At sundown this evening [editor's note: this article was written on September 09,1993], Israeli time, is Yom Teruah, also called Rosh Hashanah, known by us as the Jewish New Year. It is the day that signifies the deepest hope of the Church: the coming of her Savior from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the sound of the trumpet of God (1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51 - 57).
The apostle Paul wrote that this event, known to us as the Rapture, would occur at a time in history when the culmination of human rebellion was occurring. He said that morality would fail (prayer barred from governmental functions, AIDS because of immorality, murder, drug addiction, drunkenness, violence, the breakdown of sexual boundaries on TV, etc.), visible religion would be filled with fraudulent and hypocritical leaders (homosexual priests, ordination of women, greed-driven TV evangelists, elders and deacons who do not care for God's agenda, etc.), and there would be a major push toward universal harmony between nations (the sudden and swift rise of the United Nations as a major player in the world's political scene caused by President Bush's victory over Iraq, etc.). In fact, Paul wrote, "when they are saying 'Peace and Safety', then sudden destruction shall come upon them". With all the talk in the news about Peace in the Middle East, our ears are tuned to the sound of the trumpet of God.
Why is this coming of Jesus for His Church called the Rapture? Scoffers deny its foundations by claiming that the word is not even in the Bible. Believers embrace it as their fondest hope and earnest desire. Who is right?
To answer, let us consider the scoffers' claim that the word is not in the Bible. If by the Bible they mean the King James translation, they are technically correct. But, there are a host of theological words that communicate genuinely biblical concepts that are also not in the Bible. Take omniscience for example. It is a theological word for the concept that God knows everything--including the motives of scoffers. He knows that they scoff because they are afraid of the Truth. He knows that they are deceptive and proud. He knows everything they have ever thought, said, done, and dreamed of. But, the word omniscient is not in the King James translation of the Bible. That does not mean that the concept isn't taught there. It is foolishness to scoff at a concept because the word used to refer to it isn't in my translation of the Word of God.
So why is the concept of Jesus' coming called the Rapture? Because in the text of 1 Thessalonians in the Latin Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible used for centuries by the visible Church), the words for caught up together are translated by the Latin term rapturo. It means to be caught away. The word Rapture is simply a transliteration of the Latin word. It is used to signify the coming of the Lord Jesus from heaven to catch His people up to be with Him. Thus, the concept is clearly biblical, and the word Rapture simply refers to the concept. The scoffers are technically right, but morally wrong. Are you one of them? Or do you hope tonight is the night?