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."

Yom Kippur, The Great Tribulation and the Antichrist...How Soon?

The Jewish civil new year 5783 has come and gone, and to many, it was a bit of a disappointment that the Rapture didn't take place on Rosh Hashanah (Yom T'ruah or the Day of Trumpets) this year. I am of those who expect the Rapture imminently, but I also understand that we cannot know the day or the hour of that event when Yeshua will come in the sky and call the believers up before the Tribulation. But after Rosh Hashanah comes Yom Kippur, and we should continue to pay close attention. So, how does that relate to Yom Kippur, the Great Tribulation and the Antichrist?

As I have explained before, I see a connection between Rosh Hashanah and the Rapture, Yom Kippur and the Great Tribulation and Sukkot (Tabernacles) and the Millennial Kingdom. The Fall Feasts have a thematic connection to the end times not necessitating an exact day fulfillment. In fact, all the Levitical Feasts of the Lord found in Leviticus 23 have a prophetic significance as it pertains to the redemptive career of the Messiah. It is quite beautiful to behold when we connect all the dots. But again, Rosh Hashanah is behind us, and we are now in the ten days of awe in preparation for the most solemn day of Yom Kippur known as the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).
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).

Leviticus 23:26-32 tells us that the Day of Atonement is all about repentance, humility and affliction: 26 "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. 29 If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 30 As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”
Yom Kippur 
is a very serious and solemn day on the Jewish calendar, possibly the most important of the year for Jewish people. It is never referred to as a feast but rather, as a fast. It is known by several names, including Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, Shabbat Shabbaton: The Sabbath of Sabbaths (Leviticus 16:31), and Yom Hakippurim: The Day of Atonements (Leviticus 23:27). It is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and is the only time that a day other than the Sabbath is also called a sabbath.

Biblically, Yom Kippur is never connected to a fast, but based on Leviticus 23:27-29, the rabbis decided that the "affliction" of the soul must refer to abstinence from food. According to Judaism on this day of judgment, all deeds–good or bad– are weighed in heaven and God inscribes one's name in one of three books (Wicked, In-Between or Righteous), sealing their fate for the next year until the next Yom Kippur. The basic rabbinic principle of Yom Kippur is that man can atone for his own sins through works. It relies heavily on the affliction of the body. Yom Kippur is a time when Jewish people experience affliction of the body more than the traditional affliction of the soul. It includes no eating or drinking. No washing or bathing. No anointing (creams, ointments, perfume). No leather shoes (luxury items). No sexual relations with spouse.
Yom Kippur is a day of repentance and expiation of sins by God, also based on Ezekiel 33:19: But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. The book of Jonah is also read to teach that you cannot run from God and that God will forgive whoever repents like the Ninevites. It is found in three passages of the Torah: Leviticus 16:1- 34; Leviticus 23:26-32 and Numbers 29:7-11. In the Torah, it served three purposes: To cleanse the people and the Tabernacle, to remind Israel of her national standing before God, and to call for individual repentance.

Leviticus 16:1-34 details the duties of the High Priest and serves as the foundation for 16:11, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement."

Yom Kippur will be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation also known as The Time of Jacob's Trouble and will culminate with Israel’s national Atonement in the Tribulation.

Ezekiel 20:33-38 sets the stage, “33 As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; 35 and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. 37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.

God will purge rebels and regenerate willing unbelievers who seek the righteousness of God through Yeshua the Messiah. This will bring about Israel’s national regeneration. The key word biblically and rabbinically is “affliction,” both of the soul and the body. On Yom Kippur, atonement was made for the nation, not the individual through the sacrifice of the two goats. But national atonement was not achieved unless there was an affliction of the soul at the individual level. Two other key passages to be considered for Yom Kippur’s fulfillment are Hosea 5:15-6:3 and Zechariah 12:10-13:1.

During the seven-year Great Tribulation, "left behind Israel" will suffer the affliction of the body as two-thirds of all Jewish people alive at that time will perish (Zechariah 13:8-9; Hosea 5:15). Additionally, Zechariah 12:10 and Hosea 6:1-3, speak of the spiritual affliction of Israel that will lead to a corporate acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel and will usher the physical Second Coming of Yeshua.

There is a beautiful prophetic connection between all the feasts of the Lord and the end times. Believers should really be excited about what is to come and how God has perfectly linked it to His "yearly convocations" but when it comes to Yom Kippur, we all need to reflect. What is so exciting about billions left behind to suffer and die, including half of the world population and within those numbers, two-thirds of the Jewish people alive at that time?

We look forward to the Rapture and rightfully so, and we look forward to the 1,000-year Messianic kingdom on earth when we will tabernacle with God in the flesh. Accordingly, none of us look forward to the Tribulation since we will be taken out before it starts. Yet, we need to think of all those left behind at the mercy of the Antichrist. Things will start with a promising peace treaty (Daniel 9:26-27), but soon the Antichrist will turn on people and demand to be worshipped as god. People will either take the Mark of the Beast and survive the Tribulation, only to be doomed to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire for rejecting Yeshua, or they will reject the Mark and become Tribulation martyrs.

The Tribulation is as certain to happen as the Rapture will. We are still here on earth, and people who don't know Yeshua are also around us. Now is the time to be bold with the Gospel because the clock is really ticking. If any of the five red heifers turn out to be kosher, we could see the ashes of that animal come to Jerusalem within one year (a plot of land on the Mount of Olives has already been purchased for the sacrifice of the animal). Then, all we need is for the Temple to be rebuilt, and I believe that the Antichrist and his peace treaty with Israel will be instrumental in that part.

Be encouraged to know that any Jewish man you share the Gospel with now could potentially become one of the 144,000 Jewish men used by God to change the world during the Great Tribulation. Now is not the time to be quiet. We know the whole story; we know the players and we know the end. The victory is ours, so, let's share the Gospel with those who need to become members of the blessed Body of Messiah!