Enoch, Moses, and Elijah. Three different people. All three taken to the presence of God- ‘raptured’. All three being raptured at three different times.
Specifically, how many different instances/categories of believers in the New Testament are spoken of as being ‘raptured’- caught away into God’s presence?
…the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are living, who are left remaining, will be caught up… (1 Thess. 4:16-17)
These are definitely 2 different categories of raptured believers. Although the timing of their rapture is very close together, yet it is not simultaneous. The dead precede the living.
What are some other definite, separate instances of certain categories of believers being raptured?
“And she brought forth a son, a man-child, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” (Rev. 12:5)
“And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.” …These were purchased from among men as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. (Rev. 14:1,4)
Why are these believers caught up before the tribulation to heaven, and not at the end of the tribulation to the cloud?
“He who overcomes, …and I will write upon him the name of my God…” (Rev. 3:12)
Some believers will be overcomers, others will not. Not being an overcomer cannot cause a believer to lose their salvation, but will affect their reward.
The woman is the totality of God’s people living on the earth at the end of this age. She gives birth to the man-child before the antichrist appears, before the tribulation. There is no justification to say that the firstfruits and the man-child are the same thing. The firstfruits are with the Lamb on the heavenly Mount Zion before the events (the fall of Babylon, ArMageddon) occuring during the tribulation.
These two categories of raptured believers are caught up to the third heaven (not to the cloud), where God’s throne is.
Now, let us go back to the verses concerning the believers who are caught up to the cloud, and see what else is clearly indicated that will give us a better understanding of what has confused so many believers for so long.
I. “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are living, who are left remaining unto the coming of the Lord, shall by no means precede thos who have fallen asleep; Because the Lord Himself, with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are living, who are left remaining, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will be always with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:15-17)
Notice three important items in these verses:
1. The Lord descends from heaven to the clouds, before meeting these believers.
2. These believers are caught up to the clouds, NOT to Mount Zion or to God’s throne.
3. This happens at the sound of a trumpet.
II. “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 incorruptible, and we will be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
Is this a different rapture than the one spoken of in first Thessalonians? Surely not, there is no ground whatsoever to say that this is talking about a completely different event. So, the rapture of the believers who meet the Lord in the clouds occurs at the time of the last trumpet. What is this last trumpet?
III. “And the seventh angel trumpeted; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
The timing of the rapture to the clouds is at the end of the tribulation, specifically after all of the events concerning Babylon, supernatural calamities, and the antichrist- all of which occur AFTER the rapture of the believers who are raptured to Mount Zion, not the clouds.
To understand Revelation, you must set your mind on your regenerated spirit, which is mingled with the Holy Spirit. God is Spirit, He is joined to our spirit, we must worship Him in our spirit, and fellowship with Him in our spirit. Our mind sees darkly, but will, through the Spirit’s enlightening in our spirit, perceive and understand the truth hidden in the black and white letters of the Bible: the rhema behind the logos.
It is also necessary for a correct mental understanding that the reader realizes one basic fact about the way Revelation is written. Chapters 4-11 are a history of events in heaven and on the earth in chronological order from the ascension of Christ to the end of this age. Chapters 12-19 are a further detailing of these events, also in chronological order, but from just before the start of the tribulation to the end of this age.
“And I saw when He opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black like sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; And the stars of heaven fell to the earth…(Rev. 6:12-13)
“And the great dragon was cast down, …and his angels were cast down with him.” (Rev. 12:9)
I do not care whether or not my conclusions are right or wrong- I have no ego involvement in that respect- except that in order to cut straightly the word of God and rightly divine the truth I must strive for correctness.
The critical information that a believer must realize from any consideration of the end times is that they are personally responsible to watch and be ready: to open to, not merely pray but beseech, the Lord to grow up in their heart to be full-grown and mature in them. If you think that all of the believers will be raptured at the same time and to the same place and receive the same reward; then why did the Lord tell us to “watch and be ready”. Because we do not know when He will come to as a thief. His coming on the cloud is obviously not His coming as a thief- the whole world will see that aspect of His coming.
Also, those who are alive and who remain will not need to watch and be ready- because the Lord’s coming to the cloud will be almost exactly 3 & 1/2 years after the antichrist’s body is brought back to life; which will be known world-wide.
So, if you are determined to wait to go to the cloud, the best advice I can give you is to find out where the ‘wilderness’ is to which the woman flees on the wings of an eagle and go there. There will be a tremendous revival there, but it will not have the fullness of the Lord’s parousia.