By Nathan Jones
Where is the Rapture in the book of Revelation?
To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.
Finding the Rapture
Gary Fisher: Revelation 3:10 I believe is the strongest reference. It reads, "Because thou has kept the word of my perseverance, I will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour that is about to come upon the whole world to try them who dwell on the earth."
Dr. Reagan: That was Jesus speaking to the Church of Philadelphia, wasn't it?
Gary Fisher: Yes, in Revelation 3:10.
Dennis Pollock: In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about coming like a thief. We are to watch and keep our garments on so that we don't walk naked, so to speak. At the end He says, "I'm coming quickly." Clearly that is a charge to the Church to be ready at any time, for He could come at any moment. So, there are hints to the Rapture, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen within the chronological order of the Tribulation.
Dr. Reagan: Sometimes people point to Revelation 4 and claim that when John was taken up to Heaven — raptured up to Heaven — that this was a type of the Rapture of the Church. Others say they don't really believe that. What do you all think about that?
Nathan Jones: I think the biggest example of the Rapture in Revelation comes from an absence or lack of the Church being there. Look at how from chapters 5-19 it's all about earth, it's all about Israel, it's all about Gentiles being destroyed, and it's about the Antichrist, but the Church isn't mentioned one time. Then we get to chapter 19, and all of sudden the Church is found already there in Heaven.
Dr. Reagan: So, the focus of the first three chapters is on the Church, then suddenly no mention of the Church until the end of Revelation. Sure, the chapters mention Saints, but is that the Church?
Dennis Pollock: Clearly there are believers throughout the Tribulation, but that doesn't mean they're the original batch. The original batch — the Church consisting of all believers in Christ from Pentecost to the Rapture — have been snatched from this earth up to Heaven. You've got a new batch of believers in the Tribulation. We'll call them Tribulation Saints.
Ordering the Book
Dr. Reagan: Is the book of Revelation in chronological order?
Gary Fisher: I think it is. Revelation 1:19, "Write therefore the things which you have seen, the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things." Things which were seen, which are, and things which shall take place after these things.
Dr. Reagan: I would say that in general overall Revelation is in chronological order, but I think that in the book of Revelation there are both flash backs and flash forwards.
Dennis Pollock: My answer would be both yes and no. In general, yes, but there are parenthesis where you have God inserting a whole new concept. You have the parenthesis in Revelation 13 where He talks about the Beast and how he gets his start and who his False Prophet is. The Antichrist shows up a long time before Revelation 13, but God just takes one vision there.
Really, what we seem to be getting in Revelation are a series of visions that John had and where he's writing them down. Most of them are in order, but there are some where God is just saying, "Let's look specifically at the Beast." We have some other examples as well of this parenthesis where God just inserts a particular thought.
Dr. Reagan: There is almost a rhythm. The Lord will talk about these judgments that are coming upon the earth. They build and they build and the terror becomes increasing, and then all of sudden, it just cuts off to where there's a parenthesis where He encourages the reader to look forward to the end. We are going to win in the end. The saints are going to come out victorious! Then Jesus will pick up the narrative again and start talking about another tribulation judgment.
Sometimes there is a look backwards as well. For example, in Revelation 13 John looks back to the birth of Jesus and starts talking about that, along with a woman and her child and the dragon and all of those images.
We are used to flashbacks in modern fiction writing. What we are not used to are flash forwards, because God knows what is going to happen in the future. He can flash forward and talk about future events. That's where people often don't understand what's going on in the book of Revelation.
Nathan Jones: Revelation can be terrifying. Obviously we are talking about the earth's population being decimated, the economy being decimated, and the ecology being decimated. It's terrifying to behold.
It reminds me of when I was a kid and I'd see horror movies. I hated horror movies because I would be up all night for weeks. So, during the movie I would run out to get popcorn periodically to regain my courage. We needed to take a break from all that horror, and Revelation does just that. We need to take a break from the drama. We need to sit down and have Jesus come in and say, "Oh wait, don't worry about how bad it will get, for this is how it's really going to end. I'm going to win, so don't worry. Stick it out, for in the end it's not going to be bad but victorious. We need those reminders of Christ's victory throughout Revelation.
In the fourth segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts to identify the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses.