Introduction I know Whitestone Fellowship has covered the Rapture, but I wanted to do a study of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. I have seen confusion as to what events will lead up to this "Great Disappearance", and using Scripture I am hoping to bring some clarity. The first three verses of 2 Thessalonians read as follows:
"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him we ask you brother, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occur and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction."
First of all notice that the event of the Rapture of Jesus, happens as a gathering to Him. Jesus does NOT touch earth at this time. The "Rapture" and His "Second Arrival" are two different events. This is how Zechariah14: 4 describes Jesus arrival to earth. "On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south." The point being that I believe the news of this would have traveled at least all over the ancient Mediterranean World. There would have been no confusing Jesus' arrival on earth with a great disappearance of people. The Problem So what was the problem? We see from our reading above, that the Thessalonians had been told that they had missed the Rapture. Some unscrupulous men had told them by word or letter that they had truly missed the Event. To make matters worse they said that they were representing Paul himself. This must have shaken the church to the core, and word had gotten back to Paul, which prompted his letter.
Paul's Answer We must remember that Paul had both talked, and written to the Thessalonians before; "Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 2 Thessalonians 2: 5." In his first letter he had told them about the Rapture and all the particulars (see 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18). Paul then tells of two things that must happen before the Rapture takes place.
1. According to 2 Thessalonians a rebellion must occur (2:3). This is not a general falling away from the truth. That has been going on since the beginning. This is a rebellion within the Church itself; a questioning of truth. The King James Version says: "A falling away", which means what was once believed is now being questioned and discarded. Does this sound familiar today? 2. Following this the "man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2:3)". And so Paul gives a thumbnail sketch of events which must occur before the Rapture. We should remember this when someone says "The Rapture could happen at anytime". According to the Scripture we who are still alive we see the person known as the Antichrist. There is one more subject I would like to address. Numbers 10: The Two Silver Trumpets: First Fruits. When is the general time of Rapture? Yes I know that "No one knows the day or the hour" and I am not giving a "Day and a Hour", but we are given general clues. Many believe the Rapture to be a fulfillment of the "Fall Feasts of Trumpets". But at the risk of being branded a heretic I look at a different festival; The Feast of First Fruits. I wonder sometimes if we realize just how closely true Christians are identified with Jesus, and how closely Jesus identifies with us. Listen to "Hebrews 2: 11, Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them (us) brothers." What an amazing statement! There is a Feast called, The Feast of First Fruits. The culmination took place on The Day of Pentecost/Shavuot (The Festival of Weeks). Many believe that the beginning of this Feast actually begins the day after Passover with the counting to the days to Pentecost. There is a passage in Matthew 27: 50-53 which many read and just pass over (no pun intended).
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His Spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people". What we have here is a mini-Rapture. Jesus is called the firstfurits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15: 20). And, with Him are the righteous buried around Jerusalem. James the brother of Jesus writes these words: "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created. James 1:18". Yes, no one knows the day or the hour. But could the days leading up to Pentecost and The Feast of Firstfruits, after the revelation of the Antichrist, be a general time for Rapture? I guess we will find out. Well what about the Trumpet call of God? Yes there will be trumpet calls. In Numbers 10: 1&2, we read: "The LORD said to Moses; Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out". As Moses receives instructions, we learn that the first trumpet blast was to call the leaders of the congregation , those who went before...prophetic illustration, died? The second trumpet blast, was to call the rest of the congregation ... those still alive? Paul writes: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, At the last trumpet. for the trumpet will sound (the first one), the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52". He gives further clarification in "1 Thessalonians 4:15 - 17a, For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command , with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air...". I trust I have not muddied the waters. I know that there are many ideas floating around and I want to be faithful to the Scriptures. We are living in amazing days as we serve our Lord. May we/I be faithful.