Alright, let’s get back on the subject of Christ’s coming. To review past posts, since we know that the rapture occurs at the same time as Christ’s coming, and over and over again in scripture Christ’s coming is after the Great Tribulation and ushers in the Day of the LORD, we know that the rapture would have that exact same timing.
But now onto the next HUGE clue. The timing of the rapture is at the same time as the resurrection of the righteous dead. These next few eschatology posts will be dedicated to one of my favorite subjects, the resurrection. When the Apostle Paul wrote of the resurrection/rapture in I Thessalonians 4, this was not a new revelation concerning the fact that there would be a resurrection. This had been hoped for all the way back to the time of Adam as God promised to reverse all the effects of the curse in the seed-promise in Genesis 3:15. See my post on 11-2-06.
The "new information" so to speak, that Paul was giving, was that those who would be caught up at the time of Christ’s return would not precede those who were resurrected from the dead at that same time. It had been previously revealed that there would be a gathering of all saints from the farthest reaches of heaven and earth at the time of Christ’s return. We simply need to take the previous revelations concerning the resurrection and allow the passage in I Thessalonians 4 open our understanding of this event even further.
This is where hyper-dispensationalists part ways with me. In my search concerning the rapture question, I had the privilege of calling in to the show Open Line hosted by radio pastor Donald Cole broadcast nationally on Moody Broadcasting. Donald Cole told me that the rapture was a mystery that only the Apostle Paul was allowed to see, so there can be no cross-referencing any other Bible passages concerning the rapture because it simply does not exist in any other scriptures. With all due respect to Pastor Cole and other dispensationalists, the scriptures themselves have something else to say on the matter.
First off, it is a true blessing that all of us agree that I Corinthians 15 is speaking about the resurrection of the church and also the rapture of the church since it is talking about the translation of living saints. Let us delve a little deeper into the ramifications of what Paul is saying and the OT passages he is quoting in I Corinthians 15. You’re just going to have to have your Bible open in front of you if you want to follow along.
The order of the resurrection: vs. 23-28
#1- Christ the firstfruits ~ the resurrection of Christ on the third day
#2- Afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming ~ the resurrection of the church at His coming (Parousia, physical presence)
#3- Then cometh the end ~ this implies another resurrection at the end (see remaining verses) after Christ has delivered up the kingdom to the Father after having put down all rule and authority. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. Note: This clearly shows the separation of the resurrection of the righteous dead from another resurrection at the very end of Christ’s reign when He destroys death itself.
There are clearly only three places for resurrection. The resurrection of the righteous and the church is at Christ’s coming. At that very time, we know that we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. This tells us that not all believers will have to experience physical death, but all believers will receive their resurrection bodies. Some will be changed (transformed) without having to sleep (die). Notice that two key OT scriptures will be fulfilled at this resurrection of the church. The two prophecies are Hosea 13:13-14 and Isaiah 25:8. Since these passages are quoted as being fulfilled at the same time as the resurrection of the church, we know that this is the resurrection of the righteous dead being fulfilled as prophesied in the OT scriptures. There can be no other explanation. Let’s delve into these OT texts a little deeper.
Hosea 13:13-14 ~ This imagery of a woman in travail is speaking of the time of Jacob’s trouble, see Jeremiah 30:6-9. The idea is that the woman is in pain because she is getting closer and closer to the time of her delivery. The contractions get closer together and more intense until it seems that she can’t stand it anymore. Just when it can’t get any worse, she is delivered and forgets all her pain because of the joy of a new baby, see John 16:21. Hosea places the ransoming from the power of the grave during the time of this woman in travail. Then Paul quotes this passage as being fufilled at the same time as the resurrection of the church. Explanation? The resurrection in the OT is identical to the resurrection in the NT. We simply have more details because of progressive revelation in the NT passages. The timing has not changed at all.
Isaiah 25:8 ~ Isaiah is a difficult prophet to wrap your timetable around, but there are definite clues in the passage that tell us exactly where we are at. Isaiah 24:21-23 is clearly speaking of the time when the LORD will reign from Mount Zion at the onset of the Millennial Kingdom. Isaiah 25:7-8 is also talking about this same time period. The veil that is spead over all the nations is being destroyed at the same time that death is being swallowed up in victory. God is wiping away all tears from their eyes as He is resurrecting them. The language is touchingly personal. It is this very resurrection that is being fulfilled as the Apostle Paul writes concerning the resurrection of the church. Since this resurrection is occurring in the same context of Christ seizing control of the nations, we know that it is occurring at His physical bodily return.
And for those PreWrath fans out there, Isaiah 26:19-21 is a further description of the resurrection in Isaiah 25:8. But that will be another post. Isaiah 26 is actually the passage that converted me to the PreWrath position and it is nowhere in Rosenthal’s book. Ironic, huh?
Conclusion: The resurrection that the church will participate in is not a separate resurrection from that which was prophesied in the OT. The Apostle Paul quotes two key OT prophecies that will be fulfilled at the same time that the translation of living saints occurs and the resurrection of church saints as well. The timing for these OT passages is during the time of Jacob’s Trouble and just before God pours out His wrath (as we will see in the next eschatology post).
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman