In this episode we learn the belief of the Rapture was established in the early church long before 1830 and John Darby, the man who supposedly originated the idea. We will also look at number two of seven Raptures recorded in the Bible.
Podcast no. 3 The Second of Seven Raptures
Welcome once again to our study on the Rapture.
In the last podcast, I mentioned there were 7 Raptures in the Bible. In Genesis, chapter 5, verses 21 thru 24, it tells about Enoch who walked with God, and suddenly one day God took him up to Heaven. That was the first Rapture recorded in the Bible.
Before we look at the 2nd Rapture, maybe you have been told by someone there is no such thing as a Rapture, and it is not in the Bible. In the last podcast I pointed out two basic scriptures in which Christians were caught up to heaven but that was preceded by a change in their bodies from a natural state to a supernatural state. Those two scriptures are First Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 13 thru 18, and First Corinthians chapter 15, verses 50 thru 55.
For many years, the Rapture has been the subject of controversy, but the most common disagreement has to do with the timing of the Rapture.
Today some people will say the idea of a Rapture did not begin until 1830 with a man named John Darby.
But when you investigate the history of the church and read some of the early writings, it’s obvious they believed the church would be caught up to heaven and they encouraged Christians to be ready.
One of the earliest writings about the New Testament was the Didache (DEE-DA-KAY), a Greek word meaning, “teachings”. The Didache (Dee-da-kay) is estimated to have been written between 70 to 180 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here is a quotation from it, “Be vigilant over your life; let your lamps not be extinguished, or your loins ungirded, but be prepared, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come.”
Justin Martyr 100 -165 A.D. said, “There will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem”.
Another work called the Apocalypse of Elijah was written in the third century and it described Christians as being, “removed from the wrath” and taken to heaven where the “lawless one” will have no power over them.”
In 373 a.d. Ephraim the Syrian said, “For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins”
When Bibles began to be published and distributed so common people could read and study it, people discovered truths that had been kept hidden by the Roman church. That period was known as the Protestant Reformation. Historian William Watson read through many of the works of Puritan authors and found the word “rapture” was used as early as 1626, two hundred years before John Darby.
There are more early references to the Rapture but for the sake of time, I won’t mention them today. But I believe there is plenty of evidence of a Rapture in two scriptures, First Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 13 to 18 and First Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 50 to 55 and that is all we need.
We’ll talk more about the Pretribulation Rapture on another podcast.
In talking about the Rapture, First Thessalonians, chapter 4, ends with these words in verse 18, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I would like to say something about the present times in which we are living.
If you follow the news at all it’s easy to see our world is in a real mess. Even if you don’t follow the news the condition of the world is usually the subject of conversation. This can be very depressing but remember if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you are part of His church and you are guaranteed a “blessed hope”, the Rapture. It may happen at any moment and it could happen years to come but regardless of when it happens, you will be part of it. So, take comfort in knowing that no matter what the circumstances are today or tomorrow, do not focus on the circumstances but think about that blessed hope.
Now, we have been talking about the 7 raptures in the Bible. We have already learned about Enoch being taken to heaven, so that was the first rapture. Can you name the second one?
Before we name the second one, first a little history of Israel. After the death of King David, his son, Solomon became king and ruled over the nation of Israel. When Solomon died his son, Rehoboam, was king. The people rebelled against Rehoboam and the twelve tribes of Israel split into two kingdoms. Ten tribes became Israel to the North and two tribes to the South became the nation of Judah which included Jerusalem.
One of the worst kings of the Northern kingdom of Israel was King Ahab and the worst queen of any nation ever was his wife Jezebel. During the reign of King Ahab, a prophet of God boldly proclaimed there would be a drought throughout the land and so no rain fell for over three years. That is recorded in First Kings, chapter 17, verse 1. Elijah was one of the most anointed prophets of God.
He once challenged King Ahab to gather up as many pagan priests he could find and meet him on Mount Carmel. This is recorded in First Kings, chapter 18. King Ahab called for all the people of Israel to come and see the power of his pagan god. They all met on Mount Carmel and 450 prophets of Baal came to meet Elijah’s challenge.
Elijah gave instructions for an altar to be built so the pagan priests could offer a sacrifice to their pagan god. But he added that no fire should be made to burn the sacrifice. Elijah told them they were going to see whose god was the true God. If Baal was god, they were to ask him to burn up the sacrifice without starting a fire. But if the God Elijah is God, He will do it.
So, the pagan priests made their sacrifice and prayed to Baal. They prayed and prayed, they yelled, danced, and even cut themselves in hopes their god would answer.
Isn’t it good to know that we serve a God Who is ready to hear us any time of the day or night? The slightest whisper of prayer is heard by Him and He begins to work things out together for your good. No god of the past, no present god or no future god can make that claim except the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and also the God of Elijah.
On Mount Carmel, Elijah just stood back shaking his head as he watched the priests in their hysterical dancing, waving knives and cutting themselves. After some time had passed, Elijah began mocking the priests. He would say things such as, “Maybe your god is asleep, maybe he is too busy or is on vacation!”
Well, nothing happened. The prophets of Baal gave up and then it was Elijah’s turn. Elijah ordered buckets of water to be poured on the altar, on the sacrifice and he even had a trench dug around the altar and had it filled with water.
Elijah looked it over and was satisfied that everything was wet enough a natural fire could not set it ablaze. Then he prayed and God answered.
Let’s read about it in First Kings, chapter 18, verses 38 and 39. Reading from the New King James it says,
“Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!"
Remember, all of Israel had gathered around to see this happen. When God struck the sacrifice with fire it must have seemed like a great bomb had exploded. As the smoke lifted, the people could see that not only was the sacrifice gone, but the altar was gone too! There was nothing left but a black spot where the altar had been. Even the water from the trench was gone.
God did not leave any doubt in their minds Who was in charge that day and they gladly conceded. Then Elijah commanded for all the priests of Baal to be rounded up and taken to the valley below where they were executed.
Towards the end of his ministry, God told Elijah to appoint a young man named Elisha to be his successor. In Second Kings, chapter 2, verses 9 thru 12 it tells us about the second Rapture recorded in the Bible.
I’m reading from the New King James beginning with verse 9,
“And so it, was when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?" Elisha said, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." 10 So he said, You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so." 11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!" So he saw him no more. . . . . “
While he was still alive, Elijah was raptured. He was swooped up to heaven in a fiery chariot drawn by horses of fire.
As we compare the rapture of Enoch to that of Elijah, we find they had two things in common. First, both men were taken to heaven without experiencing death. Second, they were taken to heaven in their natural bodies. This fact will be important to remember later when we discover another rapture in the New Testament.
Enoch is a type, or symbolic of the true church of Jesus Christ because the scripture says, “he walked with God”. Enoch was raptured before the flood that destroyed life on earth, so he is also a type of the church being raptured before the tribulation begins.
On the other hand, Elijah is a type, or a symbol, of John the Baptist. In Malachi, chapter 4, verse 5, it says: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
This does not mean that Elijah was resurrected to become John the Baptist as some people believe.
Luke chapter 1, verse 17 - - speaking of John the Baptist says, “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
John the Baptist went in the “spirit and power of Elijah”. In other words, John the Baptist was given an anointing similar to that of Elijah.
In another sense, Elijah was a type of the born-again Christian. Let’s look at the many ways we Christians can relate to Elijah.
First, Elijah was a prophet. I don’t believe too many of us would claim to be prophets, so how are we like Elijah in that respect?
Let’s define, “Prophet”. In simple terms, a prophet is a person who speaks for God. In First Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 1 thru 5:
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”
It’s clear in those verses that we should pursue the gift of prophecy.
Secondly, Elijah was a Man Who Heard God:
Do Christians hear from God? Yes, we should hear from God.
John chapter 8, verse 47, “He who is of God hears God’s words . . .” and John chapter 10, verse 27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Third, Elijah was a Man who Walked in Obedience to God:
John chapter 14, verse 15, (speaking of the church) “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” We should walk in obedience to God just as Elijah did.
Fourth, Elijah was a Man Who Experienced God’s Provision:
Elijah was once fed by birds. I question what kind of food birds dropped to Elijah. It may not have been a ten-course meal with silverware, cloth napkins, and waiters standing by with dessert, but God provided food when Elijah was hungry, and he ate until he was full.
On another occasion, Elijah told a poor woman to take the last bit of meal and bake him a loaf of bread. That may sound cruel to us, but Elijah knew God would provide and He did. God not only provided for Elijah, but the woman had enough meal to feed her family for a long time after.
Have you experienced God’s provision in your life? Of course you have. We all have experienced his provisions. He may not provide our wants, but He will always provide our needs.
Philippians chapter 4, verse 19, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
No. Five, Elijah was a Prayer Warrior: James chapter 5, verse 17 says about Elijah, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.” Elijah knew how to pray.
In the same way, Christians are commanded to also pray earnestly.
Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10 to 13, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”
If there was ever a time Christians needed to pray, to earnestly pray, it is today. We are truly in a spiritual warfare against the powers of evil mentioned in the scriptures we just read. We need a move of God upon the hearts of all people.
No. 6, Elijah Expected Miracles: When Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Baal there was no question in his mind whether God would follow through with fire from heaven. When Elijah prayed for the rain to stop, it stopped for three years.
Are we to be like Elijah? How can we or even should we, expect miracles in our life?
Matthew 17:20, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Nothing will be impossible and that includes miracles. If you are born again, you are the greatest miracle of all. The Old Testament prophets never experienced the miracle of a life transformed in the blink of an eye because it was only possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Matthew chapter 11, verse 11, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
We need to read that verse sometimes as a reminder of how God sees us. You may want to make a note of it, Matthew chapter 11, verse 11. Anyone who accepts Jesus as Savior is considered to be greater than the Old Testament saints.
There are several more comparisons we could make but my time is about up so I’m going to end with this one:
Elijah was taken up to Heaven: We have already read about Elijah being taken up to heaven in a whirlwind by a fiery chariot and horses.
We may not see fiery chariots and horses coming at the Rapture, but we will see a much greater sight. Jesus Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trump of God. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Glory! Well, I can’t think of a better way to end this today. Next time we will look at Rapture No. 3. I hope you will join me.
Until then, may God’s blessings be upon you!