Will You Make or Miss the Rapture?
The "rapture" captures the attention of many believers; the question is, will you make or miss it when it happens? Much debate surrounds being "caught up" in the clouds with Jesus; what if God gave you a choice to bypass the Great Tribulation or remain behind to endure it? That's our wonderings for this article.
So Many Ways to Wonder About the Rapture
If you've taken an introductory statistics course, think about the combinations and permutations (C's & P's) that swirl around the Biblical rapture. But even if you haven't, don't worry.
We find believers who believe in the rapture and others who don't. Some believe the rapture will take place before the Great Tribulation (Pre-Trib), others during the Great Tribulation (Mid-Trib), and still others after the Great Tribulation (Post-Trib).
Since the rapture is associated with millennial eschatology (End Times), you can add C's & P's of Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Postmillennialism to really feel caught up!
But my purpose isn't to discuss statistics or the relative merits (or demerits) of any combination or permutation of the rapture. Nope. It's more about wondering if God allows our free will to affect His Will in the rapture.
Wondering With God About the Rapture
I'm convinced that God is pleased when we "wonder with Him" about topics He talks about in the Bible. The more questions we ask Him, the more He directs us back to His Word. That's a good thing.
As I wondered with God about the rapture and prayed about what He led me to in the scriptures, I discovered a newfound sense of clarity and peace. I became more solid in my beliefs about the rapture but on shaky grounds about our free will related to it.
We can agree, disagree, or agree to disagree on any of these rapture combinations and permutations and still be brothers and sisters in Christ.
Call me crazy, but this is what I believe. See if you agree or disagree with me on the following points:
Rapture Belief #1: I'm a card-carrying believer in the rapture of the Church. The Apostle Paul made God's message about the rapture known to all when he wrote, "According to the Lord's Word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
Rapture Belief #2: I believe the rapture will happen before the Great Tribulation (Pre-Trib). In His letter to the church in Philadelphia, Jesus said, "Since you have kept My command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. Revelation 3:10
Does God Allow Our Free Will to Influence the Rapture?
Now comes my "shaky grounds" wonderings. God appears to be comfortable watching me do mental gymnastics with this question. Does God allow our free will to influence the rapture?
This isn't easy. Why does God allow some people to believe that they WILL experience the "hour of trial" (the Great Tribulation) while others (like me) think we will be spared? I know both sides of the rapture argument have different verses to support our respective beliefs.
But while Jesus was talking with His disciples (that's us), and we were all wondering about the end times, Jesus made it known that we could escape the wrath to come. Jesus said, "Be always on watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and you are able to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:20
In an earlier article, I wrote about our free will within limits and God's Wind (He is sovereign). I wonder if the pre-tribulation rapture is one of God's freedoms within limits for all believers? Here's a parallel example from the Old Testament and why I wonder if it's appropriate to our rapture debate today.
An Old Testament Parallel
The Israelites became tired and frustrated with faith in God. Although God always had their best interests at heart, the people wanted to be like other nations; they wanted a king! Put yourself in the conversation between Samuel, the people of Israel, and God.
People of Israel to Samuel: "They said to him, 'You are old and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." 1 Samuel 8:5
God to Samuel: "And God told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their King.' Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights." 1 Samuel 8:7
Samuel to the People of Israel: Samuel tells of the trouble ahead and "When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day." 1 Samuel 8:18
The People of Israel to Samuel: "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. Then we will be like other nations, with a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles." 1 Samuel 8:19-20
Samuel tells God, and God says... "Listen to them and give them a king." 1 Samuel 8:22
I see some parallels here. I believe God is telling us to trust Him with the pre-tribulation rapture. If we keep our faith in Him, He will catch us up before the Beginning of Sorrows.
However, if believers argue against this "rescue" and say defiantly, "We expect to suffer the Great Tribulation!" will God allow them their free will choice as He did the Israelites and their king?
Is God telling us today, "warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights." In other words, are you sure you want to be around for the seven-year tribulation? Reread the Book of Revelation aloud before you answer that question.
After writing this article, I'm even more convinced of the promise of the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. I believe in it and am doing my best to prepare for it.
However, I'm still unsure if God allows us the free will choice to participate in it or not. He has allowed His people to make free will choices in the past that were not in their best interest. And they suffered greatly for it.
Since I love statistics and probabilities (and hate gambling odds), I think I'll go all in on God's Word. If He provides an option to escape His wrath and hell on earth, I'll take that opportunity. All we need to do is have faith and look up...our redemption is near! What do you think? Will you make or miss the rapture?