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Do you remember the Superman comics or movies? Superman had a supernatural ability to lift off the earth with a single bound in a split second, flying through the atmosphere. Even though Superman is a fictitious superhero, there will be a day when believing Christians will have the ability to fly up, up and away, lifting off the ground to meet the Lord in the air. And even though the idea of the rapture seems quite preposterous, being mocked by so many, it will be reality for those who are looking for the Lord’s return. Theologians call this “lift off” the rapture. The rapture is when Jesus Christ comes back for His bride and “takes” her for Himself.Although this is a controversial subject, it is the truth, and it is very scriptural.
In reading Genesis backward, we come to a very strange verse of Scripture mentioning Enoch. It says that Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him. This is a picture or a type and shadow of things to come—the rapture of the Church. The Genesis verse is later described in the New Testament book of Hebrews in the Hall of Faith passage (Heb. 11). The book of Hebrews makes it very clear that Enoch “pleased” the Lord because of his faith in believing in God, and because he believed that God rewards those who seek after Him. It says this concerning Enoch:
By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:5-6
Even the famed Jewish Historian Josephus who lived around the time of Christ mentions Enoch. This is what he says:
Enoch…when he had lived three hundred and sixty-five years old, departed, and went to God; whence it is that they have not written down his death.[i]
Enoch is a type of the catching away or rapture of the believer. But what is this really all about? I’ve even heard some people call the rapture the Holy Abduction. Whatever term people use, it is undoubtedly one of the most widely speculated and highly contested theological concepts in Christianity. If I can compare this event to a fictional superhero, surely there will be much derision on this topic. I’ve even heard pastors call this pure science-fiction, meaning that there is no truth in the teaching whatsoever. It’s very sad that educated Christians refuse to believe what is clearly portrayed in the Bible, but it’s even worse when they discourage the belief of others with their own lack of faith.
Those who take issue with the future occasion of leaving the earth to meet Jesus in the sky do so primarily because they can’t find the word rapture (from the Latin, rapiemur) directly referenced in the Bible. Amazingly, this is not the only concept that religious and secular minds have trouble grasping. Several religious sects and cults even have dissenting opinions on the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit—1 John 5:7; John 15:26) and even the concept of freewill (Deut. 30:15; Rom. 2:10)—simply because the words trinity and freewill are not directly spelledout in the black and white Scripture text. But what I’ve always thought is humorous is that not even the word Bible can be found in the more than 2,000 pages in the Bible; and neither are the words theology, revival, incarnation, demon, clergy and a whole host of other concepts directly conveyed in the Scriptures.[Note: I do understand that there are varying opinions when it comes to the rapture, such as pre-, mid-, and post tribulation and other variables. I respect these other theories and do not believe Christians should break fellowship with those who don’t see things exactly the same in regards to future events. I do believe, however, that when all the evidence is examined, that truth will shine forth through the power of the Holy Spirit. In that we can be confident. Let’s remember to major on the majors and minor on the minors for the sake of unity—Psalm 133:1.]
What is the Rapture?
In the Old Testament, God turned Egypt’s waters into blood (Exo. 7:19). In the New Testament Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2). (Note: both grape juice and wine were called wine in Bible times). Wine represents blood in the Bible, which is why we celebrate Communion with grape juice (some churches with real wine). God was conveying a seemingly hidden message to us in these miracles. See if you can figure it out! Think about the purpose of each miracle and then combine them together. Ask the Lord to reveal the message to you. Hint: if you still need help, the answer is in my previous book, Cracking the Wine Case.
So what is this idea of the rapture—or the catching away of the saints? Well, I like to call it what Jesus called it. He called it the escape (Luke 21:36). If we are going to squabble about an issue simply because the word is not listed in the Bible, then maybe we can call it a word that Jesus used. That should help, or maybe not; I think this is more of a faith issue. Simply put, the rapture is when Jesus comes back in the air for His bride (the Church) and draws “her” into heaven (the dead in Christ first, then the living). One of the benefits of the rapture is escaping the time of intense tribulation (Matt. 24:21) coming to the earth (1 Thess. 5:9; Rev. 3:10) directly after God pulls the Church out. I want to make it clear, however, that God allowing His people to escape the coming tribulation is not the main reason for the rapture; it is only one benefit. This is something many in the Church misunderstand.
The reason for God rapturing His Church is primarily to bring Israel back to Himself, and also allow a time for the marriage proper of His Son to His bride in heaven. The Lord will fulfill the former through the Great Tribulation on earth, referenced in Daniel 9:27, known as Daniel’s seventieth week. The entire prophecy in Daniel 9:20-27 refers to the nation of Israel. Remember, God has made an everlasting covenant with Israel, and the Lord has promised not to judge them forever but to bring them back into relationship with Him (Rev. 7:3, 4; Zech. 12:9-11). This will happen during a time of intense persecution in the form of judgment from the Lord upon the Jews who have refused to accept Christ as Savior. During this time of intense God-appointed tribulation, the remnant of Israel will return to Him (Zec. 13:9; Eze. 20:33-38; Dan. 12:10; Hos. 5:15; Acts 3:19-21).We must also remember that not all the wrath during this time is a result of God; some of it is God allowing Satan to pour out his evil upon the earth (Rev. 12:12).
Unbelievably, some have suggested that since the portions of God’s judgment on the earth in the book of Revelation is similar to the account of the plagues in the book of Exodus, that it proves Christians will go through the Great Tribulation. This is simply not true. The events in Exodus are a parallel to Revelation but it is not a picture of Christians going through judgment, it is a portrait of the Jews. It was, after all, the Jews who are the main characters in the Exodus account. Another parallel besides Exodus might be the book of Daniel with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the fiery furnace. These men refused to bow to the statue of the king and were thrown in the fiery furnace. This is a picture of the end of days Great Tribulation. Those who do not bow to the Antichrist will go through intense persecution, but they will be saved as though through fire (1 Cor. 3:12-15). [Note: If you would like to link the return of the Jews to the Lord to our backward reading, it begins in Genesis chapter four, verse 26. It says, “Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.”]
Lest you be self-opinionated (wise in your own conceits), I do not want you to miss this hidden truth and mystery, brethren: a hardening (insensibility) has [temporarily] befallen a part of Israel [to last] until the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in, And so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob. And this will be My covenant (My agreement) with them when I shall take away their sins. From the point of view of the Gospel (good news), they [the Jews, at present] are enemies [of God], which is for your advantage and benefit. But from the point of view of God's choice (of election, of divine selection), they are still the beloved (dear to Him) for the sake of their forefathers. Romans 11:25-29 AMP
Rapture or Second Coming?
Please do not confuse the rapture with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. These are two separate events. The Second Coming happens after the Great Tribulation when the Lord Jesus will return to the earth with the saints who were previously raptured to rule and reign for 1,000 years (Rev. 19:11-21; Rev. 11:15; Rev. 20:4). The rapture is the Lord’s coming for the saints to take His bride (the Church) unto Himself. The rapture is mysterious in nature, while the Second Coming is revelatory in nature. Here is a brief chart that should help clear up any confusion between these two events:[ii]
Believers are translated
No translation at all
Believers translated to heaven
Believers come back to earth with Jesus
No restoration of earth
Earth begins restoration
Not directly found in OT
Prophesied in OT
Satan not mentioned
Satan is bound up for 1,000 years
Jesus comes FOR His bride
Jesus comes WITH His bride
Jesus doesn’t touch His feet to the earth
Jesus will walk on the earth
Only those who love Jesus will see Him
All people will see Jesus and bow
Tribulation begins with the Antichrist as ruler
Millennium begins with Christ as ruler
Although there are varying opinions on when the rapture will occur in God’s timetable (like pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation—words describing the escape before, in the middle of or after the tribulation), most Christians do maintain that there will be some type of catching away of God’s people.
The Bible makes it clear that there will be a rapture of the Church. There are several pieces of evidence in support of this:
v Scriptural Evidence:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
Watch therefore, and pray always that you are worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Luke 21:36
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:4
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would have 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 24:43
…I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what
In the New Testament, a woman with an “issue of blood” told herself that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment she would receive her healing (Matt. 9:20). Why would she say something like this? Did she have inside information? In the Old Testament there is a prophecy about the Messiah coming with “healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2). The Hebrew word for wings in this passage actually means the edge of the garment that Jews wore in those days. Apparently, she did have inside information. Her faith made her well (Matt. 9:22).
hour I come upon you. Rev. 3:3
In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would not have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, you may be also. John 14:2-3
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 quickly!”…Revelation 3:10, 11a.
v Historical Evidence
Many opponents to the teaching of the rapture will try to contend that the doctrine was birthed in the mid-1800s by John Nelson Darby and made popular by C.I. Scofield in his study Bible. This accusation is completely unfounded. The rapture has clearly been taught since the early church. Here are a few evidences in support of this claim:
Shepherd of Hermes (95-150 AD)
You have escaped from the great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life serving the Lord blamelessly.[iii]
Victorinus (circa 270-303 AD)
"And the heaven withdrew as a scroll that is rolled up." For the heaven to be rolled away, that is, that the Church shall be taken away. "And every mountain and the islands removed from their places intimate that in the last persecution all men departed from their places; that is, that the good will be removed….[iv]
Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373)
Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that He may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms the world?...Because all saints and the Elect of the Lord are gathered together before the tribulation which is to about to come and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.[v]
v Cultural Evidence:
When reading the Bible, one of the main problems that constantly plague those of us that live in the West is our mindset. Let’s face reality; we filter the Bible through what we know—what is common to us, our culture (or lack thereof). When we read certain passages, we sometimes skip over them or at best, try to understand it through our limited worldview. The problem is the Western world understands very little about the affairs and customs of the ancient world and even what takes place today in the Middle East. There have even been many problematic issues reported about those who travel to the Middle Eastern nations without understanding proper protocol. This is not only detrimental for those involved in international travel; it is also precarious for us who try to decipher the biblical text.
Let me make something very clear; when it comes to understanding salvation, even a simpleton could get “it.” But when it comes to other side matters—matters such as the rapture of the Church—they will require us to stretch ourselves and enter into a deeper investigation than what we might be accustomed to doing. If you want to get deeper in this subject matter, keep reading.
THE ANCIENT JEWISH WEDDING
I want to provide a small sampling of ancient Jewish culture, specifically the ancient Jewish wedding customs. Understanding the following manners and traditions will be imperative in examining the full scope of the study of the rapture.
When Christ returns for the Church, He is actually returning for His Bride. The Church is the Bride of Christ and Jesus is the Bridegroom. This is made very clear all throughout the Bible. Here are a few passages:
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom…watch therefore, for you know neither the day or hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:1, 13
For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church…Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. Ephesians 5:23, 25
For I am jealous of you with a godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. Romans 7:4
We are the Bride of Christ and Jesus is our Bridegroom. The rapture is the Lord’s return for His bride. In this next chart, I am going to provide the details of the ancient Jewish wedding and how it correlates to our relationship in Christ. If you will study this information and let it seep into your heart you will have a new revelation on who the Lord is and why you are (or should be) expecting and longing for His return. (Note: Where necessary, I have provided additional background notes for further clarity. These are marked with identifiers for their respective foot notations. It is imperative that the footnotes are read with the chart for complete understanding.)
ANCIENT JEWISH WEDDING CHART
This chart outlines the typical steps that were involved in a marriage in Jewish custom during the time of Christ. The chart will begin at the selection of the bride and move through the wedding consummation.
Jewish Wedding Traditions[vi]
1. The Bride is chosen
Jesus said: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” John 15:16
…God from the beginning chose you… 2 Thess. 2:13
2. The dowry (or Bride Price) is determined.
You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor. 6:20
…the church of God which He [Jesus] purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28
3. A marriage covenant was drawn up and presented to the bride.
For this reason, He is the Mediator of the new covenant…the promise of the eternal inheritance. Heb. 9:15
For all the promises of God are Yes, and in Him, Amen… 2 Cor. 1:20
4. The Bride must say “I Do,” providing her consent to the terms of the covenant.
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom. 10:9
…Whoever confesses Me before men, him will I confess before the Father who is in heaven. Matt. 10:32
Whom having not known you love, though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. 1 Pet. 1:8 NKJV Alt.
5. The couple shares a cup of the fruit of the vine to “officially” seal the agreement.
…this cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. 1 Cor. 11:25
Likewise He [Jesus] also took the cup after supper, saying, “This is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:20
6. The Couple is now consideredbetrothed
For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Cor. 11:2
I will betroth you to Me forever…and you shall know the Lord. Hosea 2:19a, 20b
7. Gifts are given to the bride
[The Holy Spirit]…will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you…I am going away and coming back to you. John 14:26-28
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:4
8. The bridegroom departs to build a room for him and his bride that’s connected to his father’s house
In My Father’s house are many rooms…I [Jesus] go and prepare a place for you. John 14:2
It is to your advantage that I [Jesus] go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. John 16:7
9. The bride begins her responsibilities in the process of sanctification while the bridegroom is away.
Now He who had prepared us for this very thing is God, who also had given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Cor. 5:5
And He [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Cor. 5:15
10. The bride would wash herself in the Mikveh
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5
that He [Jesus] might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word… Eph. 5:26
11. The bride would light a lamp and keep it lit at night.
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Matt. 25:1
And the foolish [virgins] said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
12. The Bride would surround herself with bridesmaids or helpers to prepare her for the wedding and encourage her that the groom was coming.
Scoffers will come…saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” 2 Peter 3:3-4
...When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…a little while you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me. John 16:13, 16
...[Assemble together]…exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching. Heb. 10:25
13. The Bride would wear a veil in public to show that she was reserved for another.
By a new and living way, which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh. Heb. 10:19
Jesus is the veil for the Christian—covered in His blood. 1 John 1:7
14. The bride would make a pure white dress, keeping it ready without spot or wrinkle for the day that she would be whisked away by the groom.
And to her it was given that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. Rev. 19:8
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready. Rev. 19:7
That He [Jesus] might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Eph. 5:27
15. The bridegroom would return for his bride at an undisclosed time and around the midnight hour like a thief. Accompanying his return were groomsmen. The head groomsman (the friend of the bridegroom) shouted, announcing the grooms coming in the town’s streets just seconds before he would enter to get his bride. Some of the groomsmen would blow special trumpets if they were available.
…At midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Matt. 25:6
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
…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. Rev. 3:3
16. The bride is lifted up on the Aperion and carried to the bridal chamber that the son had built at his father’s home.
Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a palanquin [a portable enclosed chair, rf. NKJV notes]…on the day of his wedding, the day of gladness of his heart. Song of Sol. 3:9, 11d
17. The bridegroom is carried through the door of the room (bridal chamber) that the bridegroom had constructed. There they consummated the marriage for the first time.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Rev. 4:1
Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you… Isa. 26:20
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2
18. The couple remained in the chamber for seven days while they became “One.” Jews called this process being “born anew.”
…Seven days of the feast…now she wept on him the seven days while their feast lasted. Judges 14:12, 17
And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast…fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve me still another seven years. Gen. 29:22, 27
18a. During this time all the guests would celebrate outside the bridal chamber.
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. Rev. 19:7
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!” Rev. 19:1
19. At the end of the seven days a great feast was held in honor of the couple who were seen as a new “king and queen.” The groom gave the bride a special crown to wear as he presented her to the public as his wife.
…”Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’…” Rev. 19:9
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Tim. 4:8
20. A final cup of the fruit of the vine is shared between the couple in the presence of all the people. This sealed the marriage forever!
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom. Matt. 26:29
Once these customs are reviewed it is easy to see the parallels between the ancient wedding and our relationship with the Lord. Currently, we are in the betrothal stage of the wedding (8-14 on the previous chart). The ancient weddings were broken into two main parts, the first being the betrothal when the man came to the woman’s house, paid the fee for her, gave her the contract, sealed it with a cup, and gave her gifts before he departed. Once all these steps were complete, the man and woman were now considered husband and wife even though they had yet to share the marriage bed.
Similarly, Christ came to earth (where the woman is—us, John 1:14) and He determined the price that had to be paid—His own life (John 10:17-18). He gave the covenant with His promises (New Testament—through His teachings, John 10:38) and shared a cup with the first disciples who repeated it to other Christians throughout the ages (Matt 26:28). We do this to “remember” the Lord and what He paid for us (1 Cor. 15). Sadly, few know the real meaning of this sacred act. After Christ shared the cup at the Last Supper with His disciples, He paid the necessary price for us (dying on the cross) and then sent the gift of the Holy Spiritafter He ascended (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). We are now in the secondary period of personal responsibilitywithin the betrothal—or what some might call the time of sanctification (see the previous chart).
The second and final stage of the wedding is called the Huppah. This is the marriage proper when Christ returns for us in the clouds and takes us to the bridal chamber where we will remain with Him for seven earth years. On earth, those who did not “know” the Lord (Matt. 7:37-39) will go through the worse tribulation imaginable (Matt. 24). Only those who have a viable relationship with God will be “abducted in the night”—a main reason for Christ rapturing the true Church.
Amazingly, the book of Genesis records an example of this ancient marital process. It is the story of Isaac and Rebekah in chapter 24. In it, Abraham (a type of God the Father) sends out his liaison (a type of the Holy Spirit) to find a bride for his son, Isaac (a type of Jesus Christ). There are several parallels throughout the chapter (see the Mysteries Revealed box on page 142 for more information).
Bringing it Together
Here is a story that I think will give understanding to the ancient marital customs. It should help put the pieces together of our relationship to Christ. I call it Joshua’s Bride:
Joshua and his father were farmers in ancient Israel. One day, Joshua’s father travelled into town to pick up some supplies for the next growing season. While he was at the trading office, he noticed a group of young women shopping in the market. One of the young women caught his attention. She was not only beautiful but she carried herself very well. She seemed to be the most mature of the all the young women there—and she had a natural mothering instinct with the other young ladies.
On the way back to the farm, the father made mention of the young lady to Joshua, implying she would make a great wife for him. He told him how beautiful she was and began speaking about the process of marriage. Joshua was excited to hear about the young lady and began to contemplate what this meant for him. When the father saw his son’s excitement he knew this might be the one God had planned for his son. He immediately began to determine the “bride price” that should be paid for the young lady so she could be allowed the opportunity to enter into union with his son forever.
After the crop season had ended, the father sent one of his close servants to the house of the young lady. The servantintroduced himself as a representative of Joshua’s household and gave her the offer of marriage. After conveying his master’s words, he waited for her to respond to the great proposal. The young lady thought for a moment about this life-altering decision and finally decided she would be wed to
In Genesis 24, Abraham is a type of God the Father in the planning of marriage for his beloved son, Isaac (see also Matt. 22:2). Isaac, then, is a type of the Lord Jesus. Isaac was offered up as a sacrifice and then gains a wife (Gen. 22, 24). Isaac was given all things by his father (see Gen. 24:67 & Phil. 2:9, 10). Isaac and Christ also love their brides greatly (see 24:67 & Eph. 5:25). In Gen. 24, Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, is a type of the Holy Spirit. Eliezer was sent out by Abraham to seek out a bride for Isaac. He was told to take gifts and not take the son back with him. The bride had to accept the invitation without seeing the man. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was sent to gather the bride for Christ, which Christians accept only by faith (John 20:29). Then we receive gifts (1 Cor. 14). Notice too that Eliezer was equal to Abraham—symbolizing the Holy Spirit’s equality with God the Father (v. 2). Rebekah is symbolic of the Church, especially when she gives her consent to go with Isaac, a type of Christ (v. 58).
There are other interesting parallels in this passage.
Joshua—even though she hadnever seen nor met him.
After hearing this news and finishing their harvest, Joshua and his father journeyed to meet up with the future bride and her father at their home. Once there, Joshua’s father presented the young lady’s father with a dowry, a bride price of great significance. Then they sat down and Joshua discussed the terms of the marital contract with his future bride. In the contract, he told of all that he would promise to do for her, including making a suitable home for them to live in. As she looked it over again and again, they asked her to provide her consent one final time. She agreed to the arrangement, and they shared a drink of the pure fruit of the vine from a chalice to seal the deal. The young couple became betrothed, sealed in relationship. The only thing that would nullify their agreement would be adultery on the woman’s part.
What happened next is quite amazing. Joshua and his father left the future bride at her father’s home. She was given gifts to remind her of her future groom because she will not see Joshua for at least a year. He would be off building a home suitable for their marriage. The final expression uttered to the bride-to-be from Joshua was, “I am leaving to prepare a place for you. In my father’s house I will build you a special place that where I am you will be too. This is my promise in the marital contract. I will return to take you as wife.” And then Joshua and his father left so he could begin building the house (or room) for their union.
After they left, the bride-to-be began preparing for the “big day.” She started looking for the perfect fabrics to begin constructing her pure white dress. She went through a special separating period where she washed herself in the pool of cleansing as a sign of dedication to Joshua. She also found one of the lamps in the home and lit it in her bedroom window so all who passed by the home knew she was taken. The lamp was never to run out of oil or be put out. Another symbol of her dedication was that she must begin wearing a veil in public so no other men would think she was available. Finally, she told the news to her best friends so they could begin to encourage her to fulfill her duties to Joshua and the marriage, and not lose hope that he will return for her just as he promised.
Joshua returned to his father’s home and worked tirelessly on the new home that would be suitable for him and his bride. He completed it in a little over a year, anxious to return to his bride-to-be. Joshua had thought that the house was ready and it was time to go get his bride on several occasions, but his father delayed his sons return for his bride numerous times because not everything was ready. Some of the invitations they had sent out for the wedding had not received answers and the new home needed some finishing touches. Nevertheless, the time did arrive and Joshua’s father gave his approval to for his son to ride out into the night to sweep his bride off her feet.
When Joshua arrived in his bride’s town around midnight, his groomsman went ahead of him and announced his coming by blowing several trumpets. The head groomsman shouted that his friend was coming to get his bride. The young bride-to-be rose from bed, threw on her wedding garment and ran to meet her husband at the door of her house. Joshua, thrilled by her presence, lifted her off her feet and carried her to the aperion. When she was placed on the covered aperion, the groomsman lifted the aperion up and carried her to her new home. She was carried to the wedding location accompanied by torch bearers.
Once they arrived at the home,Joshua took his wife into the bridal chamber, the house he built for their new life together. The friend of the bridegroom stood outside the door of the house waiting to hear the announcement from Joshua that the wedding was now consummated. The groomsman heard Joshua’s voice and announced the consummation of their union to all the wedding guests that hadassembled. At this announcement the guests begin a seven-day celebration. The couple had just become one flesh! Their lives had been born anew.
Can you see how this illustrates that we are the bride-to-be and Jesus is the bridegroom (Joshua)? If not, re-read the preceding chart on the customs and look at the verses again. It will become clear to you. The Father in heaven sent His offer to us to marry His Son. He chose us and we had to decide to enter into union with Him. It is a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. The bride price that was paid by Jesus was His life on the cross. That should tell you how important you are to the Lord. What we’re waiting on now is the Father to decide when everything is ready so He can send Jesus back to sweep us off our feet. That is the rapture. Even though most men might have trouble with this allegory of our relationship to Christ, I am longing for the day when Christ returns for me. While we’re waiting it is imperative that we keep our lamps filled with oil (Holy Spirit) so our lamp never goes out (See. Matt. 25). And we should also be striving to construct a pure “white dress,” fulfilling all righteousness (I Pet. 1:15; Eph. 5:27) with our future wedding day in focus.
There are many “scholars” and pastors who will contend that what I just shared is nothing more than fancifulmaterial, and not truly necessary in our walk with Christ. I believe that it is essential. It would be like falling in love with a person from a foreign country, and knowing nothing of their customs. Could you love them without knowing all the details of their “homeland?” Sure. But that’s the point. A person that is in love is never content to know only very littleor only what is necessaryabout the other person; they want to know all there is to know. The same goes with getting deeper with Christ. The idea behind any close relationship is not how little we should know about them to “get by,” but finding out all
Genesis 23, 24, and 25 are pictures of the different ages in the Bible. Genesis 23 is God dealing with Israel in the Old Testament up to the time of Christ. Symbolic of the end of this age is when Sarah, Abraham’s wife, dies. This happens just before Abraham sends Eleizer to look for a bride for his son in chapter 24, symbolic of the Church age. God symbolically married Israel in the Old Testament but they repeatedly turned to “others” prostituting themselves. Israel was given a bill of divorcement by God (Jer. 3:8; 14). Israel finalized their departure from the Father when they rejected His Son, Jesus. In the Church age, however, God focuses attention on the bride for His Son. God did this so He could finish drawing the gentiles to Himself. But Israel is not forgotten (Jer. 3:12). In Gen. 25, after Isaac gains his bride, the focus again comes back to Abraham; he marries Keturah, a name that means a sweet smelling sacrifice. This is a type of the Jews who will go through the Great Tribulation but come out smelling good, without the smell of smoke and tribulation upon them (Dan. 3:27). These are the Jews who will serve the Lord in the Millennium and beyond. God remarried Israel forever! (See Appendix C for more details)
we can because we love that person. Love is never satisfied in that regard. If we have the mindset that examining information such as this is unnecessary,we must examine our relationship with the Lord. In fact, I don’t even see how people could say that this material is not valid; how could we even begin to understand the Scriptures that tell us that Christ doesn’t know when He is coming back without these customs (see No. 8 from the chart)? After all, He is all-knowing right? Then these customs are the only way to explain these verses. I’d say they are imperative.
[Note: You may also want to study the rapture through the eyes of the Jews and their feasts—specifically, the feast of trumpets or Rosh Hashanah (Lev. 23:23-25; Num. 29:1). This feast is another picture of the rapture as there are many symbols and mysterious meanings in it. If you would like to do your own study on the feasts, a great book is The Feasts of the Lord by Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal.]
v Practical Evidence:
All throughout the Bible, God removes and protects those who are righteous before He rains down destruction in judgment. This is seen in the story of Noah and the ark (2 Pet. 2:5), Lot and his family in Sodom (2 Pet. 2:6-7), and even forecasted in the Psalms (90-94); these psalms speak of the return of the Lord, His protection of those who are intimate with Him and the vengeance soon to follow. This is the exact prescription for the end times).
Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. 2 Peter 2:9
Another practical proof for the rapture is the book of Revelation. Revelation doesn’t mention the Church after chapter three. Many think that the rapture happens in Revelation 4:1. In fact, the book of Revelation mentions the Church 19 times in chapters 1-3, but it isn’t mentioned again until chapter 22. Conversely, Israel is not mentioned in chapters 1-3, but is mentioned from 4-19. It’s clear that in the first three chapters God is dealing with His Church; and from 4-19 God is refocusing on Israel through the Great Tribulation. This is because the Church is raptured right after chapter three, in 4:1.
It is understood by most that the book of Revelation deals specifically with God’s chosen people, Israel. If that is true, then it would stand to reason that the book of Revelation would have many details that the Jews would understand. In other words, it would be more Jewish than it would be Christian. Take a look at this: The book of Matthew has 92 references from the Old Testament. The book of Hebrews (written to the Jews specifically by name) has 102. The book of Revelation has 285. The Jews specifically read the Old Testament! This is why Revelation talks a lot about sacrifices and lambs and other Old Testament items. Most of the book was written to give encouragement to the Jews while they endure the intense trials in the tribulation—and I’m sure if times get bad they will turn to Revelation for answers. God has not forgotten His people by everlasting covenant (Gen. 17). How long is everlasting anyway? God must deal with Israel. He has sworn it.
Lastly, let’s not forget that there were two named individuals from the Bible that did not see death and were taken into the presence of the Lord—Enoch (Gen. 5:24), and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). That reeks of practicality and the rapture. And let’s also not forget that Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1)!
v Grammatical Evidence:
The word for rapture in Greek (the New Testament was originally written in Greek) is harpazo(1 Thess. 4:17).Harpazo means to collect and snatch away by force. It can also mean to eagerly claim to oneself that which is to be taken.[vii]The word rapture itself is from the Latin word rapiere.[viii]
Interestingly, the Hebrew word for took in Genesis 5:24, which describes God taking Enoch and him not seeing death, is a word that is also used to depict when a man comes to “take” his bride in the Jewish custom.[ix]
v Prophetical Scriptures:
LORD, in trouble they have visited You. They poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them. As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs, when she draws near the time of her delivery(Rom. 8:22), so have we been in Your sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind; we have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16) Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past.(Matt. 24:21) For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity(Rev. 19:11-14); the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain. All text from Isaiah 26
At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:1-3
The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured our like dust, and their flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land. Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. Zephaniah 1:14-18 & 2:1-3
See also, Psalm 45.
v Typological Scriptures:
In addition to the scriptures that explicitly apply to the rapture, there are others that imply it. Judges 21 is an example.
Judges 21 is a picture, or a type of the rapture (the best way to understand a type is to think of it as the architectural drawings before something comes to fruition. We’ll look at types later.). In Judges 21, the context is about how Israel refused to give their daughters to Benjamin for a wife. The name Benjamin means son of my right hand. This reflects Jesus Christ because Jesus is the Son who sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven (1 Pet. 3:22). When Jesus came to the earth (John 1:14), He came first to the house of Israel—God’s covenant children. But they refused to follow Him and as a result the Gentiles were included in a new covenant—one sealed in Christ’s blood (Rom. 11). In essence, the Jews basically said, we don’t want to be “married” to You, God.
Judges 21:18 says that Israel had sworn an oath not to give any wives to Benjamin—the son of the right hand. So Israel told the children of Benjamin to go and get their own wives by “catching” or stealing them as thieves. This took place at a yearly feast. After they caught their wives they were to return to the “land of Benjamin.”
These details clearly point to the rapture of Christ, who, when He comes, will also send out His delegates to a foreigncountry and people(Gentiles) to “catch” up the virgins and return to His own land(heaven). Many feel this will happen at the feast of trumpets.
The non-use of these words is applied to the King James Bible.
 In ancient culture, brides were purchased. When a man (or the father of a man) chose the bride, the man would present the woman’s father with a dowry—or bride price. The cost was usually determined by the woman’s father and was given because of the economic loss he would incur from her absence. It also showed respect for the intrinsic value of the woman. (Note: Women in the Near East were looked down upon. They were not as good of workers for manual labor. This is why boys were coveted. Many times women were seen as more of a liability. Yet, the custom of purchasing a bride did show a woman’s hidden worth, being a picture of Christ purchasing us to Himself on the cross.)
 After the man found his future wife, he would arrange a meeting with her and her father (it was also done without the woman being present). There, the future groom would present to his future bride his Ketubah, a marital contract outlining all that he would provide for his wife. A picture of the things Christ presents to us (our Ketubah) are in Matthew 6:25 and 2 Cor. 1:20.
 After the woman consented, the contract was sealed by a sharing of a cup filled with the fruit of the vine.
 The western world will have a harder time understanding the betrothal. Essentially, it was a type of engagement. Yet, it was much more than that. During the betrothal, a couple was seen as husband and wife, yet they did not live together nor did they consummate the marriage. If a woman was found to be unfaithful, she could be stoned to death.
 Gifts were given to the bride by the bridegroom to help her remember him while he was gone. The gift was not for herself per se but was to bring attention to the one who gave her the gift—her bridegroom.
 The bridegroom leaves for at least a year to build a bridal chamber onto the house of his father. Only the father of the son could determine when the room was suitable—for obvious reasons. This is why Jesus said that no one knows when He will return (not even He will know—Mark 13:32). Only the Father can decide when it is ready. Jesus is fulfilling the marital custom.
 The Mikveh was a pool that the Jews used for ceremonial cleansing. Women would immerse themselves in the pool before marriage. It could only be filled with “living” or running water. No stagnant water could be used. The Mikveh is a picture of Christian baptism.
 This lamp was placed in the woman’s window at night. According to custom, it was a sign to any other men that the woman was taken. If her betrothed came by the house to get her and the lamp was not lit it was an agreement breaking sign. He would not go to the door to get her.
 Since the bridegroom would be gone for at least a year, the bride could easily get discouraged. In fact, there were some that probably fed into the discouragement by scoffing and saying that he foundsomeone else and is not returning. It was imperative the bride found those who would encourage her otherwise.
 The son did not know when he would return. Only the father of the son could determine when the bridal chamber that the son was building was ready. This is why Jesus said that not even He knew when He would return (Mark 13:32).
 The Aperion was a rectangular, bed-like structure with a canopy over the top. The woman was “abducted” at midnight and placed upon this special vehicle. It was carried by four men, the friends of the bridegroom, just like the Ark of the Covenant. Some of these Aperions have been featured in movies where a queen or other royalty are carried around by servants.
 The bridal chamber is called the Huppah. This is the second phase of the ancient wedding. The first phase is the betrothal and takes place at a table in the father’s house (either father). The second phase is called the marriage proper, or the Huppah. The huppah is also the name of the canopy that extends out from the bridal chamber. Just before the bride and groom entered the chamber the groom would greet the guests that had already assembled.
 Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34 mentions that in times of judgment days represent years.
[i] Winston, William. Josephus. Antiquity 1.2.2.(Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson Pub. ©1998)
[ii]Portions of this chart derived from a collaboration of the chart in: Missler, Chuck. Learn the Bible in 24 Hours. (Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson Pub. ©2002) p. 263.
[v]The English translation of the Latin text in C.P. Caspari's Briefe, Abhandlungen und Predigten aus den zwei letzten Jahrhunderten des kirchlichen Altertums und dem Anfang des Mittelater(Christiania, 1890, pp. 208-20): Cameron Rhoades, Latin Professor, Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.www.khouse.org Accessed May 22, 2011.
[vi] The information on the Ancient Jewish Wedding is collaborated through several documents, the oldest being found in the Talmud and Midrash. More recent documents and books have also been written on the subject. Here are some other sources:
Edersheim, Alfred. TheLife and Times of Jesus the Messiah(Mclean, Virginia: Macdonald).
Booker, Richard. Here Comes the Bride (Houston, TX. Sounds of the Trumpet, 1995).
Levitt, Zola. Christian Love Story (ã1978 Zola Levitt—No pub. Listed)
Lash, Jamie. Ancient Jewish Wedding (Ft. Lauderdale.Jewish Jewels.ã1997)
[vii]Strong, James. Strong’s Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson Pub.) #726, Greek Dictionary.