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The Rapture: Its Timing, True Purpose, and Surprising Minimum Age Cut-off

Despite all the discussion and debate about the rapture among Christians, several key aspects of the rapture are still not widely understood. Besides the important timing question, there is also the question of the rapture’s purpose (it’s not what you think) and the fact that not only the wicked will be "left behind" but some of the righteous will not make it either! Learn these finer points of the rapture and deepen your understanding of God’s plan.

The Rapture Question

This article is a first for me, addressing the topic of the rapture on its own. That may sound strange coming from a prophecy teacher. Yet, I do not even dedicate a chapter to proving the rapture timing in my comprehensive book on the end time prophecy.

I take a different approach. I lay out the full picture of the end time puzzle. With this as a foundation, the timing of the rapture can be seen clearly in context, despite how confused it normally is out of context. Judging from the lack of questions from readers asking for proof on the rapture timing, this approach works well. No one's asked me to add a chapter on the rapture, either.

It is easy to understand why. We all adopt this same effective approach when working on a jigsaw puzzle. We strive to establish a border framework so we can make sense of the hard pieces. We realize that until we do each piece of a puzzle in the pile can seemingly go almost anywhere. Yet, after you assemble enough of the puzzle to see border or outer frame of the picture, it becomes much clearer what area of the puzzle each piece must go. Later, each piece clearly fits in exactly only one place...unless jammed and maybe taped in the wrong place.

Similarly, the rapture confusion we observe today comes as a result of people trying to determine where one piece of the end time puzzle fits without having enough of puzzle laid out correctly. The many gaps in their end time picture make many wrong positions seem plausible. The rapture can fit fine almost anywhere in a timeline with lots of open space (pretrib, mid-trib, two raptures, etc.).

In this article, I will fill in those gaps and in the process share some rare insights on the rapture that you probably never heard before. You'll have enough missing end time context to see what the timing of the rapture is beyond any doubt.

As for the "tape" in this analogy, these are the myriad pretrib rapture arguments applied to force and tape the rapture puzzle piece where it does not belong. However, we will not deconstruct it or tear it up. Addressing these prop-up arguments is the wrong approach as it will never show you exactly where the rapture piece actually belongs. The right approach is to complete the area of the puzzle where the rapture fits so you can see a rapture-shaped hole for the rapture piece to be moved to—leaving the mess of pretrib arguments "tape" behind to fall to the ground.

Rapture Foundational Verses

Some people become so discouraged with the confusion and ugly discord over the rapture timing that they literally end up in denial about the whole thing. They deny there even is a rapture found in the Bible. You probably have met people using these arguments. They will argue for example that, "the word 'rapture' does not exist in the Bible." However, this could be said about many doctrines that they nevertheless do accept.

They miss that the Bible is not written in easy tutorial format full of organized and clearly stated terms and explanations. Rather, it is very hard. Its doctrines are spread out throughout many scattered verses often using very different terms for the same thing. This requires careful harmonization. As a result of this difficulty, sometimes inaccurate labels get assigned to a doctrine.

A great example of this is how you will not find the word "millennium" in the Bible. However, the Bible clearly talks about a 1000 year reign of Christ and his saints after the rapture. Millennium is just another way of saying 1000 years in a single word. Likewise, the word rapture is just a single word representing an actual phrase from the Bible.

What phrase is that? In 1 Thessalonians we find it:

1 Thessalonians 4:17 (HCSB)— 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.

The Greek word meaning "caught up" or "taken by force" is harpazo. The word rapture comes from the Latin word rapio which itself appears in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible for that verse. So the progression is:

GreekLatinEnglish
harpazo ⇒  rapio  ⇒ rapture

This verse then gives us our definition for what the rapture is: it is a sky gathering of the freshly glorified saints.

If you look at more verses, you will find that the rapture is actually the fourth event following three other steps.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (HCSB)—15 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. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel' voice, and with the trumpet of God [1], and the dead in Christ will rise first [2]. 17 Then we who are still alive [3-almost] will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air [4] and so we will always be with the Lord .

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (HCSB) — 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound [1], and the dead will be raised incorruptible [2], and we will be changed [3].

The four steps marked in the verses with brackets above are as follows:

Article continues below...

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  1. The last trumpet blast by an angel (1Cor 15:52=1Th 4:16).
  2. (Note: The King James says "last trump." Donald Trump's sensational presidential run caused many to quoted this verse as referring to him as the "last Trump". It's a humorous idea, but of course requires torturing the text. The context refers to the trump as an unmistakeable sound-making trumpet coinciding with the first resurrection and rapture.)
  3. The resurrection of the dead in Christ to incorruptible glorified bodies (1Cor 15:52=1Th 4:16).
  4. The quickening of the "alive" in Christ to incorruptible glorified bodies (1Cor 15:52=1Th 4:16).
  5. Rapture: all glorified saints rise with the help of angels to a gathering in the clouds where Christ meets them (1Th 4:17).

What's missing from these verses? A highly desirable 5th event mention would be the Great Tribulation!

If these clear rapture passage only mentioned the rapture's relationship to the Great Tribulation then the rapture timing controversy would be nonexistent. Unfortunately they do not.

Nevertheless, they do firmly establish there is a catching up gathering to the clouds, or rapture. Other rapture passages we will show later do mention the Great Tribulation, however they do not as clearly describe the rapture as these.

"Behold I Show You a Mystery..."

This, then, is where it gets hard. I say this because it is helpful to set the right expectations. Given its centrality to the end time discussion, you would think that the rapture timing question would be pretty clear and easily established.

Not so. By comparison, it is not nearly as obvious as the Bible's teaching that the Millennium follows the Great Tribulation.

On the contrary, the Bible states that this subject is a "mystery":

1 Corinthians 15:51 (HCSB) — 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed 52 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.

Revelation 10:7 (ESV) — but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

Mysteries are advanced doctrines. They require great care or there is going to be misunderstanding. You cannot figure them out without some serious foundational wisdom from the entire Bible.

Part of what makes this doctrine such a mystery is that it has little coverage in the Old Testament, and vague coverage at that. Like with the resurrection of the dead (Dan 12:2), there is only one or two clear reference to it in the OT. Here are the two rapture verses I could find in the OT.

Isaiah 26:20-21 (HCSB)—20 Go, my people, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you. Hide for a little while until the wrath has passed. 21 For look, the LORD is coming from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth will reveal the blood shed on it and will no longer conceal her slain.

Psalms 50:3-7 (HCSB)—3 Our God is coming; He will not be silent! Devouring fire precedes Him, and a storm rages around Him. 4 On high, He summons heaven and earth in order to judge His people. 5 "Gather My faithful ones to Me, those who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." 6 The heavens proclaim His righteousness, for God is the Judge.

It is important to note for later that both of them relate the gathering to heaven with the coming wrath of God on the earth. Revelation tells us the wrath of God is the seven bowls that follow the 7th trumpet (Rev 15:1) while the Great Tribulation is Satan's wrath (Rev 12:12).

Timing: When is the Last Trumpet?

Just as I said at the start, the key to establishing the timing of the rapture in relation to the Great Tribulation lies in understanding the end time framework in which it fits.

We need to know what is this "last trumpet" that the rapture happens at? Given that Revelation has seven trumpets that precede the seven bowls, the natural conclusion is that the last trumpet is the 7th trumpet. But is it?

Let's look again at a verse we quoted earlier on the rapture. Notice that it says the rapture happens at the last trumpet also when the resurrection of the dead happens:

1 Corinthians 15:52 (HCSB)—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.

In other words, for there to be a pretrib rapture there must be a pretrib resurrection. Now notice what Revelation tells us about when the resurrection of the righteous is:

Revelation 11:15, 18 (HCSB)—15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever! 18 The nations were angry, but Your wrath has come. The time has come for the dead to be judged and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, to the saints, and to those who fear Your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.

This passage clearly says that the resurrection of the just and rewarding of the saints is at the 7th and last trumpet, the same as Paul told the Corinthians about the resurrection and transformation of the just. The 7th trumpet is after the Great Tribulation and leads into the wrath of God.

This means the rapture, too, must be after the Great Tribulation at the 7th trumpet.

This happens to be just what Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse:

Matthew 24:29-31 (HCSB)— 29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the celestial powers will be shaken. 30 "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

I mentioned this passage earlier as less clearly identifying the one and only rapture of the saints. The trouble with this one is the word elect. Pretribbers claim the elect are the Jews. If you don't want to fall for that one, go investigate yourself the New Testament usage of that term. You will find that it refers to any saint, Jew or Gentile (1Pe 1:1-2; Col 3:12; Tit 1:1; Lk 18:7; Rom 8:33; 2Jn 1:1,13).

A Brief Glimpse of the Newly Raptured Saints In Heaven

Now witness how this rapture position fits like a puzzle with other pieces of the puzzle given in Revelation. We can see what happens to us right after we are raptured, and right before the wrath of God falls. Revelation 15 shows it:

Revelation 15:1-3 (HCSB)—1 Then I saw another great and awe-inspiring sign in heaven: seven angels with the seven last plagues, for with them, God' wrath will be completed. 2 I also saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had won the victory over the beast, his image, and the number of his name, were standing on the sea of glass with harps from God., 3 They sang the song of God' servant Moses and the song of the Lamb... ...and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

Here we find the raptured saints exactly where you would hope: in the throne room of heaven where earlier are shown our brothers the 24 elders (Rev 15:2=Rev 4:4-6). There is no doubt we have both the "Old Testament saints" and "New Testament saints" represented here. This is implied by their singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, respectively. (God has the same opportunity and salvation plan for all saints of all time regardless of whether they lived a life in service to God before Jesus came or after. Don't let anyone tell you different.)

The Overlooked Reason for the Rapture

While these raptured saints watch from the throne room, the seven angels with the seven bowls of God's wrath walk out of the temple past them to deliver their payload on the inhabitants of the earth.

However, do not get the wrong idea. The rapture is not about escaping God's wrath. Nor anything else including the Great Tribulation (as pretribbers think). This escape idea is one of the errors that serves as "tape" for the pretrib positioning of the rapture puzzle piece.

Let's look again at a previous passage again to note what it says is the real purpose behind the rapture:

Revelation 11:15, 18 (HCSB) — 15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom; of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever!...18 The nations were angry, but Your wrath has come. The time has come for the dead to be judged and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, to the saints, and to those who fear Your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.

Notice that it is all about giving the reward to the saints. What reward is that? Eternal life. And the timing is perfect. Because we find immediately after this comes the Millennium when Jesus will reign with his saints for 1000 years. You cannot rule even 100 years without eternal life, so that is why even those of us who are alive must be changed to "incorruptible" bodies right before taking our part in the Millennial reign.

Revelation 20:4-6 (HCSB) — 4 Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people, who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God' word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. 5 ...This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

Did you notice another clincher that rules out a pretribulation resurrection and with it a pretribulation rapture? It says that this resurrection of the just to rule is the "first resurrection." This leaves no wiggle room for another resurrection before this post-tribulation resurrection.

Left Behind But Still Protected

And now for the last of the finer points of the rapture. This point is only possible to see after you fully internalize the previous points on timing and reason behind the rapture.

For if the rapture is not about saving anybody but is about rewarding saints who are ready to rule, then what about the saints who are not ready?

See, the pretrib rapture teaching puts Christians in fear of being "left behind" and suffering alone on an earth engulfed with the Great Tribulation. Yet when you think about it, protecting us on the earth from Satan is not a problem at all for God. And, in fact, God must leave behind plenty of otherwise righteous saints as we will see.

The first thing to consider is that there is no requirement for anyone to leave the earth to survive God's wrath (or Satan's wrath in the Great Tribulation for that matter). It is a straw man argument that pretribbers have invented.

We can know this from another precedent of God's wrath (which is far worse than anything Satan can do). The precedent of the Ten Plagues of the Exodus (Ex 7:14-11:10). They were called God's wrath (on Egypt) as well. Yet God was able to spare Israel from most of them in the midst of the Egyptians who suffered them all. God made a "difference" for the Israelites he wanted to save (Ex 11:7). He did not have to rapture Israel then and he will not need to rapture anyone he wants to protect on earth from the last seven plagues, either.

Left Behind—Not Just For the Wicked?

The second thing to consider has to do with who those people left on the earth are. We would think after the righteous are raptured that the only people left must be wicked.

However, you have to understand what is in store for the raptured before you conclude that. All of the raptured become the Bride of Christ and attend the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:6-9). They are given thrones and will rule on the earth over the survivors (Rev 19:5; Zech 14:16). No one raptured is going to clean latrines or be a bell hop, as wonderful as even those jobs may be in the Kingdom. All will be kings and priests (Rev 1:6;5:10).

While they indeed are given new glorified bodies, nothing is said about a change of personalities, minds or understanding. We have to expect that to remain intact and not suddenly transformed, filled, and expanded and corrected. God uses organic growth of character and knowledge consistently. Our minds are already spirit-based so changing the venue for them from physical to spiritual bodies does not imply a concurrent mind change, except perhaps in abilities (perfect memories?). We can expect to continue learning in our new bodies for eternity which is a good thing to prevent getting bored with eternal life. Therefore after we are raptured into a new glorified body, we can expect to be only as mature and ready as we were before in our physical body.

Given that our knowledge does not change at the rapture, note what it says about those who are raptured, besides the fact that they of course are righteous and faithful to get there:

Revelation 19:7 (KJV) — Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Revelation 14:4 (HCSB) — ...These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed, from the human race as the firstfruits for God and the Lamb.

Rapture Maturity Requirement?

Firstfruits are those harvested first because they came to maturity first. Immature grain is not harvested. It's not ready. Those who are young and immature are also not "ready" yet and do not fit the picture of firstfruits. There will be lots of babies and children of the saints who are simply not ready to be in the harvest. Then there are the teens who may have more maturity, but they have not finished developing mentally or are not yet competent to rule. Scientists tell us that the human brain does not finish developing until the early 20s. (Yes, King Josiah ruled at age 8, but not because he qualified, rather because Amon his father was assassinated.)

In America and many countries you are considered a minor under adult authority until the age of 18. In the Old Testament a similar precedent is set for an age of accountability. We deduce this from the fact that you were not allowed to serve in the army until 20 (Nu 1:3). Likewise those under 20 were not held accountable for doubting God and believing the false report of the ten spies of the land of Canaan. They survived the punishment of 40 years of wandering the desert while their accountable parents or elders of 20 and older all died (except Joshua and Caleb).

Therefore, I believe that it would be inconsistent if there was no age of accountability cut off for the rapture (and first resurrection) as well or God would have a double standard. However, it may not be as simple as being 20 in this case. God knows the hearts and can use discretion in this judgment that the human judges over Israel could not (they only judged by outward appearances and needed a simple test like age). I can imagine exceptions for those who packed more into their minor years than is typical. Minors, children and babies will remain on the earth (probably with assistance from angels) while their older righteous parents, siblings or peers will go on (but don't worry, they will return shortly to rule on the earth and glorified people who never sleep and who teleport should have plenty of time to continue being parents). They will have their chance later in the post millennial resurrection period (Rev 20:5,11-15).

(Note: don't misunderstand the difference between salvation and reward: not all the saints will have the reward of being firstfruits who get to rule with Christ, but all will have the salvation of eternal life sooner or later.)

I know some will be offended by me saying it would make sense for there to be a maturity requirement to be raptured. But before you reject it as a grave error or adding to Scripture, think it through. Everyone who is raptured is the bride, marries Christ and rules as a king-priest. To reject that there is a rapture age/maturity requirement is to say that babies, toddlers, children and the immature will all be raptured, marry Christ, put on thrones and responsible for ruling and teaching people per Revelation 20:4. Now ask yourself which of these two scenarios is more plausible?

Update: What Is "The Restrainer?"

A question I've been asked a lot over the years but have had no answer for is, "If the rapture is posttrib and not pretrib, then who or what is "the restrainer?"  That question refers to this passage written by Paul to the Thessalonians:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 — 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the Man of Sin is revealed, the Son of Perdition ... 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the Lawless One will be revealed,...

Pretribbers strangely claim this passage as a proof text of "pretrib rapture." For them the restrainer is either the "Holy Spirit" and/or "the Church," even though there is nothing in the passage that ties the restrainer to either. It's kind of a circular argument that since we know the rapture is pretrib, then something associated with the church (including it or the HS) must be the restrainer who is removed before the Tribulation.

The one good discovery in this line of argumentation is the clarification that restrainer is not a "he" or a person as some English versions would lead you to believe. In the Greek of 2Th 2:7 it's an "it" or "thing" matching the "what" of the previous verse (2Th 2:6). That's important to remember below to properly identify the restrainer.

Thankfully, there is a much less forced answer to this question that becomes obvious when you understand the dual nature of the Antichrist. Most everyone understands the Antichrist as a man (Rev 13:18=2Th 2:3) and some have identified who that man is today already. However, we're mysteriously told in Revelation 17:8 that the Beast or Antichrist actually rises out of the Abyss. The Abyss is the abode of the angels who were imprisoned by God for leaving their first estate (Jude 1:6) (connected to the creation of the Nephilim). This does not seem to fit the narrative that the Antichrist is simply or just a man, supposedly a very charismatic one at least. Yet he's both: a man and a powerful spirit. This works if the Antichrist is the man whose name adds up to 666 (Rev 13:18) who dies (Rev 13:3) and then gets inhabited by the spirit released from the Abyss (Rev 11:7=Rev 17:8) at the 5th trumpet or start of the Great Tribulation. At that point he can suddenly claim to be God coming to save the world from the Wormwood mess (2Th 2:4). Afterwards, when the Beast is thrown into the lake of fire "early" at the start of the Millennium rather than the end when human people go there, it's because the man is not human but nephilim and inhabited by a demonic spirit. (Whether that spirit is king of the abyss spirits, Abaddon/Apollyon, (Rev 9:11) or not is not made clear in Revelation to me.)

Putting it together, the man (no doubt alive today) who becomes the Antichrist, while indeed Nephilim, is not able to be the Antichrist alone by himself. He must wait until the Beast ascends from the Abyss to inhabit him. God has put a seal on the abyss that only a key can unlock once it is released from Heaven (Rev 9:1-2). Therefore Paul's "restrainer" refers to this seal or perhaps the abyss itself that keeps the Beast (Rev 11:7) spirit from joining with the Antichrist man.

Conclusion

The rapture is a certified mystery of God's plan from the Bible which means we cannot expect to explain correctly without understanding God's plan. The rapture will happen at the 7th and "last" trumpet, after the Great Tribulation and the resurrection of the righteous. This timing fits the purpose behind the rapture perfectly. It is about rewarding the living and dead saints with eternal life so they can rule in the Millennium that immediately follows. Those "left behind" on the earth might not be just the wicked, but the immature righteous and children of the righteous do not seem to fit the term "ready" given to the Bride. The righteous will be protected on the earth during the seven bowl plagues just as the Israelites were during the Ten Plagues.

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36comments
Robert DeHaan - January 26, 2017

Brother Tim, I just got done reading your article on the Rapture and I wanted to say thank you. I had written to you before about some questions about the timing of the Rapture. I have heard the pretrib rapture explaination so long I was not sure what to believe. As I studied it more the Holy Spirit showed me just as you explained it pretty much. But, you always seem to piece Scripture together in a clear and concise manner. It really solidified it for me having read your article. I appreciate your gift so much in explaining Scripture. Have a blessed day. Shalom. Brother Bob

Reply
Masozi Mwenifumbo - March 23, 2017

Brother Tim,

May God bless you for the concise explanation.

Masozi.

Reply
dwb - September 19, 2017

Have you considered 1 Thessalonians 4:17 in context of the original audience as going out to meet the triumphant King Jesus and coming back to Earth (maybe a new one) with him to live? Notice in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 that the Jesus “brings” from Heaven those who have fallen asleep. It seems He would be bringing them to Earth, not just back to where they came from. C.f. Conclusion(s) in http://stonedcampbelldisciple.com/2011/03/10/paul-the-roman-imperial-cult-the-return-of-king-jesus-and-flying-away-in-1-thessalonians-4-17/

Reply
    Tim McHyde - September 19, 2017

    dwb, yes I’ve heard that grammatical argument before on the meaning of apantasin as going out to meet a visiting dignitary. From what I’ve read, it fits my understanding of us rising to meet Jesus in Heaven (Rev 15), the dignitary. But Jesus’ purpose for which we greet him is not coming to visit “us/in our city.” It’s to join him in heaven for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 15) while the bowls fall on the earth (Rev 16). We meet him and come back with him after the supper and wrath is done (Rev 19). So there is no conflict with the technical definition of the Word apantasin = going out to meet a dignitary.

    Reply
      Daniel Steglich - October 4, 2017

      Thank you so much. 2 weeks ago I was fooled by the false prophesies to my shame but the silver lining is that it woke me up and brought me back to Christ. Just last night, I finished reading Four Blood Moons by John Hagee and you’ve shown me tonight how easily we can be misled. He refers to the elect in the book as Jews and thanks to your article I now know that to be false. I don’t think of Mr Hagee as a false prophet but rather a human one, prone to mistakes.

      On the same coin however, I think what we are discussing here is certainly ‘solid food’ as opposed to ‘milk and my ignorance has shown me that I am not yet ready for the transition. Thank you so much, my eyes are a little more open. God bless you.

      Reply
      Joel - February 22, 2018

      Joel:

      In regards to Revelation 15. It appears that the sea of glass is a sort of quarantine area during the plagues.

      It is also noteworthy to note that – the song included Moses . Whom freed the captives by opening the red sea.

      Reply
Michael D - September 25, 2017

Thank you for this detailed analysis. I rarely see this position explained so thoroughly. One thing you did not discuss is the pre-tribber assertion that the restrainer discussed in 2Thes 2:3-8 is the Church. Since antichrist cannot be revealed until the restrainer is removed, then the restrainer must be removed no later than the middle of Daniel’s 70th week (before the Great Tribulation). If the restrainer is not the Church, who do you think the restrainer is? And if the restrainer is the Church then how would we be removed other than rapture?

Reply
    Tim McHyde - September 25, 2017

    Michael, I don’t know what the restrainer is. It’s such an unclear passage and we have so many other clearer concrete pretribulation prophecy prerequisites from both Jesus and Paul, that I’m fine not understanding what Paul said here (along with much of what he says – 2Pt 3:16).

    Update 2018: check the article above for a new section answering this!

    Reply
John - November 18, 2017

Tim,

I was glad to read your article on the rapture. It is really nice to be able to read articles by someone that actually keeps timelines intact when discussing events. Pretrib doctrine must disregard any mention of timelines or events to make the rapture fit prior to the ” Great Tribulation. And the argument that the “Church” is not mentioned after the 3rd chapter of Revelation. Everytime I hear someone say this I have to chuckle. For Pete’s sake those messages went to churches that actually existed at the time. Of course they are not mentioned again after the message to them is FINISHED. LOL

Oh well. Thanks again and keep on spreading the word.

Godspeed

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patricia duval - December 4, 2017

Tim, recently our church had a visitor preacher who spoke on revelation. I was confused by some of what he said. I got the chance to ask him questions afterwards. He said he believed revelation was written for the 1st century people and not as a future roadmap for us to-day. He said he does not believe in the rapture or the tribulation. Since he totally avoided any mention of the mark of the beast or 666 I presume he does not believe in them also. He is teaching about revelation at a christian college. My senior pastor seems to be agreeing with our visitors take on things Very confusing as to who is right Tim you or these two pastors.

Patricia

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    Tim McHyde - December 5, 2017

    Patricia, sounds like that visiting pastor was a Preterist. Preterism has been having a resurgence in recent years like Flat Earth. It’s a cop-out when people can’t understand Revelation literally to say it was all fulfilled already. This theory ignores large swaths of details like you already noted. See why Preterism is false.

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Kate - December 4, 2017

You say no one has asked you to add to this teaching but I would like to know if there are requirements listed in the Bible to becoming what you are describing as “mature in Christ”. What are the requirements to being mature in Christ so that we can strive to fulfill/achieve them and know when we are ready for the “rapture”.

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    Tim McHyde - December 4, 2017

    Kate, there are characteristics of a mature believers such as having faith, wisdom, peace, basically the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and controlling your tongue. That’s just a start on this great question of what does maturity in the faith look like.

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Brian Meinshausen - February 21, 2018

Hello Tim,
how do you reconcile the verses regarding children as spoken by Jesus?:

Matthew 19:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 18:16 King James Version (KJV)
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Do you also assume that all miscarried, stillborn and aborted babies either never were, or never will be in heaven or resurrected / not saved?

David said:
2 SAMUEL 12:23
KJ21 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

However, if these are brought into the kingdom, though not mature, why would Yehovah refuse our children at the time of the rapture?

I can understand and visualize your conjecture of Angels caring for them, yet the scripture makes not mention of caring for children in absentia. All things are possible, but I see no foundation in scripture for such an idea.

When he speaks of the bride making herself ready, that is in the sense of shoes and coat on – “are you ready to go? we’re leaving!” not are you seasoned, matured, achieved a status level of sanctification.

You often refer to God’s past example in the Exodus…well, how about the fact that the children were not left behind due to a lack of maturity, or even self-readiness capability?

I agree that there will be some maturing yet in the millennium as there will be some who will be persuaded, oddly enough, to follow Satan after his release.

In the same spirit, I find it disconcerting that Christians distinguish between adults and children taking communion / sharing the Lord’s supper. They say, the children cannot follow the guidance of “let a man consider lest he take of the Lord unworthily” yet, the guidance is for a man to consider, not a child. Even so, a child is to be taught, but not excluded. Children took part in the Passover, why should our children not take part in remembrance, again, for such is the Kingdom of God?

What also about the verses that say: “He will keep that which I have committed to Him against that day”?

Also, what of 1 Cor 7:14 “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” Would Jehovah abandon that which is holy?

Also what of Matthew 18:1-10: At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become
as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

If conversion and maturity is like unto becoming a little child, why would God refuse the little children in the rapture? I think the take heed regarding the despising is not limited to a sense of disgust, but of a sense of esteeming them of lesser value. The first fruits were not more mature or better than the other fruit. They simply ripened first. Paul said those who are alive have no advantage of those who are asleep. Again, what of the children who are asleep through not fault of their own? What of David’s first son of Bathsheba? Was he in error?

“Hath God said?” is a dangerous question to ask. I prefer, like you in most cases, to refer to what he hath said and let it stand. I think regarding Children, we are on holy ground, and must tread lightly.

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    Tim McHyde - February 21, 2018

    Hi Brian, Thank you for sharing the difficulty you have with my teaching and giving me a chance to clarify. It helps that you recognize that my insight on the rapture about children strikes you the same way church exclusion of children at communion does. I hope I can get past that emotional response and help you despite it.

    First, the last example you use proves my point. The firstfruits are not immature barley. They are barley that has matured, even if it comes before other barley that grew up and matured later, it’s till mature, not immature. That’s a picture of matured saints not children. Children are sanctified by their parents which has benefits according to Paul, but it does not make them ready and mature for eternal life!

    Second, when Jesus said to become like a child to be of the kingdom, although it’s debatable exactly what he meant, obviously he was not referring to their immaturity, capriciousness, naivete, etc. I think he was referring to their humble, submissive or teachable nature, personally. That’s what God requires for all who enter the kingdom to mature. They have to receive instruction, not be set in their ways.

    Finally don’t forget that all those who miss being firstfruits in the rapture/first resurrection will have their chance later. So I’m not condemning children by saying there is a maturity/age of accountability requirement for receiving eternal life. They will have just need to mature and be glorified later with most of humanity. Hope this helps put your mind at ease.

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Brian Meinshausen - February 21, 2018

Tim,
You have put my mind at ease for several years now since I bought your book back in 2008 I think. I really appreciate your website and appreciate how it stimulates further study of God’s Word. My mind is not troubled regarding this topic of discussion, I just disagree based on what I’ve found in scripture, and decided to engage in the conversation instead of always observing. I want and plan to be a supporter, but have been out of work for 4 months now and thought I’d have my new job, but when I do, I will be a full time active supporter. I’m not upset with you by any means! I respect your work greatly, and find it very encouraging and valuable. I’m sorry if my questions seemed emotional. I didn’t see you as condemning the children, but it would appear that concept you describe would be abandoning them, which I cannot see how it would increase their faith, and would leave them vulnerable. I am not sure how you can square that against the scriptures shown of Christs guidance regarding children.

As for maturation, what of the thief on the cross? How long did he have to mature? Arguably he was wicked to the hour of his death, yet Jesus said, “today you will be with me in paradise.” I do not think we should allow the concept of age of accountability and a maturation to twist into salvation through works. Child like faith is faith still. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of Yehovah shall be saved.”–ROM. 10:13 ‘Whosever’ is not hair-split defined as those with maturity as opposed to those without maturity.

Again, how do you reconcile the maturity of the children who have died as children, including David’s son? I’m not challenging, I’m asking, how does that / will that work? Will all the children of the past 6 millennia be consigned 1) to hell, 2) be obliviated, 3) be risen to the millennium to have a chance at deciding, or 4) be risen in Glory?

I don’t see how God would allow option 1 as they are innocent, not having reached accountability.

Nor option 2, as they are in fact human souls from the point of conception – Psalm 139:13 For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb… 16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” But I remember that there are verses where the little ones are to be dashed, particularly those of the enemies of Israel.

Option 3 would not seem possible based on the first resurrection being a permanent one to eternal life, if other children are to be excluded, ie those left behind at the rapture

Option 4 I’m not sure I can persuade on, but it seems most likely of the 4 options, but perhaps there is another option…what do you think?

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    Tim McHyde - February 21, 2018

    Brian, Wow we’re really getting far afield now. I’m not talking about bearing fruit here or salvation by works. I’m sorry my explanations don’t seem to be helping but only confusing you more. Sigh. I hope our Q&A benefits others at least…

    To reiterate, I wrote in the article that maturity is about reaching the age of accountability unlike youth whose brains and character are not developed yet to be accountable. We saw God judge this way in the situation of the scouting out of the Canaan. Only those 20 and older were held accountable and died in the desert for their unfaithfulness.

    But regardless of this, the thief on the cross still bore fruit of good works in that short span of time after he repented from his encounter with Christ. He defended Christ from the verbal attack of the other crucified criminal. Jesus taught on the merit defending him to other men versus the demerit of denying him. It was a good work and good fruit.

    Finally, Joel 2 is not the place to go to answer the question of the full requirements for salvation or who “all” includes or already assumes you know excludes. The Bible often says “all” when there are exceptions left out. Hebrew 9:27 says all men die once, when we know from prophecy some die 0, 1, 2 and 3 times. Paul said “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26) when obviously some will choose to reject God and end up in the lake of fire because of freewill. He is not wrong as his point to the Romans is to counter the idea that all Israel is lost.

    You ask a good question about what happens to those who died without salvation or missed the rapture due to immaturity when it came. I refer you to my article on the three resurrections for that and also this study on the day of salvation.

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Brian Meinshausen - February 21, 2018

Tim,
upon reflection, perhaps I should ask these questions in the forum, as the specific topic of children and the rapture is straying off your article on the rapture…my apologies, I just was excited to try to share scriptures that relate. I agree with you on seeing where the puzzle piece of the rapture fits in the context of the rest of eschatology, ie after the tribulation and before the wrath, and for the purpose of reward, vs. purely one of escape.

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Taylor - July 24, 2018

Hey Tim,
Ended up at this article as directed from your most recent one and am learning more about the rapture and millennium. Can you explain what you mean by your point below?

“(Note: don’t misunderstand the difference between salvation and reward: not all the saints will have the reward of being firstfruits who get to rule with Christ, but all will have the salvation of eternal life sooner or later.)“

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Elizabeth Becker - August 18, 2018

Glad I could help! The mystery of the end times is such a giant jigsaw puzzle, so it’s nice to find another piece. You have definitely blessed my family by helping us fill in missing pieces of the puzzle and encouraging us in our daily walk with Yehovah. May he continue to bless you and your family!

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Glen - August 18, 2018

The Holy Spirit guides, convicts and comforts but is not described as a restrainer. The archangel Michael’s role of watching over Israel and at a future event combating Satan seems to define his role as the restrainer.

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Anthony - August 18, 2018

Tim,

How about the U.S. as a possible restrainer? It would seem that once the U.S. is taken out of the way (destroyed) and the policeman of the world is gone, that all of the end time players would start manifesting themselves, including the antichrist. Just a thought. May GOD bless. Your thoughts?

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Ben - August 18, 2018

Hi Tim,

In regards to the section What is “The Restrainer” some years ago I read a book by Michael Rood ” The Mystery of Iniquity” which made sense and to me lines up I feel with scripture as to who the Restrainer is. The idea just never seemed correct to me that the Church, the Holy Spirit or even Michael was the Restrainer. I followed the teaching of my church for years that taught it was the Church that was the Restrainer but again it never seemed right to me. From reading Michael’s book it is the secrecy of lawlessness that is being seized or held tight. It is Satan who works in secret and will continue to hold tight to operating in secret until he is removed. Then the wicked one will be exposed he will no longer be working behind the scene. Satan gets cast out of heaven and to earth having great wrath. Satan is holding fast until Michael casts him to earth and then revealed as the man of sin, the Antichrist.
Tim I really enjoyed your book ” Know the Future” it has cleared up a lot of confusing teachings on many subjects.
Ben

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    Tim McHyde - August 18, 2018

    Ben, I heard Rood’s idea years ago that since Satan gets taken out of heaven then he could be the restrainer or angel Michael. However, this does not really fit since Satan wants the Antichrist rise and is not holding him back. God is through some mechanism which we know from many passages is the prison of the Abyss.

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      Darran - October 30, 2018

      I agree with your assessment on the Abyss being what restrains the spirit which will ‘possess’ the man ‘chosen to rule’. I don’t have anything scriptural to add to that but I can share a clue as to how I think that will happen, at least my best guess.

      On May 9, 2017, a new linear proton accelerator, Linac 4, was launched at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), whose task is to increase the performance of the existing Large Hadron Collider. In there own words, they are trying to “to open the Gateway to the Parallel World.”

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/06/lhc_dimensional_portals/

      The CERN logo is certainly worth googling.

      On location, there is also a statue of Shiva, the ancient Indian god of destruction. Amazingly the statue depicts not just Shiva, but Shiva performing the cosmic dance Nadanta (or Tandavam, depending on the context), a ritual dance that opens the Gates of the Abyss.

      Obviously, I am only speculating, but that’s some rather fascinating coincidences….

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Charles M Davidson - August 18, 2018

Now that is the only teaching on the restrainer I have heard that makes common sense and fits scripture..Thank you.

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Greg Page - August 18, 2018

I have always felt that the restrainer was Michael the Archangel. Especially based on Daniel 12:1, where it states that Michael, the prince of your people, stands up, and then great tribulation arrives. It ihas always been Michael who struggles with and opposes Satan and holds him in check. When Michael “stands up” and is taken out of the way, Satan then has free Rein upon the earth.

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    Tim McHyde - August 18, 2018

    Greg, you may want to check out Dan 12:1=Rev 12:7-9. There’s nothing that connects Michael to the Antichrist, but instead he kicks Satan out of heaven when he rises up which cascades the events on earth with the release of the Beast from the abyss. BTW, have you thought through the idea that God told his chief archangel to restrain the Antichrist ever since he was put in the abyss thousands of years ago? Kind of a tedious job and life for him. Worse for this theory, unlike God, he can’t be two places at once and he’s been seen doing other things in that time (Daniel 10:12-13). That rules out Michael as being the restrainer.

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      mikhael - August 20, 2018

      tim,
      why can’t Michael put antichrist in chains and be in elsewhere as the need arises

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        Tim McHyde - August 20, 2018

        Mikhael, because then Michael’s not the restrainer, the chains are! Hence, the abyss is the restrainer and why it’s referred to as “what” and “it/the thing.” =)

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Jeanne Parent - August 19, 2018

OH boy this is a fun one. Now my take on it. I have somehow been given a different interpretation on who the restrainer is or what the restrainer is. The restrainer is Jesus Christ himself. How I got this interpretation I’m not sure but that is what revelation was brought to me.

What do you think Tim? As far as I know this is the only logical explanation I could ascertain when thinking about how this could happen. I mean, who holds the keys of the Kingdom? Jesus Christ has the keys of the kingdom. It doesn’t make sense it would be the church or the HS or Michael the Archangel to me.

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    Tim McHyde - August 19, 2018

    Jeanne, same thing I said about Michael the angel applies: if Jesus is the restrainer, what happened when he became flesh for 31 years or died for three days? Doesn’t he have better things to do as the only begotten son of God than guard duty for 5000 years? =)

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      Floyd Treece - August 20, 2018

      Why not just a powerful angel as mentioned in Dan. 10 to hold back the spirit of anti christ. He needed the help of Michael to fight the prince of Persia and then the prince of Greece.

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        Tim McHyde - August 20, 2018

        Floyd, anything is possible, but why waste an angel for thousands of years on the Antichrist spirit when you can just put him in jail with the rest of the spirits in the abyss?

        Reply
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