One Torah For All

One Torah shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
Exodus 12:49

I have told you in advance."

Chapter 13:
The Rapture

frizzled man

The questions that surround the “catching up” of the body of Messiah deal with when this event will take place in relation to the return of Messiah, at the end of the age.

One of the greatest concerns of this writer is the teaching of the “pre-tribulation rapture” and the effect that it has upon the disciple. One thing that it seems to do is to lull one into a false sense of security; namely, trusting in this escape from reality, when Yeshua taught His disciples again and again, that this would not happen; but rather, that He, via the Holy Spirit, would help them (and all disciples) to go through any difficulty that might come into the life of the disciple. This is especially so when suffering or persecution or tribulation happens because one has taken the Name of Messiah. It also seems to give to those who hold to this teaching, the idea that if I don't make it in the rapture then I still have a chance, even though I may have to die for it. If a person adopts the mindset and attitude of, “I can live how I want now, and I will get right then!” such a mindset reeks of self-centeredness, and will lead one right straight into hell. This teaching also seems to give the idea that one won’t be around when the Anti-Messiah shows up. This may be one of the more deadly concepts of a pre-tribulation rapture. Believing that one will not witness the rise of the Anti-Messiah, but then seeing him come into power, will cause many to say and believe that, since the disciples are still here, this surely cannot be the Anti-Messiah.[25] Therefore, it is OK to go along with what he says. After all, YHWH knows I still love Him. Furthermore, He knows I still need to eat.

As one can see, the rationalizations that will be quite common when the Anti-Messiah arises, can get one into spiritual hot water rather quickly if he is not walking in the Spirit, and does not have a close personal relationship with Yeshua. It will also help one to know the Scriptures that deal with the second coming of Messiah.

The truth of the matter is that YHWH has warned His followers that they cannot swear allegiance to the Anti-Messiah under any condition, for example, by taking a mark upon his body. The penalty for doing so is to be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. There will be no exceptions and no excuses.

One aspect of the “catching up” that is rarely dealt with is the “why.” Why does the “catching up” occur? What is its purpose? The answer to this question will help one to discover “when” it occurs. It is the popular belief today that the rapture and the resurrection are in close proximity to one another. Moreover, in some cases, the rapture is even placed before the resurrection. However, this is categorically against what the Scripture teaches. Furthermore, there may be a space of time between the first resurrection[26] and the “changing,” when the disciples receive their glorified bodies, specifically, one thousand years. That happens at the close of the millennial reign. It will be at that time that the disciples will be “changed” into their glorified bodies. Why? It will be at that time that the earth is destroyed by fire. It will be re-formed through this baptism of fire, into the new heavens and new earth. This is why the saints are “caught up.” Thus, this event takes place at the end of the millennium.

One of the difficult aspects of the rapture teaching is dealing with the many suppositions that accompany this teaching. Two of the most prominent teachings of the rapture are: 1) the catching up of the saints, and 2) at that time, it is believed, they will be given their glorified bodies. It will be shown from Scripture that these two events may not happen at the same time. In fact, one could be near the beginning of the millennium and the other one could be near the end of the millennium, thus putting approximately one thousand years between the two events. The catching up may be at the beginning of the millennium, while the changing of the temporal into the eternal, will be at the conclusion of the millennium.

To be caught up does not necessarily mean that one will be changed; i.e., given a glorified body. Look at the life of Philip when he was witnessing to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). At the conclusion of the baptism of the eunuch, Philip was “snatched” away. This is the Greek word HARPADZO, which is the same Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, when the disciples are “caught up” to be with Yeshua. Philip did not receive his glorified body when this happened. So, to be caught up does not necessarily mean that one is changed, as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:52. Therefore, the word “rapture” attempts to place two Biblical truths together that do not necessarily belong together. Therefore, the terms “caught up” (“gathering”) and “changed” are to be preferred over the use of the term “rapture”; the former occurring at the end of the tribulation, and the latter occurring at the end of the millennium. The “catching up” does not imply or mean that it has to be by supernatural means. This may actually be a reference to the next great exodus (Jeremiah 23:7-8; Ezekiel 39:27-28).

As the following passages are examined keep in mind the context of the paragraph and of the book, as well as that of the Scripture. Doing so, will help to further one’s understanding of when the coming of Messiah will be, for His own.

When does this event occur?
One passage that is quite astounding in regards to when this event will occur, is found in the book of Matthew. It is a parable that Yeshua gave to His disciples. It is also one of the few for which an interpretation is recorded as given by Yeshua. Here are both.

Matthew 13:24-30
Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where did the tares come from then?’ He said unto them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said unto him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you 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 together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Matthew 13:36-43
Then Yeshua sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, “Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

This is a kingdom parable. That means, that Yeshua is teaching a truth about His Kingdom (Israel). As the disciples and unbelievers are both present in this parable, as represented by the wheat and the tares, respectively, taking note of their relationship to each other and to the end of the age is informative. The servants of the landowner ask the landowner if they should separate the wheat and the tares. Yeshua answers, as represented by the landowner, that they were not to separate them, but they were to allow both the wheat and the tares to grow together until the harvest, which is the end of the age. The end of the age is at the conclusion of the tribulation. The tribulation is part of the present age. There is to be no separation before the end of the age. At the time of the harvest, it will be the reapers (angels) who are the ones doing the separating.

Notice who Yeshua says will be gathered first. He says that in the time of the harvest, He will say to the reapers, “First, gather up the tares.”[27] Yeshua makes it very clear that it is not the wheat which is gathered first, as taught by a pre-tribulation rapture theory. No, the first to be gathered are the sons of the evil one (tares). Then He says the righteous will shine forth.

The harvest at the end of the age is at the end of the tribulation. In addition, there is to be no separation between the wheat and the tares until then. There will be no separation between the disciples and the unbelievers. Both will go through the tribulation together. The truth of this passage is clear: there will be no separation until then. Moreover, when the separation finally does occur, it will be the tares, the unbelievers, who are gathered first and removed from His Kingdom. The removal of the tares will allow the wheat to shine.

Another parable of the kingdom, which teaches the same thing, is in the same chapter. This is the parable of the dragnet.

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.

Again, Yeshua teaches that the separation of the wicked and the righteous will not be until the end of the age. He also tells them again, that it is the wicked who are taken out (severed) from among the righteous. This separation ends in judgment for the wicked, as they are cast into the fire. The righteous, disciples and followers of Yeshua are left.

The person who will be saved, will be the one who endures to the end (Matthew 24:13). One cannot stop short and expect to be saved. For Yeshua taught, that he puts his hand to the plow and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of YHWH (Luke 9:62).

To this teaching, Yeshua later adds a stern warning for His followers. It is for all, but especially to those who would be alive in the last days.

Matthew 24:23-27
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Messiah, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Messiahs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him.” No one will need another to tell him that it is Yeshua, when He returns. Anyone who says that Yeshua is coming to this place or to that place is not to be believed. Yeshua labels them as false prophets. He is not coming for just a select few, but to all mankind. This is represented by His saying to not believe them if they say He is in the wilderness. He is not coming in secret. This is represented by His saying to not believe them if they say He is in the inner rooms. His coming will be visible to all, as represented by the lightning flashing from the east to the west.

“But immediately after the days of tribulation” (Matthew 24:29) will be the time of the coming of Yeshua. It will be then that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24:30), because it is now, that they witness Him “coming on the clouds” (Matthew 24:30) in all His majesty. They had their opportunity to accept Him, but they did not, hence the mourning. Not only do the unbelievers see Him at this time, but also He shall send forth the angels to “gather together His elect” with the call of a “great shofar” (Matthew 24:31). There is no mention of the disciples being changed. This gathering does not seem to be the same as the “catching up,” when the disciples receive their glorified bodies at the end of the millennium. His elect, the body of Messiah, “endures to the end,” to meet Him as He returns to earth.

Yeshua further says that his “coming” will be just like the days of Noah. A more complete treatment of this passage will be in a later chapter. One aspect of the “days of Noah” needs to be addressed here in relation to the rapture.

Matthew 24:37-42 (NAS)
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your YHWH is coming.”

The pronouns “they” and “them” in this passage are referring to the wicked unbelievers. “They” are eating and drinking. “They” are marrying and giving in marriage. “They” did not understand. The flood came and took “them” all away.[28] It was the wicked, in the days of Noah, who were swept away by the flood. Only righteous Noah (and his family) was left. Yeshua says that, so shall His coming be: one will be taken; one will be left. Who will be taken? As the wicked in the days of Noah were taken, so it shall be with the coming of Yeshua. The wicked will be taken; and the righteous shall be left. And as in the days of Noah, after the flood, it was the righteous who were left to replenish the earth, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Another aspect of great importance concerning the days of Noah, is that the unrighteous, the unbelievers, did not understand until it was too late. The only warning that they had, was from righteous Noah. The Scripture refers to Noah as a preacher of righteousness. Noah, as he built the ark, also preached of the coming judgment. There were no cataclysmic events to forewarn the world of the coming judgment. No, the only avenue of knowledge afforded to them was through Noah, YHWH’s chosen man.

Likewise, so it will be in the days preceding the coming of Yeshua. The only warning that the world will be afforded, will be through YHWH’s people.[29] There will be no cataclysmic event (such as the rapture) that will tell them of the coming return of Messiah. There will be earthshaking events, to be sure; but these can and most likely will be explained away as “natural” events. If the world is unwilling to listen to YHWH’s people, His witnesses, then they will reap what they have sown - judgment.

As it was in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be! To the wicked and the
unrighteous, it will be just as a thief in the night, totally and completely unexpected. Does not Yeshua Himself bear out this very truth in the very next verses? Is this not the central truth that Yeshua is trying to teach concerning these last days?

Matthew 24:43-44
But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

What Yeshua is saying is very simple: the people of Noah’s day did not think that what Noah was saying was correct. Therefore, because of their unbelief, they were not ready for the coming judgment. Akin to this, is that Yeshua admonishes His disciples to be ready. The ONLY way to be ready for His return is to believe and accept Him as one’s personal Savior, and keep His Torah. Please note, that the judgment of the wicked and the salvation of the righteous in the days of Noah were simultaneous. “So shall the coming of the Son of man be.”

When looking at when the catching up will occur in relation to the coming of Messiah, it is helpful to look into the Greek text. This helps to take away any of the ambiguity of the English translation. There are several Greek words that will be helpful to one’s understanding of the unity of the Scripture, particularly in the subject of Scripture prophecy. One Greek word of interest is found in the following passage.

Matthew 25:6
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

The English word “meet” is translated from the Greek word APANTESIS. A good picture of the meaning of this word may be found in Acts 28:15. Here, the apostle Paul is on his way to Rome for trial. He is under arrest. The disciples in Rome hear of his coming. They go out to “meet” Paul. Those who had come out of Rome, then turn around, and proceed back to Rome with Paul. Paul does not change directions, but continues on to his destination. The word picture of the Greek word is one of the official welcome of a newly arriving magistrate. The people of the city are watching for the coming of this dignitary; and when they see him in the distance, they go out to “meet” him, then continue on into the city, from which they just came, with the magistrate.

This is the picture of the Bridegroom. The bride is watching for her bridegroom, and when she sees him, she goes out to “meet” him. He is on his way to the marriage supper, and the bride then accompanies him there. So it will be, when Yeshua returns, disciples will see Him coming again and go out to “meet” Him, and then continue on to earth; His destination: the Mount of Olives. This word is also found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, speaking of that time when all the disciples will “meet” Yeshua in the air to be with Him always.

In answering when the catching up is one key word is APOKALUPSIS. This word is translated as “revelation.” This is the unveiling of Messiah, when His true identity will be seen openly by all.

1 Corinthians 1:7, 8 (NAS)
So that you were not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Master Yeshua
Messiah, who will confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Master Yeshua Messiah.

The Corinthian disciples were not waiting for the rapture. They were awaiting the “revelation” of Yeshua. This is that moment when Yeshua will come in all His glory for all to see, disciple and unbeliever alike. Yeshua will help His followers to endure to the end. This is when the revelation takes place. The end of the age is the goal of those who believe; and when the mystery of YHWH is no longer a mystery, He will be revealed.

The trumpet that accompanies the rapture of disciples, is another of the keys to placing when it will take place. In this next passage, the Holy Spirit specifically places when the trumpet call will be.

1 Corinthians 15:52
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.

The Greek word that is translated as “last” is ESCHATOS. It means “the furthermost, final, or uttermost.” This is the last trumpet. There are no other trumpets that come after this one. This is at the end of the millennium. This is the very last trumpet to sound at the end of the millennium. No other trumpet will sound after this one. The seventh trumpet of the book of Revelation cannot sound after this one. To do so, would make this one to be, one other than the last, making the word of YHWH in error (which it cannot be). During the Millennium, there will be the annual Mo’edim (Feasts) of YHWH that occur in Jerusalem. During these appointed times, there will be the sounding of the shofar and silver trumpets. If the “last” trump were before these, then this could not be the last one. The only way that this can truly be the last trump, is for the one mentioned in this passage, to be sounded at the very end of the millennium.

Notice what is happening at this trumpet sound; there is no mention of any catching up in this verse, or context of this passage. This is dealing with being changed, with both the dead and also the living, receiving their glorified bodies. This brings up the companion verse to this one.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
For this we say unto you by the word of YHWH, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of Yeshua shall not prevent them which are asleep. For Yeshua himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of YHWH: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet Yeshua in the air: and so shall we ever be with Yeshua.

These are probably the best known verses in relation to the “rapture”. This is again dealing with a trumpet (or shofar), the “trumpet of YHWH.” Notice what is happening at this trumpet sound. The dead in Messiah are raised and the living are caught up. (Please take note that the living shall not precede the dead; this will be dealt with more fully, later in this chapter.) The difference between this passage and the previous one, is that here there is the “catching up.” However, there is no mention of being changed in this context. This is an indication that these are likely two different trumpets sounding.

Along with these are three other tangible truths. The first of these, deals with His “coming.” The Greek word is PAROUSIA. The PAROUSIA will be dealt with more fully in the next chapter. Notice that this word appears in the text of 1 Thessalonians 4:15, which was discussed under the trumpet call for the disciples in Yeshua.

Secondly, it is at this time, that disciples (those who have repented of their sins) go to “meet” their Master and Savior, Yeshua. This is the Greek word APANTESIS, which was examined earlier in this chapter. Therefore, along with the resurrection, and the coming of Yeshua is the “meeting” with Him, or the “gathering” spoken of in Matthew 24:31. (This seems to be a direct reference to Deuteronomy 30:3-4.)

Thirdly, he says that “we who are alive and remain,” shall be the ones who are caught up. The Greek word translated as “remain” literally means, “those who are left behind” (as perhaps the wicked have already been taken in judgment; see discussion on days of Noah), or possibly, those who survive a war (the Anti-Messiah will “make war” with the disciples). This is an interesting picture, taking into consideration that it is those who “endure to the end,” who will be saved. This makes it sound like there may be something to endure, besides life in general (this will be discussed in a later chapter).

In the previous chapter, it was discussed, that the gathering together of disciples to Yeshua cannot happen until the apostasy comes and the Anti-Messiah is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). As the Holy Spirit says in this passage, “let no one in any way deceive you.” There are two passages of Scripture in the book of Revelation that need to be brought into the discussion of the rapture. The first of these is the one in which the seventh trumpet is recorded.

Revelation 11:15-19
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our YHWH, and of his Messiah; and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the four and twenty elders, which sat before YHWH on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped YHWH, saying, “We give thee thanks, YHWH Elohim Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” And the temple of YHWH was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

What is happening in this passage is that at the sounding of the seventh trumpet (shofar), Messiah begins to reign. This is important to properly place where and when this trumpet is sounding. The nations that were enraged have been judged. Note the past tense of the verbs in this passage. The sounding of this trumpet brings about all these things. The judgment, YHWH’s wrath, and the rewards, are things that take place at, or after, the resurrection. The logical conclusion is that the trumpet of YHWH in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and this one are the same trumpet. The trumpet mentioned here, and those in Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16

Revelation 20:4-6
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Yeshua, and for the word of YHWH, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Messiah a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of YHWH and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

As was noted in the discussion of 1 Thessalonians 4:15, those alive in Messiah cannot, and will not, precede the dead in Messiah at His return. In the passage in Thessalonians, it clearly states that the resurrection shall be before the catching up. However, it does not say how much before.[30] To go on with supporting verses, it says here, that those who have been slain (beheaded) in the name of Yeshua, those who have not worshipped the beast (Anti-Messiah), those who have not received the mark of the beast, all take part in the first resurrection. Now if the rapture were to be before the tribulation, then those living who were changed at that time, would go before those disciples in Yeshua against whom the Anti-Messiah will make war and kill. This is not possible, for the Scripture says that the living in Messiah, shall “not precede” the dead in Messiah. Surely, those who die in the name of Yeshua, whether that is before or during the great tribulation, must be considered “the dead in Messiah.”

All those who have a place in the first resurrection will reign with Messiah. Those who die because of the testimony of Yeshua in their life, those who refuse to worship the beast or take his mark, will have a part in the first resurrection, reign with Messiah, and not be preceded by the living in Messiah. Therefore, it seems only logical that all the tribulation saints will be included in the first resurrection. This means that the catching up of the living disciples must be after the end of the tribulation. Moreover, no amount of fancy manipulation of YHWH’s word can change this truth.

What has been shown thus far, is that the trumpet of YHWH will sound, the dead will be raised (resurrection), and the living will be “gathered” together. Then after the Millennium, the changing will take place, in which all living disciples will be “changed” in order for the earth to be destroyed (baptized!?) by fire, and a new heavens and new earth are made.

[25] On watching a very prominent Bible prophecy teacher on TV late one night, this writer was appalled to hear this man make the statement, that if any leader rose up and took control of the world’s systems, then it would not be the Anti-Messiah if the Church was still here, and that it would be okay to follow such a man, even to the point of taking his mark; thus showing the true nature of the deception of a pre-tribulation rapture teaching.

[26] The first resurrection actually seems to be the resurrection of the nation of Ephraim.

[27] For a further explanation of the reapers see Appendix D.

[28] The parallel passage in Luke’s Gospel (17:27) makes this even more clear when it states that “the flood came and destroyed them all.” Can there be any doubt who these pronouns are referring to? No! They are referring to the unbelievers, the wicked.

[29] Where would YHWH’s justice be if He removed all of His people and there was no one to tell of Him? There will be no rapture before the tribulation, for YHWH has given the task of witnessing to the world to the Body (Israel). And she shall remain and witness, many times through bloodshed; but then, what is so different about this, as compared to the rest of the history of the true disciples? Nothing!

[30] There is a principle of Biblical studies that is little discussed or dealt with. It is found in 2 Timothy 2:15, which states: “Study to shew thyself approved unto YHWH, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” To illustrate this principle the reader is referred to the life of Yeshua. Yeshua is in synagogue and is given the book of Isaiah to read. He reads the following passage. Luke 4:18-19 18 “The Spirit of YHWH is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of YHWH.” The important thing to take note of is the passage He is reading from in Isaiah 61:1-2. Verse two reads as follows: “To proclaim the acceptable year of YHWH, and the day of vengeance of our YHWH; to comfort all that mourn;” The reader will do well to note that Yeshua stopped in the middle of the sentence, and declared that what He had just read has been fulfilled in their hearing (Luke 4:21). If He had read the whole sentence, He could not have truthfully made this declaration. What this illustrates for us is that just because there are several items or events listed in one sentence does not force them to be fulfilled at the same time. Likewise, in the passage we are dealing with, the resurrection and the rapture (catching up and changing) need not necessarily be fulfilled simultaneously, as one must “rightly divide” the word of Truth.