Please listen to Ben Kaplan, MD, as he and his students begin a dialog about the rapture.
Ben Kaplan always looked forward to meetings with his medical students and they were right on time today.
“Hi, Josh and Matt. What a pleasure it is to see you today!” said Ben. “And I see that you’ve brought Sarah along with you again. What a treat! How are things going with you?”
“I’m born again, Dr. Kaplan! I’ve accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour,” said Sarah.
“I couldn’t be happier to hear that, Sarah. What made you finally decide?” asked Ben.
“Everything that you, Matt, and Josh have shared with me makes perfect sense. After I left you last time I began to read the Bible. I’ve been reading from both the Old and New Testaments. I can see that the coming of Jesus to save us was prophesied in many places in the Old Testament and I am now convinced that He is the Jewish Messiah and my Lord and Savior,” said Sarah. “But something else has come up in my Bible reading Dr. Kaplan. I have been trying to understand the meaning of a couple of verses in the New Testament and I’m not getting very far even with help from Josh and Matt,” said Sarah.
“Dr. Kaplan, these verses seem to be talking about something absolutely wild and I don’t understand what they mean,” said Josh.
“Can you explain those verses to us today?” asked Matt. “May I read them to you, Dr. Kaplan?”
“Please do Matt,” said Ben.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
“I can understand why Josh would say these verses talk about something absolutely wild, Matt. They describe the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the living saints. We’ll use the term rapture to cover both. Have the 3 of you heard of the rapture?” said Ben. “The word rapture is derived from the Latin word rapturo which is itself a translation of the Greek word harpazo, used in the original New Testament manuscripts. It means “caught up” or “snatched up”.
The 3 students shook their heads. All 3 gazed at Ben with expectancy. He’d certainly gotten their attention.
“Let me first say that the rapture is really good news for every believer in Jesus, meaning for every born again person. You see there is a time that will come on our entire planet and it is getting closer every day. It’s called the Tribulation. Personally, I believe it is quite close at this present time. The Tribulation is not just trials and tribulations, things that we suffer every day. Without question trials and tribulations can be very bad. They can be absolutely horrific in fact. But The Tribulation is something very different. The Bible has a lot to say about it. It’s going to be a time of judgement on the earth, a time when God will pour out His wrath on all those who have never accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. It will be bad for all people dwelling on the earth but it will be especially bad for the Jewish people and Israel. It is prophesied in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It will be 7 years long. It’s going to be a very, very bad time, the worst time in all history. Nothing before it and nothing following it will be as bad. There will be natural disasters on an unprecendented scale, there will be plagues, and there will be relentless persecution of people, especially the Jewish people, because during this 7 year period of the Tribulation the Anti-Christ will be used by Satan in his final attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish race. The Tribulation will be really bad for everyone but for the Jews it will be much worse than Hitler’s Holocaust and the Anti-Christ will be worse than Hitler.
“The rapture occurs before the 7 year Tribulation. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when Jesus comes back to the earth, occurs following the Tribulation,” said Ben. “Jesus will actually touch down on the earth, on terra firma, in Jerusalem, at His Second Coming. He does not do that when He comes for believers at the rapture. When Jesus comes for His saints at the time of the rapture He descends only as far as the upper atmosphere and His saints meet Him there.
“Much is predicted or prophesied about the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth in both Testaments but as far as I know there is nothing specific or definite about the rapture in the Old Testament,” said Ben.
“Dr. Kaplan, please slow down. My head is spinning,” said Josh. “Can we back up please? What exactly is the rapture?”
“You bet Josh. Let’s take this one step at a time. We won’t finish this discussion today because there is so much to talk about,” said Ben. “There will come a time, a moment, when Jesus will return for His people to snatch them from the earth and take them back to heaven with Him. All people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior but have died, “the dead in Christ”, and all people who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and are alive, the “we who are alive”, will be caught up together to meet Jesus in the air. These 2 groups of believers – New Testament believers – are often referred to in the New Testament as being “in Christ” and also as “saints”. Both groups will be snatched up to meet Jesus in the air and in an instant they will all have new bodies that will be imperishable and immortal. That is the rapture, Josh,” said Ben.
“Now 2 other verses tell us that Jesus takes these believers back to heaven with Him. Those verses are in the Gospel of John. Jesus is talking with the Apostles shortly before He goes to the cross to die and the Bible tells us that the words that Jesus spoke then are also for us today, even in the 21st century. Let’s read those other verses now,” said Ben.
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
“Let’s now read 2 other verses together. These 2 verses testify to the fact that when believers are raptured they will have new bodies,” said Ben. “Sarah, would you please read these 2 verses?”
With excitement, Sarah read out loud while Matt, Josh, and Ben listened intently.
1 Corinthians 15:52-53
52 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.
53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
“Dr. Kaplan, this is nearly unbelievable! I mean the Bible says it, so I believe it. But this is really something!” said Sarah. “It’s absolutely wild!”
“Yeah!!” said Josh and Matt in unison.
“It is wild Sarah,” said Ben. “We have a great God!
“Now, I think that this has left us all breathless with wonder and maybe we’ve had enough for today. But there is one more thing that we should address today before we go home and that is the timing of the rapture.”
“Do you mean that we can actually know the precise time that we’ll be caught up and get our new bodies?” asked Matt.
“No, Matt. Jesus explained that the exact time is known only to the Father. But we can know the times and seasons of God’s calendar and there is no question in my mind that God wants us to know these times and seasons so that we will be ready when Jesus comes for us.
“What I’m talking about now is the timing of the rapture with regard to the 7 year Tribulation,” said Ben.
“Dr. Kaplan, wouldn’t it be kind of intuitive that believers in Jesus would be caught up out of this world and go to heaven with Jesus before the Tribulation starts, that God would not pour out His wrath on us?” said Sarah.
“For sure, Dr. Kaplan! God wouldn’t want believers to suffer through the Tribulation, would He?” said Josh.
“I agree with you both, that God will “rapture us out” before the time of the Tribulation. But there are others who do not agree including some pretty serious students of the Bible. Their position is that believers will go through part or all of the 7 year Tribulation before the rapture occurs. So I want to try to equip you today to understand why the Pre-Tribulation rapture position is the correct one. It’s important to know that because knowing that we’ll be raptured before the Tribulation begins gives us tremendous hope and you and I surely want and need that hope!” said Ben.
“To begin to understand why the Pre-Tribulation rapture position is the correct position, let’s read another 2 verses together,” said Ben.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
“It looks like one of these verses is telling us that Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come and the other verse says that God has not destined us for wrath, right Dr. Kaplan?” said Matt.
“Exactly, Matt,” said Ben.
“But how do we know that these 2 verses are talking about the wrath of the Tribulation?” asked Sarah.
“Great question, Sarah!” said Ben. “It has to do with the context of these 2 verses and we don’t have time to go into that today, but we will, and soon.
“I do want to leave you with just one more thing today to strengthen you. It’s called the Golden Rule of Scripture Interpretation. It was given to us by Dr. David L. Cooper, a great man of God who went home to be with the Lord in 1965. Let me read it to you,” said Ben.
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word, at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.
“If we stick with this rule we’ll do well. Unfortunately many people today, including some Bible scholars and some pastors of very large churches, don’t follow this rule. When that happens, it’s easy to become confused, to go down the wrong path, and to mislead people.”
“This has just been a great meeting today, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah. “I can’t wait for the next one.”
“I feel so excited and hopeful,” said Josh.
“Ditto,” said Matt.
“Thanks. I’m looking forward to our next meeting too!” said Ben. “Let’s close today with a word of praise to our Lord and Savior.
“Father in Heaven, thank you for sending the Lord Jesus to save us. We thank you that we will be with you for eternity. And we thank you that you will save us from the Tribulation, from the wrath to come. You are so good Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.”