In our study of the seven raptures recorded in the Bible, we have looked at Enoch, the first rapture, and Elijah, the second rapture. In this episode we look into the third rapture and discover that Christians celebrate this one every year.
Podcast no. 4 - The Third Rapture
Hello. This is Val Black.
In the previous podcasts we talked about there being 7 raptures in the Bible.
We have already discussed Raptures numbers one and two.
The first rapture was Enoch and the second was Elijah. Now we will look at Rapture number 3.
Christians celebrate the third Rapture every year and have done so for centuries. You may not recognize it as a Rapture today because religion, myths, and people who promote it to make money have almost turned it into a fairy tale.
I am talking about the holiday we call Easter. The name Easter comes from the name of an ancient Anglo-Saxon, pre-Christian goddess, Eostre, (eas-truh) who was celebrated at the beginning of spring.
In A.D. 325, Emperor Constantine, who favored Christianity, called for a meeting of Christian leaders to settle some differences at the Council of Nicaea (nike-eeuh). This council decided that Easter should be fixed on a Sunday, not on day 14 of Nisan, which would be the Feast of Passover.
Today Easter is used by English speaking nations, but others refer to it by its correct name which is, Passover, which has nothing to do with bunny rabbits or colored eggs. To the Christian, Easter has everything to do with recognizing the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
So, let’s begin by looking at this doctrine called, resurrection. You may be surprised that the idea of a man rising from the dead goes back to Job. How do we know that?
Let’s go to one of the oldest books ever written, the Book of Job, Chapter 14, and verses 14 and 15. I’m reading from the New King James,
“If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. 15 You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands.”
Those two verses show how much insight and confidence Job had in being resurrected after death. He asks the question, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” and then answers by saying when he dies, he will wait until his “change comes” and adds, “You (meaning God) shall desire the work of Your Hands”. Job had every confidence that someday he would live after death and God would desire to have him in heaven. That is the way we should all think about death.
When I get to heaven, I’m going to look up Job and ask him how he knew so much in his time. But I think he will say it was passed down through the generations from Adam.
Now Job chapter 19 and verses 25 and 26,
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,”
Here again, Job is talking about being resurrected after death. Even though his body is destroyed by worms and decay, he says in his flesh he will still see God.
Now, let’s “change gears” for a little bit.
First Peter 2:6,
“Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
Jesus is that ‘chief cornerstone”. “And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame”. In other words, whoever believes in Jesus will be saved.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
Jesus is the cornerstone and, in this verse, He says He is “the resurrection and life”. Therefore, if Jesus is the resurrection, the life, and the chief cornerstone, I think it would be safe to say the doctrine of the resurrection is the cornerstone of the Gospel.
During the time of Jesus, there were four classes of Jews. There were the Sadducees. They were the richest ones. They believed there may be a God, but they didn’t believe there was proof of His existence. They didn’t believe in angels, or life after death. Their heaven was here on earth, so they made the most of it. Ironically, many of the high priests and religious leaders of that day were Sadducees.
Then there were the Pharisees. Today we would consider them the middle class. The name Pharisee means to be separated and the Pharisees took pride in being different than everyone else. They were the keepers of traditions and the law of Moses. They believed in the resurrection of the body and some even came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah when He raised a few people from the dead. But most of them rejected Jesus and it was because of their religious influence over the people that led to the arrest and death of Jesus.
The third class of people was the Scribes. They were the lawyers of the day. They were in the upper class. They were highly educated men who copied the law on animal skins using a black ink of a special formula. When it came to writing the Name of God, they had to completely wash their writing instruments and take a bath to clean themselves. Each word had to be read aloud before it was written down.
The fourth class of people were the farmers, merchants and common workers. They were the poorest ones.
These three classes of men Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes were the ones who persecuted Jesus the most. At one point after Jesus had healed a man who had been sick for 38 years the Scribes and Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus. But Jesus had an answer for them.
John chapter 5, verses 39-40 (NKJV) This is Jesus speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees,
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
These same men who were so highly educated and religious stood there and persecuted Jesus Who is also known as the Living Word. They took great pride in supposedly knowing the Word of God yet here He is standing in front of them and they don’t recognize Him. Instead, they want to kill Him.
Notice that in those previous verses Jesus said, “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life”. Jesus is talking about life eternal or rather, life after death, the resurrection of their bodies.
Well, you know the story. They eventually killed Jesus by crucifying Him on the cross. They thought that was the end of Him. How stupid they must have been. Jesus had raised people from the dead demonstrating His power over death but the religious leaders thought they could kill Him and then the people would forget all about Jesus and come back under the power of the religion.
Religion can be a powerful addiction. Religion is a man working for salvation by doing good works but that’s not the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus did all the work and now it’s up to man to accept what He has done. Religion never satisfies the inner man but instead drives him to please God. God has been pleased because of Calvary. Now we can rest in Jesus Christ.
If you have your Bible, turn to Matthew chapter 11, verses 28 to 30
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Now while still in Matthew, turn to chapter 28, and let’s read verses 1 to 10. I’m reading from the New King James,
“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you." 8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."
Those verses tell of the resurrection of Jesus. After He died, He was buried in a tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane. The door of the tomb had been blocked by a large stone. It was Pontius Pilate’s idea to seal the rock with wax to prevent anyone from the disciples from stealing the Body of Jesus and claiming Jesus had risen from the grave. Well, God had a better idea. He sent an angel who rolled back the rock and Jesus came walking out.
Here’s an important point: When Jesus resurrected, He had a new glorified Body that was not subject to natural laws such as gravity. He had a physical Body, but He could appear or disappear at will. He could have walked through the stone blocking the door of the grave but instead, an angel rolled it back and why was that? It was to show the world death and the grave had no power over Him.
If Jesus had walked through the rock and appeared to people Pontius Pilate could have said it was someone who looked like Jesus or some other excuse to deny He had truly risen from the dead. An open tomb with a missing Body and two Roman guards who had seen it happen before fainting was evidence that Jesus had resurrected.
Now, go to First Corinthians chapter 15, verses 3 to 8,
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
There was no doubt that Jesus had resurrected from the dead as over 500 people could testify that they had seen Him.
Now we will turn to Acts, chapter 1, verses 9 to 11,
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
After He rose from the grave, Jesus walked the earth for 40 days. And then He ascended into heaven.
That, my friend, is the 3rd Rapture recorded in the Bible.
First Corinthian 15:20 makes a strange statement. It says,
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
What does it mean Jesus “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”? “fallen asleep” simply means those who have died. But the term firstfruits has a significant meaning. Firstfruits is a reference to one of the Feasts to be kept annually that was established by God and given to Moses for the Children of Israel.
There are 7 feast days. 1. Passover(Leviticus 23:4-8) 2. Unleavened Bread(Leviticus 23:6) 3. Firstfruits. (Leviticus 23:10) 4. Pentecost. (Leviticus 23:16) 5. Trumpets.(Leviticus 23:24) 6. Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16, 23:26-32) 7. Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23:34)
Each feast day points to Jesus and every feast days was fulfilled by His death and resurrection.
The first Passover was the night before the Children of Israel left Egypt after 400 years of slavery. That night the angel of death went throughout the land killing the firstborn of every family except the homes that were protected with blood over their doors. This was the last of ten plagues God sent to convince Pharaoh to let the Hebrews leave Egypt. God gave instructions for every household to choose a lamb without any defect and kill it at the threshold of the home. As blood flowed from the lamb it ran into a small trench or ditch that every home had to drain off rainwater. A branch of hyssop, which was a common weed, was dipped into the blood and then sprinkled on each side post and the top, or the lintel. In this way, the doorway was covered by blood, top, bottom, and the two sides.
The lamb was split up the middle and hung on a spit made of one vertical and one horizontal piece of iron. This spread the lamb apart so it would cook the whole lamb. The entrails, or guts, was wound around the head of the lamb to cook also. The imagery was a prefigure or foreshadow, of Jesus on the cross.
Fast forward to the time of Jesus. The feast of Passover was to be celebrated once a year by traveling to Jerusalem. Instead of killing lambs at their homes, the people went to the Temple where priests would slaughter the lambs for them.
On the same day and at the very same hour that the priests were sacrificing lambs for Passover at the Temple, our Passover Lamb Jesus was crucified and died.
The day after Passover was the next feast called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast lasted 7 days. It was to remind the Children of Israel of the time they left Egypt and how it was done in haste. There was no time to make bread with leaven so they were commanded to make it without leaven. In the Bible leaven is a type or symbol, of sin. Jesus fulfilled this feast because the unleavened bread represents the sinless life of Jesus. He was the perfect sinless sacrifice.
Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem which means “house of bread”.
In John 6:35 Jesus said,
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
What is bread made from? It’s made of seeds such as wheat, corn, barley, etc. So, when the Bread of Life, Jesus, grew to become a Man, He had this to say in John 12:24,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
Men in His time didn’t realize that when He said those words, He was speaking about Himself and describing events that were going to take place in the future.
Then, it happened. One day soldiers took this Man, this “Seed” this Kernel of wheat and nailed Him to a wooden cross where He died. Then He was put in a grave, but what happens to a seed when it is planted? It comes up again. That’s exactly what Jesus did! He came to life and walked out of the grave. He not only fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread but He also rose from the dead as the “first-fruits” of a great harvest of souls.
That takes us to the next feast, the Feast of Firstfruits. This feast was established to give thanks to God for all He had provided. They didn’t know it at the time but this was a very important feast that was to be going to be fulfilled in the future.
The Jews had a calendar that was based on cycles of the moon. The first month on their calendar was called, “Nisan” which is about the same as March & April of our Gregorian calendar.
At the Feast of Passover, priests sacrificed lambs on the Jewish calendar of the 14th day of Nisan. Passover was the next day, the 15th. The Feast of Firstfruits was celebrated on the third day, the 16th and it was on this same day that Jesus rose from the dead.
On the day the Feast of Firstfruits was celebrated the High Priest would take a bundle of wheat in his hand and would wave it before the Lord in the Temple. This was called the Wave Offering. It represented a greater harvest to come.
After Jesus died and resurrected, the Bible says there was a great earthquake which opened graves of dead saints who then went into Jerusalem and appeared to many. The dead saints who resurrected represent a wave offering by Jesus to God, the Father. In this way, Jesus was saying, “My resurrection is the first of an even greater harvest to come”.
1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 20 it says,
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
The resurrection of Jesus represents the first great harvest of souls that will take place at the Rapture and that will be the subject of our next lesson.