The Rapture: a Mystery about to Unfold
Key 1: Israel’s Feasts – Key 2: Daniel’s 70 Weeks – Christ’s Return Assured – Rapture Texts – Before the Rapture – At the Rapture – After the Rapture – Rewards and Marriage – Left on Earth – The Return to Earth – Concluding Remarks
A global pandemic like Covid-19 spreads fear into the community. Even Bible believers are apprehensive and fearful. Suddenly there is widespread job instability, massive increase in national debt, imposed change of lifestyle, loneliness, unexpected loss of loved ones, and the inevitable trend towards personal surveillance and monetary control. The Book of Revelation has something to say about global events like this – and much worse global events are described as God’s judgement falls upon an increasingly pagan world. To many the future looks bleak.
But some who have trusted their lives to Jesus see an assurance (or at least a ‘hope’) of miraculous protection from such end-time traumas. They believe in the so-called “rapture” of true believers before God’s judgement falls. It summarizes a mysterious biblical concept; the snatching up to heaven of the saints just before the traumatic times described in Revelation. Jesus described exactly such an event!
Terminology: The term rapture is not found in most Bible versions (but neither is the ‘Trinity’), and the subject is rarely preached by the church since there are various prophetic interpretations. Perhaps such a radical, mysterious event also takes the average believer out of their comfort zone! But, as with the Trinity, when all the associated scriptures are taken together and put into context, some claim there is a clear picture of protection for true believers.
Old Testament Keys to the Mystery: Not surprisingly, the nation of Israel is the fundamental part of the picture! In particular, the rapture mystery unlocks when we study Israel’s mandated feasts, or “Feasts of the LORD” (Leviticus 23), and when we study Daniel’s “70 Week prophecy” concerning Israel (Daniel 9). We will look at both these keys first.
Key 1: Israel’s Feasts – a Coded Message for Mankind
Please take time to understand this key. It is fundamental to the rest of this post.
God’s seven annual feasts described in Leviticus 23 are relevant to both Jew and Gentile today. They show, prophetically, God’s complete plan concerning the coming of the Messiah, the redemption of mankind, the judgement of mankind and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth. In other words, they all point to Christ, link, link.
The first four feasts, the Spring Feasts, have been fulfilled: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. They are prophetically related to the death, resurrection and ascension of Yeshua (Jesus), and the sending of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.
The last three feasts, the Fall Feasts, (Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles) relate to the future and to the second coming of the Messiah, link. So today we are between Pentecost, the birth of the Church, and the Feast of Trumpets described in Leviticus 23 verse 24:
In the seventh month, on the first day of the month [Tishri 1], you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
Note that the Feast of Trumpets is a time of “rest” and of “blowing of trumpets”. What does this mean? For ancient Israel the priest would sound the trumpet to call field workers to stop harvesting i.e. to “rest” and to come and worship in the Temple. Prophetically, the trumpets point the children of Israel to a future momentous and victorious event when they will see the coming of their expected Messiah, their “Mashiach”. In reality, this is of course the Second Coming of Christ – Israel’s true Messiah. But note what follows this feast – the Day of Atonement [Tishri 10], when Israel looks to a time of their reconciliation with God. Prophetically this comes via the Great Tribulation of Israel (Dan 12:1, Mat 24:21), or Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7).
So the blowing of trumpets is not the prophetic end of this age. But it could denote the end of the so-called Church Age. For the church the trumpets appear to point to nothing less than the end of the harvesting of souls. It is a time of “rest”, when the church door “shuts” (Mat 25:10) and Christ comes for His saints. Some refer to this as the rapture, as in 1 Corinthians 15:52, link, link.
Key 2: Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy
This key puts events into some broad timeline. It is logical to adopt prophetic interpretations that agree closely with reality i.e. with what we observe in the world today. In this respect, the Futurist view of Bible prophecy appears particularly relevant and so we adopt that here. This view sees Christ’s return as tied to what happens to Israel at the end of the age. Here’s Daniel’s key prophecy:
Seventy weeks [1 week = seven 360-day years] have been decreed for your people [Israel] and your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place (Dan 9:24, annotated)
Futurists see the 70th week as still future, and so this week is of particular significance here. After all, if Week 70 elapsed around the time of Christ (Historicist view) there is no framework within which to fit many end-time prophecies, such as Jer 30:4-7; Dan 7:23-28; Dan 11:21-45; Dan 12:11-12; Mat 24; 2 Thes 2:3-4; Rev 7:3-8; Rev 12:6 and Rev 13. So here we assume that at the end of Week 70, Jesus returns to earth to establish Himself as “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev 19:11-21). He comes to “bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place” (Dan 9:24). To summarize, let’s identify some milestones in Week 70 (with no specific timeline):
- World-wide dictatorship (the two beasts in Revelation 13)
- A 7-year covenant with Israel (Dan 9:27)
- Severe persecution of “the saints” (Dan 7:21; Rev 6:9; 13:7; Rev 14:12)
- Israel’s Day of Atonement (Jer 30:7, Dan 12:1, Zech 12:10-14, Joel 2:32, Mat 24:15-21)
- Imposition of the “mark of the beast” (Rev 13:16)
- God’s judgement of the nations (the “seals, trumpets and bowls” of Revelation)
- The man-God war of Revelation 19 and the Second Coming of Christ to earth (Zech 14:3-4)
The Certainty of Christ’s Return
Christ’s return to this earth is largely undisputed, even by institutionalized churches. Jesus said:
The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven … and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory … therefore … be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Mat 24.30,44)
The angels verified His statement. As the disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven, two men (angels) clothed in white appeared and said:
Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus … will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven (Acts 1.11)
These are just two of some 1500 prophecies relating to the Second Coming of Christ. Contrast this with over 300 Old Testament prophecies that relate to Christ’s first coming, all of which were fulfilled, link. Surely, on these figures alone, the Second Coming of Christ is absolutely certain.
The Pretribulation View
Clearly, the whole of the final seven years appears to be a time of enhanced tribulation because the beast of Revelation 13:1 and the Antichrist of Revelation 13:11 will have just been revealed. Observation of today’s world suggests this short and traumatic period of earth’s history is imminent. So where do we place the rapture? Theologically, the rapture is usually described from the so-called Pretribulation, Midtribulation and Postribulation viewpoints, depending upon whether it is placed at the start, midway, or end of Daniel’s Week 70, respectively. The Postribulation view has many unresolved problems, link.
Although controversial, there is strong scriptural justification for placing the rapture at the start of Week 70 (Pretribulation view) – whenever that is. Consider the prophecy in Daniel 9:27. Here, the beast or “lawless one” (2 Thes 2:8) or world dictator signs a seven year (one “prophetic week”) covenant with Israel. But Israel’s rulers fail to see they are making a “covenant with Hell” (Isa 28:15), and the dictator breaks it “in the middle of the week” (Dan 9:27). Clearly, at some point just prior to the signing this despicable person must be revealed to the world. But that cannot happen until the Holy Spirit (and by implication the true church) has been “taken out of the way” (2 Thes 2:7).
Looked at another way, if believers see this revealing they would know that the return of Christ will be seven years from that revelation! But the “day or hour” of Christ’s return is not revealed. Clearly, this scenario aligns best with the Pretribulation viewpoint. Go deeper at “Timing of the Rapture”, link.
A key text used to support the rapture was written by Paul:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thes 4:16-17)
This doesn’t sound like a “secret coming”, as some claim. At least true believers, either alive or sleeping, will suddenly be aware of it! That said, it doesn’t sound as though Christ returns to the earth at this time either!
Other Scriptures Supporting the Rapture
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left (Mat 24:40-41)
The discourse in Matthew 24:36-41 (and Luke 17:26-37) is perhaps the most direct reference to the sudden separation of living believers from unbelievers. By referring to the days of Noah, Jesus implies that it is the believers who are “taken” out of a godless world, just as Noah was “taken” out of his godless society (see later discussion on this). In both cases God’s people are taken prior to God’s judgement on the world.
For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man (Lk 21:35-36, emphasis added)
Here Jesus is talking about the terrible times at the end of the age and the importance of being counted worthy to escape such events (like the five wise virgins, Luke 25).
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev 3:10, NKJV)
Note: “will keep” means “to guard (from loss or injury)” [Strong’s G5083]. So here the risen Jesus is promising the faithful end-time churches (like the NT Philadelphia church) that He will protect them when the world’s hour of trial comes. Texts implying a pre-tribulation rapture suggest this is how He does it.
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle … So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped (Rev 14:14,16)
This is a vision of Christ reaping the good harvest of the earth – from a cloud. Believers are separated from those who are about to suffer the wrath of God (verse 19).
The concept of a “taking way” of believers can also be seen in the following scriptures:
In My Father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you … and I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (Jn 14:2-3)
Does this suggest a period of rest with Christ before they return to earth with Him? Rewards and marriage perhaps?
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Col 3:4)
This text suggests that believers have first been taken up to be with Christ before they return with Him. Is the resurrection and return of the saints all in an instant (Postribulation view), or do they first rest with Christ as implied in John 14?
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Mat 24:31)
Jesus’ words here imply that those saints who have previously been taken up to meet Him in the air will be gathered together from their dwelling places in heaven to return with Him to earth (see verse 30).
Now let’s put it all into context, but without trying to date the event (Matthew 24:36). What happens just before, during, and after the rapture?
Life Before the Rapture
Normality: In Matthew 24:36-41 and Luke 17:26-37, Jesus implies that believers are working within a normal social environment alongside unbelievers when they are suddenly “taken”. As Jesus puts it, life in the world will be like Noah’s day, with pleasure seeking, marrying, buying and selling, and so on. And, as in Noah’s day, people today will be oblivious to, or skeptical of, the impending judgement of God. Also, it seems that up to the end of the so-called “Church age”, or “Age of grace”, believers will still be able to preach the gospel, albeit with increasing persecution (Mat 24:9-14) and a falling away from faith (2 Thes 2:3). And some believers will be “watching” the signs (Lk 21:34-36) whilst other believers, like foolish virgins (Mat 25:8-13), will be ignoring the signs.
Personal ID: In today’s hi-tech world each worker usually has an ID on some computer system. In China an 18 digit ID card is mandatory for all adults. If you work in Germany you need an 11 digit tax identification number (TIN). In Australia worker ID is via a person’s Tax File Number (TFN), and in the UK its via the National Insurance number and Government Gateway. In the last few years of this age no one will not be able to work without the ultimate ID – the mark of Revelation 13:17. But in Jesus example of Noah and workers in the field or at the mill, there is no suggestion of such a working restriction.
This pre-rapture scenario is not compatible with severe persecution under the Antichrist. So the Pretribulation view fits well here since, as discussed, it seems the rapture must occur before the revealing of the two beasts of Revelation 13 and their imposition of the mark. Either way, a totally cashless society would seem to be necessary before the introduction of the mark.
Life at the point of the Rapture – the ‘Taking Out’
By definition this is an essentially instantaneous event. Nevertheless, much happens at the instant of rapture:
- It happens “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor 15:52) and unexpectedly (Mat 24:44)
- “One will be taken, and the other left” (Mat 24:40). Who is taken, the believer or the unbeliever? Here, the Greek word for ‘taken’ is ‘paralambano’, which means ‘to take into close association with oneself’, in a positive sense. The Greek word for ‘left’ is ‘aphiemi’ and means ‘to leave, forsake, omit or lay aside’.
Jesus used the illustration of Noah (Mat 24:36-44). Just as Noah was taken out of the world before the judgement of the Flood, so believers will be taken from the earth before God judges the world. The preacher John Wesley summed it up like this: ‘One is taken into God’s immediate protection: and one is left to share the common calamities’. Jesus also illustrates the prior removal of the righteous by referring to Lot’s exit from Sodom before the city was destroyed (Lk 17:28-29)
- This is the first resurrection, when those raptured take on immortality (1 Cor 15:52-54)
- It seems the Church age suddenly ends. The door that leads to salvation in this age suddenly “shuts” (Mat 25:10, Lk 13:25). In Christ’s parable, those who have heard the Gospel but have not responded (the unwise virgins) lose out and don’t go on to “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9)
- Compatible with the removal of the true church, many maintain that the Holy Spirit is also “taken out of the way” (2 Thes 2:6,7). God’s restraining power over the spiritual world is suddenly removed, permitting the identity of “the lawless one” to be revealed at some later point in time (2 Thes 2:8). [Note: as discussed, if the church experiences the appearance of the beast of Rev 13:1, then she will know that Christ returns to earth 7 years from that time (Dan 9:27). But the day or hour of Christ’s return to earth is not revealed (Mat 24:36,44)]
Life after the Rapture: the Last Seven years of this Age
Here the Bible paints two distinct pictures, one good, one bad. Consider first the resurrected saints.
Rewards and the Marriage of the Lamb
What happens to the raptured and resurrected saints during Daniel’s 70th Week (2,520 days)? Is this the time of rewards for believers and then their marriage to the Lamb? Paul describes an often ignored but extremely important event:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities] (2 Cor 5:10, amplified)
Paul says a Christian’s service for the LORD will be judged to be like gold, silver, precious stones … OR, like wood, hay or straw (which can be “burnt up” (1 Cor 3:12-15). This is a time of reckoning for how a believer has spent their life (Rev 22:12). A believer should live remembering that what they have done will be judged. It is possible to have a saved soul and a wasted life!
The Lamb’s Wife: After their judgment the saints are clothed in fine linen, clean and bright, which denotes their “righteous acts” (Rev 19:7-8). According to these two verses the rewarded saints are now ready to be the Lamb’s wife, and it is these same saints, arrayed in fine white linen, who form the armies of heaven with Christ when He physically returns to earth (Rev 19:14). But who exactly are these saints? The Lamb’s wife is often taken to be the church and only the church, link. To quote James Dwight Pentecost:
The marriage of the Lamb is an event which evidently involves only Christ and the church … the resurrection of Israel and the Old Testament saints will not take place until the second advent of Christ. Revelation 20:4-6 makes it equally clear that the tribulation saints will not be resurrected until that time also.
The Supper: Dwight Pentecost distinguished between the marriage of the Lamb (which involves only the church and takes place in heaven), and the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is claimed the supper probably involves Old Testament saints, tribulation saints (Rev 20:4-6) and Israel and that it takes place on earth after Christ’s return, Dr J. Dwight Pentecost. Others see the marriage and the marriage supper both taking place in heaven, link, link.
What about those Left Behind?
As some secular books suggest, a Pretribulation view of the return of Christ for His church will probably result in a strange scenario on earth. As John Wesley commented, at the rapture some are left on earth ‘to share the common calamities’. In contrast, remember that Jesus promises the true Philadelphia-like church that she will be protected from the coming calamities:
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev 3:10)
This “hour of trial” occurs during the last seven years of the age and involves the whole earth. Some of the main features of this brief but terrible period are as follows:
- The World Dictator: The removal of the Holy Spirit and the true church enables a political and military dictator to emerge on the world scene (2 Thes 2.8). This person will be lawless and driven by Satanic powers such that the world will be deceived (Rev 13.3). He is also the ‘beast’ of Rev 13.1-10 and will probably rule a revived Roman Empire based in Europe. He is given Satanic authority to rule for 42 (lunar) months (Rev 13.5). Some see this beast in Revelation 6: he comes in as a false leader with great Satanic power to conquer nations by military power and exalt himself as “God” (Dan 11.36-45, 2 Thes 2:4). The result, as in all wars, is famine and death (Rev 6.5-8), followed by persecution of new believers (see below). This is the time of the ‘Seals’ of Revelation
- The Antichrist: The second beast described in Revelation 13:11-18 is probably the Antichrist. Note how he points the world to the first beast (who claims to be God) – mimicking how Christ through the power of the Spirit pointed men to God the Father. This description of an ecclesiastical beast aligns well with the Papacy and the apostate church. Certainly, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Bunyan, Huss, Knox, Edwards and Wesley associated the Papacy with the Antichrist and this teaching gave rise to the Protestant Reformation. It is the Antichrist who enforces the “mark of the beast” (Rev 13:16)
- Israel’s Great Tribulation: At the start of Daniel’s Week 70, the world dictator makes a seven-year covenant with (largely unregenerate) Israel, presumably to ‘protect’ her (Dan 9.27). But, as discussed, this will be deception and half way through he breaks the covenant and invades Israel. This is the time of the “abomination of desolation” (Mat 24:15, Dan 9:27) and severe persecution of the Jews in Israel (and specifically in Judea). Jesus said:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time … unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved … but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened (Mat 24:21-22, see also Dan 12:1)
Who are “the elect”? The context here is the persecution of the Jews just prior to Christ’s return. It is also known as Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30.7). So does Jesus’ reference to “the elect” refer to God’s servants, His “elect”, in Isaiah 65:8-9? Are these days shortened so His elect will at last recognize Yeshua as their true Messiah (Zech 12:10-14)?
Who are “the saints”? Are the Jewish “elect” also the “saints” in Rev 13:7? Is this text in Revelation a reference to the dictator’s persecution of the “saints” in Daniel 7:21? Note that, just as the dictator is given authority for just 42 months (Rev 13:5), so Daniel’s “people” (Dan 12:1) are also overcome for just 42 months (Dan 7:25).
Gospel Preaching: Now consider Revelation chapter 14. This paints a broader picture:
Here is the patience (perseverance) of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev 14:12).
In the absence of the true church (Pretribulation view), the gospel is preached to the whole world by an angel, and people are also warned not to take the mark (Rev 14:6-13). So the saints here could be people from all nations, Jews and Gentiles. It seems many will at last recognize the truth of the Gospels and come to follow Jesus. They join the “great multitude” of saints from all nations (Rev 7:9), although many will be martyred because of their faith (Rev 6:9,11, 7:14, 13:7,10, 14:12). These are the very last believers of this age
- God’s Judgement on the World: The “day of the Lord” is mentioned in the Bible over twenty times and usually refers to the time of God’s judgement on the nations at the end of this age:
Enter into the rock and hide in the dust, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day (Isa 2:10-12)
They hid themselves and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 16:15-17)
The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape (1 Thes 5:2-3)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men … (Rom 1:18)
- The period in Revelation spanned by the seals, trumpets and bowls denotes this time of world calamity. This is undoubtedly the worst time ever to be on the earth. The seven seals cover a time of world dictatorship by the beast of Rev 13:1, resulting in war, famine, death and martyrdom of those saints who refuse to take the mark. Some place a ‘midtribulation rapture’ around the end of the 5th seal, link. The 6th seal sees the first of the cosmic disturbances
- The seven trumpets probably span from the seventh seal to the return of Christ with His saints. During this time much of earth’s vegetation is burned up, a great rock (asteroid?) is “throne into the sea”, fresh water is polluted, there are more cosmic disturbances, and demonic activity becomes global
- God’s seven bowls of wrath (Rev 16) appear to run in parallel with the seven trumpets. The beast’s kingdom falls apart, starting with a loathsome sore upon all those with the mark of the beast. The seas and the waters turn to blood, the sun scorches men with fierce heat, darkness that can be felt falls upon the beast’s kingdom, demonic forces assemble the world’s armies for battle (Armageddon), earth’s cities fall under a great earthquake, and men suffer the heaviest hail in history. More at Daniel’s Week 70
Christ Returns to Earth
The most important event in Daniel’s Week 70 is the return of Christ to this earth at the very end of the seven years, after all the tribulations on earth:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war (Rev 19:11)
Unlike the prior meeting of the saints in the clouds before these tribulations, Christ’s return to earth is dramatic and very public. All will see it, just as lightening flashes from east to west (Mat 24:27). Sun and moon will grow dark and there will be signs in the heavens (Mat 24:29). And, as promised in Acts 1:9-11, Christ’s return will be on clouds with great power and glory (Mat 24:30).
Prior to Christ’s return to earth, a trumpet sounds and the saints are gathered “from one end of heaven to the other” (Mat 24:31). This implies the raptured, immortalized, rewarded and ‘married’ saints (His bride) are called from their heavenly mansions (Jn 14:2) in order to return with Christ:
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses (Rev 19:14). See also Jude 14-15 and 1 Thes 3:13.
As Paul puts it, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col 3:4).
Note that Christ returns to “make war” on the beast and his armies. But in this strange and unique ‘man-God’ war victory is assured. The armies of the world are defeated and the beast and the false prophet (taken here as the Antichrist) are cast alive into the “lake of fire” (Rev 19:20). At the same time, after the seventh trumpet, Satan is bound for 1,000 years and earth commences her seventh millennium, this time under a theocracy not secular government. Jesus (Yeshua) reigns as King over the earth from Jerusalem (Zech 14:9). More at the Millennium.
One particular view of the assured return of Christ has been presented. For believers who are fearful for what is coming upon the world, this view can provide some assurance. Let’s summarize:
The Futuristic View: First we take the ‘futuristic view’ of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy, with Week 70 still future, in order to provide the short time-frame needed for the end time traumas in Revelation. This traumatic ‘week’ seems imminent. For example, the increasing use of a digital ID in order to be able to work, and the relentless march of cashless trading both point to the enforced ID in Revelation 13.
The Pretribulation View: Secondly, we take the Pretribulation view of prophecy i.e. the saints are “taken” before Week 70 since this aligns with the New Testament concepts of being “taken” (Mat 24), of “escaping” (Lk 21), of being “kept from” (Rev 3), and of “being reaped” (Rev 14) from the turmoil of the last few years of this age.
Working without the Mark: The Pretribulation view helps to explain how, according to Mathew 24 and Luke 17, believers appear to be working alongside unbelievers when they are suddenly “taken” from the world scene. And all apparently without having to have the mark of the beast. They will be free to work and witness, albeit with increasing persecution (Mat 24:9-14). If they had refused to accept the mark they would have been killed (Rev 13:15). The logical conclusion is that believers must be removed prior to the start of Daniel’s Week 70 and the subsequent imposition of the mark. Note also that, if believers see the revelation of the world dictator, they would be able to deduce when Christ actually returns to earth, and then in all probability would be killed.
So the rapture appears to take place before the revelation of the beast of Rev 13:1, before the imposition of the mark, and before the execution of God’s wrath on the world in the latter half of Week 70. Believers do not go through the “wrath of God” (1 Thes 5:9).
Timing: When will it happen? Jesus said it would be like the days of Noah. The world today is just like the days of Noah. Emphasis is on pleasure seeking rather than seeking God. Man has rejected God’s laws and replaced them with his blessing on homosexuality, easy abortion, gay marriage, gender dysphoria, evolution, and the worship of other ‘gods’. Given this scenario, the increasing computer control of individuals, and the sign of the fig tree – the blossoming of Israel in her homeland (Mat 24) – then the rapture appears imminent compared to the biblical timescale!