Have you ever found yourself wondering what the rapture will be like? Will we know what’s going on? Will we have one last opportunity to witness? We can know 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 ESV
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 ESV
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. I would strongly suspect we would also leave behind any non-flesh additions to our bodies (implants, jewelry, fillings, bracings, etc). We will not leave our blood behind; Jesus did not leave puddles of His blood behind. Our blood will be transformed with our bodies.
The Transformation of the Dead and Alive in Christ
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 ESV
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 [allasso], 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 ESV
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 ESV
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. [their souls] 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. [their souls will rejoin with an eternal resurrection body] 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 ESV)
Will We Feel Anything?
Because the transformation occurs “in the blink of an eye”, we will not feel anything. Our neural systems (pain, sensation) aren’t able to sense and respond that quickly for us to feel what is happening. 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 ESV
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 Cor 12:2-4 ESV
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 ESV
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. 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 ESV
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 ESV
I believe we will be aware that the transformation/rapture is happening. We will see Christ in the clouds of heaven and hear Him calling us up as we are welcomed into our new home.
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. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV
One Last Opportunity to Witness?
I do not personally believe the pause would be longer than seconds to minutes, because of the catastrophe that will be unfolding upon the earth at the time of / as a result of the rapture. In addition, the dead in Christ rise first and we *join* them in the clouds – it doesn’t seem logical that Jesus and the newly resurrected dead in Christ would hang out in the clouds waiting for us for any length of time.
Whether there is a time gap or not, this is something we can only speculate.
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:
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 ESV
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 ESV
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 righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 ESV
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 ESV
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 will play a part in our wedding garments. What a sobering thought – what kind of wedding garment am I making?
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 ESV
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, 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.” (ESV)
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 following God?
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 21:33 ESV (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 ESV
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?
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.
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.
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!