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Revelation Answer to Question #23


23.  What happens during the rapture, that is, when "caught up together"?

The Book of Revelation speaks of a special time when "henceforth" (Revelation 14:13) those who die in Christ do not need to "sleep" as the saints throughout the Age did (I Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).  During the secret, invisible presence of Christwhen faithful Christians diethey are immediately resurrected to be with Christ to continue their "works."

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them."

"Caught up Together"

What was the Apostle Paul, by inspiration, really telling us?

He was teaching us that those who have fallen asleep through the Christian Age would be raised first when Christ would return from heaven. Those living at the time would not precede those who slept, but afterward would join them to the same place.

"We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. . .Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. . . "  1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17 NAS).

"Together" here means the same place in a time period—not necessarily the same moment.

"Together" means place or location just as it does a few verses later when Paul says, "we may live together with him" (1 Thessalonians 5:10).

The place is the "air." Satan, the "god of this world," has been invisibly ruling as the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus returns as a King invading Satan's domain setting up his own Kingdom.

The "dead in Christ" rise first. Afterward those saints who are "alive and remain till the coming ["presence," Gk.] of the Lord" join them. They do not need to sleep to wait for Christ to return!

Paul elsewhere explains,

"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump..." (1 Corinthians 15:51,52).

Thus those who were asleep are raised instantaneously upon Christ's return from heaven. But those who die in the Lord from "henceforth" —when he has returned—"rest from their labors and their works do follow" (Revelation 14:13).

One by one—as they prove "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10)—"in a twinkling of an eye" each will join Jesus and the brethren who preceded. They join in one place, not at one time.

 "One taken. . . "

But didn't Jesus say, "one taken, and the other left" (Luke 17:36)?

If a driver of a car is a Christian, wouldn't he just be "taken"? If an airline pilot is a Christian, won't he just be "taken"?

On the contrary, a careful look at the texts reveals that the ones on the "housetop" are warned not to go inside to take their things. There is time for choices! The one in the "field" should not decide to "return back" to his house before leaving.

Furthermore, they are not being snatched away to heaven. But then, where are they going? The apostles, in fact, asked this logical question, "Where, Lord?" (Luke 17:37)

Jesus answered—as he usually did in symbolic language—"Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."

Faithful Christians are being gathered to a spiritual feast when he returns! Some respond to the opportunity. Some do not. Jesus, who had been saying to his church through the age, "Behold, I come quickly," finally says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me" (Revelation 3:11, 20).

In keeping with one of the signs of his return, Jesus said he would provide "meat in due season" (Matthew 24:45). Spiritual food.

Therefore, the "carcase" to which we as eagles are gathered could not  be  the  Lord's  fleshly  body  in  heaven.  He  is  spirit  now  (1 Corinthians 15:45). (We would not be eating his flesh in heaven anyway!)

Some would be teachers "grinding at the mill" when the Lord would return.

Some would be in the "field"—in the world—not connected with any church ("house").

Some would be uncomfortably lying in their creed-beds (Isaiah 28:20) when Jesus would return.

The test would be, Would Christians be spiritually sleeping or spiritually awake to understand that Jesus had returned as a "thief"?

Would they be investigating God's "times and seasons" in the Scriptures?

Would they understand the "signs" Jesus had given his disciples to confirm that he had returned invisibly?

If Jesus' disciples would be ready, they would feast on the truths the returned Lord would provide. They would understand he had returned!


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