After reading some of the discussions here I thought I would share some of my thoughts and see what you think.
Firstly, given the fact that the Bible in its entirety can be scientifically proven to be 100% reliable based on the structural design and hidden codes that are found in it about subjects which were not known at the time of writing, my viewpoint is that the Bible contains the ultimate truth and that God purposefully designed the placement of every letter in it.
That being said, the Rapture is nowhere specifically named in the Bible. Many people hold various views about this event and they differ. Some believe it will not happen at all, some believe it would be pre-trib, others believe it would be mid-trib and yet others believe in a post-trib rapture. However, references to this event are presented in many forms throughout the Bible. There are models of it starting in Genesis with Noah’s Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as other depictions like Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace. In Noah’s Flood there were three groups of people:
1. Those who were removed from the earth before the flood: Enoch who walked with God and is a type of the God’s church on earth
2. Those who were preserved through the flood: Noah and his family who is a type of those who would come to faith in Jesus Christ during the great tribulation – including the nation Israel and the tribulation saints and
3. Those who perished in the flood – these will be the people who would willfully choose to worship the Antichrist and reject God’s redemption through Jesus Christ.
We have a similar situation in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, except that new information is provided here that sheds more light on God’s relationship with those whom He considers righteous. When the angels drag Lot and his family from the city, they state that they cannot do anything until they are out of harm’s way and therefore differentiates between how God treats his chosen and the fact that they are not appointed to receive his wrath:
Genesis 19:22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
Jesus referred to the end-times comparing it with the days of Noah. Other entities that were present on the earth during the times of Noah were the fallen angels and the hybrid nephilim which were the result of the union between angelic beings and women. Why then have we not seen these beings be reintroduced to society as would be fitting a scenario where the end-times are likened to the times of Noah? Daniel also refers to these events being reintroduced on earth at some point in time when he describes the final kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar:
Daniel 2:43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
I believe what is preventing all of this from happening is as a result of the existence of God’s church on earth.
Firstly, we can understand the position of God’s church on earth through the following sections:
Luke 4:5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
Luke 4:6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
Satan is claiming here to be in possession of all the kingdoms of the earth. Jesus does not refute or contradict his claim to be the ruler of the world in any way at that point. Satan obtained this authority when Adam and Eve sinned and authority, over the earth, was scooped up by Satan and his angels who then became the rulers of the earth.
Jesus however, spoke these words which gives us insight into the position of his church on the earth when He said the following:
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Here we clearly see that there is a shift in authority that is carried out when God’s church, the mystery that has been kept secret since the world began. God's church receives authority over the world through his victory on the cross. Jesus also said that those who believed in him would receive authority that was previously lost:
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
We can clearly see here that the rulers of the world i.e. Satan and his fallen angels have lost their authority to those who belonged to God’s church on the earth and have to submit to those who belong to Christ.
How then would the following verse be possible if the gates of hell can’t prevail against the Church?
Revelation 13:7 And it was given unto him (antichrist) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
The only logical explanation for this to be possible and to not be a contradiction, would be that the church would no longer be on earth and that the saints that are here referred to would not belong to the Church that God created. The church has God’s authority on earth and the antichrist would not be able to prevail against it. For this to then be made possible would require God to remove his church from the earth and for the world to enter into a new dispensation in which Satan can once again rule over humanity without restrictions imposed over his rule by the church - one in which Israel would take over as God's representative on earth through which God will reach out to the world in tribulation. Only once the church is out of the way, could Satan move back in to assume unrestricted command over the world. The Bible further points to these restraints that are in place in the following verse:
2 Thessalonians 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
I believe therefore that the antichrist will only be revealed once the church is no longer on the earth. With the church existing on earth, the antichrist would not be capable of gaining the upper hand and Satan would not want to reveal his man before the church is gone or will suffer a sure defeat. Once the church has been removed, Israel will have their blindness removed and will recognize their Messiah and God will work through them as his representatives on earth during the 70th week of Daniel, but in a different manner to that of the church.
There are also verses in the Old Testament that refers to the Rapture given below:
Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
Zephaniah 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.
Psalms 83:3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
Psalms 27:5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
I look forward to your views on this!