… The one who sowed the good seed
Is the Son of Man.
The field is the world
And the good seed
Stands for the sons of the kingdom.
The weeds are the sons of the evil one
And the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age
And the harvesters are angels.
As the weeds are pulled up
And burned in the fire
So it will be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send out his angels
And they will weed out of his kingdom
Everything that causes sin
And all who do evil.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace
Where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine
Like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
He who has ears, let him hear.
The ‘rapture’ is a popular evangelical belief based on a passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. The basic belief is at the end times, when things will be truly terrible and the world is ruled by the anti-Christ, Christians will suddenly all be lifted out of the world before the final tribulation (the end of the world) happens. For a great many, this belief is very comforting. However, the passage in Matthew tells of an end-time scenario quite different than the one told by interpreters of the passage in Thessalonians.
Yeshua, interpreting His own parables to the disciples, states quite plainly that those who are His will remain on the earth at the end of the age, while those who are not His are removed from the world. We might certainly “meet the Lord in the air” but the above passage makes it quite clear that must be after all those who are not His are removed from the world.
Hebrew 9:28 reads:
So Christ was sacrificed once
To take away the sins of many people
And he will appear a second time
Not to bear sin
But to bring salvation
To those who are waiting for him.
Paul, continuing on in 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9 writes:
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath
But to receive salvation
Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He died for us so that
Whether we are awake or asleep [dead]
We may live together with him.
The whole point of 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 tells what happens to those who have died before Christ’s return – they are going to be raised from the dead. Following what is written in Matthew, Hebrews, and Thessalonians, the sequence of events will be:
– Christ sends His angels to harvest the world
– the wicked are removed from the world
– Christ, our salvation, returns
– the dead in Christ are raised first
– the living and the raised “will shine like the sun”
– both the living and the raised “will be caught up together … to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
Now that’s ‘rapture’! Whether we are to endure ‘tribulation’ or not is irrelevant. The only relevant thing is to be in Christ. For in Him and through Him, we can do all things – even endure or suffer during the tribulation, if that is what we are called to do. No doubt those who endured stoning, wild beasts, tortures, burnings, beheadings and multitudinous forms of ‘tribulation’ over the millennia, who will be raised from the dead first, will wonder how it was that so many came to believe in a false story of comfort, especially after Yeshua warned that those who are His will be hated, persecuted, and killed (John 15:18-16:3). In fact, in Matthew 5:12, Yeshua said to “rejoice and be glad” “when people insult, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
Peter sums up what a Christian’s position should be when suffering for being a Christian:
However, if you suffer as a Christian
Do not be ashamed
But praise God that you bear that name.
For it is time for judgment to begin
With the family of God
And if it begins with us
What will the outcome be
For those who do not obey
The gospel [good news] of God?
‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved
What will become of the ungodly
And the sinner?’
So then, those who suffer
According to God’s will
Should commit themselves
To their faithful Creator
And continue to do good.
In a time of ‘tribulation’ we are called to continue to do good. Do not search for comfort in false stories of ‘Peace and safety’ (1 Thessalonians 5:3) but continue to hope in your coming redemption.
It is never too late – now is the time to turn, hear and accept the Good News, receive forgiveness, and prepare for the return of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach.
The Lord is coming!