By Randy Nettles
Jesus never fully explained the Rapture to his disciples before his crucifixion, although he hinted at it a few times (Matthew 24:36-44; Luke 17:26-36; John 14:1-4). The Rapture was a mystery until God revealed it to Paul many years after Jesus’ death. The timing of this revelation is unknown. Perhaps it was when Paul went into Arabia (Galatians 1:17) after his Damascus experience and conversion or later when he returned to Damascus.
Some have suggested this revelation occurred when Paul was caught up to heaven as per 2 Corinthians 12:1-6: It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:1). The details of the Rapture regarding the resurrection and transformation of all dead and living believers in Jesus Christ was first given by Paul to the Church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18) in about A.D. 51.
None of the prophets or authors of the Old Testament knew about the Rapture. It was hidden from them because they have no part in this resurrection. They will only be resurrected when Jesus returns to the earth, after the Tribulation, and establishes his Millennium Kingdom. However, I believe the Rapture is hidden in various prophecies and scripture in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is about history (mostly Israel’s), God’s relationship to mankind (especially Israel), and prophecy (short and long term). The O.T. authors were mostly commenting on events and circumstances of their day, but the Holy Spirit was influencing their thoughts and words in a prophetic way. It is possible some of these scriptures could be relatable to the events of the Tribulation and the future Rapture.
With the benefits of later revelations in the New Testament, we can see truths in scripture that weren’t evident to people in O.T. times. One of the early church fathers, St. Augustine, is credited with this old adage: “The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old is by the New revealed”. In modern terms, some truths in O.T. scriptures are “hiding in plain sight”.
The Old and New Testament are the two witnesses that are required before judgment is rendered on a matter. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’ (Matthew 18:16 and Deuteronomy 19:15).
The following as a list of seven possible Old Testament references to the Rapture:
Seven Old Testament References to the Rapture
1) Psalm 2:11-12 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in your rebellion, when His wrath ignites in an instant. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
2) Psalm 5:10-12 Declare them guilty, oh God; let them fall by their own devices. Drive them out for their many transgressions, for they have rebelled against You. But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever shout for joy. May you shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. For surely You, oh Lord, bless the righteous; You surround them with the shield of your favor.
3) Psalm 27:4-5 One thing I have asked of the Lord; this is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek him in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
4) Song of Solomon 2:10-13 My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!”
5) Zephaniah 2:2-3 Before the decree takes effect and the day passes like chaff, before the burning anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you. Seek the Lord all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.
6) Isaiah 26:19-21 Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. Take Refuge from the Coming Judgment. Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain
7) Isaiah 64: 4-5
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, besides You, what He has prepared for him that waits for Him. You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness, those that remember You in Your ways: behold, you are wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
The following seven New Testament scriptures are believed to be references to the Rapture. Scripture #2 is quoting scripture #7 in the above list.
Seven New Testament References to the Rapture
1) 1 Thessalonians 1:10 – 4:15-18
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are alive. For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
2) 1 Corinthians 2:7-10
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
3) 1 Corinthians 15:50-53
Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep (die); but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
4) Matthew 24:36-44
But of that day and hour, knows no man, no, not the angels of Heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord will come. But know this: that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched and would not have suffered his house to be broken into. Therefore be you also ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes.
5) John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned; but He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
6) John 5:24-29
Verily, verily I say unto you, he that hears My Word and believeth in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself, and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth — they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
7) John 14:1-4
Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And wherever I go you know, and the way you know.
Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.