When is the Rapture of the Church?
Many have tried to calculate the day of the Rapture or predict the end of the world. Wikipedia lists forty incorrect calculations by well-known Christians and scientists, ranging from 156 AD to 2060 AD. You may have also come across videos or teachings where people make calculations. Some YouTube channels continually update their predictions every month, using prophets, vague biblical calculations, and world events to support their claims. So far, they have been consistently wrong, but they continue undeterred. Here are some dates from history: European Christians thought Jesus would return on January 1, 1000 AD, Martin Luther suggested 1558 or 2040, and Isaac Newton proposed 1715, 1766, or 2060. I have chosen not to engage in these vague biblical calculations to predict the Rapture of the Church. I do not use prophets, celestial alignments, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wars, or world leaders to predict when Jesus will return. Two things I know: I cannot know when Jesus will return, and He does not ask me to predict His coming. In this chapter, we will examine what Jesus and the Bible say about the timing of the Rapture and whether it is possible for anyone to predict it.
No One Knows the Day or Hour
We begin this paragraph by studying the wisest Man who ever lived. No one before Him was wiser, and no one after Him is wiser. This Man answered the question, "When will the Messiah return? We study the words of the Lord Jesus.
"But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36)
The Lord Jesus explicitly states that He doesn't know, the angels don't know, and humans don't know. No one knows except God the Father. If Jesus doesn't have the answer to when He will return, then we certainly don't. The Rapture of the Church is scheduled and will happen one day, but nobody knows when that will be. The same sentiment is echoed in the book of Mark.
"But of that day and hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is." (Mark 13:32-33)
Using an example, the Lord Jesus explains in Matthew that we do not know when He is coming back. Jesus only calls us to be vigilant, which we are going to talk about in chapter 9.
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Matthew 24:42-44)
In the book of Luke, we see the same picture. We do not know at what hour the Lord Jesus will return.
"Therefore, be ready also, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Luke 12:40)
After the Lord Jesus had died and risen, He appeared to His disciples for forty days. The disciples were eager to know when He would return to establish His kingdom, in other words, "When is the Second Coming, and when does the millennial reign begin?" Jesus responded that it was not their place to know.
"Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority."" (Acts 1:6-7)
The Father determines the moment when the Lord Jesus returns to Earth. It is not for humans to know this specific time. We are called to be watchful, but not to calculate the day and hour of the Rapture. Thus, it is not possible for a person to calculate the date of the Rapture or receive a revelation about the date.
Like a Thief in the Night
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that he didn't need to write to them about the timing of the Rapture of the Church and the Day of the Lord.
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)
First, Paul speaks about the wicked. They do not know when the Day of the Lord will come, and it surprises them like a thief in the night. However, the Day of the Lord does not catch the Church by surprise because the Church is watchful and sober. Paul didn't know the timing of the Rapture either. If he had known, he could have said, "You don't need to worry about missing the Rapture; it won't happen for thousands of years." Instead, Paul emphasized that this Church should remain watchful and sober. John presents a similar picture in his Revelation.
"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you." (Revelation 3:2-3)
John, like Paul, does not mention a date. He simply calls for vigilance but doesn't specify when this Church should be watchful. If the Church is not watchful, the Lord Jesus will come as a thief. This applies both to the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Christ. In Revelation 3, John wrote about the Rapture, and in Revelation 16, he wrote about the Second Coming.
"Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." (Revelation 16:15)
Also, for the Second Coming, God calls future believers to be watchful. For many, Jesus will come as a thief; they will not expect Him. For those who are watchful and wear white garments (purified), the Lord Jesus will not come as a thief. The significant difference between the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming is that the Rapture cannot be predicted. No one knows when it will occur. For the Second Coming, it is possible to calculate the date. Today, we cannot do this, but those living during the Great Tribulation can. They can observe when the abomination of desolation is set up in the temple. After this, about 3.5 years will pass until the Second Coming (Daniel 12:11).
While it is not possible to predict the date of the Rapture, the Bible does mention events that will occur before and during the Rapture. Matthew 24, in particular, addresses this.
"Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"" (Matthew 24:3)
The disciples asked for three things: When will the temple be destroyed? What will be the sign of Your coming? And when is the end of the age? The first event happened in 70 AD when the Roman Empire destroyed the temple. The other two events are still pending. Nevertheless, the time of the temple's destruction is likened to the coming of the Lord Jesus. Jesus compares these events to the birth pangs of a pregnant woman. The birth pangs increase in intensity.
"And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."" (Matthew 24:4-5)
The first thing Jesus says is that many will try to deceive them. Many will come and say 'I am the Christ.' The greatest deceiver is yet to come: the Antichrist. But before the Antichrist, many will desire to be worshiped as God or Christ. Think, for example, of the popes. The pope is worshiped, and it is said of him that he is 'the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth and the successor of Saint Peter.' According to the Catholic Church, the pope has the power to forgive sins and can declare people 'saints.' During the coronation of Pope Innocent X, it was said of him: 'Most Holy and Blessed Father, Head of the Church, Ruler of the World, to whom the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, whom the angels in heaven revere, and the gates of hell fear; and whom the whole world venerates, especially devoutly venerate and adore you.' Even today, the pope is addressed as 'Holy Father' or 'Your Holiness.' Additionally, the pope can change church rules, while according to the Bible, no one is allowed to do so. Jesus said, 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.' (Luke 21:33). The pope holds a different view, and much deception has infiltrated the Catholic Church. False Christs will arise, and they will mislead many.
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:6-8)
Before the Rapture, there will be many wars and rumors of wars. The world is filled with terror and war crimes. Nations rise against one another, and new problems continually arise. Since the beginning, millions of people have lost their lives in wars, due to fear and assassination attempts. On Earth, these issues will persist until Jesus comes and establishes the thousand-year reign of peace. In addition to wars, Jesus mentions famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. Alongside human conflicts, nature will also be in turmoil, causing great problems. Think, for example, of locust plagues, hunger in Africa, and earthquakes that sometimes displace thousands of people and result in many casualties. Think of contagious diseases like the plague, smallpox, Ebola, or Corona. During the plague in the Middle Ages, fifty million people died. Or consider climate change and global warming. Yet, we are still in the beginning of sorrows.
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another." (Matthew 24:9-10)
There will be a terrible hatred of Christians. We see this in the lives of the disciples. Except for one, they were all killed. This hatred has endured, and every year, Open Doors releases a ranking of Christian persecution. Persecution is especially active in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. In these regions, Christians are betrayed by their own family members. But even still, the end has not yet come.
"Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many." (Matthew 24:11)
In addition to false Messiahs, false prophets will arise. These are individuals who twist the words of the Bible to make it say what they want. During the time of the apostles, they were already active.
"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness, they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber." (2 Peter 2:1-3)
Today, we live in a world where everything is justified. People say, "God is love!" and claim that because of this, anything goes. They determine for themselves what is right and wrong, and they want the Bible to be reinterpreted in the light of a new era and culture. This is a great deception, and unfortunately, more and more churches are calling for us to listen to the world's call and for the church to become "woke." These are false prophets, and many will follow them. What they do not know is that their judgment has already been pronounced. These false prophets will increase in number, with the crowning figures being the false prophet and the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation.
"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." (Matthew 24:12)
Lawlessness will increase. People no longer want to be bound by the laws of the government or the laws of God. When someone is obedient to God in all things, they love people. Many will not take God's laws seriously and will live in “freedom” without God. The result is that the love of many will grow cold, and this is what we encounter today. Think, for example, of all the negative reactions on social media. Consider famous individuals and how they are vilified for small mistakes. Think of assassinations and stabbings because people disagree. Love grows cold, and hatred increases.
"But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:13-14)
In the midst of all the terrible events that Jesus had listed, you might wonder, "Is there still hope?" Jesus says that there is hope. Those who endure to the end will be saved, which means they will receive eternal life. Furthermore, the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations. Many argue that this hasn't happened yet, and therefore, the Rapture of the Church cannot occur. However, I don't see Matthew 24:14 as an obstacle to the imminent return of Jesus. For example, Paul believed he would experience the Rapture while alive. He spoke of "we who are alive" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Was Paul not aware of this verse? I believe he was. Paul knew that Matthew 24:14 was not a hindrance. Paul even stated:
"Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith." (Romans 16:25-26)
According to Paul, the gospel has been made known to all nations. This doesn't mean it's unnecessary to continue proclaiming the gospel to everyone.
"Learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." (Matthew 24:32-34)
Then Jesus speaks of a parable with a fig tree. When we see the events mentioned in this chapter occurring, the end will be near. Just as people see that summer is approaching when the fig tree's branch becomes tender and puts forth leaves, we will see that the end is approaching when we witness these signs. The generation witnessing the beginning of the Great Tribulation will not pass away until all these things have happened.
The Day of the Rapture
Now that we understand what happens during the Rapture, let's examine the day of the Rapture itself. Are there any specific events that occur before the Rapture takes place? In Chapter 2, we saw what happens during the Rapture, and in this section, we'll explore whether there are any signs that occur on the actual day.
"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:26-27)
According to the Lord Jesus, the days of the Son of Man will resemble the days of Noah. Before the flood came, the wicked lived ordinary lives. They ate, drank, and married. None of them suspected that judgment was coming, but the flood arrived and destroyed them all. Similarly, this will be the case at the Rapture of the Church. People on Earth will be going about their normal lives, and it will seem like any other day. Suddenly, the followers of Jesus will be caught up, and a terrible judgment will befall those left behind, starting with the Great Tribulation.
"For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape." (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
At that time, there will be peace and safety. Everyone will feel secure, and no one will expect the impending calamity.
"Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17:28-30)
The Lord Jesus also used the example of the days of Lot. The wicked of that time ate, drank, engaged in commerce, and built. They thought there was nothing to fear and believed they needed to secure their future. Suddenly, judgment came, and they all perished. The Rapture occurs at an unexpected moment, and no one can anticipate it in advance.
"I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left." (Luke 17:34-36)
People will be going about their daily work, both those who are taken and those who remain on Earth. They will be working together, and suddenly, the followers of Jesus will be taken. There is no need for specific signs or events preceding the Rapture. The Rapture could happen today.
I Am Coming Soon
The Lord Jesus declares, "I am coming soon." He said this 2,000 years ago, and today, we are closer to that moment than ever before. Let's study the Bible verses where Jesus said He is coming soon.
The first verse is addressed to the church in Philadelphia, which has existed on Earth since 1700. To them, Jesus says:
"'Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming soon! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.'" (Revelation 3:10-11)
Jesus tells us that He is coming quickly and will protect us from the hour of trial, the Great Tribulation. What does “quickly” mean? “Quickly” comes from the Greek word “tachu”, which means fast, soon, or immediately. Jesus is telling us that He is coming fast and soon.
The next times Jesus says He is coming soon are found in the last chapter of the Bible:
"'Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.'" (Revelation 22:7)
"'And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.'" (Revelation 22:12)
"'He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!'" (Revelation 22:20)
Jesus is coming soon, and this is a great encouragement for us. Besides the word “tachu”, Greek also has a verb indicating that something will happen with haste or speed. This word is “tachos”, and it is used, among other places, in Revelation 1:1 and 22:6. In these verses, Jesus states that the things written in the Book of Revelation will begin with speed. This includes the Great Tribulation with its catastrophes, the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, the Millennial Reign, and the new heaven and earth.
"'The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place (...)'" (Revelation 1:1)
'Then he said to me, 'These words are faithful and true.' And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.' (Revelation 22:6)
We've read that Jesus is coming soon. It's been 2,000 years since He said this. This might lead us to wonder, "Why hasn't Jesus returned yet?" There is an important reason for this, as explained by Peter in his letter.
"Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation (...) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." (2 Peter 3:3-10)
From the time of Peter to our own, there have been scoffers—people who mockingly ask, 'Where is this Jesus who was supposed to return?' Peter provides an answer for why the Lord Jesus has not returned yet. Firstly, one day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord Jesus stands outside of time, and what seems long to us is not long to Him. Time in heaven either doesn't exist or operates very differently. The exact nature of this is beyond our understanding, but it is scientifically plausible. According to science, time on Earth passes faster than it does for an object in a black hole in space. If I were to enter a black hole, a year for me might be equivalent to ten years passing on Earth (these are fictitious numbers). God has embedded this principle in space, and He is not bound by the limitations of time. Secondly, the Lord Jesus is patient with us. He knows how dreadful the Great Tribulation and hell are. He delays His judgments because He does not want anyone to perish. The Lord Jesus desires to save as many people as possible from judgment and wrath. This is the primary reason why He has not yet returned. But the Great Tribulation will come, without a doubt. In this Bible verse, Peter also looks far into the future and speaks of the moment when the entire earth and heaven will be destroyed. After this event, God will create a new heaven and a new earth.
No one knows when the Lord Jesus will return. It is not possible to determine the date through revelation or by calculating with the Bible. However, it is possible to know that the Rapture is imminent. This understanding comes from the signs in Matthew 24 and the Lord Jesus Himself saying that He is coming soon. The primary reason why Jesus has not returned yet is that God is patient and does not want anyone to be lost.
This chapter is in the book A Revelation of the End Times. Read this book right now, so that you don't miss anything about the end times, live in expectation and your faith is increased. The rapture of the church is a special prophecy from the Word of God. Due to the many theories and ideas about this event, many no longer know what is and what is not Biblical. Timo Groot takes you through the Biblical data about the rapture and why the rapture is more relevant today than ever before. The rapture is the hope of escaping the terrible things that are going to happen on earth and is the moment when the church will see the Lord Jesus face to face in the father's house of God.