THE RAPTURE IN REVELATION
(And Paul), strengthening the souls of the desciples, encouraged them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Insertion added.)
(Acts 14:22, NASB)
In our previous study, DOCTRINE OF THE RAPTURE, we established the origin and development of the teaching on the Rapture. In essence, the hope of the resurrection has shifted to this earlier event, namely, the secret appearance of Messiah to snatch away the church before or in the middle of the Great Tribulation. According to the writings on the Rapture, this event will be so climactic that the whole earth will stand in awe and fear. This climax is in clear contrast to the Scriptural foreshadow of Messiah’s glorious second appearance accompanied by the revelation of the sons of God through the resurrection; an event which is portrayed as the single most important latter day event, for the whole creation is in travail awaiting the completion of our salvation through this glorious moment in time, (Rom 8:16-25; Rev 11:15-18; Rev 19).
In essence, the Rapture is offered as hope, promising an escape to Believers who live during the time of the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation. Thus, those who are “ready” for the Rapture will not be on earth during the time of the Great Tribulation, implying that this event should take place before the breaking of the 1st Seal, or for those who believe in the Mid-Tribulation Rapture, before the breaking of the 6th Seal.
Yet, the book of Revelation clearly indicates that Believers will indeed be present during the time of the Great Tribulation and that they will need to persevere in their faith to overcome, (Rev 13:7-10; Rev 14:9-13). The 5th Seal is a seal of Martyrdom. The word ‘martyr’ has its root in the Greek word for ‘testimony,’ and has become a synonym for those who die for persevering in their faith, unwilling to compromise their testimony. Martyrs, who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they maintained, are encouraged to ‘rest a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also,’ (Rev 6:11).
Revelation 7 is an interlude explaining God’s incentive to seal ALL HIS BOND-SERVANTS BEFORE the earth would be harmed by the execution of His foretold wrath, (Rev 7:1-3). [See also Is 13; Is 24; Is 34.] A symbolic 144,000 will be sealed from the 12 Tribes of Israel, (Rev 7:4-8). According to Revelation 12, the woman, Israel, who gave birth to Messiah, will be severely persecuted by the dragon of old, and in a rage, he will pursue to annihilate her (Rev 12:1-5, Rev 12:13). Yet, she will be given help from the earth in order to flee into the wilderness where she will be protected and nourished for a period of three-and-a-half-years, the time of God’s wrath, (Rev 12:6; Rev 12:14-16).
THEN, Revelation 7 clearly indicates that another group will also be sealed, ‘a great multitude, which no one can count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes,’ (Rev 7:9). It is clearly stated, that these bond-servants do not belong to the Household of Israel, but are of those who will be saved from the nations. YET, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,’ (Rev 7:14). Revelation 14 gives more insight into this special group of people who will be purchased from the earth to complete the second symbolic group of 144,000 bond-servants sealed on their foreheads, (Rev 14:1-5).
Revelation 14 should be understood as the fulfillment of Messiah’s prophetic foreshadow of the final harvest at the threshing floor at the end of the age, (Mat 13:24-30; Mat 13:36-43). [This chapter also corresponds with the literal fulfillment of the Jewish Feast of Trumpets in unison with the Final Harvest at the Threshing Floor before Yom Kippur/Judgment Day.]
A stern warning is extended to ‘every nation and tribe and tongue and people’ to fear God (Rev 14:6-7), and NOT to worship the Beast (Antichrist), nor to receive his mark or name, for those who do, will be bound to receive the judgments reserved for the Beast kingdom, (Rev 14:9-11). It is now clearly stated, ‘Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus,’ (Rev 14:12). Two harvests emerge from this threshing – those who die in Christ as martyrs (grain preserved in the heavenly barn), and those who are gathered into the wine-press of God’s fierce wrath (grapes in the wine-press on earth). [See also Rev 13:7-10; Rev 13:16-17.]
The evidence of the presence of God’s people on earth during this time contradicts the doctrine of the Rapture. God clearly states how He intends to seal His bond-servants (Rev 7 & Rev 14), and how He will protect them, (Rev 7:9-17; Rev 12:13-16). Essential attributes are ascribed to the overcoming Believers present on earth during the time of the Great Tribulation – ‘And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death,’ (Rev 12:11).