Poof! We’re gone in an instant but our clothes, jewelry, and other worldly items simply fall to the ground. This “in the twinkling of an eye” image of The Rapture being instantaneous has been popularized by numerous books, including Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series, and Joel C. Rosenberg’s Dead Heat. But, is scripture talking about an instantaneous rapture, or about an instantaneous change that must occur before we are raptured to stand in the presence of Yeshua? I say, the latter – this I believe, is what scripture is saying.
Gone In A Twinkling
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 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 will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
It is said that the average person blinks somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 times a day. In one of those blinks Yeshua could return and the people who have received him as their Lord and Savior could receive their immortal, incorruptible bodies! That is an awesome thought. And that change is instantaneous, in the twinkling of an eye!
Romans 8:23 – “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him.”
Before we can enter into Heaven itself, our mortal, corrupt bodies must be fully cleansed and renewed, taking on their immortal and incorruptible form. Those who live by faith in Yeshua are called his spiritual children and will rise to meet Yeshua in the air clothed in immortal, incorruptible bodies. And that change is instantaneous, in the twinkling of an eye!
1 Corinthians 15:41-44 – “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
Matthew 13:43 – “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father. he who has ears, let him hear.”
No longer will those raised from the dead or those still living be housed in a body that is earthly flesh and blood, but something far superior. Their bodies will be like Yeshua’s – glorious, radiant, honorable, powerful, undying, spiritual. And that change is instantaneous, in the twinkling of an eye!
Luke 9:29 – “And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.”
It is interesting to note that Yeshua first becomes transfigured before entering the cloud to speak to Moses and Elijah. And that change appears to be instantaneous, in the twinkling of an eye!
In each of these cases, it is only the change that appears to be instantaneous. None of these passages necessarily indicate that the rapture, itself, is instantaneous.
Gone In A Time
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 – “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
But what about The Rapture, itself? Is it also an instantaneous event? I think not. There are too many patterns of The Rapture in scripture that do not fit this image.
The passage above reveals a definite sequence:
• Yeshua descends in the clouds with a shout, loud voice, and a loud trumpet sounding
• The dead are raised (and given their immortal bodies according to 1 Corinthians 15)
• The living rise to meet them in the clouds (and given their immortal bodies according to 1 Corinthians 15)
• The people are gathered together with Yeshua
Enoch 81:6 – “One year you will have with your son, Methuselah, until you give your last commands, teach and testify them to your children, and record these commands for them. In the second year, you will be taken from amidst their presence.”
Enoch walked with Yahweh 300 more years after Methuselah was born, then was taken. Notice that Enoch was in the midst of his family when he was taken!
Exodus 19:10-11 – “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people’.”
Exodus 19:16 -20 – “So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God . . . The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.”
Exodus Chapter 19 is one of the most accurate patterns of the coming rapture. When Moses went up into the cloud, he was carefully watched by the Hebrews below until he entered into the cloud.
Notice the sequence:
• The people gather together to cleanse themselves
• Yahweh descends in the clouds with thunder, lightning, and a loud trumpet sounding
• The people gather together to meet with Yahweh
• Moses rises to meet Yahweh in the clouds.
2 Kings 2:11 – “As they were walking and talking, a chariot and horses of fire appeared and separated Elijah from Elisha. Then Elijah went up to Heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw it and shouted, ‘My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!’.”
When Elijah was taken up, or raptured, Elisha, and undoubtedly one or both schools of prophets, watched him enter the chariot and ascend into Heaven. And Elisha is found to have Elijah’s spirit upon him (2 Kings 2:15), just as the Bride of Christ will take on the likeness of Yeshua (1 John 3:2).
Once again, notice the sequence:
• Elisha follows Elijah to the gathering of prophets in Bethel and then in Jericho (2 Kings 2:1-6)
• A group of fifty prophets stand at a distance watching Elisha and Elijah cross the Jordan (2 Kings 2:7-10)
• Elisha follows Elijah across the Jordan (could this be a washing or cleansing?)
• Elisha watches Elijah enter the chariot and rise into heaven (the clouds)
In neither instance was there an instantaneous disappearance, and nobody’s clothing was left behind in a heap, except Elijah’s cloak, which I believe Elijah purposely allowed to fall for Elisha’s benefit. The same method can be seen in Acts Chapter 1 when Yeshua ascended to the Father:
Acts 1:9-11 – “And after he had said these things, he was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while he was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Yeshua, who has been taken up from you into Heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven’.”
This ascension was so fascinating to those watching that two “men” had to interrupt them and basically tell them to get on with their lives until Yeshua returned! Note that scripture tells us that people were watching as Yeshua was going, not when he disappeared into thin air! The word, go, is the Greek word poreuō [πορεύω G4198]. It means: to traverse, that is, to travel, to depart, to go away, to make or to take a journey or a walk. In no way does poreuō indicate an instantaneous disappearance.
Again, notice the sequence:
• Yeshua is raised from the dead and given his glorious, radiant, honorable, powerful, immortal, spiritual body.
• A group of apostles and others gathers
• A cloud appears
• Yeshua rises into the cloud while the onlookers gaze intently, watching him go into heaven.
The rapture is undoubtedly going to be a well witnessed event. Every instance of a rapture, or picture of the coming rapture, throughout scripture was well witnessed. Moses was watched as he rose up into the cloud at Mt. Sinai. Elijah was watched as he rose into heaven at the Jordan River. Yeshua was also watched as he rose into heaven. Even non-Biblical literature depicts a rapture that is witnessed, as in the case of Enoch!
1 Corinthians 15:51-53, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and other scriptures do not teach the idea of vanishing Christians at all. Rather, scripture reveals a loud return of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach during the final sounding of the last trumpet and the instantaneous transformation of believers into immortality prior to their ascension into the clouds and then into heaven itself.
The “gone in an instant” image makes for great reading, for simply good fiction. This image, I believe, is not supported by scripture. The Rapture patterns clearly show that it will be a visible event, that it will take a moment or two in time from beginning to end, and that it will be clearly able to be watched as it transpires. It is only the change from mortal to immortal that scripture describes as instantaneous in nature, immediately followed by The Rapture.
I see the sequence of events as follows:
• Yeshua descends in a cloud with a shout, the voice of an angel, and the sound of a trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4)
• The dead are raised and instantly given their immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15)
• The living rise to meet them in the clouds and instantly given their immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15)
• The people are gathered together with Yeshua while those left behind watch intently (1 Thessalonians 4)
• The two witnesses eventually appear to give witness to Yeshua and the Rapture. (Revelation 11)
Prophecy continues to unfold as foretold by the Hebrew Prophets. Today we are one day closer to the return of Yeshua than we were yesterday and tomorrow we will be even one day closer. For almost two thousand years the Jews would proclaim “Next year in Jerusalem!” I now proclaim “Next Yom Teruah in the clouds!” Time is short – Yeshua Ha’Mashiach is coming soon – get busy reaching the lost.