away” and “most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:10, 12.) It is not difficult to see that much of the Church today is increasingly shifting towards that toxic behavior. Revelation 2 and 3 also give us some examples of the great falling away. Are we in the midst of the great apostasy? Will it get worse before it gets better? Are we not there yet? I think that we have started as a Church to see the falling away but it will get worse, and I am not even talking about the Great Tribulation, but what must take place before it.

Now, let's look at the one world event that we are living through today that is a guarantee that we are in the last days. I am speaking of the regathering of the Jewish people to the land of Eretz Yisrael. God promised to restore the land of Israel and He did when He allowed for the birth of the modern state of Israel on May 14, 1948. Beyond the restoration of the land, He also promised in Ezekiel that the Jewish people would return to it in the end times. Ezekiel 36:24 is clear, "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land." This speaks of the physical restoration of Israel and it has literally been happening in front of our very eyes for the last few decades. Additionally, In Ezekiel 37, the prophet is given a vision known as "the vision of the valley of dry bones", in which he is told that Jewish people will return to Israel. This is about Israel's national restoration, which is controlled by the God of Israel.

Jews have been coming to Israel under "the Law of Return" since 1948, but even more so in the last few decades. God is directing His chosen people back to His land for the final days before the return of the Mashiach. France has lost 50,000 Jews in the last 30 years, most of them in the last 15, due to the increased antisemitism that we have been witnessing lately. Is God behind this surge in antisemitism? He is not, but He can easily allow it as part of His divine plan. After all, He allowed for Satan to mess with Job at a level that most of us cannot even comprehend, but God did not hurt Job Himself. Can God allow for antisemitism to increase so that His chosen people will return home to Israel? Can God allow us to get into difficult and dangerous situations to draw us closer to Him, the answer is yes to both.

But, the national physical restoration is only part of this world event, because we will also see the spiritual rebirth of Israel as we read in Ezekiel 36:25-27, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances."

Frankly, the national regathering of Israel is nothing short of a miracle. We, the Jews should not exist, if it was not for God's grace and the fact that He made promises to Israel that He ratified in His covenants. The fact that Jewish people are moving to Israel in droves from the four corners of the world should encourage us about God's promises. It is the one current end times prophecy that we can claim is happening in front of our very eyes. What it does, is that it confirms that the word of God is true, tested and guaranteed.

We do not need to know the exact identity of the Antichrist (if you do know his identity, it actually means that you were left behind and are suffering through the Great Tribulation, and you don't really want that to happen to you!) We also do not need to know the exact date for the Rapture, we just need to know that it will happen for sure (it is actually the next prophetic event on God's timetable and could happen anytime now.) What we need to know, is that as we see the Jewish people repopulating their ancestral biblical land, we are living in the end times for sure and this should encourage us and motivate us to share the Gospel with people.

Will Antisemitic Christians Miss The Rapture?

The Rapture of believers has long been a controversial topic. Some believe that it is a myth and that it will never happen. They usually belong to a group of people that shies away from studying and/or teaching Bible prophecy for various reasons, and that would mean that we ignore about 25% of the Bible. Others believe in the Rapture happening, but simply place it at different times in the prophetic future, and some others would like to alter the way it will take place and who it will include. This has led to a lot of faulty views that are not doing justice to the doctrine of the Rapture. One of these views, circulating in some circles, claims that some Christians WILL NOT be included in the Rapture. This view is also known as the "Partial Rapture" view. Is there validity to that view at all, and who would be excluded?

The word "Rapture" is not found in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures, but this doesn't mean that the concept is not real. The word "Trinity" also doesn't appear anywhere in Scripture, and yet, Orthodox Christianity has the monotheistic belief in a triune Godhead including the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Rapture comes from the latin raptus, meaning "to snatch up or seize." It is found 14 times in the New Testament as the word harpazo. While the Rapture itself isn't spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), there are some examples of individuals being snatched up or raptured by God such as Enoch (Genesis 5:24) or Elijah (2 Kings 2.) There are also several instances of individuals being taken-up in the New Testament, but we need to concentrate on the events surrounding the future Rapture of the Body of Messiah (all believers in Yeshua of Nazareth.)

The most common view of the Rapture is that of a descending of the Lord Yeshua in the sky (without touching down to earth) and a snatching up of all the believers on earth–dead or alive. It is based on two key passages of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. People see that event happening at various times around the events of the Great Tribulation (prior, during or after, being the three main views.) I adhere to a view of the last days that places the Rapture first, then the seven-year Tribulation (also known as the seventieth week of Daniel), followed by the Second Coming of Yeshua and the 1000-year Millennial Kingdom of Messiah on earth from Jerusalem.

In this view, believers are taken up to be with Yeshua prior to any other event of the end times. They are protected by God from any harm that will be inflicted upon unbelievers during the Great Tribulation also known as the "Time of Jacob's Trouble." Such an event is imminent, it could happen at any moment, and yet, nobody knows the exact time of the event. Even though many have speculated and written a myriad of books dating the Rapture, nobody knows the day or the hour. We are assured of the imminency of the event by passages such as John  14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:7 and Titus 2:13. Author Renald Showers said it best in Maranatha, Our Lord Comes:" Other events may happen before the imminent return, but nothing else must take place before it happens." I could continue to substantiate the pre-Tribulational, pre-Millennial view of the Rapture, but I am more interested in looking at who will be included and who will be excluded in that future event.

It should be obvious that the Rapture is seen as a reward for believers who will be protected from God's wrath. That should never mean that because believers know that they will be snatched up before things get really bad, that we shouldn't care. The opposite couldn't be truer! Because we will be taken, and the unbelievers will be left behind, we should double up our efforts to share the Good News with the lost, so that many more can join in this epic upcoming event and be sheltered from the Great Tribulation. It should also be clear that those included in the Rapture–and this being whenever it takes place–are believers only. By this we mean those who have placed their trust in the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah for their sins.

In spite of all the biblical evidence, there are people who believe that the Rapture will only include some Christians but not all. I have a serious problem with that view. It was recently brought to my attention while I was listening to a very popular teacher on prophecy who was speaking about Israel, gentiles and end-times. At some point in the message, it was said that:"Christians who hate Israel will not be included in the Rapture." While I philosophically would agree with the exclusion of some believers in the Rapture, biblically, I simply cannot. Let me explain.

I have been a student of and teacher against antisemitism in all of its forms over the last several thousand years. As a result, I am painfully aware of Christian antisemitism over the centuries. By definition, Christian antisemitism means that one can be a follower of Messiah or a Christian and have resentment or hatred against the Jewish people. Their maturity as believers might be put in question, but their salvation shouldn't. We come to Messiah by believing in the power of Yeshua's atoning death and His blood shed on the cross on our behalf. That process is known as justification. Next comes a process that will take place for the rest of the life of the believer, and that is known as sanctification, when we are progressively made in the image of Messiah, until we are in our perfect glorified body, in God's presence. Sanctification takes time and its progressive work is different in everyone. An antisemitic Christian is toxic to the Jewish community and negatively influential to the Christian community, and yet, they remain a Christian, saved by grace through the blood of Yeshua.

If the Nazi officer who pushed my grandfather to his death in Auschwitz was led to Yeshua moments before his death, he will be in heaven with me for all of eternity. In my still fallen human nature, I despise him, and I hate the possibility of his salvation, but biblically, I cannot avoid the reality of his inclusion in the family of God if he had indeed come to faith in Yeshua. Similarly, in Luke 23:42-43, the thief on the cross didn't have any time to review his deeds and hang-ups when he placed his trust in Yeshua for his salvation. He simply turned his head, looked at Yeshua and asked Him to remember him: "And he was saying, “Yeshua, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” The thief had no time to revisit his life in detail or denounce and reject any hatred or prejudice he might have had. In his case, there was not time for earthly sanctification, but he was in God's family nonetheless.

When I became a believer in the 1980s, it took me several years of maturing in the Lord and reading the Word to change my view on abortion. I used to be 100% pro-choice, but I am now convinced that the Bible teaches 100% pro-life. I was not less of a believer then, I was just a baby believer and had the Rapture occurred at that time, I would have been included, just the same way that the potential "saved Nazi officer" would have been included, had he become a follower of Yeshua.

So, when I hear someone saying that "Christians who hate Israel will not be included in the Rapture", I cringe. I agree that Christian antisemitism is a real problem, but the only way these people will be excluded is if they are Christians in name only and have not given their lives to Yeshua, but that is a very different group of people.

To say that there will be a partial Rapture, is not new. It is a view from the mid-1800s, based on the idea of obedience and watching for Messiah's return. It is built on verses such as Matthew 24:40-51 and 25:1-13, to name just a couple. But it is a faulty view that according to Richard Mayhue in Christ's Prophetic Plan, would also necessitate a partial resurrection and require an earthly purgatory–two concepts found nowhere in Scripture.

Alongside the concept of a partial Rapture, another passage is often cited to prove that hating the Jews will exclude Christians from the Millennial Kingdom. That passage is found in Matthew 25:31-46 and is known as the Judgement of the sheep and the goats. In it, Yeshua says that those who helped Jews (the sheep) during the Great Tribulation are akin to having helped Him, "The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." Additionally, Yeshua speaks of those who didn't help (the goats), as receiving eternal punishment in verse 46.

Two things need to be understood from this passage. First, this is taking place during the Tribulation and has no connection to the Rapture, and secondly, the people who will help the Jews during the Tribulation will be doing it because they themselves have become believers after being left behind, thus after the Rapture. They will not help in an effort to gain acceptance from God unto salvation, but as a result of their late salvation and understanding of the need to help and bless Jewish people, otherwise, this would mean that we can work for our salvation, another doctrine not found in the Bible.

There is simply no validity to the statement that "Christians who hate Israel will not be included in the Rapture". We can go as far as saying that hating Israel is akin to hating God, and we get that idea from Psalm  83:3-5, "They make shrewd plans against Your people, And conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, That the name of Israel be remembered no more.” For they have conspired together with one mind; Against You they make a covenant."

It is clear that when one conspires against Israel, one conspires against the God of Israel Who is our God. As much as I wish it were, Christian antisemitism is not an oxymoron. It is the unfortunate result of our fallen nature, lack of maturity and ignorance. It can and should be fought with prayer and education.