Who is Least Likely to Believe in Replacement Theology?

The person who believes in the Pre-tribulation rapture.  But, you ask, why is that? Don’t those people believe in a Tribulation designed to torment the Jews and liberate the Church which is full of Gentiles? Aren’t those people anti-Semitic?

No, no, no, my friend! The person who believes in the Pre-tribulation rapture is the most likely to believe these things and in this sequence:

  1. The Church is raptured, caught up to meet the Messiah in the air, and returns to heaven with Him.
  2. The Tribulation begins, 7 years, and it is all bad, but the full fury of the anti-Christ is unleashed during the final 3.5 years.  This second half is The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  2/3 of the Jewish people will die during this time.
  3. Then Yeshua the Messiah returns with all His saints and the anti-Christ is destroyed (not annihilated).
  4. Yeshua then sets up his Messianic Kingdom which will last for 1,000 years, during which time Satan is bound.  Then comes Eternity.

In order to believe all this a person must take the Bible’s promises literally.  The Jewish people will suffer during the Tribulation, as will Gentiles.  But out of this Tribulation will emerge those Jews who are in Messiah, i.e., saved.  These are the true Jews, circumcised of the flesh and, more importantly, circumcised of the heart.  These are those of whom it is said: all Israel will be saved.

The Jewish people who die in the Tribulation, 2/3 of the total population of the Jews, are those who never accepted Yeshua.

Now do you see that those who believe this are indeed the most likely ones to love the Jewish people and to reject Replacement Theology?

This is the truth my friends.  Please believe it.

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What is the Rapture, Part III

Let’s rejoin Dr. Kaplan and his students, Josh, Matt, and Sarah, as they conclude their discussion on the rapture:

(For the previous post click here: What is the Rapture? Part II)

“Hi Dr. Kaplan. It seems like an eternity since our last meeting although I know it’s only been a week. I’m just so excited about the rapture. I have a hunger to know more about it,” said Sarah.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan. I feel the same way,” said Josh.

“Me too,” said Matt. “Can we read the relevant verses in 1 Thessalonians again, Dr. Kaplan?”

“Absolutely, Matt.”

Matt read:

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 ESV

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [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’m so glad the three of you are here today. This is exciting stuff!” said Ben. “Now if my memory serves me we have established that according to the Bible the rapture is imminent. Jesus could return at any moment but that moment is not necessarily soon. We do not know just when Jesus will return for us. However it could be today. We know that, because Jesus told us to always be ready. I’m going to read Matthew 24:44 again.

Matthew 24:44 ESV

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Now remember that an even better translation for the Greek word ready is prepared. We must always be prepared because Jesus will come for us at an hour we do not expect,” said Ben.

“And to be prepared means to be saved or born again, right?” said Josh.

“And that means to be in Christ, right Dr. Kaplan?” said Matt.

“And that means to be in the Body of Christ which is the Church, the true Church. Right?” said Sarah.

“You are all correct!! So, are we agreed that the rapture is imminent, and that Jesus could come today?” asked Ben.

The 3 students all nodded their heads in agreement.

“So, what about those believers who say that the Church must go through part or all of The Tribulation? If the rapture is imminent, does that prove these believers wrong?” said Josh.

“It does prove them wrong, Josh. Those who insist that the rapture must occur in the middle of The Tribulation, or later on during The Tribulation, or after The Tribulation, destroy the imminence of the rapture, and that can’t be correct because the rapture is imminent. Do you all understand?” said Ben.

“I think so, Dr. Kaplan. The mid-tribulation rapture theory would require that the rapture occur around the time of the abomination of desolation and we know when that will be. It will be after three and one-half years of The Tribulation, meaning the midpoint of the seven year Tribulation. So if the rapture can’t occur until then, it can’t be imminent,” said Sarah.

“And the pre-wrath rapture theory requires that the rapture must occur even later than the midpoint of The Tribulation, so that theory also directly conflicts with an imminent rapture,” said Josh.

“And the post tribulation rapture theory mandates no rapture until The Tribulation is finished which will be at the end of the seven years. That also conflicts with an imminent rapture,” said Matt.

“Right! I think all four of us are on the same page. Because the rapture is imminent, any theory that requires the rapture to occur after The Tribulation starts cannot be correct. In the language that we sometimes use to describe medical test results, an imminent rapture rules out any mandatory mid-tribulation, pre-wrath tribulation, post-tribulation, or any other variety of rapture that requires the Church to enter The Tribulation. This even includes any theory that has yet to be put forth by some future theologian,” said Ben. “We’ll lump all these theories together and for ease of discussion we’ll put them all in a basket labeled Post-Tribulation Raptures,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, I think I’m clear now on how imminence rules out mandatory Post-Tribulation Raptures. But I’m confused about two passages in Matthew 24 and I’m not sure how these two passages bear on the question of imminence. It almost seems as if Jesus is describing two separate second comings. What’s going on there?” asked Josh. “May I read the verses?”

“Sure, Josh. Please go ahead and read the first of the two passages,” said Ben.

Matthew 24:29 ESV

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“Some key words in this passage are immediately after the tribulation. We will know when The Tribulation begins because the signing of a treaty between Israel and the Antichrist begins The Tribulation and that will surely be a very public event. The Tribulation is 7 years long, a known length of time. Immediately after The Tribulation, awesome cosmic signs appear and then Jesus, the Son of Man, comes on the clouds of heaven. This is the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth and everyone on earth will see Him coming. He does not tell us to be ready for this event because 7 years’ notice will have already been given. This is well described in the Bible and anyone living during The Tribulation can read all about it as Bibles will be widely available and, in addition, the Gospel will be preached again, loud and clear, to all earth dwellers during The Tribulation. The Bible tells us that too. So, if a person is not prepared when He, Jesus, comes on the clouds, there will be no time to do so then. It will be too late,” said Ben. “Notice also that there is no mention of Jesus snatching or taking anyone up from the earth to meet Him in the clouds. No rapture is described here. Again, this is the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth,” said Ben.

“OK, I think I see that, Dr. Kaplan. But what about the last verse in this passage. Let me read it,” said Matt.

Matthew 24:31 ESV

31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“What is Jesus referring to here?” asked Matt.

“I believe He is referring to the final regathering of Jewish people to the land of Israel. This is described all the way back in the book of Deuteronomy where the LORD speaking through Moses said:

Deuteronomy 30:4 ESV

“If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.”
“Josh, please read the second passage in Matthew 24 now,” said Ben.

Matthew 24:36 ESV

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

“Dr. Kaplan, this sounds like an entirely different event than the Second Coming, doesn’t it?” asked Sarah.

“It sure does Sarah. We cannot know the day and hour of this event. And this event is not going to be immediately after The Tribulation because that is an incredibly horrific time. The time before this event is a time of normal life, as in the days before Noah’s flood. Unbelievers at that time will be blissfully ignorant of what is to come,” said Ben. “Jesus is talking about the rapture in this passage.”

“Dr. Kaplan, why is it that so many excellent Bible teachers, pastors, and theologians, say that this passage does not refer to the rapture. They say that it refers to what happens following the second coming and that the men and women who are taken are unsaved people taken away to be judged,” said Sarah.

“Thanks for that question. I think the reason is that the folks who do not believe that this passage refers to the rapture are taking this whole chapter, Matthew 24, as being in strict chronological order. But I don’t believe that is the case. Note that Jesus says “But concerning that day and hour …..”. I believe that the “But” indicates that Jesus is now turning to another topic, the topic of the rapture,” said Ben.

“This all makes sense, Dr. Kaplan, but an idea has just occurred to me and I’d like your input on it. Imminence rules out any mandatory Post-Tribulation Raptures. I definitely see that. But does imminence rule in a pre- tribulation rapture?” asked Josh.

“What a wonderful question, Josh! Almost nobody ever asks that question and it is an important question to ask and the answer is a most important one to understand. The answer is that, although imminence rules out Post-Tribulation Raptures, imminence does not rule in a pre-tribulation rapture. There is something else that rules in a pre-tribulation rapture,” said Ben.

At the same time, all 3 students exclaimed. “What is that, Dr. Kaplan!?!”

“A pre-tribulation rapture is ruled in by the character of God. You know that I’m Jewish and I know that God loves His Chosen Nation Israel and His Chosen People, the Jewish people, with an everlasting love. But I also know something else. God loves His Church, His Son’s bride, just as much, and Jesus will not allow His beloved bride to enter The Tribulation. But not only that, there is simply no reason for the Church to enter The Tribulation because, by definition, the Church, and by that I mean the true Church, is saved. That includes every member of the true Church. Another name for the true Church is the Bride of Messiah,” said Ben. “It is made up of every believer, both Jew and Gentile, from the time of the crucifixion until the time of the rapture.”

“But, Dr. Kaplan, God loves Israel, His Chosen Nation and the Jewish people, His Chosen People, just as you said. So why would Israel have to go through The Tribulation? Why isn’t Israel raptured?” said Matt.

“Once again, the answer is the character of God. His plans for the Jewish people and Israel are so great that we can’t even imagine how great they are. But in order to bring those plans to pass, the Nation of Israel and the Chosen People must be pure. The Chosen People must be saved, all of them,” said Ben.

“I’m confused, Dr. Kaplan. Are you telling me that the Chosen People are not all saved?” said Sarah.

“That’s right, Sarah. They are not all saved. Remember that not long ago you weren’t saved and you’re Jewish. You had to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and then He saved you. And the Nation of Israel, as a Nation, cannot be saved until every member of that Nation accepts Jesus. There is no other way, for anyone, whether he or she is a Gentile or a Jew. There will come a time when The Chosen People, and the All Israel of Romans 11:26, will be coextensive and then all Israel will be saved. That is one major purpose of The Tribulation. God will accomplish this by breaking the will of His Chosen People as He tells us in Daniel 12:7. At the end of The Tribulation, all Jews who have not been killed will accept Jesus, and so all Israel will then be saved. God will then be able to fulfill all of the promises that He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thousands of years ago. That is part of the character of God. He always keeps His promises,” said Ben. “And the love of God for His Chosen People is very much a part of all this. God loves Israel and the Jewish People and He always will,” said Ben.

Josh spoke. “So, Dr. Kaplan, you’ve made a very strong case for the pre-tribulation rapture and you’ve ruled out any mandatory Post-Tribulation Raptures. You’ve explained why the Church will not enter The Tribulation and you’ve explained why Israel will enter The Tribulation. Now, do you think the case for the pre-tribulation rapture is strong enough? Do you believe it? Is faith required to believe it?”

“I do believe it Josh, I most definitely have faith that Jesus is coming to rapture us, and I look forward to it everyday,” said Ben.

“Now, we’ve talked about the rapture for 3 sessions now, but I think there are still a few loose ends such as who are the elect of Matthew 24:22 and 24:24? These elect people are the Tribulation Saints. You see, as we are told in the book of Revelation, there will be a world-wide revival during The Tribulation. Gentiles will be saved as well as Jews. God knows exactly what He is doing.

“And we also haven’t talked much about Daniel’s 70th week, discussed in Daniel chapter 9. And I’m sure there are a few other loose ends too. But I think that for now, we can move on to additional things of importance in the Scriptures. In the meantime, please look into these “loose ends” yourselves and if you have questions I will try to answer them,” said Ben.

“Would you please join hands with me now as we give great thanks to our awesome God who has saved us and who is returning soon to snatch us up as He tells us in John 14:3?” asked Ben.

John 14:3 ESV

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.

Ben asked Sarah to lead as all four joined hands together and prayed.

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What is the Rapture? Part II

(For part one of this series, click here: What is the rapture? Part I )

Matt, Josh, and Sarah, Ben Kaplan’s medical students, were excited. The time of their weekly meeting with Ben had finally arrived.

“So, Dr. Kaplan, we’re raring to go! Tell us more about the rapture, please,” said Sarah.

“Sure, Sarah,” said Ben. “Let’s start with a short recap. Let me read again the 3 verses in the Bible that most obviously talk about the rapture:

“For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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. 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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (ESV)

“As we said last time, because they happen so closely together in time, we’re going to refer to the raising up of both groups, the dead in Christ and the we who are alive, as the rapture. And because the rapture and the tribulation are closely related, we are going to talk about the tribulation today.

“There is coming a time of great tribulation on the earth. The tribulation occurs after the rapture. So when believers are raptured they are saved from entering the time of the tribulation. Although the world has one heck of a lot of tribulation now, The Tribulation will be much worse than any tribulation that has ever happened so far. It will last 7 years and it will be a time during which God pours out His wrath on this planet. The wrath and accompanying judgements will be concentrated and extremely severe. The 7 years of The Tribulation are divided into two equal periods of three and one-half years each. The second half of The Tribulation is even worse than the first half. For that reason it is sometimes called The Great Tribulation and another name used to describe this second half of The Tribulation is The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah.

“Jesus talked about The Great Tribulation in the 24th chapter of Matthew. Matt, please read verse 21, spoken by Jesus,” said Ben.

“Sure, Dr. Kaplan.”

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. Matthew 24:21 (ESV)

“Dr. Kaplan, hasn’t there ever been a time like this already on the earth? What about all the natural disasters and mass murders that have occurred right up to the present time and are still occurring? What about Hitler’s Holocaust and other episodes of genocide since then? ” asked Matt.

“Matt, The Tribulation has not yet occurred and we’ll prove that a little later in our discussion when we talk about something called The Abomination of Desolation, but for now, I’d like you to just keep in your minds the idea that The Tribulation will be bad beyond anything we can even imagine right now. We, the 4 of us here together today, do not want to go through that period of time and, praise God, He has ordained that we will not go through it. He will catch us up from the surface of the earth to meet Jesus in the air, along with our dear departed brothers and sisters who accepted Jesus when they were alive. They will be resurrected, ” said Ben. “Let me read that to you again from the Bible,” said Ben.

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. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV)

“All of this will happen in the blink of an eye, essentially instantaneously,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, how do we know when the rapture will occur? I know that you read 2 other verses last time, telling us that God is going to deliver us from future wrath. The Tribulation is that future wrath, right?” asked Josh. “But if that’s the correct interpretation, can you prove that to us?”

Sarah spoke up. “Amen, Dr. Kaplan. I’d also like to have proof of this timing, proof that the rapture occurs before The Tribulation. I’m already reading, in various books and articles, that many people believe that the dead in Christ and the we who are alive, of 1Thessalonians 4:16-17, will be raptured after The Tribulation, not before. So how do we know for sure that we will be caught up in the clouds before The Tribulation starts?”

Matt spoke up too. “I agree with Josh and Sarah. I’d like proof that the rapture is before The Tribulation, that it’s pretribulational. Can you give us that proof, Dr. Kaplan? Because if you can, that’s going to be something! What an incredible thing it would be if I can know that I won’t be on earth during the time of The Tribulation. And one other thing, Dr. Kaplan. I’ve come across articles that refer to this 7 year Tribulation as the 70th week of the prophet Daniel. What is that all about? Does that fit in with our current discussion?”

“I cannot believe how much the 3 of you are learning! It’s fantastic! And you’re asking great questions! Matt, Daniel’s 70th week surely does fit in with what we are talking about, and thanks for asking about it! We will get to that a little bit later on,” said Ben. “But getting back to what the 3 of you are asking for. You are asking for proof that the rapture occurs before The Tribulation. I believe that the Bible furnishes that proof. In order to understand that proof, we need to talk about something called imminence. A standard English dictionary will tell us that imminence is a state or condition when something is about to happen. But from Matthew 24, we derive a slightly different definition of imminence. Imminence refers to a thing that is going to happen suddenly, at an hour that we cannot know, with no preconditions required in order for it to happen. If we believe that Jesus could come today to catch us up to meet Him in the clouds then we believe that the rapture is imminent. He doesn’t have to come today but He could. We cannot know the day or the hour. But when He comes it will be sudden. That’s what imminence means,” said Ben.

“So the Biblical definition of imminence is a definition deduced from what Jesus said in Matthew 24?” asked Josh.

“Exactly, Josh, and it’s not just from Matthew 24 but for now we’ll stick to Matthew 24. We’ll take this in bite sized pieces,” said Ben.

“So the rapture is imminent and that word is not actually in Scripture but is deduced from Scripture?” asked Matt.

“That’s exactly right, Matt,” said Ben.

“And a Biblical definition of imminence speaks of an event that could happen at any time, of an event that when it occurs will occur in an instant , and of an event that requires no preconditions that have to occur first. Is that right?” said Josh.

“Beautifully summarized, Josh!” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, why is it important to know if the rapture is imminent or not?” asked Sarah.

“Sarah, you have just asked the most important question of the day, or perhaps of the year. Thank you! It is important to know if the rapture is imminent because if it is imminent then we cannot know the hour and if we cannot know the hour, then we must be ready at all times! And as I hope to show you soon, if the rapture is imminent, that means that any theory that requires the rapture to occur after The Tribulation has started has to be incorrect. So our next task is to prove that the rapture is imminent and I believe that we can do that from what Jesus said in Matthew 24,” said Ben.

“OK, Dr. Kaplan. I’m all ears and I can’t wait to hear the proof. But one more question first, please,” said Josh.

“Sure, Josh,” said Ben.

“You said that an imminent rapture means we must be ready at all times. Are you referring to Matthew 24: 44? Can I read that verse to you?” said Josh.

“Please do, Josh,” said Ben. Josh read.

44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 (ESV)

Ben spoke. “The Greek word for ready in this verse is hetoimos. It means prepared. So Jesus is telling us that we must be prepared for his coming for us, that we must be prepared for the rapture. It means, Josh, that we must know Jesus, that we must be born again, that we must be saved. Because if we’re not, we won’t be raptured. If we’re not, provided we don’t die first, when the rapture happens we’ll be left behind and we will enter the time of The Tribulation.”

“Is this ever getting exciting, and serious, Dr. Kaplan!” said Sarah. “But you still haven’t given us the proof, from Matthew 24. I have no doubt that you will though.”

“God has indeed provided us with the proof, Sarah, and we’ll get to that right at the beginning of our next session,” said Ben.

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What is the Rapture? Part I

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.

John 14:2-3

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.”

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