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Milepost 9: The Rapture

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Milepost 9: The Rapture

Primary References: Revelation 4:1-2

These verses in Revelation 4 mark a dramatic change in the perspective and focus in Revelation's narrative. Revelation 1-3 have covered the ‘things thou hast seen and the things which are . . .' (Revelation 1:19). Their primary focus has been on the past and present. From here on, everything John sees occurs in the future, ‘things which must be hereafter'. Though Revelation 1-3 mentions the church nineteen times, but neglects to mention it again until its epilogue in chapter 22. Where John has been describing events from an earthly perspective, he now shifts to a heavenly one. What triggers such significant changes in the Revelation narrative? Some of the clues found in these first two verses of Revelation 4 include:

  • A door opened in heaven
  • Voice like a trumpet
  • Command to come up hither
  • Caught up to heaven before the throne of God
  • Compare this description to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17:

    But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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.

    Jesus descends from heaven and calls all Christians, dead and alive, to meet Him in the clouds. His command is accompanied by the shout of an archangel and God's trumpet. Notice the parallels between this passage and the one in Revelation. In Revelation, a door opens in heaven; and in 1 Thessalonians, Jesus descends from heaven. In Revelation, there is a voice like a trumpet; and in 1 Thessalonians, there is the trumpet of God. In Revelation, God commands John to go up to heaven; and in 1 Thessalonians, Jesus commands the church to meet Him in the air. These parallels suggest these two passages describe the same event, the church's rapture. While the word ‘rapture' does not appear in the Bible, its meaning (to be carried away bodily or spiritually) is clearly embodied in these passages, which helps explain why the word ‘rapture' has become the commonly used term for this event. As the church is absent from the earth after the rapture, the church is also absent from Revelation after Revelation 4:1-2. John's presence in heaven and the church's absence in Revelation, suggests the church is now safely in heaven with God. Only the rapture fits all of the changes and descriptions of Revelation 4:1-2.