In taking a step by step approach in this Quick Bites series, I purposely started at the end of Revelation, because I wanted to put the Bride in full view from the outset. The Bride is the Key to unlock the understanding of future events because this is the ultimate and Eternal Purpose of God. It is what He is after, His objective, His heart; to create an exquisite Bride for His Son. Having a Bridal consciousness enables us to see things from God’s perspective, from a higher elevation, just like the angel in Rev 21:9,10 who carried John in the Spirit to a great and high mountain to show him the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. When we take this higher elevation, we see things from a different lens, and once our eyes have been opened. we see the footprints of the Bride from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. Following on from last time, we have established that when Jesus returns to judge and make war in Revelation 19, the Bride is now dressed and following behind. Jesus isn’t returning to earth for His Bride, He’s returning to earth with His Bride. This leaves us with the question about the rapture, because if the Bride is in Heaven in Rev 19, then that means she has been gathered up beforehand. The moment we talk of the rapture we are instantly into deep water, not least because the Bible never actually uses this word. Great care is needed in our exegesis if we are to navigate our way through the minefield of historic differences of opinion on the use of the word and when (or even if) it takes place. The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and the word ‘rapture’ is derived from the Latin translation of the Greek word ‘harpazo’ (har-pad’-zo) which is in the Bible, meaning ‘to seize, carry off by force, catch up, snatch out or away, pluck and pull’. Though this word has lots of uses, and not necessarily in the way we are more familiar with, for the purpose of clarity, when mentioning the word ‘rapture’, I am referring to the Greek word ‘harpazo’ in the way Paul did, to mean a ‘catching up in the clouds’ in 1 Thess 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (harpazo, raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.
The next challenge we face is that one of the most well know passages some people use to refer to the rapture actually doesn’t use the word ‘harpazo’ (rapture) at all.
Matt 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Jesus is teaching here, explaining that He will send out His angels to gather His elect from one end of heaven to the other. The word to gather is episynágō (ep-ee-soon-ag’-o) meaning ‘to gather together in one place, to bring together to others already assembled’. There is nothing within the word itself that gives any thought of gathering upwards into the air. This passage on its own would not be enough to support the rapture as we know it, because there’s nothing to say those the angels gathered do not remain upon the earth. Indeed, the pre-tribulation view is that this passage does not refer to the rapture, but as the physical gathering of the Jews back to Israel, which does happen of course, but I will share another time how I see that unfolding. Next time, we will look a little more at Matt 24 and other related passages to see if we can piece together a clearer picture, of the timing of the rapture. I want to give reasons why I don’t see this gathering relating to the [physical] return of the Jews to Israel [as in pre-tribulation view], and why I do see this gathering as the rapture described by Paul after the Tribulation.