Origins of the Rapture Theory

Although it is extremely popular today, the theory that Yeshua (Jesus) would return secretly to ‘rapture’ His true believers is actually quite new. Many will be surprised to discover that its origins lay not in the thorough and prayerful study of Scripture by some very learned man, but in the visions of a young girl by the name of Margaret MacDonald who had been greatly influenced by the teachings of Edward Irving, a Scottish minister who was dismissed from the Church of Scotland due to his teachings on the gifts of the spirit and how chaos reigned supreme at his church services.
It was during one of these services that young Margaret had her visions. Edward himself had been influenced by a Spanish Jesuit priest whose book The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty Mr. Irving had translated. Many readers of this article will not be surprised to learn that the Jesuits would have a hand in promoting false doctrine. Another minister by the name of John Darby became fascinated with Mr. Irving’s teaching on a secret rapture, and it became a part of the Plymouth Brethren movement of the mid-nineteenth century. He liked the idea so much that he began to search the Scriptures for support, and by taking certain verses out of context he did just that. These teachings were further embraced by Cyrus Scofield, author of the very popular Scofield’s Reference Bible, and were included as footnotes therein. Once published in such a prestigious publication, the ‘secret rapture’ teaching based upon Miss MacDonald’s visions spread like wildfire.
So what exactly had Margaret envisioned? After several hours of “vision” and “prophesying” she revealed that “christ’s” return would occur in two phases, not just one. “Christ” would first come visibly to only the righteous, then He would come a second time to execute wrath on the unrighteous in the nations. This “secret rapture” was promoted by Irving claiming he, too, had heard a “voice” from heaven commanding him to teach it. Besides Irving, Darby and Scofield, evangelical pastor William Eugene Blackstone wrote a book entitled Jesus is Coming, which furthered the theory. Before long the teaching was embraced by all Pentecostal and Evangelical preachers, who preached the theory as gospel.
It was widely received for indeed, escaping from tribulation tickles the ears of those whose life is full of sin. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6-7) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4) Between these verses Paul writes to Timothy complementing him on the fact that Timothy followed Paul’s teachings, including that all of God’s people would deal with persecution and suffering. Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
What part of that don’t we understand??
The pre-tribulation rapture theory, as the ‘secret rapture’ has become known, has grown like wildfire across the Christian denominations thanks to the Left Behind series. To be left behind is to not be included, and everyone wants to be included, right? Wrong! God sees things differently than we do; as Noah was left behind, so will His people be left behind to inherit the earth, according to Yeshua: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) The Kingdom of Heaven will reside here on earth folks! Look at what John tells us: Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yeshua and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Messiah and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Revelation 20:4-9) All of this happens on earth: the thousand year reign of Messiah and the release and eventual victory over the enemy happen here on earth. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4) Again, these events occur on the new earth: New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven. Those who are alive when He returns remain here, but are changed. He gathers together His people and then, and this is the kicker… He takes them into the ‘promised land’ to remain with Him for a thousand years. Remember the promise given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. (Psalms 37:29) Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. (Psalms 37:34) To truly see something one must experience it; viewing something from afar lacks the personal touch that makes it all real. The promise is the inheritance of the land, here on earth.
Adonai our God will grant us peace HERE ON EARTH, but only after He has cleansed it by fire, purifying His people with that same fire. “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts. “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:1-6) Although I hate to be the bearer of bad news, this ‘secret rapture’ has no basis in the prophets of old, who spoke of the Lord coming to judge us all, testing us like the refiner tests silver to see if it’s pure. If the silver is not pure… back into the fire it goes!
Those who feel that Yeshua could arrive at any time to rapture His people away before ‘it hits the fan’ are not grounded in the Scriptures that Yeshua studied. The tribulations of life are what separate the true believers from those who view the church or synagogue as a social club; only the true believers see their faith strengthened by tribulation. The promises are not given to those who seek an easy escape; only those strong enough to overcome and endure to the end will inherit promises made so long ago. Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8) As we can clearly see the pre-tribulation rapture theory is founded not upon careful study of Scripture, but on the visions of a young lady, heavily influenced by teachings of the very man who promoted these visions. It wasn’t until later that connections were made in Scripture, and as I’ve often said, one can prove anything with a little Scriptural Gymnastics.
What the Scriptures actually teach is that Adonai’s followers are regularly tested to see whether or not their hearts are for the Most High God. (Remember the tests in the wilderness…) Like some sort of cosmic video game, those who pass the test get to move on to the next level. Each level has its own battles and its own rewards. There are no short-cuts for a privileged few; each one of us must learn our own lesson lest we be caught up on this level forever. As we pilgrims progress through our walk of faith, we find many obstacles along the way that we need to overcome; each obstacle overcome results in a closer walk of faith, so why would we want to avoid a closer walk of faith? Yes, when Yeshua returns we will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye, but not before the dead in Messiah are raised. All of the dead in Messiah… so there can be none saved after that… and the Most High God gives everyone a chance to choose Him and when time is up, it’s really up. Paul was not teaching that we will be caught up in a pre-tribulation rapture, leaving the Jews behind to face the wrath of God. Paul was a Jew himself, Torah scholar extraordinaire, and understood the plan of God from having studied the books of Moses.
He said that we are now all alike in Messiah; there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in Messiah. If we want to understand Paul’s teachings, we had better study those same books. Otherwise we might find ourselves caught up in an end-times deceptive false teaching, promoting an easy life full of material prosperity for the believer, instead of taking the time we need to pray and study the Word for ourselves, strengthening our hearts, minds and spirits for the tribulations that lie ahead. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:5-8)
Instead of quoting another person’s teachings on the subject, take the time needed to read through the first five books of the Bible, from Genesis through Deuteronomy, followed by the prophets of old, and see for your own self what the Bible really says about the events surrounding The Day of the Lord.
Study the word Lawlessness so that you can understand what it means, for these are lawless days indeed, and it is time for Him to act, for we, the people who are called by His name, break His Law daily. Remember, judgment begins in the House of the Lord and He will refine us whether we like it or not. Prepare! []