Good mornin to you. This is one of those topics that some people divide over, and I want to be clear up front that I don’t have all the answers, and anyone who differs with my view is okay by me. Maybe another perspective is right, and I’m wrong. So I’m going to go ahead and tell you my beliefs up front, then I’m going to go to scripture to explain why I believe what it is that I believe. Fair enough?
First, I know that the word “rapture” isn’t in the bible. It’s just a shorthand way of saying people flying up to meet Christ in the air when He returns to gather His elect. (For a detailed account of our meeting Christ in the air, see 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18).
So here’s my position: There will be a single rapture event happening at Christ’s return, (after the tribulation).
Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 all give end times prophecy from Jesus about this. So let’s look at the account in Mark 13.24-27, “But in those days, after the tribulation the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”
The only part that I can’t easily harmonize with all of this is Matthew 24.34, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” The only way that verse makes sense (to me) is, as a way of indicating how long the tribulation will take place. Meaning…the great tribulation’s time-span will be within a single generation. Ruling out the possibility that we’ve continually been in the tribulation since the time of Christ’s first advent.
And I know that a lot of reformed folk believe that this prophecy has already happened with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. But I respectfully have a different interpretation of this event. For one thing, the cataclysmic celestial events haven’t happened, and Jesus and His angels haven’t yet returned in the clouds to gather His elect to Himself.
And another matter is that the antichrist will show himself to be God in the temple as a precursor to Christ’s return. Look at 2 Thessalonians 2.1-4, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2. 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. 3. 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; 4. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
This event (I believe) is the “abomination of desolation” spoken of in Matthew 24.15.
There is currently no 3rd temple in Jerusalem as of yet. But there is talk of the rebuilding of the temple. (I believe) that when it exists, this is that temple where the antichrist will make his appearance, claiming that he is God, and bringing temporary peace between nations. It also stands to reason that he will be a professing Jew. Why? Because professing Jews have always been looking for such a man to claim as their messiah, and it’s doubtful that a non professing Jew would be allowed to sit in authority and make such claims in their temple.
I know that dispensationalists like many baptists & pentecostals claim a dual kingdom of God between Jew & Gentile, and a dual rapture, with a pre tribulation rapture for the current church. But scripture doesn’t support that view. You won’t find a shred of scripture supporting a pre tribulation rapture. If anything, this doctrine leaves people unprepared for the tribulation, thinking they’ll get to skip it, as they watch the tribulation from the heavenly grandstands.
So I don’t align with reformed, preterist, or the dispensational view of end times. I couldn’t care less what xyz seminary or bible scholar teaches. But that’s just me. You may differ, and that’s beautiful with me. None of us have all of the correct answers; we just do the best we can with interpreting prophecy.
But if I could only make one recommendation it would be this…trash your bible commentaries & study bibles, (I did). Get an authorized king James text bible, and let God be your teacher. I’ll guarantee you, every bible commentary you’ve ever read is trying to convince you of some extrabiblical man’s systematic theology.
Grace and peace to you my friend.