Where does this teaching come from?
As you can see to the right, the whole concept is rather recent. There is pre-, post-, and mid-tribulation rapture theories. In fact, there are countless theories.
They are all theories
Scripture is clear in not stating anything definite. The popular view that all true believers will be caught up into the clouds to be with the Lord is strongly stated in I Thessalonians 4: 13-18. However, this passage states pretty directly that this will take place at his coming. In other words, it seems to indicate a post-trib view.
1 Corinthians 15: 51-52 also says that this will happen at the “last trumpet”—presumably just as the Lord arrives as King: “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
I was perplexed & sought the Lord’s mind on this
I was really into all of this speculation and was getting increasingly confused. The Lord is not confused, so I knew something was wrong. So, I spent several years seeking His position on the matter. I was led to several scriptures that are almost never covered when teaching on end times, the later days, or the rapture.
as in the days of noah (Matthew 24:37 & Luke 17:26)
This was the first place I ended up in my quest. As far as I can tell, this is key to our understanding of the events we are facing. Jesus clearly says that his coming will be “as in the days of Noah”. The verses following talk about one taken and another left—so there will clearly be believers around at that time. The key is looking at what actually happened in Noah’s day.
Look at Genesis 7: 13-17. The New American Standard says the most clearly (I’ll clear out the irrelevant copy for you):” On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark… male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him. Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days…”
This would seem to bless the pre-trib theory—if we assume that the flood symbolizes the tribulation for us.
Will anyone notice?
The next verse I was led to seems to state rather strongly that the world will not notice. Isaiah 57:1 states that clearly and strongly: The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands…
To me this eliminates the possibility of driverless cars, pilotless planes, and all the other absurdities often told together with the rapture story.
Will the church be taken out?
I definitely believe this will happen. there are several scriptures that state this pretty strongly. I’ve already mentioned Isaiah 57:1.
Psalm 12:1 is more definite: Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases to be, For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. That has not happened yet, so my assumption is that this happens at the end.
Micah 7:2 says the same thing: The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind…
So, it is clear that believers are pulled, and that this has not happened yet.
What about the conflicting theories?
This is my opinion. I would state it as the word of the Lord if I thought it was. I am convinced, but you need to search it out for yourself. It is radically different that anything currently taught.
I think all three:pre-, mid-, and post- are true!
I think some (probably the weak in faith) will be pulled before the tribulation gets very bad. I think some will be pulled throughout the tribulation. And some will be pulled out just before he comes—the two witnesses come to mind.
But then I think the Great Tribulation started a while ago. Possibly, during the Acts of the Apostles, maybe in the 19th century, almost certainly by the time Israel became a nation again in 1948. But we will talk about that another time.