THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF THE SECRET RAPTURE (Revised and Corrected)

There is a teaching that is widely accepted among Christians called the doctrine of the Secret Rapture. Its proponents maintain that the ‘church’ will be snatched up to heaven and that the earth will continue for a period of seven years called the ‘Great Tribulation’ in which the inhabitants of the whole earth will suffer great problems and conflicts. According to this doctrine there will be a separation between true believers and non-believers before the end of the age. 
This false doctrine was introduced at the end of the 18th century by persons who adopted a dispensationalist view of history
(Dispensationalism claims that the Eternal has a set of covenant promises for Yisra’el and another set for the ‘Church’ (body of Christian believers). It claims that there is a covenant given to Abraham for Yisra’el and then there is what is called the parenthesis which is the period of the ‘Church’. There is a big separation between national ethnic Yisra’el and the promises given to the ‘Church’.)

The doctrine of the secret pre-tribulation (as well as that of the mid-tribulation) rapture is totally foreign to the Scriptures and to Hebraic thought. The hope of a secret pre-tribulation rapture gives believers a false sense of ‘peace and security’ instead of teaching them to be alert and to pray for the necessary strength and faith to endure or withstand the coming Great Tribulation, which Yeshua not only spoke about but assured his followers that they would go through.

Matthew 24:9
Then they shall deliver you up to affliction and kill you, and you shall be hated by all nations for My Name’s sake.                                                                                                                      [Yeshua's words in purple]

A BIT OF RAPTURE HISTORY
Emanuel Lacunza alias Iben Ezra; Irving; MacDonald; Norton

The notion of the ‘secret pre-tribulation rapture’ started in the year 1747 when an exiled Chilean Jesuit called Emanuel Lacunza wrote a book (published in 1816 in Italy) titled: The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty”. He wrote under the pseudonym Iben Ezra with the intention of penetrating the protestant world with this Roman-Catholic doctrine. He used this pseudonym to make protestants believe that he was a Hebrew Christian who had adopted a ‘traditional Jewish’ position. Lacunza died in 1801 and in 1812 his book was translated into Spanish and published. A radical cultist and Scottish Presbyterian named Edward Irving translated it into English. At around the same time, an Irvingite evangelist named Robert Norton met a Scottish youngster named Margaret MacDonald who allegedly had a vision of the ‘Church’ being secretly raptured. Norton, who was fascinated with the idea, preached her ‘vision’ throughout England.

John Darby; C. I. Scofield; Hal Lindsay
John Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren, became interested in this new doctrine so he attended several Irvingite meetings. In his letters Darby states that he had “come to an understanding of this new truth” and made no secret of the fact that he had been influenced by de Lacunza’s writings.

Darby taught that the prophetic time-table had been paused at the ‘supposed founding of the Church’ in Acts 2 and that the unfulfilled prophesies of Scripture would not take place until after the rapture of the ‘Church’. He claimed that the rapture would be a secret catching away that could happen at any moment.  

While visiting the United States, Darby met C. I. Scofield who was so convinced of the Lacunza-MacDonald-Darby ideas that he included them in the notes of his now famous Scofield Reference Bible.
Many who read this version of the Scriptures accepted the rapture influenced notes as authoritative and began spreading these teaching in their own churches making the rapture a common belief among Protestants. The Scofield Bible became the most widely read version of the Scriptures in the English language selling over 3 million copies in the first 50 years. Thus, this disguised Catholic, Jesuit idea spread throughout the ‘Christian’ world.
Albertus Pieters writes  

…If Darby and his school are right, the entire Christian church, for eighteen-hundred years, was wrong on a vital part of the Christian faith
Candid Examination of the Scofield Bible, Albertus Pieters, (Union City, PA, Bible Truth Depot, 1932) pp 25, 27)

Ellis Skolfield writes

It is almost impossible to believe that major end-time doctrines of the Protestant church began in the minds of a couple of Jesuit priests, one of which wrote under an assumed name . . . and even more unbelievable, that those views were amplified by the supposed vision of a fifteen year old girl who had only been a Christian for a year, dabbled in the occult and had a documented levitation.
An End Time Myth – Ellis Skolfield

In the 1970’s Hal Lindsey popularised this false theory even more by writing a book called “The Late Great Planet Earth”. The New York Times declared it to be the bestselling nonfiction book of the 1970’s.
Two decades later, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins published the ‘Left Behind Series’ (published 1995 – 2007) adding further comment and popularity to the theory. This series of books became bestsellers and sold in excess of 65 million copies. Among other things this series taught that the people in Messiah were taken away and the evil ones were left behind, which is the opposite of what the Scriptures teach us.

WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES SAY?
The word ‘rapture’ does not appear in Scripture nor does it teach that Yeshua will secretly come before the tribulation to take away those who are in Messiah and then come a second time after the Great Tribulation. More importantly, Yeshua never taught this doctrine.

Rapture comes from the Latin word «rapturo»: to seize, snatch, carry away…
A word of similar meaning is used in the Tanach when Eliyahu (Elijah) was snatched up in a whirlwind, but as we saw in another article, he was not taken to heaven but translated to another place – see ARE ENOCH AND ELIJAH IN HEAVEN?

In the Nazarene Writings (Known as the New Testament) the equivalent word is «harpazō», Strong’s G726: catch up, take by force, catch away, pluck, catch, pull. 

Let us examine the verses often used to attempt to prove the rapture theory:

[TS]

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 [TS]
13 Now, brothers, we do not wish you to be ignorant concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you be sad as others who have no expectation. 
14 For if we believe that יהושע{Yehoshua} died and rose again, so also Elohim{the Eternal} shall bring with Him those who sleep in יהושע. 
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Master, that we, the living who are left over at the coming of the Master shall in no way go before those who are asleep{dead}. 
16 Because the Master Himself shall come down from heaven with a shout, with the voice of a chief messenger, and with the trumpet of Elohim, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. 
17 Then we, the living who are left over, shall be caught away together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air – and so we shall always be with the Master.

1) These verses describe the victorious coming of Yeshua and the resurrection of the dead in Messiah. They talk about a <shout> and <the trumpet of the Eternal> announcing the Messiah’s arrival and not a quiet secret taking away as the proponents of this false doctrine claim.
2) If <the living do not precede the dead>, how are believers raptured before the Great Tribulation?

The dead in Messiah will rise first. This is the first resurrection described in Revelation; however this occurs after the tribulation when Messiah returns to set up his kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6). The dead and remaining living in Messiah shall be caught up in the air to welcome the King Messiah but this is not to say that they will remain there. 

1 Corinthians 15:52-53 [TS]
52 In a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet; for a trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

This verse is often taken out of context by the ‘rapture theorists’. The context of the entire chapter is the resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Messiah.
As Messiah’s body changed when he resurrected, our body will be changed into an immortal spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
We must obtain a spiritual body before we can enter the Kingdom of the Eternal because corruption cannot inherit in-corruption (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).
This event and the one described in 1 Thessalonians 4 are one and the same and takes place after the tribulation. The entire chapter is about the resurrection of the dead and not a pre-tribulation rapture.  

YESHUA SPEAKS ABOUT END-TIME EVENTS
In the parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Yeshua alludes to end-time events

Matthew 13 :24 [TS]
24 Another parable He put before them, saying, “The reign of the heavens has become like a man who sowed good seed in his field, 
25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel (tares or weeds) among the wheat and went away. 
26 “And when the blade sprouted and bore fruit, then the darnel also appeared. 
27 “And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? From where then does it have the darnel?’ 
28 “And he said to them, ‘A man, an enemy did this.’ And the servants said to him, ‘Do you wish then, that we go and gather them up?’ 
29 “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the darnel you also uproot the wheat with them. 
30 ‘Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I shall say to the reapers, “First gather the darnel and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my granary.                                                                                                                         (Words of Yeshua in purple)

Yeshua elaborates further on and tells us the meaning of the parable

37 “He who is sowing the good seed is the Son of Adam, 
38 and the field is the world. And the good seed, these are the sons of the reign, but the darnel are the sons of the wicked one, 
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. And the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the messengers. 
40 “As the darnel, then, is gathered and burned in the fire, so it shall be at the end of this age. 
41 “The Son of Adam shall send out His messengers, and they shall gather out of His reign all the stumbling-blocks, and those doing lawlessness, 
42 and shall throw them into the furnace of fire – there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 “Then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the reign of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! 

Here we see that the wheat (the righteous or sons of the kingdom) and the tares (the sons of the wicked one) are allowed to grow together. It is only at the end of the age when they are separated. If there is a rapture and the righteous are snatched away, how will this separation be carried out?
There is no gathering of the righteous prior to his return.

In Matthew chapter 24 we find Yeshua’s disciples asking him what would be the sign of his coming and of the end of the age. 

Matthew chapter 24:4 [TS]
4 ...“Take heed that no one leads you astray.
5 “For many shall come in My Name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they shall lead many astray.
... ... ...
9 ...they shall deliver you up to affliction and kill you, and you shall be hated by all nations for My Name’s sake.
... ... ...
20 “And pray that your flight does not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 

Who is Yeshua warning here if the righteous have already been taken or raptured at that point? 

Matthew 24:21-23 [TS]
21 “For then there shall be great distress{great tribulation} such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 “And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the sake of the chosen ones those days shall be shortened. 

Clearly Yeshua tells us that the chosen ones will go through the great tribulation. 

In the book Luke describing the same event Yeshua tells us

Luke 21:28 [KJV]
28 “And when these matters begin to take place, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” 

Who will look up and lift their heads and see their redemption coming closer if only the wicked are left?
Yeshua asks us to pray to escape these things

Luke 21:36 [KJV]
36  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. 

A DANGEROUS DOCTRINE
Many believers have been deceived to believe this doctrine which is dangerous because it convinces them that they will not go through the Great Tribulation instead of admonishing them to be alert, prepare and pray for what is soon coming. It makes them feel comfortable in the face of evil because of the belief that they will be snatched away to heaven before deaths and persecutions take place. 
At present, the preachers and the teachers are not preparing the believers for the coming ‘great tribulation’. Believers must be taught that some will be protected, some will be persecuted, some will face torture and some even death but it will be  a small price to pay to be in the coming kingdom of Yeshua here on earth.

TRUE BELIEVERS WILL FACE THE WRATH OF THE ADVERSARY 
True believers, those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes, the children of the Eternal, will not have to suffer the wrath of the Eternal in the last days, however they will be the target of the Adversary and will face his wrath or the ‘great tribulation’.

John 15:20 [TS]
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they shall persecute you too.

This is a sombre message but if you are a follower of Yeshua and alive in the last days you will surely be persecuted, tortured and even killed. Do not be deceived by the rapture doctrine, we must be alert and pray that we are able to endure what is to come. A follower of Yeshua must be actively praying and preparing to possibly be martyred for his/her beliefs.
However, we must not fear nor loose hope

1 Peter 4:13 [TS]
13 but as you share Messiah’s sufferings, rejoice, in order that you might rejoice exultingly at the revelation of His esteem{glory}.
14 If you are reproached for the Name of Messiah, you are blessed, because the Spirit of esteem and of Elohim rests upon you.
... ... ...
16 if one suffers being Messianic{believer}, let him not be ashamed, but let him esteem{glorify} Elohim in this matter. 

In the book of Acts, Shaul (Paul) tells us

[WOY]

Acts 14:22 [WOY]
we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of Elohim. 

And finally

Revelation 14:12-13 [HRB]
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commandments of YAHWEH, and the faith of Yahshua.
13 And I heard a voice out of Heaven saying to me, Write: Blessed are the dead, the ones dying in the Master from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, and their works follow with them

Our suffering will only be for a short while and then Yeshua will return and we will be with him in the kingdom. We should pray to escape these things and if we can not escape, we should pray for the Eternal to grant us the courage and strength to endure the coming tribulation. Encourage one another!
Come, Master Yeshua! 
Source: Ellis Skolfield; Dr Jordan Cooper; Lex Meyer; S Azam

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