*Pastor’s Note: We will continue, in no particular order questions posed from the excellent book by Mark Hitchcock entitled, The Complete Book of Bible Prophecy. My hope and prayer is that it will give some insight into much of the end-times prophecy the Bible speaks of and hopefully alleviates some of the fears and confusion people have about studying prophecy. The following is the next in a line of questions I present to you from his book:
What Group of People Will Take Part In The Rapture?
The Bible limits the participants in the Rapture to church-age believers. This is why the Rapture is often more specifically called “the rapture of the church.” Believers who are alive on earth when the trumpet sounds will be immediately transformed and translated to heaven. Of course, all these living believers will be from the church age. Those who are resurrected at this time are called “the dead in Christ” or “Christians who have died” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This also refers only to departed church-age believers. Old Testaments believers are not “in Christ” and are not “Christians.”
Since this is true, people often wonder what will happen to Old Testament believers. When will they be resurrected and receive their glorified bodies? God has a plan for his Old Testament saints as well. There are two passages in the Old Testament that place the resurrection of Old Testament believers at the end of the Tribulation period. Notice in each of these passages that the resurrection comes after the Tribulation.
- Lord, in distress we searched for you. We were bowed beneath the burden of your discipline. We were like a woman about to give birth, writhing and crying out in pain. When we are in your presence, Lord, we, too, writhe in agony, but nothing comes of our suffering. We have done nothing to rescue the world; no one has been born to populate the earth. Yet we have this assurance: Those who belong to God will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For God’s light of life will fall like dew on his people in the place of the dead! (Isaiah 26:16–19 NLT)
- At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:1–2 NLT)
Only church-age believers—that is, those who lived between the Day of Pentecost and the Rapture—will be part of the Rapture before the Tribulation. God has a separate program for Old Testament believers. He will resurrect the Old Testament believers only after the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24–27 have run their course.
Mr. Hitchcock’s teachings are informative and enlightening as well as inspirational and any book you can get for yourself from his writings will most definitely be well-worth it. I hope you are blessed AND informed and some of these questions and answers will give you a greater strength to walk in confidence and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bible prophecy ALWAYS points to God and His plans for this world that He created through Christ Jesus. Therefore, for true Christians, it is meant to be a comfort that God continues as always to have everything under control despite what it might appear to the average person.