So what exactly just happened…?!

You have just witnessed what Christians call “The Rapture”, and whilst that title won’t be found anywhere in the actual text of the Bible, this event is described, foreshadowed, directly prophesied in the Old and New Testaments, and taught as a literal event by Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

The Rapture is basically God taking His church – those who have believed and trusted in Him alone for their personal forgiveness and salvation – out of the world prior to the last seven years of human history as we know it. We have not died, and neither have we been hidden somewhere else on this planet; we’re in heaven! It’s what is spoken about/sung about in the last section of Handel’s Messiah, quoting 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. We are the generation that has not tasted death but rather has gone straight to be with the Lord.

Now, this is not to be confused with the Second Coming. In the Church of England, where I have been singing for the past few years, the wonderful declaration made every Sunday is this:

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

This has always been true, and it still is! You are living in the time period between the second and the last statement – between the resurrection and the coming again of Jesus, literally, physically, to set up His Kingdom on earth, with Jerusalem at the centre. This event is due to happen in about seven years’ time (I do believe we can pin-point the very day of His return, but more on that in another post). He will reign in power and glory and peace and justice, and the entire planet will be put right; environment, societies, nations and governments…it will be a literal Millennium of unrivalled beauty, prosperity, equity, and peace, and just to emphasise how sure this promise is, there are more prophecies about this time in the Bible than there are about Jesus’ first coming! Even just in Isaiah, chapters 11, 12, 35, 40, 55, 60, 61, 62 deal primarily with this incredible time.

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Isaiah 11:9

How did we know when the Rapture was going to happen??

Well, there were many, many different layers to this answer, which is exactly why I love the Bible so much. It has layer upon beautiful layer of meaning, depth, wisdom, and power, and there isn’t a single word that wasn’t put there for a reason. There are types/pictures of future events and people (for example, many types/foreshadowings of Messiah in the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures), and the Rapture is no exception. I will go into more of this in subsequent posts, but here are just a few basic pointers that led many believers to the conclusion that the Rapture would be on the 8th September, 2021, or at least somewhere between the 8th September and the 8th of October. See my post entitled “Two Weeks Later…” for more info.

  • The Parable of the Fig Tree – Jesus taught His disciples very clearly when they asked Him what the signs of the end of the age would be, and to give a timescale of the very end, He used the fig tree as an example. The fig tree was commonly used in prophetic and cultural references to be a symbol of the national life of Israel, and having already predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jewish people, which happened in 70 AD, and the terrible persecutions to come, He then said that when the fig tree budded again – ie, when the national life of Israel was restored – that the generation to witness that would by no means pass away until these things took place. We know from Psalm 90:10 that the biblical estimation for a generation is 80 years, and Israel’s glorious and miraculous restoration took place in 1948. A little basic maths says that 1948 plus 80 brings us to 2028. We have been beginning to see these things take place for several decades now, but much of what Jesus was describing specifically takes place in the last seven years before His return, a time called the Great Tribulation. We know from other passages of Scripture that the Rapture precedes the Tribulation, so take 7 years off our total to find the year of the Rapture and it brings you to…2021.
  • “A day is as a thousand years” – this is a saying from 2 Peter 3:8, where in the context of the end times the apostle says that God’s timing is completely exact, and not to be judged as slow by us. He says that with the Lord “one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” This is both an indication that God is outside of time and therefore not constrained by it, but also it points to a literal pattern based on the days of creation in Genesis and the subsequent ordaining of the 6 days of work followed by a Sabbath of rest, which Jewish people observe to this day. Following that pattern of a day being equal to 1,000 years, we can expect to see 6,000 years of human history marred by pain, strife, hard labour, and sin, followed by a final, seventh millennium of peace and rest and restoration. We are very, very near the end of that 6,000 years, bringing us remarkably close to the final 1,000 as described above, when the Lord will reign on the earth from Jerusalem. See the next point for an expansion on this idea.
  • The 2,000 year Dispensations – the literal, historical view of Biblical history can be divided into three 2,000 year time-periods, known to theologians as dispensations. God is a God of order and structure and pattern, and nothing is random, least of all the numbers on His calendar! Without going into too much detail here, biblical scholars have worked out that there are 2,000 years from the creation and the first man, Adam, to the giving of the Law at Sinai. Then, from the giving of the Law (approx. 2,000 BC) to the death and resurrection of Jesus is another 2,000 years. And, depending when you place the birth of Jesus (there is a compelling case for it being as 6 BC according to some scholars’ research), He died around 28 AD, thus bringing us, here in 2021, very close to a third period of 2,000 years completed since that event. We know from Scripture that the last 7 years of this age are reserved for the Great Tribulation, so again, take off 7 from 2028 and it brings you to 2021 as the earliest date the Rapture could take place.
  • The Feast of Trumpets – I’m going to do a whole post on the feasts of the Jewish calendar, but I have to mention here that the reason we expected the Rapture on or around the 8th September this year, is based way back in the feasts instituted by God in Leviticus for the Israelites; a calendar of observances to remind them of their awesome God, His works in saving them (such as Passover), and to point them to their Messiah. The Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, is Jewish New Year and it is an awe-filled, holy, expectant festival, associated with the return of the King, the sounding of trumpets, and of God coming to gather His people. The month preceding Trumpets is the month of Elul, traditionally associated with ‘teshuvah’ or repentance – introspection and prayerfulness, preparing for the King to come – and on each day for 30 days a ram’s horn trumpet, a shofar, is sounded as a call to repentance and readiness. The Last Trumpet is only sounded when the first sliver of the moon can be sighted, beginning Tishri, the seventh month, and the new year. It’s THIS trumpet which Paul is referring to when he says in 1 Corinthians 15:52 “…the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…” – this is the moment of the Rapture, when the King comes to gather His people to Himself. This is also what Jesus was referring to when He said to His disciples that “no man will know the day or the hour” in Matthew 24:26 – it sounds vague, but He was actually being incredibly specific. That particular phrase was commonly used in the ancient Jewish culture to refer to the start of Rosh Hashanah because you had to see that sliver of the new moon before the festival could be declared, and that meant that it wasn’t tied to a particular day of the month; it had to be looked for. Jesus was saying clearly that the season of the Rapture was at this feast.

There are many, many, more proofs from Scripture to point us to the Rapture – in prophecy, in typology, and in numerology (ancient Hebrew is a numeric language and contains far more meaning than our modern languages could ever convey), and they would be too many to list or go through here. But many teachers – Robert Breaker, CJ Lovik, Jonathan Cahn, Phil Richardson, David Kull, and others have all come to remarkably similar conclusions concerning the timing and possible dates for the Rapture using completely different methodologies, and there is a strong case for each of them independently. Look them up on the resources tab on the home page.

One final thing that I will mention here is watching the world around us. Even a superficial reading of Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and other similar passages that deal with teachings specifically about the end times are like reading descriptions of real events in the daily newspapers during the twentieth century, and even more so during the first two decades of the twenty-first. We see wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, famines, nation rising up against nation, the sea and the waves roaring, ‘distress of nations with perplexity’ (the Greek word used for perplexity here in Luke 21:25 is ‘aporia‘, meaning ‘with no way out’), and people’s hearts failing them for fear of what was coming on the earth. All those words and phrases are direct quotes from one or more of the chapters I just mentioned, and though there have always been things like wars and natural disasters throughout history, never before have so many of them occurred in a globally interconnected way, and never before have they converged and intensified in the way that we have witnessed in the past few decades. Ask any historian or environmental scientist, and they will tell you that turbulence and turmoil in every area has only intensified over the past century, despite efforts to slow it or stop it happening -“the war to end all wars” for example.

Jesus specifically instructed His followers that when these things begin to happen like this, we were to expect Him:

“…look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Luke 21:28

So we did. And our redemption came.


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