WHEN ARE WE CAUGHT UP
By W. G. Guy
The term “caught up” is frequently referred to as the “rapture” of the saints, the time when Jesus returns to take His believers to be with him; first those that have died and are in the graves, followed by those that are alive and remain.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – 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.
There has been much conflict over when this event occurs. There are those that claim it is before the “great tribulation”, because God has not appointed the saints to His wrath, as they believe the tribulation is the “wrath of God”; others say it is after the great tribulation, and some say that it occurs in the middle. We need to recognize that the “wrath of God” is aimed only at the wicked and occurs at the end of the age, God’s final effort to get the wicked to repent. The tribulation is the devil’s efforts to destroy the saints and stop their influence on mankind. The tribulation has been ongoing since the church began as history proves.
Instead of reporting on what man has to say about the timing of being caught up, we shall look at what is recorded in the Bible as to when the rapture, or being caught up, occurs.
2 Thessalonians 2:1 – Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
This tells us that we will not be gathered together unto Him until AFTER the man of sin, commonly referred to as the Antichrist is recognized. Since it is the Antichrist that causes all mankind to receive his mark, our being caught up to meet Jesus in the air happens afterward. Great controversy surrounds just what the “mark of the beast” is; this will be addressed later in this article.
Are there other scriptures that tell us when this event will occur?
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 – Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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.
This event refers to the time when we are to be “caught up” to be with Him. When does it occur…..at the “last trump”. So when does the last trump sound? In the Book of Revelation we are told about seven trumpets that sound out very significant events. The last trumpet is the seventh one; there are no more trumpet sounds after that LAST TRUMPET. This tells us that the time of being “caught up” is at the end when all the events of God dealing with mankind on earth are finished and His Kingdom takes over.
Revelation 11:15 – 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.
Note: the seventh trumpet is the same as the seventh vial poured out in Revelation 10:7 and 16:17, it makes the end of all these events and the time of His kingdom. The seven trumpets are announcements, or warnings, and the vials are the actual events. With the SEVENTH it is all over, the plan is finished.
Are there any other scriptures that indicate the timing of our gathering together unto Him?
Matthew 24:29-31 – 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: 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. 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.
Since all the above scriptures show that our being caught up (raptured) shows that this greatly anticipated event occurs at the end, why is it that many believers are convinced that it occurs before the Antichrist shows up and causes a period of great tribulation? They say that God has not appointed us to His wrath; and this is true. However we need to understand that true believers will be protected from His wrath as it will be aimed at the wicked. This has happened before: consider that the Israelites were in Egypt at the same time that God’s ten plagues (like wrath) were poured out on the Egyptians, yet they did not experience any of the issues of the ten plagues. God knows how to protect His people.
Here is another example:
Revelation 9:2-5 – And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Who has the seal of God in their foreheads…..God’s chosen ones:
Revelation 7:3 – saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Some will argue that this only applies to the 12,000 of each tribe of Israel; however, Bible scholars say that these numbers symbolically refer to all believers, both Jew and Christian as all are children of Abraham by faith according to:
Galatians 3:6-7 – Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Romans 9:22-24, 30 – What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? …… What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
Now to throw a big “wrench into the works”; what if there is no seven year period of “great tribulation”, that it is all a fabrication to deceive Christians in an effort to divert their belief from one direction to another direction? Where did the concept of a seven year tribulation come from and who started it? Back in the 17th century the Roman Pope assigned two Jesuit priests to come up with some method to divert Christian belief away from the Pope being the “man of sin” (antichrist), and the Roman Church from being the Beast of Revelation.
One of those priests, by the name of Rivera, came up with the seven year tribulation, a new future revived Roman Empire and the arrival of Antichrist. He even put his thesis in book form which was translated and sent around parts of Europe and was eventually accepted by a protestant group on the UK. The concept was then sent to America and eventually picked up by C.I. Scofield who then incorporated it into the Scofield Reference Bible. The concept took off from there as an accepted doctrine. Jack Chick of Chick Tracts even did a tract and a booklet about the source of the seven year tribulation back several years ago.
Now as to the “mark of the beast”, since the Reformers were so adamant that the Roman Catholic Church is the Beast of Revelation, it only fits that the mark of that beast is the sign of the cross that the church uses. That sign involves the head and the hand when they cross themselves. That mark identifies them as belonging to the Roman Church system and was likely employed during the cruel reign of Pope Beniface VIII in the middle-ages so people were not able to conduct daily business unless they were under the pope’s subjugation.
Here is a spin on the interpretation of the Book of Revelation: the scroll with the seven seals is the heavenly book of the future of the church from the time of the apostle John. Each seal opens a new chapter with the seventh seal being the end chapter. All the events mentioned after the seals are more detailed events that occurs within those seven chapters.
I suspect that we are now at the end of the fifth chapter where those that died for the testimony of Jesus Christ cry out for justice and are told to be patient as there are more to be added to their number. Then we begin the sixth chapter which is the great earthquake: what is an earthquake but a period of great shaking, This is revealed in Hebrews 12, Matthew 24 and Luke 21 when everything that can be shaken will be shaken.
The end of the sixth chapter, after all the shaking of every institution of man as well as things terrestrial and celestial, introduces the wrath of God that the wicked recognize is coming beginning in the seventh chapter, and they run in fear to hide from. They acknowledge that they are subject to His wrath, a last attempt by God to get them to repent.
Revelation 6:12-17 – 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; 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. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Then the seventh chapter begins the wrath of God and the final judgments on the wicked which includes the seven angels announcing with their trumpets and the other seven angels initiating those judgments as they pour out their bowls or vials. Note that the seventh trumpet is the last trump and announces the end, as does the seventh bowl or vial.
The “Reformers” back in the 16th century never mentioned, or considered a seven year tribulation in their writings and research. The reason why is that the tribulation is not for seven years but for two thousand years; from the beginning of the church to the resurrection/rapture. That is why those who were identified under the fifth seal as coming out of tribulation had to wait until the rest of their fellow believers who were yet to be killed during the remainder of the tribulation – (Revelation 6:11).
In Matthew 13 Jesus is teaching about the spiritual growth to maturity of believers and their experience as they develop. The goal is for Christ’s character and nature to be formed in them: some don’t make it at all; others attain 30%, some 60% and still others make it to 100%. All three levels are acceptable, however He goes on to tell us that the wicked (tares) will also live among us attempting to hinder our development. The tares (the wicked), and the wheat (redeemed), continue living together until the command of God to judge the wicked and bring home the righteous. This was such an important teaching that Jesus referred to it twice using two parables in the same chapter.
Matthew 13:27-30 – So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Jesus continues dealing with the same subject in another parable in the same chapter:
Matthew 13:47-50 – Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Please understand that we are in this until the end at which time we will see the wicked receive their reward, the wrath of God and the Lamb, and we are taken to be with Him. This is also called the Day of the Lord, which is also called in the Old Testament the “Day of Darkness”.
Please look up Psalm 91, Joel 2:2, Amos 5:18-20 and Zephaniah 1:14-17 regarding the “Day of the Lord”; it is also called the “Day of Vengeance” in multiple locations in the Book of Isaiah.
So now you know when we are caught up! So we all need to be prepared to stand and endure because persecution has been promised to all that live godly in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:11-12 – It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
2 Timothy 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Matthew 10:22 – And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
On another related topic of the end, we do not know the day or the hour because it cannot be identified in earth time.
Matthew 25:13 – Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
The earth has twenty-four time zones, and at one point in the earth it is two different days depending on which side of the International Dateline you are in. So it cannot be declared that the end will occur at xx:xx hours because it is a different day and hour depending on where you are located.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 – But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
We can’t know the day or the hour, but we can know the season, as indicated in verse one above. The season is most likely during God’s Holy Days that are to be observed in the autumn, namely the Feast of Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. The first of the three Holy Days is the Feast of Trumpets, and trumpets are used to announce the arrival of a king. Next is the Day of Atonement, which may be when Jesus presents His saints to the Father as having been acquitted and atoned for. The last Holy day is the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Ingathering, a celebration following the harvest.
Hope all of us are ready!