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The Rapture (3 Stages -- Likened to a Harvest) First Fruits -- Main -- Gleanings

The Rapture is one of the most misunderstood teachings in the churches today. Some Christians do not even believe in an event called the Rapture. Others believe the Rapture is a one-time event. Some Christians see it as a harvest having three parts. From this we get those that believe the Rapture occurs at the beginning of the tribulation. Some believe the Rapture does not occur till the middle of the tribulation. There are also those Christians who believe the Rapture occurs at the very end of the tribulation. It is my hope that this article will shed some light on the subject of the Rapture.

The origin of the teaching of the Rapture

First off, we need to ask this question. “When did the idea for the Rapture come to the forefront of Christian thought during the Church age?” Many preachers who do not believe in a Rapture attempt to negate the idea for a Rapture by mentioning that it was first taught back in the 1800’s by a man named John Nelson Darby. Darby is given the distinction by many theologians as the father of dispensationalism and is also credited with originating the “secret Rapture” which is taught today in the churches.

Those theologians who do not believe in the Rapture are those who promote the idea that its teachings only came into existence in the 1800’s making it an invalid and moot point. The fact they ignore is that Christians are finding many things in the Holy Scriptures that may or may not have been taught previously. When a Christian learns about a truth in the scriptures is not a reason for determining what was learned as being valid or not. A truth from scripture is true no matter when it is believed. It is true because God wrote it as being true. Those who ascribe to the idea that a Christian teaching must have been taught prior to today to be true leave out the power of the Holy Spirit to enlighten one on the scriptures when the Holy Spirit so desires.

Another thing that most Anti-Rapture teachers leave out is the possibility that the concept of a Rapture was taught throughout the church age by some Christians, even if it was not the main topic at the time. Throughout the Church age many doctrines have been ironed out. These include the teachings on the Virgin Birth, The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Security of the Believer, and many other doctrines. While they may have been defined throughout the church age, they were not all fully discussed at the same time. Many doctrines that we hold as true and valid are teachings that came in to existence from the scriptures, yet not at the same time. As we approach the end times it seems appropriate that the church would turn its attention to those things that will soon take place. Therefore, one cannot rule out a teaching on the Rapture simply because they believe it was not taught prior to the 1800’s.

Ideas of a Rapture Preached in the 3rd Century

In the case of the teaching on the Rapture prior to a tribulation period being taught earlier than 1800 is found in a sermon by a man named Ephraim of Nisibis. He stated in one of his sermons "For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins." While Ephraim did not use the word Rapture, the idea of the Rapture is found in the word gathering. Ephraim lived prior to 1800. In fact he was said to have lived between the years 306 A.D. and 379 A.D.

It could be argued that Ephraim of Nisibis (also known as Saint Ephraim the Syrian) was incorrect in his theological beliefs for he taught in his writings “The Book of the Cave of Treasures” that 6000 years existed between Adam and Eve and the arrival of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We teach today that 4000 years existed between Adam And Eve and the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The important thing to note is not that Ephraim was wrong on some of his teachings; rather, that Ephraim did believe in a gathering prior to a coming tribulation period. This line of thought is in agreement with what Christians teach about the Rapture today. Saint Ephraim had a large influence on many Christians in his lifetime. As such, many Christians in his time also believed that there would be a gathering of Christians prior to the tribulation period. While they did not have the full doctrine down at that time, they nonetheless believed in a Rapture (even if they did not define it as a Rapture).

In any case we are to get our doctrine from the scriptures. It is plainly evident that there is going to be a Rapture. It is found in 1 Th 4 13-18 and in 1 Cor 15:51-57

(1 Th 4:13-18) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. {14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. {15} For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. {16} For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. {18} Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

(1 Cor 15:51-57) Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, {52} In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. {55} O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? {56} The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. {57} But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Rapture therefore was first taught in the scriptures. It was shown to be preached about in the early 4th century. Those that do not believe in a Rapture are basically anti-scripture, for it is mentioned in the verses above. The word Rapture is not in the verse of course. It is only a title for the teaching in the above verses. The word Sovereign is not found in a King James Bible. Just because a word is not in the bible does not mean that you cannot use that word.
The Pre-millennial view point.
The Pre-millennial view point in the Bible is the teaching that the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth and sets up a 1000 year reign. This Reign is a literal kingdom which is also referred to in the Bible as the Kingdom of Heaven. The A-millennial viewpoint believes that there is no real 1000 year reign on earth and that it is just a spiritual kingdom occurring today. The Post-millennial viewpoint teaches that the church brings in the kingdom and then the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
The Pre-millennial teaching is found in the scriptures and was believed by many early witnesses.

Two of the early witnesses are Justin Martyr and Ireneaus.

Justin Martyr lived from 100 to 165 A. D. He wrote on the resurrection of the body. He believed in the Lord Jesus Christ returning to earth one day to rule in Jerusalem.

Ireneaus lived in the second century and died around 202 A.D. He wrote on the time, times, and half a time in Revelation as being 3 1/12 years. He taught the antichrist was the little horn of Daniel chapter 7. He believed the Antichrist was a single individual. He taught of a millennial reign following the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ who overcomes the Antichrist at the Second Advent. He believed in a resurrection of the Just.

We have now established that the teaching of a second advent and a millennial reign to follow was taught in the earliest years of Christianity.

Block Diagram of the Pre-millennial viewpoint
We end up with the following simplified chart of what has been discussed so far.
|---Old Testament----|1st Advent---|---Church Age---|---Tribulation---|---2nd Advent---|---Millennium--|--Eternity--|

As shown above, the Pre-millennial viewpoint teaches that the 2nd Advent occurs prior to the Millennium.

The Three Gatherings mentioned in the scriptures.

(Exo 23:14-17) Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. {15} Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) {16} And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. {17} Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

(Deu 16:16) Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

(2 Chr 8:13) Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.

The Three gatherings are mentioned and tied to the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks, and the feast of tabernacles.
The feast of unleavened bread is tied to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Passover. The feast of weeks is tied to the Holy Spirit coming down to the Apostles at Pentecost and the feast of tabernacles is tied to the Second Advent after the tribulation period.
A harvest can also be likened to three parts. You have your first fruits, followed by a main harvest in the fall, followed by the gleanings of the fields. In Exodus 23 above we see the feast of unleavened bread. This is followed by the mentioning of sowing and then mentioning of the ingathering at the end of the year.
The Scriptures has clearly defined a gathering coming at three different times. One is tied to the time of the Crucifixion. One is tied to the feast of Pentecost and the sowing of the seed. The last is tied to the feast of Tabernacles. The rapture then must come in three parts.

(Mat 27:45-53) Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. {46} And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? {47} Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. {48} And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. {49} The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. {50} Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. {51} And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; {52} And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, {53} And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

The above verses show that there was a definite rapture that occurred after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The feast of unleavened bread is a seven day feast. During the days of unleavened bread, the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and Resurrected. Besides his Resurrection, the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. The Rapture comes in three parts as well.

The first part is tied to the feast of unleavened bread when the saints arose after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second part of the Rapture is tied to the Feast of Pentecost. The third part of the Rapture is tied to the Feast of Tabernacles.
The gathering (type of the rapture) was also mentioned in Exodus 23 as being part of sowing of the fields. The Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost and is working today in what we call the Church Age. During this time we are sowing and reaping. This will be the main harvest. This Rapture has to do with all the saved Christians in the Church age. We need to take a closer look at the Jewish Feast Days.

The Lord Jesus Christ uses the Holy Feast Days given to Israel to show what will take place in the future.

Rosh Hashanah -- Yom Kippur -- Tabernacles

Rosh Hashanah (Tishri 1,2) is a two day feast which occurs around September and October time frame. It is the Jewish civil new year according to the Hebrew Calendar. It commemorates the creation of the world as narrated in the bible. It begins the ten days before Yom Kippur Beginning of the ten “Days of Awe” culminating in Yom Kippur on Tishri 10. The Feast of Tabernacles occurs on Tisri 15 and is tied to Israel being commanded to live in booths. This feast occurs after the ten days of awe.

The Religious Hebrew Calendar starts with Passover and Unleavened Bread which is the Month Abib. This makes the feast of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles occurring in the seventh month. We need to follow the Religious Calendar to see when the three parts of the Rapture occurs. The first part as mentioned above has already occurred at the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second part is the main harvest and is tied to the Feast of Pentecost. We should note however that on Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down and we had the Church Age ushered in. There is a long break between the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Rosh Hashanah which, I believe, represents the time of the 2000 Year Church Age. The Feast of Trupmets or Rashana is a two day feast and could represent the time when the church is Raptured out. This feast day occurs prior to the ten days of Awe. The third part is the gleaning part of the harvest and is tied to the Feast of Tabernacles which is after the ten days of Awe. While we could have the main harverst rapture for the Church Age between Pentecost and up to and through the Feast of Rosh Hashanah; we could also see a Post Tribulation Rapture between the days of Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles.

This gives us the following

Tishri 1 & 2 (Rosh Hashanah) Days 3-9 are seven days (Tribulation Period.) Tishri 10 - Yom Kippur. Tishri 15 - Tabernacles.

The seven days between the feast of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur represent the tribulation period. It follows then, that the second part of the Rapture would occur prior to the tribulation period and the third part of the Rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation.
The Feast of Pentecost represents the Holy Spirit coming into the world and being active during the Church Age. Rosh Hashanah could very well be the Feast day that represents the Lord Jesus Christ calling out his bride (the church). Because of this, most theologians believe that the main Rapture will occur on the Feast of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the feast of trumpets and we see the trump of God mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It is important to keep our train of thought that I repeat the following verses below.

(1 Th 4:13-18) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. {14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. {15} For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. {16} For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. {18} Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

(1 Cor 15:51-58) Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, {52} In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. {55} O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? {56} The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. {57} But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. {58} Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

The above verses deal with the main harvest and is the rapture of the Church Age Saints prior to the tribulation period.

The last part of the Harvest (post trib rapture) occurs at the end of the tribulation and will be represented by the five wise and five foolish virgins of Matthew 25.

(Mat 25:1-13) Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. {2} And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. {3} They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: {4} But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. {5} While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. {6} And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. {7} Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. {8} And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. {9} But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. {10} And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. {11} Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. {12} But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. {13} Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

In the above verses we see that only those that are ready and looking for his coming are allowed to enter. Some are taken and some are not.

We see one taken and another left in Matthew and Luke

(Mat 24:40-41) Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. {41} Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

(Luke 17:35-36) Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. {36} Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

In summation we have three gatherings mentioned in the scriptures. The Feast of Unleavened Bread which represents those saints that arose after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have the Feast of Pentecost which represents those saints that shall arise at the end of the church age prior to the tribulation period. It includes those saints who are alive and have not died and will have their mortal bodies translated into immortal bodies. Those that were in the graves are given an incorruptible body. The final gathering is tied to the Feast of Tabernacles at the Second Advent and represents those that arise at the end of the tribulation period prior to the Second Advent.