The next big event in God’s plan is not the rapture of the church–at least not as it’s commonly understood. Something wonderful is about to happen in the worldwide Body of Christ. In fact, it will be the most glorious event since Jesus’ resurrection.
But the first rapture is not the resurrection event most Christians are expecting. That one will occur a few years later.
Rapture of the Church: Victory or Escape?
Rapture = Harpazo
The word translated ‘rapture’ is the Greek word harpazo, which means snatched-up. The apostle Paul experienced ‘harpazo’ when he was ‘caught up’ to Paradise.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of it I do not know, but God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or out of it I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to Paradise. The things he heard were too sacred for words, things that man is not permitted to tell.2 Corinthians 12:2-4
As you know, Paul returned to his normal, bodily existence after this harpazo experience.
Therefore, harpazo means to be snatched up into the spiritual realm, whether your body is snatched up or not. It doesn’t necessarily mean bodily resurrection or transformation.
Two Harpazo Events Coming
The first rapture of the church will result in the glory of God radiating from our mortal bodies. It’s what Romans 8:21 calls ‘the manifestation of the sons of God.’
The second rapture of the church will be our bodily resurrection and transformation. This is our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” in Romans 8:23.
Victory – the Manifestation of the Sons of God
The most important spiritual event since 33AD is the first harpazo–the manifestation of God’s glory in 144000 mature sons of God. This world-changing event will signal three things:
- The successful fruition of God’s plan for this age (which extends from Noah’s flood to Christ’s second coming)
- The culmination of Christ’s work on the cross;
- The approaching end of mankind’s suffering.
So, what’s About to Happen? There are two main things:
- First, the glory of God will be unveiled in mature sons of God (yes, this includes female disciples). The glory of God will visibly radiate from them. When the nations see this, millions of rich and poor from all nations, including kings, will seek to learn the way of the Lord.
- This is like the transfiguration of Jesus, and Moses’ face that radiated the glory of God. But, both Jesus and Moses remained mortal and their bodies later died and were buried.
- This is not the second ‘rapture’ that people are expecting, during which we’ll receive our spiritual, immortal, and incorruptible bodies.
- Secondly, the unveiling of God’s glory in His mature sons will catalyze end-time events in the spiritual realm, including:
- The greatest revival in history, producing a harvest of new believers that’s so large the Bible calls it an ‘innumerable multitude,’ and
- Satan will be cast down from heaven to earth, which will kick off the Great Tribulation for 3.5 years.
The sons of God will not escape this world like a thief in the night. No, they’re literally going to radiate the glory of God into every nation of Satan’s realm on earth. They’re going to plunder the strong man‘s house. They’re going to take an ‘innumerable multitude’ from the Devil, in victory.
The second harpazo, the catching-away of the saints (or rapture of the Church) will be on a future Day of Trumpets, at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. Therefore, Christian disciples will be on earth during the great tribulation, all the way up to this Day of Trumpets.
The apostle Paul wrote,
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.1 Corinthians 15:51-53
Rapture of the Church = Escape from Wrath?
People who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church often quote this verse:
God has not appointed us to suffer wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Thessalonians 5:9
It’s true–God’s disciples will not suffer God’s wrath.
The Devil’s Wrath
But, while God’s disciples will not suffer God’s wrath, they may suffer the Devil’s wrath and man’s wrath. Here’s one verse (of many) that clearly says Christians will be persecuted during this time:
the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.Revelation 12:17
In contrast, God’s wrath is explained in Revelation chapter 16. In this chapter, 7 angels pour out 7 bowls of wrath onto the earth. This happens after the 7th Trumpet–‘the last trump’ in Revelation 11:15.
So, at the end of the great tribulation, the ‘rapture’ will happen on the Day of Trumpets when the angel sounds the 7th Trumpet of Revelation 11:15.
Afterward, God’s angels will pour out God’s wrath on Satan’s kingdom on earth during the 10 days between the Day of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.
Then, the Battle of Armageddon will be fought on the Day of Atonement, when the Messiah King returns with the armies of heaven.
“The Church may proclaim an imminent rapture as much as they will, and teach that any moment the saints will be snatched away from earth to escape the gathering clouds of Tribulation. But this is not the teaching of God’s Word. True, we must always be waiting and watching for His Appearing–but this is not the “Appearing” of modern evangelical theology. This glorious Appearing must first of all be manifest in the saints.”J. Preston Eby writings
Regarding the first rapture, the manifestation of the sons of God, the prophet Isaiah wrote these promises more than 2500 years ago:
The glory of Yahweh will be revealed, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.Isaiah 40:5
Arise! Shine! for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance.Isaiah 60:1
Nations shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory.Isaiah 62:2
The Glory of God Unveiled
The Apostle Paul taught us the glory of God is now hidden within our earthen bodies. But, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies, God is going to unveil this hidden glory that now resides in each of His sons and daughters, so that His glory will visibly shine out from them.
Unbelievers, who dwell in deep moral darkness, will be amazed. Millions of people—from every tribe, people, language, and nation—will come to their light, to learn how to know God. We know this because just after the 144,000 sons of God are sealed in Revelation chapter 7, the ‘innumerable multitude’ will wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. I discuss these two groups in more detail in another post.
What will God’s glory look like?
When God’s glory is unveiled in the sons of God, I believe it will be a supernatural light emanating from the spirit of each member of the 144,000. It won’t be reflected light, like the moon; but the light will originate from within their bodies, like the sun. Its intensity will depend on how much a person has allowed the Spirit to transform them by the renewing of their mind into the likeness of Christ. One will have the faint light of a candle, while another’s light will be very bright.
Those who understand shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and those that teach righteousness to the multitude as the stars in perpetual eternity.Daniel 12:3
Star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.1 Corinthians 15:41
Finally, since it’s a spiritual light, I believe it’ll communicate more than simple brightness… in its presence I expect we’ll also sense the indescribably beautiful peace, music, and aroma of heaven, ‘where the flowers bloom forever and the sun is always bright.’
Conclusion: The First Rapture of the Church
As we see the end of the age approaching it’s easy to fall under dread and negativity, thinking about the darkness, trials, and destruction coming to every nation that’s in rebellion against God.
But I see a very positive future for disciples of Jesus who follow Him with their whole hearts. Their future will be glorious; full of light and life! They’ll be blessed and fruitful, like a tree planted by a river of living water.
Before the resurrection (second rapture) the glorious manifestation of the sons of God will be the first harpazo event that plunders Satan’s kingdom, resulting in the harvest of an innumerable multitude of souls for God’s kingdom.
The second rapture of the Church (the resurrection) will happen at the last trump, at the end of Daniel’s 70th week.