One issue about which there is much debate within the Church is when the Church will be raptured. We have Scripture that tells us we will be caught up in the air with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV
“Then we who are alive, who are left, 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 we translate as “Church” is “ekklesia” means “to call out of”. We, the Church, are a people called out of the World. That is true for how we are to live our life today, and it is true as to what will take place in the End Times. The question is, when in the end times. Some believe we will be raptured (called out of the World) before the Tribulation. Some believe we will be raptured at the midpoint of the Tribulation; and still others believe we will be raptured at the end of the Tribulation.
I have made no secret of my admiration for J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible commentary but I don’t simply accept, without critical thinking, everything he has to say. There are time that I disagree with him. As I’ve said before about my position concerning these great controversies in Revelation, I neither confirm nor deny any given interpretation offered by well informed, godly men. I do, however, look for “leaps” in a commentator’s logic. Dr. McGee believes that the seven churches we saw in Revelation 3-4 are not only literal churches, but symbolic of different church ages. He sees the church of Philadelphia as a foreshadowing of the Church as it will exist at the time of the Rapture; a revived Church starting at the beginning of the nineteenth century until the Rapture. In other words, he contends that we are currently living in the Church age just prior to the Rapture.
Dr. McGee points out that after chapter 3 the “Church” is no longer mentioned in Revelation – at least not by that name. Starting with chapter 4, the setting moves from Earth to Heaven. He takes this dramatic change of venue and disappearance of the Church from the story as proof that the Church has been raptured prior to the troubles the Earth will experience in the chapters and verses to come. He further claims that that the true church is now mentioned as the 24 elders in today’s passage and “the bride” in later chapters. It is his view that the organizations left behind that call themselves the Church are actually the apostate church. When we read of the Harlot later in this book he contends it is a reference to this apostate church.
Now Dr. McGee may be absolutely correct, but I find his logic makes a rather large leap. Just because John stops referring to “the Church” does not mean that it has been raptured. Absence of comment does not prove absence from the Earth. If I wrote a letter to my Mother first discussing my wife and then discussing my daughter, the change in topics would not mean my wife is dead. In fact, it would be rather odd for me to discuss my wife and then move on to discussing my daughter without mentioning such an earth-shaking occurrence.
This is the problem I have with most theories about end times prophecy; they may be right but they almost always make a leap that is plausible but not unassailably conclusive. To me the point isn’t about when the rapture will occur but that it will occur. It isn’t about how the End Times will unfold but that Jesus Christ is Lord. As I read today’s passage what seems to be the unassailable point is that Jesus is the point. We see that He is the lamb that was slain. We see that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. We see the very thing for which we were created, which is to glorify God for eternity! Can you picture that day? I promise you that the joy you will feel when you sing praises to God in Heaven will be unlike anything you have ever known. Thank you Lord Jesus; may your Kingdom come!