The Rapture is overlooked or purposely avoided by many today. This might leave you asking, “Is the Rapture really that important? Does the Bible even tell us anything definite about it?” You bet! The Rapture is a huge part of biblical prophecy and one of our greatest hopes as believers, and God’s Word tells us all we need to know as we anticipate its coming. First Thessalonians 4 speaks of the Rapture by describing believers being caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. But the context that prompted Paul to write this might surprise you.
By sharing biblical facts about the body, the Thessalonian believers, and the resurrection, Chris sets the record straight on what Scripture teaches about the Rapture in this week’s program. With pertinent information from Greek culture, he fills in the gaps in our knowledge with much-needed context. Find refreshment in this study of the resurrection of the church—the Rapture.
Chris explains why resurrection matters in this short video:
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We have a great show for you today, but before Chris comes, I'd like to encourage you to visit our website, foiradio.org. There you'll find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel and the Middle East and while you're there, you can support our ministry by clicking on the donate button and help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Again, visit us at foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Today on the program, Steve, we're going to be talking about the resurrection of the church, this concept that actually is best summed up in the word the rapture. We're talking about the rapture today. The rapture is something that I believe is often overlooked. I think it's something that's very important. It's right there in the scriptures. It's the resurrection and transformation of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes for the body of Christ, for his church, for his bride. So I think it's going to be an exciting show. Please stick around and listen.
Now, before we get to that though, I want to thank our podcast listeners for tuning in, for going to foiradio.org and for going to Apple and to Spotify and Google and TuneIn and Stitcher, all the many hosts of platforms. You know what? While you're there, would you mind leaving us a comment on how much you appreciate the Friends of Israel Today? When you do that, when you rate and comment on our program, you're actually helping us get into new venues, into new places so that new people can listen to the Friends of Israel Today. So if you value the program, if you believe Israel and the Jewish people matter and more people need to learn about them from a biblical worldview, be sure to rate us on our podcast. We'd really, really appreciate it.
Steve Conover: In the news, Chris, a 30-second coronavirus detection test is being developed by Israel and India. Israeli ambassador to India Ron Malka said he believes the testing kit will help the world open back up since the technology simply requires a person to blow into a tube and the results become available in less than a minute. It's also very cheap to carry out as the results are delivered locally without the logistics and costs of sending the sample to a lab. Malka said it would be good news for the entire world.
Chris Katulka: Steve, when we're talking about coronavirus, a lot of specialists say the one thing that we need to really help the world open back up is a broader span of testing. Testing needs to happen and rapid testing. Here it is, Israel and India working together, collaborating together to bring that great technology to the world to help open the world up. You know who we have to thank for this? It's really Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was only two years ago. I remember watching it. It was only two years ago that he met with India's Prime Minister Modi to open ties between the two countries, and today, they are advancing a test that could change how we deal with coronavirus globally. So kudos to both countries for their hard work to tackle this virus head-on so we can get to the business of reopening.
One of the things that makes The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry unique is our passion to not only minister to our Jewish friends around the world, to bring the message of hope of Jesus, the Messiah. It's also to teach God's prophetic Word. We believe prophecy matters. The Old Testament is full of prophecy, some that was fulfilled at Christ's first coming and some that's yet to be fulfilled in the future. Jesus was prophetic. He saw a future for Israel and the Jewish people. He spoke to his disciples about a coming kingdom that's near, He says. He explained what the last days looked like in the Olivet discourse that you can read about in Matthew Chapter 24 and 25. Then the apostles who wrote the letters and the account of the early church were extremely prophetic. I believe Paul, Peter, and John's letters in the New Testament were extremely prophetic letters. These are letters, or epistles as they are called, that explain to Christians how we should live today in light of what's coming in the future. That's why here at The Friends of Israel on this program we value teaching God's prophetic Word.
One of the areas of prophecy that we believe matters but is, I believe, often overlooked today or even pushed aside, is the rapture of the church. If you've never heard of the rapture before, let me explain it. The rapture of the church is God's way of removing the church from the world, calling his bride, which is the church, to himself before the coming of God's wrath on Earth. Personally, I believe people don't often teach about the rapture anymore because there are varying opinions on when it's supposed to happen. I'd love to hear from you, our audience, on this issue. I'm interested to know if you believe the rapture of the church still matters today or should it be a doctrine that's taught in the church. I'm interested to know. So let us know. Go to foiradio.org. Let us know if you think the rapture still matters or you can write to us. Later on, Steve will give you the PO Box information on how you can write to let us know what you think about the rapture, whether you think it should be taught today still in churches. I believe it should be because it's the Christian's hope.
So let me explain. The Scriptures teach that in the future, there will be a time of great distress and judgment. Jeremiah calls it the “time of Jacob's trouble.” Jesus calls it the “great tribulation.” Well they're both talking about the same thing. It's a period of time that the prophet Daniel and John in Revelation considered seven-year period of God's wrath being poured out. Ultimately, judgment is coming. Even Paul highlights this in Romans 1 and 2 when he says that those who remain in sin are storing up wrath for the day of wrath that's coming. Even Paul in the church age knew that God's judgment was coming. That's why you need a Savior. But see, Paul speaks into this judgment in 1 Thessalonians because there was a concern. Those believers in Thessalonica were worried. They were stressed. There was persecution happening in the church in Thessalonica. They were confused on the timing of the Lord's return for the church. Maybe they thought they were already in the tribulation period. Maybe judgment was already coming.
So Paul wanted to gently clarify some of the confusion on when the Lord's return would happen in light of those who have already died and those who were alive. This was a clarifying moment for Paul to talk to the Thessalonians. Now, Paul writes this in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 starting in Verse 13. "Now, we don't want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. For we tell you this by the Word of the Lord that we who are alive who are left until the coming of the Lord will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." Paul concludes this section on the rapture saying this in Verse 18: "Therefore encourage one another with these words."
So let's start from the beginning. Paul wants to inform the believers about those who are asleep. Paul is talking about those believers in Christ who have died. Now, Paul is not espousing soul sleep here. He's actually upholding a very Jewish ideal about the value of the body. Sometimes Christian theology and understanding of the soul and the body can look and sound more like Greek philosophy than a Jewish approach that is more in line with what the Scriptures teach. Christians can grow up in the church and learn that the body is bad, but the soul is good and the soul must be saved. While this is true that the soul must be saved, we cannot overlook the body. Calling the soul good but the body evil or bad is Greek philosophy that goes back to Plato. Think about this. We do this in our 21st century way of thinking about heaven, that when you die, you enter into the pearly gates and you receive a harp and a halo and you rest on a cloud for all eternity. Friends, that's nowhere in the Bible.
A Jewish understanding of what Paul is teaching is that the body was created by God. When God made man, both body and soul, He considered it good. That's why Paul calls someone who's died “asleep.” Their soul is with God in heaven, but their body is asleep. Why does Paul say that? Because he values the body. The body doesn't just waste away and disintegrate into nothing. The body is asleep waiting to be what? Awakened. That awakening is called resurrection. The rapture should really just be called the resurrection of the church. When you die, God's not through with your body. He's going to resurrect you just like He resurrected Christ from the tomb. It's our hope as Christians. That's why Paul calls Jesus the first fruits of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. He says Jesus is only the first to be resurrected. Everyone else is waiting for this special day, this day to be resurrected. You know what? I'll actually encourage you. You can go to Friends of Israel's YouTube page, the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. On our YouTube page, you'll find a video that I actually did on the resurrection and what it means to you as a Christian because one day, you're going to be resurrected. That's your hope as a believer.
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, "For we tell you this by the Word of the Lord that we who are alive who are left until the coming of the Lord will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep." So now, Paul is drawing a distinction here. He's talking about when the Lord returns, He's looking at both those who are alive when the Lord returns and those who have died when the Lord returns. So Paul is saying when Jesus comes for his bride, the church, there will be two types of believers, those who are alive and those who are dead. Paul starts saying ... This is a word from the Lord which Paul is using, this really Old Testament concept of uttering some prophetic truth here, and he says that those who have already passed will be equally as important as those who are alive. Listen at the end of Verse 16 and 17. "The dead in Christ will rise first." That's resurrection. 1 Thessalonians 4:17, "Then we who are alive who are left will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."
See, both the dead will rise, that's resurrection, and those believers alive at the coming of Christ, the rapture, will be transformed in a twinkling of an eye. See, the timing is everything here. When does this happen? Do the events happen at the beginning of Jacob's trouble, the tribulation, that seven-year period? Does it happen in the middle or does it happen at the end of the tribulation? I believe Paul handles this issue in the beginning of his letter to the Thessalonians when he writes this in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. He writes this, "For people everywhere report," talking about the Thessalonians. "People everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead." Listen here. "Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath." See, Paul is setting himself up here for his message on the rapture. Paul is telling believers in Thessalonica that those in Christ were not meant for God's coming wrath. You've been delivered from that wrath when you placed your faith in Christ. That's why you have the rapture of the church.
Now, before we continue, I want to share with you a great resource that we have here at the Friends of Israel that will help you understand the rapture. It's a great resource that scholars go to to give them biblical insights into the rapture. I'm going to tell you something. Every time I go to this resource, it's called Maranatha, Our Lord Come, anytime I read other scholarly work on the rapture, I always go to the back of the book to see what resources they use and I always find Dr. Renald Showers' book, our very own Rennie Showers' book, Maranatha: Our Lord Come. If you really want an in-depth look at the rapture to give you confidence that the rapture is a pre-tribulational rapture, that God is going to remove the church before his coming wrath comes in that seven-year period, I want to encourage you to get Rennie Showers' book, Maranatha: Our Lord Come. Steve, can you let our listeners know how they can get a copy of Maranatha: Our Lord Come?
Steve Conover: Yeah. To purchase a copy of Maranatha, visit us at foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org. We'll have a link on our homepage or you can call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Someone will return your call during our regular business hours. That 888-343-6940. To order in Canada, call 888-664-2584. Again, in Canada, call 888-664-2584.
Chris Katulka: I want to continue this discussion here on the rapture. I really want to focus in on the word rapture here because I've been told over the years, "Chris, there's no word rapture in the Bible." Well they're right. The word rapture isn't in the Bible because rapture is actually the Latin translation of the Greek word harpazo that's translated caught up. So rapture is the Latin word for caught up which is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. So you won't see the word rapture, but what you will see is the word caught up. It's interesting because that word harpazo for caught up is a Greek word that is actually translated as to be violently snatched away, violently. It's not just the idea of being caught up. The Greek word harpazo really gives us the ... It insinuates a thief that would come to steal something. It was taken violently, quickly without any reservations.
Now, for a long time, the way scholars understood the word here, that Jesus is going to take the church with urgency. When Christ comes, the church is going to get ripped out of this world. What's interesting is that over the years, scholars have been able to locate new Greek documents from the time period of the New Testament, when the New Testament was written. What they have found is that word harpazo that Paul uses for caught up is actually found in ancient Greek obituaries. Just listen to one of the ancient Greek obituaries that was found. It was written by a father who lost his child and he writes this. "Dearest child, you are gone from me, dead, snatched away before your time, leaving me behind alone and wretched." Did you hear the word harpazo there when he said, "You were snatched away before your time," that idea of being violently taken away? Here in the obituary, the word is used to show how a loved one was taken away, snatched away. The child was taken away before the parent could even say goodbye.
Now, this is interesting and here's why. Paul starts off this section on the rapture talking to Christians about those believers who have died. Remember the beginning of the section on the rapture when it says, "Now, we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, those who have died, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope." Just go back for a moment to that obituary. "Dearest child, you are gone from me, dead, snatched away before your time, leaving me behind alone and wretched." Here, Paul is saying, speaking almost right into this person's life because Paul says as Christians, we do not grieve like the rest who have no hope. This man has no hope. Paul is speaking directly to this man who wrote that obituary with the exact same word for rapture that is in the obituary that's found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Paul is saying to Christians who have lost loved ones that we don't grieve like those who have no hope because we have a hope. Our hope is that one day, we will see our loved ones again face to face.
Here's what Paul is doing. He's taking that word that's often associated with grief and pain and sadness and tears and he's turning it on its head and he's saying, "We have no reason to grieve because Christ will harpazo, He will catch us up together. Those alive and dead together will be caught up to be with Christ forever." The rapture isn't just a time of sadness or distress. It's a time of joy and celebration. It's the blessed hope. It's the day the church made up of individual saints from the past and the present meet the Lord in the air. That's why we say maranatha.
Steve Conover: Chris, I'm thinking of the suddenness of the rapture and that can be scary for some people to think about that. How do we live in hope in light of the fact that we don't know when the rapture will take place?
Chris Katulka: Paul actually puts the rapture message that he gives in 1 Thessalonians 4, when he explains the rapture to the Thessalonians, he actually couches it within a section of how a Christian should walk as believers, how we should behave as believers, how we should love the Lord as believers, how we should treat others as believers. So within that framework of how a Christian should walk with the Lord is this section on the rapture. I think it's there on purpose. This is why I believe in a pre-trib rapture. It's because of imminency. Because see, at any moment, Jesus could return. We should live in light of that. At any moment, Christ could return for his bride. That should drive us to live a life that's pleasing to God.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: It is most sacred that people fear death, but death cannot be avoided. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says the dust will return to the earth as it was and the spirit will return to God who gave it. God has given each of us an eternal spirit and all who believe in the Lord Jesus will live with him eternally. Recently, an elderly woman in my neighborhood died. Many of her neighbors, including me, gathered and spoke with one another. As we were talking, one of this woman's relatives said, "I am sorry she has died and has no children to take care of her in death. No one will remember her." I was saddened by this man's remarks and said, "It is possible this poor lady will someday be richer than you." "How can that be?," he responded. I told him, "If she had a proper relationship with God through his Son, she will be rich in eternity." I then related the account of the rich man and the beggar from Luke 16. The beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
Someone asked how I had come to this conclusion. I replied, "It is written in the Bible. King David did not fear what would happen to his body. Instead, he prayed, 'Do not take your Holy Spirit from me.'" Psalm 43 was not written for the rich only, but for everyone who trusts in the Lord and will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The man asked, "Do you never think about what will happen to you when you die?" I answered, "My future is singular because I have received the Lord as my Savior, and in him there is no death or darkness, only life and light." They did not understand what I meant. I asked if they had ever read the Bible and the man replied, "It was impossible to read the Bible in Russia and we cannot read Hebrew." I said, "But you've been in Israel for several years. Surely by now, you know Hebrew." He replied, "Oh, yes. We can speak it, but we do not understand it well enough to read something as deep as the Bible."
I took out my Bible and read in Hebrew John 14:19, "Because I live, you will live also," Job 19:25, "I know my redeemer lives and He shall stand at last on the earth," and Isaiah 26:19, "Your dead shall live. Together with my dead body, they shall arise." I then translated these verses into Russian. They could not accept the concept of resurrection after death. Referring to the lady who had just died, the man said, "We've all seen her dead body. How can you say she will live again?" I said, "It is written. In Ezekiel 18:4, the soul who sins shall die, but the Lord has given us a free choice concerning our soul's destiny. If we ask him to forgive our sins, He will grant our request and assure us of eternal life with him. If we reject his love for us, we will die in our sins and spend eternity in the lake of fire." When we parted, they were no longer hurling accusations but were friendly and thanked me for spending time with them. I pray God will water the seeds sown and eventually grant the harvest of these souls to eternal life.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. Chris, where are we headed next week?
Chris Katulka: We got a special guest next week. Dr. Jim Showers who is the executive director of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry is going to be in the studio and we're going to be looking at the ramifications of the US elections on Israel, how Israel is going to fare from what happens in the US elections. So I think it's going to be a timely discussion with the captain of our ship here at the Friends of Israel, Dr. Jim Showers.
Steve Conover: Yeah, we look forward to hearing Jim's insights. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold, and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Remember to write to us with your comments about the priority of the teaching of the rapture in the church. Our mailing address is FOI Radio PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Maranatha: Our Lord, Come!
By Renald Showers
Dr. Renald Showers’s study of the Rapture is a treasure trove of biblical wisdom. In it he discusses prophetic topics such as the Day of the Lord, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the 70 weeks of Daniel, and so much more.
An extensively detailed book loved by biblical scholars, Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! answers all your questions about the Rapture, assuring you that we who believe in Him will meet Him in the air as His Word says!
IN CANADA? ORDER HERE!
Apples of Gold: No One Will Remember Her
Everyone fears death, but death cannot be avoided. That was the subject of conversation among Zvi and his neighbors when an elderly woman in their neighborhood died. Many were lamenting her passing and how she had no money or children to ensure that her memory would live on. But there was hope for her soul. Hear how Zvi used this opportunity to speak about the Messiah and the secure future he could look forward to because of his belief in Jesus.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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