I have a family member who is obsessed with the Rapture and constantly listens to end-of-the-world messages. Unfortunately, when she witnesses to people about the coming of the Lord, it’s with a fear-filled message. Unlike this woman, I choose to present Yeshua as a loving God, not as a condemning God, and her constant emails and speech about not witnessing in the way she believes are causing a lot of stress in my life. I don’t want to engage in arguing my views. Additionally, many of our family members are Catholic, and she criticizes their faith, which makes them very upset. Can you suggest how I should handle this entire situation?
Thank you and God Bless.
Shalom Dear Reader,
I hear your frustration and can relate to your dilemma. I’ve had friends and family challenge me on many doctrinal issues over the years, particularly those concerning end-time “Rapture” scenarios.
Without a doubt, this is a big topic today that, depending on doctrinal perspectives and personalities, can often bring with it big communication challenges. Yet arguments and dogma should have no place in our conversations as we discuss and prepare for the day of the Lord’s return. The true Spirit of Messiah speaks in love and with great patience, an example we are to follow in all discourse—particularly in instances where the air is heavy with disagreement.
Discussions concerning end-time tribulation can be both passionate and polarizing in the best of times. Yet they are incredibly challenging today, where the threat of a worldwide pandemic has created negative tension and a growing fear of the end of the world as we know it.
Yet an essential and empowering tenant of faith is that we must not operate in a spirit of fear, but instead, we must live our lives in faith (which is the opposite of fear). To cause others to fear and dread what’s coming only takes away hope and compounds their insecurity, making it difficult to minister to them. Instead, we need to build one another up, fostering faith and preparedness for Messiah, who is coming to perform His Word.
Could it be that your family member herself is walking in great fear—and thus unable to see clearly how a negative spirit is impacting not only her message but her relationships with those around her?
It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity surrounding us, as racial tension, political divisiveness, civil disobedience, and economic decline have taken over the headlines. COVID-19 health measures and mandates to wear masks have caused interruptions in our homes, schools, and workplaces, and contributed to feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Sadly, all this unrest has given birth to an end-time spirit of offense pervading over the entire Earth. Offensive behavior has triggered defensive responses, and we find ourselves caught up in a maelstrom of confusing change over which we have little control.
And yet those feelings of impotence aren’t entirely accurate.
You see, M.A., when God gave us the gift of “free will,” it came tied up with the ribbon of choice. What we can control is how we choose to respond to the difficult people in our lives and the challenging circumstances in which we find ourselves.
The next time you get an upsetting email or find yourself feeling the need to defend your views, remember that you have a choice. Scripture tells us all admonishments should be spoken in love and encouragement. That said, no matter how confrontational someone may get, it is never justified to respond in like. While you might disagree with how your family member shares Yeshua’s second coming, perhaps in time, your consistent example of presenting Yeshua as a loving and not condemning God will positively affect her. It’s what we do—not what we say—that reflects the Character of Christ.
Yeshua warned us of these “Last Days” situations in the 24th chapter of Matthew.
9 “Then you will be arrested and handed over to be punished and killed. People all over the world will hate you because you believe in me. 10 During that time, many believers will lose their faith. They will turn against each other and hate each other. 11 Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe things that are wrong. 12 There will be so much more evil in the world that the love of most believers will grow cold. 13 But the one who remains faithful to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News I have shared about God’s Kingdom will be told throughout the world. It will be spread to every nation. Then the end will come” (Matthew 24:9-14 ERV).
We must be careful that we do not fall prey to the effects of this wicked spirit that is gaining strength and power in our cities, schools, businesses, neighborhoods, and even within our own homes.
Now more than ever, when we find ourselves confronted by evil end-time discussions, our responses must be rooted in biblical truth, not emotional fear. We must ask God to give us the wisdom and discernment to speak with family, friends, and even strangers in ways that please Him—and in so doing, help to temper the critical, judgmental, and offensive spirits that are preaching from places of fear—not faith.
All that said, let’s discuss what the Bible really says about the Resurrection of the Dead—which is the biblically correct way to reference this prophetic time. While many believers have come to call this the Rapture of the Dead, there is no place in Scripture where the word Rapture appears. Sadly, the miraculous reality of The Resurrection has become confusing, as novels, movies, and some wildly interpreted Bible commentaries have established false assumptions and fueled erroneous expectations.
That said, to better understand the end, let’s go back to the beginning as written in God’s Word.
“At the beginning, I announce the end, proclaim in advance things not yet done; and I say that my plan will hold, I will do everything I please to do” (Isaiah 46:10, CJB).
Like exquisite bookends, God starts and ends the world with a beautiful garden. And it’s in the space between the Alpha and Omega that He carries out His plans according to His Word.
The Garden of Eden on the Mountain of God
In the beginning, God created a paradise called the Garden of Eden. It was there He placed man to live in a glorified state for eternity among the heavenly hosts and to be able to walk and talk with God. This garden was located on the “Mountain of God,” also known as the Third Heaven. This mountain was accessible to Earth with an ancient staircase where angels (and Adam and Eve) could ascend and descend to the Earth below. A river, where the Tree of Life flourished, flowed from the mountain, cascading down to create four rivers on the Earth below. See Genesis 2 and 3, Revelations 21:9-27, and Ezekial 28:12-17.
After the fall of man, God removed His Holy mountain. This Heavenly Utopia would no longer be accessible to man in his fallen state. It is speculated by scholars the mountain was removed from this dimension and is covered by clouds that materialize as “portals” to this Heavenly realm. We see examples of this when Elijah went up in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11) and in Acts 1:9-12 when Yeshua ascended into the clouds from the Mount of Olives.
This Garden on the Mountain of God will be the holy place where Yeshua returns.
The Return of Messiah
The Bible tells us the return of Yeshua in the clouds will trigger several significant events. Let’s look at these events individually.
- The people of Jerusalem will see Him return. A Spirit of Grace and Supplication will fall upon Israel, and the Jewish people will mourn in contrite repentance and acceptance for their Savior.
“I will fill David’s family and the people living in Jerusalem with a spirit of kindness and mercy. They will look to me, the one they stabbed, and they will be very sad. They will be as sad as someone crying over the death of their only son, as sad as someone crying over the death of their firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10 ERV).
- Their acceptance of the Messiah causes the Resurrection of the Dead (aka The Rapture) as those who came in their “spirit” with Him are suddenly reunited with their physical bodies.
“For if their rejection leads to the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead” (Romans 11:15 TLV)?
- Just after the dead receive their glorified bodies, the righteous believers who are still alive (including those of Judah who have just received their Messiah) will find themselves being changed or glorified and translated to the clouds as well – this is commonly known as a “catching away.”
- Yeshua will continue His descent to Earth, and a mighty earthquake will occur when His foot touches the Mount of Olives. This will cause the mountain to split apart, opening up the Kidron Valley all the way to the city wall and down to the former gates of Yeshua’s time. Yeshua will enter into the city through the former Eastern Gate (of His time) as it is uncovered. This will fulfill the prophecies written in Zechariah.
“At that time, he will stand on the Mount of Olives, the hill east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives will split in half. Part of the mountain will move to the north, and part to the south. A deep valley will open up, from the east to the west. You will try to run away as that mountain valley comes closer and closer to you. You will run away like the time you ran from the earthquake during the time of King Uzziah of Judah. But the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones[a] will be with him” (Zechariah 14:4-5 ERV).
- Water will begin to flow from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea, and the desert will flourish. The Holy Mountain will be set back in its place, the waters of the Dead Sea will be teaming with fish, and the desolate places will flourish with vegetation once again, creating a beautiful Garden.
While the Word of God has much to say on the end times Resurrection/Rapture, the question on the lips of many believers is when? When will these things happen?
While no mortal can predict this date, our Lord Yeshua has plenty to say about the signs of its coming.
In Matthew 24:3-15 (NLT), Yeshua warns us that in the end times, many perilous things will come upon the Earth.
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?[a]” 4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation and Kingdom against Kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. 9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.[b] 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world so that all nations[c] will hear it; and then the end will come.
15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[d] standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!)*
*While the emphasis on “you will see” is mine, the closing admonition for readers to “pay attention” is actually part of this NLT verse, and prepares us for what is to come.
Survival Instructions – Matthew 24:16-28 (NLT)
16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. 22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones. 23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. 26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man[e] comes. 28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows, there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.”
After the Tribulation – Matthew 24:29-31 (NLT)
29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[g] 30 And then, at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the Earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.[h] 31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world[i]—from the farthest ends of the Earth and heaven.”
Daniel 9:27 tells us that there will be a covenant (contract or peace treaty) signed by several leaders. The Arab nations and Israel will agree to conduct commerce and live in peace for 3.5 years. The leader that creates that covenant will be heralded by the Middle East and even the world as a peacemaker. The burnt sacrifices offered by Jewish Levitical priests, in thankfulness to God, will be reinstated either on the Temple Mount or in a Tabernacle like King David’s. The outcry of the world regarding these sacrifices will cause this leader to put an end to the burnt offerings, as proclaiming his authority to stop this Sacred Jewish rite.
It is then when peace will be abruptly halted.
The Seventh Trumpet Before the Wrath
Revelation tells us about seven trumpets. With each trumpet sound, a specific tribulation (judgment) comes upon the Earth. Remember, the Church is not above the Judgement of God as we are told Judgment starts in the House of the Lord.
The last trumpet sound has two actions attached to it.
- To “catch away” God’s people into the clouds, thus removing them from His coming wrath.
- To bring the wrath of God (Seven bowls) upon the unrighteous and their false Messiah and his prophet.
Remember, God’s wrath is not stored up for the righteous but the unrighteous. This is Armageddon and the destruction of the Babylonian (Satanic) Kingdom.
It is then Yeshua will reign for 1,000 years, and the Kingdoms of the world will unite with the Kingdom of Heaven as it was determined in the beginning before the fall. All creation has been waiting for this day, as declared in Romans.
22 We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain like a woman ready to give birth to a child. 23 Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the spirit as the first part of God’s promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children. I mean, we are waiting for our bodies to be made free” (Romans 8:22-23 ERV).
How glorious that freedom will be! The promised time when man is born of the second Adam, a new creation in Christ!