We received several texted questions during the message on Sunday, more than we had time to answer during the service, so I am going to write a few blogs giving my answers to those we didn’t get to.
Jesus taught in Matthew 24 that the tribulation must come first, then the rapture in Matthew 24:31. Do we believe that Matthew 24:31 is the rapture?
Let me begin by stating that there are differing opinions on this, so I will begin with a few definitions and an explanation of how someone who would differ from me might answer the question. First let me define “tribulation” and “rapture”.
Tribulation – a period of intense persecution and struggle for humanity filled with natural disasters, hardships, war, and the other signs of the Second Coming found in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation. Revelation and Daniel used language that indicates the Tribulation will be a seven year period, but whether this is a literal or a figurative use of numbers is debated.
Rapture – The catching up of the elect, or those who are followers of Jesus to be with Jesus forever. Some believe the church will be raptured before the Great Tribulation while others see it coming at the end of the period of Tribulation.
For those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture, they would focus on the word “birth pains” in Matthew 24:8. In other words they would say that the text speaks of things leading up to the Tribulation, signs that the rapture will take place, and then the Great Tribulation, detailed in the events in Revelation would come after this.
I mentioned on Sunday that in my understanding of Scripture I would say that the Second Coming of Jesus and the rapture are actually two things that take place in one event, and that this text does speak to the rapture. I don’t really see the warrant in Biblical texts that indicates that there is two comings of Jesus, one to call the church and the other to come as the King.
But once again let me be clear. The “what” is that Jesus will return, that the elect will be taken to a literal place of heaven, and that rebellious sinful humanity will be judged by Righteous Jesus who will conquer evil. We hold these ideas firmly in a closed hand. But the “how” we may differ on, and we hold those positions loosely and do not allow differences here to divide us.