What Will the Rapture Be Like?

My brothers and sisters, surely we are near to this most amazing event.  Have you found yourself wondering what the rapture will be like?  Will we know what’s going on?  Will we have one last opportunity to witness?  Let’s explore the answers to these questions!

Examining Jesus’ Resurrection into Immortality

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.  (Luke 24:1-3,12)

We know from the account of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead that He did not leave behind His body.  His physical body was transformed from temporal into eternal.  Let’s examine John’s account, which is more detailed:

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”  So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.  Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,  and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;  for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.   (John 20:1-14)

John’s account affirms that Jesus did not leave behind His body; it had been changed from material to immaterial.  He did, however, leave behind his grave cloths.  Thus we know that we will not leave behind our bodies, but we *will* leave behind our clothes.  We will not leave our blood behind; Jesus did not leave puddles of His blood behind.  Our blood will be transformed with our bodies.

grave cloths

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  (1 John 3:2)

I strongly suspect we will also leave behind any non-flesh additions to our bodies (implants, jewelry, fillings, braces, etc), but we cannot know that for sure.

Examination of Our Resurrection/Rapture Into Immortality

Just as Jesus was transformed, we will be transformed from the physical to the immaterial; the temporal to the eternal.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen! I am telling you a mystery:  We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.  For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality.  When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?

(1 Corinthians 15:49-55)

 

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice  and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.  (John 5:28-29)

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.  For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.  (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) 

 

This transformation, or changing, from mortal to immortal occurs in the twinkling of an eye – instantaneously.

Our New Clothes

Don’t worry, we won’t be naked – the Bible tells us we will be clothed in white robes.  The white robes represent the righteousness of Christ:

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousnessas a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  (Isaiah 61:10)

And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  (Zechariah 3:4)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands  (Revelation 7:9)

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself  with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  (Revelation 19:7-8,14)

 

 

clothed in white.jpg

While our own deeds are but “filthy rags” in regards to salvation, it does appear that the righteous deeds we have done in and through Christ may play a part in our wedding garments.  What a sobering thought – what kind of wedding garment am I making?

What Will Our New Bodies Be Like?

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  (Philippians 3:20-21)

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  (1 John 3:2)

 

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)

Scripture tells us that our bodies will be transformed to be like Jesus’ glorious body – we shall be like Him.  What was His transformed body like?

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  (John 20:19-20)

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  (John 20:26)

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were kept from recognizing him… So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.  When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.  (Luke 24:13-16,28-31)
We see from these two passages that Jesus could pass through closed doors, cloak Himself from recognition, reveal Himself, and vanish at will.  I would suggest that Jesus demonstrated the ability to pass from one dimension to another – the spiritual to the temporal.  Since our bodies will be as His is, I would not be surprised if we also will be able to transport between these two dimensions.

One Last Opportunity to Witness?

Although the transformation/resurrection is an instantaneous event (in the blink of an eye), and the catching up also seems to be a rapid event, there *may* be a slight gap of time between the transformation and catching up events.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.  For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.  (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) 
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed.  (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Let’s examine the sequence of events in the two passages above:
  1. Jesus descends from heaven (the third spiritual heaven) into the clouds (the first atmospheric heaven) with the souls of believers who have fallen asleep (died) in Him
  2. Jesus shouts, an archangel’s voice sounds, the trumpet of God blasts, and both the dead and alive in Christ get their resurrection bodies.  This change happens in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as the trumpet sounds.
  3. The bodies of the dead in Christ presumably join their souls in the clouds at this moment (the dead in Christ *rise* FIRST).
  4. We who are still alive but transformed, are THEN caught up together with those in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Our question – Is there a gap between #4 and #5?  There is precedence for this in Matthew’s account of the resurrection of “many saints” at the time of Jesus’ resurrection.  These were walking around and were seen by many before they went to heaven:
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks splitand the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.  (Matthew 27:51-53)
If the same thing happens at our resurrection/rapture event it might look like this:
  • transformation
  • pause
  • catching up

If there is a pause, it might enable us to safely park our cars if we are driving, etc.  But even more importantly, it might enable us to bear witness for Jesus for one last moment.  This would seem to be supported by the definition (from dictionary.com) of the word “remain” (as in, we who are alive and remain):

  • continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist (i.e. the dead in Christ have ceased to “remain”)
  • synonyms: continue to exist, endure, last, abide, go on, carry on, persist, hang in the air, stay around, stand, be extant, hold out, prevail, survive, live on
  • stay in the place that one has been occupying (does “occupy until He comes” come to mind?)

It’s an exciting possibility to consider, but I do not think that more than a few moments (minutes? hours?) is probable for a few reasons:

  • We know that those left behind are they who refused to love the Truth and so be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
  • The Bible does not mention a mass salvation event right at the start of the tribulation, other than the 144,000 sealed Hebrews (Revelation 7:1-8).  However, it does seem that many do come to faith at some point after the rapture.  
  • What would happen to the soul of someone who became a believer AFTER the transformation event, then died BEFORE the catching away event?
  • We are “caught up” together with the resurrected dead in Christ and meet in the clouds… how long would Jesus and the resurrected dead hang out in the clouds to wait?

The most compelling reason I have for not believing the gap will be longer than a few moments, is that the resurrection from the dead and transformation of the living would seem to set off nuclear-type events.  Why?  It’s simple physics – the conservation of energy.  For material to transform to immaterial, a massive amount of energy would seem to be released.  I would suggest that we see as earthquakes in scripture.  Observe  Jesus’ and the many saints’ resurrection:

“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. [there may be a time gap here as we know Jesus was the firstfruits of those raised from the dead so He must have been first…] And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:51-54)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. (Matthew 28:1-2)

Observe when the two witnesses are resurrected:

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:11-13)

If there is a similar release of energy at the transformation of the dead and living in Christ, can you imagine what it would look like?  I believe that this explains why we need to be snatched away violently, with great force (harpazo), as opposed to simple ascending.  There will be untold catastrophe unfolding upon the earth in our wake, which helps explain the descriptions of the seals and the first four trumpets.

Whether there is a time gap or not, this is something we can only speculate.

Will We Feel Anything?

Because the transformation event occurs “in the blink of an eye”, we will not feel anything.  Our pain receptors (nociceptors) fire at 5-30 meters per second.   The blink of an eye takes 300-400 milliseconds.  Since a blink takes far less than a second, our neural systems won’t be able to sense or respond in that timeframe.

As for the rapture itself – the catching away – the verb used means “to snatch away violently, with great force”.  Other places where the same word (harpazo) is used include:

And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried [harpazo] Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.  (Acts 8:39)

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up [harpazo] to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up [harpazo] into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.  (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)

And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force [harpazo] and bring him into the barracks.  (Acts 23:10)

Because we will be in our new eternal bodies, and it seems to be a very quick event, I highly doubt that we will “sense” being snatched away either.  Like Jesus’ resurrection body, we will pass through anything in our way with no ill effect:

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  (John 20:19)

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  (John 20:26)

 

Remember Lot’s Wife

On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back.  Remember Lot’s wife.  (Luke 17:31-32)

This passage in Luke terrified me for awhile.  We know this isn’t the same as Matthew’s mention of the abomination of desolation fleeing (Matthew 24:15).  There is no mention of fleeing here – instead, right after this Luke teaches that one will be taken (other uses of the word include “received”, as in received unto the Lamb and God’s throne) and one will be left.  In context, I believe this is a rapture verse.  (More on that here: Is It Better to be Taken, or Left?)

I remember wondering if I would be like Lot’s wife and turn back at the time of the rapture.  I examined my heart, and there is nothing else that would keep me on this earth but my kids.  However, I could definitely imagine myself anxiously looking back for them.

I prayed about it a lot.  

I believe that God revealed to me that this is referring what Jesus also teaches in Luke 9:62:

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  

Lot’s wife wasn’t looking back for family, for her kids.  They were with her.  Lot’s wife was looking back longingly, because her heart was in Sodom.  Remember how the angels literally had to drag Lot AND his family away, after trying to convince them for hours to leave?  Those who hold back from Jesus and cling to this world are not worthy of Him.

We would do well to examine our hearts – are we holding back from truly following Jesus?  

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.  (Luke 21:33; See also: Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; John 12:25)

But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.  (Luke 21:36)

How can we be worthy to enter the kingdom of God and escape all these things that are going to take place?  We must turn and become like children (Matthew 18:2-4) – literally, we must be “born again”.  All true believers will enter the kingdom of God and escape all these things.  For more on this, please see: Who Is Worthy to Escape All These Things?

The Rapture Experience: Summary

I believe we will be aware that the rapture is happening.  On the day, in the hour, I believe we will know it is time!  I believe we will hear the shout of command (“come up here”???), the voice of the angel, and the trumpet of God.  I believe we will see Christ in the clouds of heaven, and perhaps the dead in Christ rising around us.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) 

We may also feel, hear, and see earthquakes occurring.  Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.  (Luke 21:28)

The probable sequence would seem to be:

  1. Jesus descends from heaven (the third spiritual heaven) into the clouds (the first atmospheric heaven) with the souls of believers who have fallen asleep (died) in Him
  2. Jesus shouts, an archangel’s voice sounds, the trumpet of God blasts, and both the dead and alive in Christ get their resurrection bodies.  This change happens in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as the trumpet sounds.
  3. We will not feel anything.
  4. This transformation from material to immaterial may result in a huge release of energy around the globe.  This may trigger earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis.
  5. We will not leave behind bodies or blood; these will be transformed.
  6. We will leave our clothes behind and will be clothed in white robes, representing the righteousness of Christ.
  7. The bodies of the dead in Christ presumably join their souls in the clouds at this moment (the dead in Christ *rise* FIRST).
  8. There may be a small time gap (moments?  minutes?  hours?)
  9. We who are still alive but transformed, are THEN caught up together with those in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
  10. Our new bodies will pass through material things with no problem.  We will not feel anything.

Based on rapture passages describing the transformation and snatching events occurring “in the twinkling of an eye”, I don’t believe we will literally have time to look back at the time the rapture takes place.  Our hearts need to be prepared for it in advance – where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also (Matthew 6:21).


Further Reading:

Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape?  If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.

God’s Mosaic – A Whole Scripture Overview of Things To Come

Main Menu – God’s Mosaic Prophecy Model

The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture.  I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly.  I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

 

7 thoughts on “What Will the Rapture Be Like?

  1. Very interesting insight. I have often wondered what it would feel like. I have to admit not knowing is slightly scary. I have also wondered if I would look back like Lot’s wife because I tend to look back on this earth. Not necessarily with longing but just by habit. Thanks so much…I enjoyed this writing.

    Karen

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  2. I am not so sure. I’ve been told by people that the rapture isn’t biblical. Or if it is, it won’t be regular people, only saints. I am a born again believer. Of course I don’t want to have to suffer through tribulation but I’ve also been told by pastors and preachers that even if there is a rapture and all believers are caught up in the clouds those who are alive at the time will still have to go through part of the tribulation. I’m worried because my 2 adult children are not saved, and my 3 younger children were baptized but we don’t go to church. So how could I be happy if my children aren’t raptured and I was? So I’m very conflicted. I have no idea what to think about it. I am saved, but is that enough? It doesn’t feel like it would be enough, I’m not living my life like a nun, I mean, I’m a regular American who goes to work and does regular stuff. It’s all very scary to me. It’s fear of the unknown I guess partly.

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