Many Christians today anticipate that the Rapture will cause many, perhaps millions who are left behind to spring into action and come to Jesus…but will it?
There is a teaching, very popular among Christians today, that following the Rapture, there will be a massive awakening among those professing Christians that were left behind. This theory assumes that those left behind will recognize that the Rapture has occurred and that they were obviously wrong in their beliefs. Alarmed, they will rush to repent and come to Jesus, perhaps in numbers previously unparalleled.
Strong scriptural evidence indicates that for those who reject the truth, the Rapture will be a cutoff point. In this discussion, I hope to paint a picture of the prophesied reality of the world situation after the Rapture. I’ll illustrate why complacently assuming that the conditions for conversion will improve after the Rapture may be very costly or deadly for those whom we fail to bring to the Lord before that great day.
My aim is to replace complacency with urgency in the hearts of believers regarding the importance of bringing in the harvest before the Rapture!
The assumption that a second chance will be given to those who have rejected the truth, whether it is embraced by believers or unbelievers, is perilous. Such teaching denies the urgency of the times and ignores the unexpected turns that life takes; those unforeseen car, train, bus and plane crashes that daily send folks to perdition ahead of their plans. It also violates sound doctrine. The day of salvation is always today.
“Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor 6:2 WEB
Any time a writer braves a foray into eschatological territory – discussions of end-time events – they run a high risk of being flatly wrong, at least in the eyes of anyone who has already formed a picture of that time in their mind. By Satan’s design, theories of that age abound, but for those with ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking, the path becomes clear. Though confusion grows as we bandy about murky theories concerning events that will occur in our absence (that is, after we have been raptured), be assured that the Lord has revealed to us the things we need to know about what is coming.
By way of a disclaimer, let me make it clear that I am not speaking of all Gentiles dwelling on Earth in this period, only those who have rejected the Gospel prior to the end of the Church Age. I believe they are those who have consciously rejected the wooing influence of the Father as He draws sinners to Christ. They resist the call to surrender their lives to Jesus and, instead, substitute religion for a walk with God. Even atheism is a religion, one practiced with a burning zeal by many.
Apart from the Church, there is a group “which no man can number” that will come to Jesus out of the Tribulation:
“9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…14These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. Rev 7:9-15 WEB (Emphasis added)
This group clearly includes Gentiles. Why they were not a part of the Church, only God knows for certain. If you were to reach out to some of them now and bring them to Jesus before the Tribulation, your joy and theirs would be a big part of your eternal happiness. Imagine their gratitude as they enter into the joy of the Lord and also realize the horrors which your kind invitation has spared them.
The group we are most urgently concerned about, however, are those who have foolishly or lazily rejected the truth prior to the Rapture. These are they that we currently have access to: family, friends, fellow church-members, many of whom carry the label “Christian.” We may be their last chance at salvation.
First, let’s examine the timing of the Rapture. This wondrous event appears nowhere on Daniel’s 70-week calendar. The entire Church Age was a mystery that the Old Testament prophets never saw. It is also not tied to the signs of Jesus’ second coming: the earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars etc. that He laid out in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24; not directly. The Rapture has been imminent since the birth of the Church. That means it is not tied to any sign or precondition that man can determine.
Folks like us, who know that the Rapture precedes the onset of the Tribulation, are aware only that it is a ‘not later than’ deadline; we must be out of here before God can send the coming judgments. In reality, our departure could occur weeks, months or even years before the onset of the Tribulation; though my money is on months to a couple of years (I’m guessing, OK? I could be wrong. It won’t really matter much to us as we enjoy the Heavenly buffet with those who are precious to us.) If the image in your mind is one of us being snatched from the path of a nuclear shock wave, that works too. No one really knows.
When, approximately, will the Rapture occur? We can get a sense of it if we understand that it is an event that necessarily occurs before God turns his attention to the redemption of Israel; a period known in scripture as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. Two passages help us to nail down the Rapture in relation to the onset of the coming Tribulation:
“25 For I don’t desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won’t be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and so all Israel will be saved.” Rom 11:25-26 WEB (Emphasis added)
That is part one of the answer to this question. The shift of God’s focus from the Church to Israel, the time when He removes that partial hardening, is tied to “the fullness of the Gentiles.” Part two is:
“3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, [The departure being the Rapture of the Church; many translations inaccurately substitute the word apostacy.] and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God. 5 Don’t you remember that, when I was still with you, I told you these things? 6 Now you know what is restraining him, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. [Satan’s imitation of Christ, the Antichrist, will be revealed in God’s perfect timing and at His initiative.] 7 For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming; 9 even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, …” 2 Thes 2:3-15 WEB (Emphasis and [comments] added.)
So, the Rapture must occur before the Tribulation. The Tribulation, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, focuses on the redemption of Israel, which is also a time when God’s full wrath is unleashed on the Earth. It coincides with the unrestrained rule of Satan over the Earth.
The Church must be removed from Earth prior to that time for at least two reasons. First, as noted in the scripture above, the “one who restrains” mentioned in verse seven is none other than the Church, whose members are inhabited by and sealed to the Holy Spirit. (If you believe it is only the Holy Spirit, that still works, because He is sealed to us. He can’t leave without us.) The power and authority of God is manifested through His people, and that influence must be removed to give Satan free rein (and free reign).
The second reason the Church must be removed from the scene is because of an irrevocable promise spoken by Jesus:
“10 Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Rev 3:10 WEB
This is the same kind of promise that God made to Abraham as he delayed the judgments on Sodom and Gomorrah while there were any righteous present. Lot and his family had to be removed before the fire could begin to fall.
The Lord’s final message to the seven Churches, His call to Laodicea, ends at the end of Revelation 3. Then…chapter 4, the Rapture!
“After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, “Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this.”
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne 3 that looked like a jasper stone and a sardius. There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones. On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads.” Rev 4:1-4 WEB (Emphasis added.)
Later passages in Revelation reveal that this representative group of twenty-four elders were redeemed from the Earth; bought for God by the blood of Christ. For convincing proof that they do indeed comprise a group representative of the Church, check out this article.
Understanding that the 24 Elders represent the Church is a key to seeing that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation. They (We) are present before the throne of God before the opening of the seven seals; the first stage of judgments to be executed in the Tribulation. That fulfills the Lord’s promise to spare them from the wrath to come.
Based on their robes and crowns, it is apparent that they have already been to the judgment seat of Christ; the Bema seat. The Rapture marks the end of the Church Age on Earth. This group is in their resurrection bodies, which enables them to minister actively to the Lord and intercede for those still on Earth in a way that the cloud of witnesses and souls beneath the altar cannot. If you look closely, you can see us waving and pointing to our harps and crowns!
Meanwhile, back on Earth…
The erroneous earnest expectation among many believers is that the Rapture will provide proof positive; a sounding gong heralding the inescapable conclusion that those taken were correct in their theology regarding salvation and the imminent end of the world. “That’ll show ’em I was right,” they think.
Unfortunately, the group of left-behinders that I’m talking about firmly believe in the “different gospel” warned about by Paul; that being that the path to salvation is through their good works. Think about it. Professing Christians either believe in the miraculously complete saving power of the blood of Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, or they reject that in favor of some other path to salvation; usually some combination of faith plus works. It has to be one or the other.
Believers assume that those left behind because of this doctrinal folly will be alarmed and shocked into seeing the light and turn to Jesus, much as Paul did on the road to Damascus. The “Left Behind” movies and books did much to promote this error.
My contention is that, far from waking up and falling on their knees before the Redeemer, these religious folk will comprise a part of that group that will, at the great white throne judgment, protest their seats in the penalty box:
“22 Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 23 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’” Matt 7:22 WEB
“I never knew you.” Those have to be the most horrific words any human being could ever hear. We need to pick up the thread of the message in second Thessalonians 2 to see what God has in store for those who rejected the truth prior to the Rapture:
“…10 and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn’t receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 Because of this, God sends them a working of error, [some translations say, “strong delusion”] that they should believe a lie; 12 that they all might be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thes 2:10-12 WEB (Emphasis and [comments] added)
They were exposed to the truth, but did not receive a love for the truth. They rejected the wooing influence of God. Does this passage infer in any way that the door of salvation remains open to those who landed themselves in the Tribulation by rejecting the truth?
Another large group, those whose response to the call of salvation was “later Dude,” will also miss out on the Rapture. They will have simply put off making the choice to follow Jesus. Erroneous teaching suggests that they will be shaken as they recognize that time has run out and stream to the altar, deathbed-style.
While this second group genuinely believed that they themselves were good people, and that following the Lord was probably a good idea, they wanted to live their lives first. They chose to put off that religious stuff until they were old or saw convincing signs of the approaching apocalypse.
In most cases, “later” actually meant “no” to the truth, but it is for this group that I have the most hope. They may not have said no to Jesus, just no to making the decision to follow Him. I hope there’s a difference.
According to scripture, it is not events or circumstances that draw people to Jesus, it’s the Father:
“44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47 Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life.” John 6:44-47 WEB (Emphasis added.)
This to me is the most powerful argument against the expectation that the circumstances of the Rapture will elicit a change of heart in those whom have previously rejected Jesus. What we do see in every instance in scripture is that in the face of judgment, the wicked harden their hearts.
Add to that the statement that, because these people did not receive a love for the truth, God will send them a strong delusion so that they might be judged. As He hardened the heart of Pharaoh amidst the plagues that fell on Egypt, most or all of these “Christians” will be hardened in their resolve to believe a lie.
God had a purpose in hardening the heart of Pharaoh. Ultimately, it resulted not only in his judgment, but the destruction of the army that he sent in pursuit of Israel, and a demonstration of God’s power to save that is unmatched anywhere else in scripture (the parting of the Red Sea). The strong delusion that He will send on those who reject the truth has a similar purpose.
Are either of these groups damned for all time at the time of the Rapture? I don’t know. I can’t say…not for certain. I’m voicing an opinion. But the day of judgment comes for multitudes of people every day as they are taken in death, either not having made the decision to open their hearts to accept the Lord or having set their hearts against the truth.
The event that triggers the Rapture is the fullness of the Gentiles. How can that not be a moment of decision when God, in His righteous justice, draws a line between saved and unsaved based on their choices, and keeps His promise to spare those in the Church from the wrath to come? Is there ever a day of salvation in scripture that is not also a day of judgment for the unsaved? Think of Noah’s flood, the salvation of Lot’s family from Sodom and Gomorrah, and Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
In each case, a group is saved, and another group is judged. Though the final close of man’s probationary opportunity is probably still ahead of those entering the Tribulation, there are scriptural precedents for the judgment of some groups based on their covenant with God or the degree of their wickedness before that ultimate cutoff point.
The idea that those who rejected salvation to the extent that they were excluded from the Rapture will be redeemed amidst the Tribulation makes no more sense than the idea that Noah and his family plucked suddenly-repentant pagans out of the flood.
The Rapture immediately follows the culmination of the Church Age, which ends at Laodicea with the Lord standing outside of the Church knocking at their door. In His compassion, He is striving to get the attention of the miserable, poor, blind and naked wretches within so that they will open the door and allow Him in. Is that not the true picture of most churches in the world today? Only those currently under persecution seem to be thriving.
What a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of an angry God. Not only are those who turn down a personal relationship with the living Christ going to miss out on the eternal joy of His fellowship, they are to be turned over to a strong delusion from God so that their judgment might be complete.
One of the most startling ideas for most believers is that, instead of being shocked by the Rapture, the vast majority of those left behind will not even be aware or believe that it has occurred. Think about it. The restrictive influence of the Holy Spirit and the Church on Satan has been removed. Satan is ruling the Earth unrestrained. Led by the charismatic Antichrist, the world’s governments and religions are being unified.
Millions of people have simply vanished, yet most established churches are almost completely untouched. Religious spokesmen, the Pope prominent among them, will line up for opportunities to deny through mass media outlets that the Rapture has occurred and throw their support behind whatever explanation the media (Satan) is promoting.
What voice will be raised to declare that the Rapture has happened? Almost everyone who truly believed in it has been taken. Even today, the news stories we hear are so carefully selected and artfully slanted that most broadcasts amount to little more than propaganda designed to foster a mindset of dependence on government or acceptance of the lies of Satan.
As the seals begin to be opened, those plagues will be just the crises Satan can use to draw people’s focuses away from eternal concerns as they cope with famine, financial collapse and war. Satan will not let a good crisis go to waste as he promotes Antichrist as savior of the world. Despite the massive chaos that hits the world as a direct result of the Rapture, the cause of that chaos will be ascribed to some other source.
Those familiar with New Age philosophy are aware that a very credible argument for abduction by benevolent aliens, or even a necessary purge by God, has been promoted for decades. Some versions reassure loved ones that their family members are merely being reeducated in some posh off-world facility to rid them of their religious fanaticism and integrate them harmoniously into the new world order. Others characterize “The Event”* as necessary surgery to remove a malignancy from the planet that threatens the survival and evolution of mankind. Oops, I mean personkind.
Does the benevolent alien theory sound far-fetched? Consider that for decades, science fiction books, movies and television have been dominated by the “Space” genre. Any time you think about science fiction, what comes to mind are the major space franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, Star Gate,
Starman, Starship Troopers, Space Chimps, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Pigs in Space, Dogs in Space, Lost in Space, Guardians of the Galaxy; the list goes on and on. American movies and television are loved the world over.
Most humans know all about space travel because they have been conditioned to it for decades. They would be more comfortable aboard a galaxy-class starship filled with Ferengis from the planet Ferenginar than among the human oddities on a Greyhound bus. We have become accustomed to seeing people with odd foreheads and funny ears who have our best interests at heart.
It is likely that a spacecraft will actually land outside the UN Building in New York City or maybe atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and ambassadors from space emerge to tell us of our good fortune. The excitement of the masses will be dizzying. It’s easy to imagine Antichrist playing a pivotal role in such a development.
Satan is already poised to present his alternative explanation to the Rapture, whatever that may be; one that he has been preparing for many decades, maybe millennia. This is his shot; his chance to demonstrate his superiority to the universe. He is certainly not going to have some Rapture cloud raining on his parade.
What horrors await Christians in that era? They will be hunted down, persecuted and murdered. The tactics employed by the German Gestapo to locate Jews during WWII, and their atrocities will pale in comparison to the modern ability to malign and vilify Christians on social media, to listen to their conversations, or track them down electronically.
That ability to monitor people encompasses the entire population, so anyone aiding Christians will run a serious risk of sharing their fate. Much of the effectiveness of the German Gestapo in tracking down Jews was the result of their betrayal by fellow Germans, filled with patriotic zeal for the Fatherland or fearful of suffering the same fate.
License plates of passing vehicles are already monitored and tracked automatically along many of our streets and most highways by systems of cameras and computers. Most if not all new cars have been equipped with GPS devices for years now. Some states are already considering replacing gasoline taxes with a system of taxation based on your road usage, so they already know where you go and how far you traveled.
Almost every financial transaction is tracked. They know what kind of cereal your kids like and how much debt you’re carrying. They know if you buy birth control pills or adult diapers. Face recognition technology has demonstrated its effectiveness in monitoring and controlling the Chinese population. This technology can identify people walking down a street, into a store or gas station as they pass before the inconspicuous ubiquitous cameras.
I realize I’m getting into tin-foil hat territory here, but the collection of data has become a trillion dollar industry as they monitor our preferences, attitudes, spending habits and movements. They know who your friends and family are, and where they are. We are already being tracked to an extent that we can barely imagine.
As the majority of Earth’s population is slain in the Tribulation, the only shelter will be in God. Most believers will likely be beheaded. None but the truly converted will maintain their faith in God and the word of their testimony.
I genuinely believe that the Revelation 12 astronomical sign that we saw a couple of years ago heralded the season of the approaching Rapture. All of the nations and armies are in place to fulfill prophecies from Ezekiel 38 and Isaiah 17 that we associate with the onset of the Tribulation. That Israel, after nearly two millennia of invisibility, has been regathered and reestablished among the world nations for over 70 years is an astoundingly exciting development. The Lord is coming soon!
Don’t be deceived into believing that the Rapture will serve as some kind of altar call to those left behind. The strong likelihood is that they will not even know that they have been left behind. Set your mind on the Lord, share the burden of His heart for the lost. Focus on bringing in the harvest. Walk in those good works that God has prepared for you as you work to save souls that otherwise will likely be lost for all eternity.
*For an intelligent, informed and scripturally-based discussion of the New Age Alien Abduction coverup of the Rapture, check out The Event by Greg Lauer. I also strongly recommend that you check out The Turning Point which explains the coming shift in God’s focus from the Church to Israel based on God’s word.
- Adapted from #91237724/Jankovoy-adobe stock.com
- #77088591/Dickov-adobe stock.com
- #194376286/jamesteohart-adobe stock.com
- #18298636/Anton Sokolov-adobe stock.com
- #73946581/anibal-adobe stock.com
- Adapted from #239506816/zef art-adobe stock.com
- Adapted from https://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01474/quark_1474470i.jpg
- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com
The excellent charts were originally created by Clarence Larkin over 100 years ago and published in his book “Dispensational Truth”. They were recreated in color by Dr. Ray N Tharp, who graciously gave permission for their use here. Access to them can be found here.