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PRE-TRIBULATION  RAPTURE?



   Topical Bibles are a great resource to have when looking up and researching various subjects in the Bible. Billy Graham once said, concerning the New Nave's Topical Bible, "Outside of the Bible this is the one book that I depend on more than any other." In this book is the subject matter of what is widely known as the "Rapture." The verses given are as follows: 2 Cor. 12:4; 1 Thess. 4:17; Jude 23; Rev. 12:5.
   What we would like to do is take a closer look at this subject, the words used to describe it, and the time periods spoken of within context of the verses given. Unless otherwise noted, the
New American Standard Bible (NASB) is used throughout. The first Biblical reference is 2 Corinthians 12:2 – 5, which says,
   I know a man in Messiah who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, Yahweh knows — such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man — whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, Yahweh knows — was caught up [Greek word #726
harpazo] into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.
   The Apostle Paul's experience was so impactful in his life, he spoke in the third person to describe it.
   Before we look at #726 in the
Strong's Concordance, we would like to point out that this is a vision Paul had, because only Yahshua the Messiah has ever ascended to heaven, John 3:13.
   The third heaven is spiritual, as the first and second heavens would first incorporate the sky, with its clouds during the day, and then the celestial bodies seen at night. Beyond what we can see physically, is the spiritual realm, or third heaven, as Paul describes it.
   Not even King David is in this third heaven. Nor was he lifted up to this third heaven (Acts 2:29, 34; 13:36). See the mini-study called, The Spirit Realm. What Paul saw was in vision only.
   Paul, however, does speak of a resurrection of the dead in Messiah at a specific time in the future. This time being at Yahshua's return from heaven.
  
For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so Yahweh will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Yahshua. For this we say to you by the word of the Master, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of Master, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Master Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of Yahweh, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up [Greek word #726 harpazo] together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air, and so we shall always be with the Master, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 – 17. See our mini-study called, Just One Resurrection?
  
The Complete Word Study Dictionary says, "Though generally harpázō denotes robbery of another’s property, it is not exclusively used thus, but sometimes used generally meaning forcibly to seize upon, snatch away, or take to oneself." For example,
  
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of Yahweh snatched [Greek word #726 harpazo] Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing, Acts 8:39.
   The
American Standard Version translates harpazo 13 times: “catch up” four times, “take by force” three times, “catch away” twice, “pluck” twice, “catch” once, and “pull” once.
   Continuing in Acts 8:40, it says,
   But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
   In this particular situation, Philip was picked up from one location and taken to another. Other situations, such as this (i.e., taken from one location and put in another, translated), would be found in the written accounts of Enoch and Elijah (Gen. 5:24; 2 Kings 2:1). But, they eventually died, as "all" the prophets did (Heb. 11:13).
   The word “translated” is Strong’s Greek word #3346
metatithemi /met•atithay•mee meaning “transfer,” “carry to another place,” “to be transferred,” “to be taken, moved, or carried to another place. ”
   Strong’s Hebrew word #3947
laqach /law•kakh "to take," "take in the hand," "carry along," "to take from," "take out of," "take," "carry away," "take away."
   Remember, no one has ascended to heaven (the third heaven, spiritual realm) except for our Savior. So where did Enoch and Elijah go? In what they had spoken to the people (Jude 1:14 – 15), they evidently had reason to be- lieve they were at risk of losing their lives (1 Kings 19:10, 14). What Yahweh did was allow them to be taken out of harm's way to live their lives out in a completely different area.
   During that time, Elijah wrote a physical letter from his location (2 Chron. 21:11 –15). When investigating, we see the timing of the letter was roughly 7 - 8 years after he was "raptured." Elijah had been taken during the reign of Jehoshaphat of the southern tribes. Later, two kings named Jehoram ruled at the same time (2 King 1:17 – 18), but noteworthy is that the one over Judah reigned 8 years (2 Chron. 21:20) when the letter was written. The letter was prophesying the demise of his reign.


Pre, Mid, and Post
   While the main held belief by many today is a pre-tribulation rapture, there are those that hold to other time periods for such an event. Pre, mid, and post-tribulation Rapture beliefs: Yahshua coming before the tribulation; during the tribulation; or at the end of the tribulation.
   But, as we've already seen, the idea of being "raptured" out and taken to heaven, is not exactly the correct understanding we see shared in Scripture. Further examination is warranted to help clarify because of certain Scriptures taken out of context.
   1 Thessalonians 3:12–14 says,
And may the Master cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our Elohim and Father at the coming of our Master Yahshua with all His saints. For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so Elohim will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Yahshua.
   Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 by
New International Biblical Commentary says: "One scenario of the end time embraced by many Christians today sees a twofold return of [Yahshua]: the first in secret to gather up the church, the second openly, following the tribulation (which, on this theory, only the world will endure) to judge the world. The first return is called the Rapture, the second the Revelation."
   Because of this viewpoint, many are led astray. The Messiah plainly says everyone will see His return. So, what people believe and what is truth are two different things. Yahshua's return will not be a secret, two-phase system.
  
And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will theSonofManbeinHis day," Luke 17:22 – 24.

Scriptural Proof?
   Continuing on with the Scriptures, the New Nave's Topical Bible brings out, for the so-called Rapture, the following:
  
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of Elohim, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Master Yahshua Messiah to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching [Greek word #726 harpazo] them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, Jude 20 – 24.
   Certainly, being saved out from a fiery second death would elicit excitement for the one being saved, but it doesn't mean the wording is proof of the concept being promoted today of being raptured to a heavenly abode in which harps on clouds are awaiting those who are looking for the Savior's return.
   Here we come to the last reference given for Scriptural proof of the Rapture.
  
Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon hav- ing seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems (crowns). And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a Son, a male child, Who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up [Greek word #726 harpazo] to Yahweh and to His throne, Revelation 12:3 – 5.
   This, is proof! Yahshua was raptured! But, is this saying what the majority are saying? The
Concise Oxford English Dictionary says, "(the Rapture) North American (according to some millenarian teaching) the transporting of believers to heaven at the second coming of [Messiah]. ORIGIN 16th century (in the sense ‘seizing and carrying off’): from obsolete French, or from medieval Latin raptura ‘seizing,’ partly influenced by RAPT."
   It appears that while Revelation 12:5 does describe the taking up of the Male child, that being, Yahshua the Messiah; it doesn't say anything about brethren being raptured to heaven.
   If we were to pick one of pre, mid, or post tribulation, the latter one makes the more sense than the other two. Still, the overall concept taught in Christianity today, is not Scriptural.
   The
New Nave's Topical Bible’s Scriptural references for the Rapture, again, are as follows: 2 Cor. 12:4 (Vision); 1 Thess. 4:17 (first resurrection); Jude 23 (helping others to see the salvational truths of Scripture, such as, faith in Yahshua and obedience to the Father, see Acts 20:21; Rev. 14:12; 12:17); Rev. 12:5 (the resurrection of Yahshua from the dead, the first of the firstfruits, the Wave Sheaf offering).
   Do any of the
New Nave's Topical Bible’s Scriptural references for the Rapture give credence to that particular doctrine taught in most churches today? The simple answer is "No."

The Saints in Tribulation
   Are Yahweh's people raptured out (in a pre-trib rapture) before the tribulation starts? Revelation 9:3 – 4 says,
   Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of Elohim on their foreheads.
   Verse 5 goes on to say this period of time, during the tribulation, will last five months.
   What is this identifying mark?
  
Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads, Revelation 14:1.
   These are the Saints, the Elect, the Chosen Ones out of all the earth, who are alive physically in the end times, just before Yahshua's return. Remember, those dead in Messiah are not raised until after the tribulation and the return of Messiah from heaven.


But! But, What?
   Some will say that those beheaded during the tribulation are those who are saved during it.
  
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yahshua and because of the word of Yahweh, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years, Revelation 20:4.
   Yes, they came alive. They came alive after the tribulation to enter into the coming Kingdom, to reign with Yahshua for 1000 years. It is referred to as the Millennial Reign.
   Following events is not always easy in the book of Revelation as not everything is in a neat chronological order. But the book itself starts out speaking of the Day of Yahweh (wrongly translated, "Day of the Lord"). See our in-depth study called, The Mistaken ‘J’.
   Revelation is an event book, focused mainly on the tribulation as its main body and theme. The following gives the main entrance gate into the Day of Yahweh spoken of in Joel 2.
  
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living Elohim; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our Elohim on their foreheads,” Revelation 7:1 – 3.
   In other words, when the Saints are sealed after baptism, having received the Spirit of Yahweh through the laying on of hands by the eldership in the faith, then all proverbial gehenna breaks loose. See our in-depth booklet entitled, Understanding HELLFIRE.
   The tribulation, yet ahead of us, is a time period which will shake the foundations of this earth with a consuming fire and wrath from on high.


What About Apostasia?
   Some say that apostasia actually means "departure," as in the "Rapture," and not a "falling away." Is this true? 2 Thessalonians 2:1 – 3 says,
   Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Master Yahshua Messiah and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of Yahweh has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy [falling away] comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.
   We've already looked at some clear scriptures that show the saints are not removed out of the tribulation. The use of apostasia, in con- text here, is speaking more in the sense of the apostasy of the beast system. A "falling away" to it, or into it, in other words.
  
The Complete Word Study Dictionary says, "In 2 Thess. 2:3, the word apostasía does not refer to genuine [brethren] who depart from the faith, but mere professors who, without divine grace, succumb to the Satanic deception of the Antichrist."
   Of special interest is what was promised for the Assembly who does not forsake His Name nor His Word.
  
Because you [the Philadelphian Assembly] have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth, Revelation 3:10.
   Yahweh's people, the ones specifically not following false doctrines or false names, will have a clear understanding of what Yahweh's Word says and be more aware of what is going on. Yahshua will clearly be within them and helping them.
   It doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be taken out of the picture, it may just mean that the deception will not overtake them. If the "hour of testing" is speaking of the tribulation and not the anti-Messiah beast system, then it may be that they will have some special protection.
   With prophecy, it's best to keep an open mind to the possibilities, but a secret pretrib rapture is something we can rule out based upon clear Scriptural truths.


One Taken, Other Left
   Some say that the verses "one will be taken, while the other is left," is clearly speaking of the Rapture. Let's consider it in context.
  
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, 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 will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will 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 Master is coming, Matthew 24:37 – 42.
   If you haven't already seen it, the question we want to ask here is, "Who is taken out first?" The context is very telling. What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah?
   In Luke 17:34 – 37, Yahshua also says,
   I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. [“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.”] And answering they said to Him, “Where, Master?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”
   Times of destruction, the Day of Yahweh, is what is spoken of here.
   In the following we find the parable of Wheat and Tares.
  
Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into My barn, Matthew 13:30.
   Is the timing clear? The ones taken out first are the wicked, not the Saints.
   In Mark 13:19 – 20, Yahshua tells us how bad things will get before His return,
   For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which Elohim created until now, and never will. Unless Yahweh had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the Elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
   Spoken as a matter of fact, as it will happen just as He has prophesied.


Destined for Wrath?
   Some say that we are not destined for wrath, which is what the tribulation is. They point to 1 Thessalonians 5:9, which says,
   For Yahweh has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Master Yahshua Messiah.
   Wrath, in context here, is speaking of condemnation. In other words, the lake of fire.
  
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of Elohim abides on him, John 3:36.
   Yahweh has not made us, so He can destroy us. He made us, who will obey Him, so we can enter into eternal life. Those obeying the Son will be obeying the Father. The Son said,
  
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love, John 15:10.
   The Son did not have a separate set of laws. He upheld His Father's commandments. This is the true love which is spoken of in Scripture.
  
Whoever believes that Yahshua is the Messiah is born of Elohim, and whoever loves the Father loves the Child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and observe His commandments. For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome, 1 John 5:1 – 3.
   For further study, see the mini-study called, Love (How it Fulfills the Law).
  
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear Elohim and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For Elohim will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil, Ecclesiastes 12:13 – 14.
   Tribulation is coming upon the earth, because the earth has become corrupted. It is those who do evil and wickedly, breaking Yahweh's instructions, which will be bringing wrath upon the world.


In The End
   In the end, people will not be raptured to heaven, but they will be punished as disobedient children. The New Nave's Topical Bible, as good resources go, does not prove the "Rapture" as being truth.
   Scripture does talk about two major resurrections though, and it's the first one we are striving to be in. According to Scripture, it's the best one. You read of it in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and also in other areas such as 1 Thessalonians 4:14 – 17.
   Those verses and others are talking about a resurrection to eternal life, not a Rapture out of tribulation. The first resurrection (being caught up to Yahshua), is at the end of the tribulation. It is those in this resurrection who will reign with Yahshua upon the earth.
  
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our Elohim; and they will reign upon the earth, Revelation 5:10.
   The reward for Yahweh's people comes with Yahshua's return, not before (John 17:15; Rev. 11:18).




-Elder David Brett

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