Concluding our brief series of articles on our "Blessed Hope," 1 there would seem to be seven harpzs ("raptures") in the Bible: Enoch,2 Elijah,3 Philip, 4 Paul,5 John6 and Jesus,7 and, of course, the Body of Christ, 8 the Church. (In fact, the very Greek term, harpoz, is employed in four of these references.9)
Since Paul highlights that the mystery of the Church was his privilege to reveal in the New Testament,10 it is fashionable to assume that it would be futile to expect any references to the Rapture of the Church in the Old Testament. However, here are some provocative passages for your personal consideration:
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. -Isaiah 26:19-21
Who are to enter which chambers? How long are they to be hidden? (Compare this with John 14:1-3 and come to your own conclusions.)
And there are others:
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger. - Zephaniah 2:3
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. -Psalm 27:5
But to me, the most provocative are the consistent patterns - or "types," metaphors, and similes - in the Old Testament:
Pattern is Prologue
It is interesting to notice the patterns that seem to be suggested in the Biblical text. One of the greatest judgments on the Planet Earth was, of course, the flood during the days of Noah. It is obvious that there were three groups of people facing that judgment:
1) Those that perished in the Flood;
2) Those who were preserved through the Flood, by means of the ark; and
3) Those who were removed prior to the Flood, namely, Enoch.11 (It can be argued that he was only one person, but so is the Church!12 It was G. H. Pember who first suggested that Revelation 12:5 might be a reference to the Church.)
Enoch is, for many reasons, one of the most intriguing characters in the Old Testament. There are also several provocative Jewish traditions regarding Enoch. He is regarded as having been born on the day the Jews observe Hag Shavout, the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. What is also interesting is that, by tradition, he is also believed to have been "translated" (or "raptured") on his birthday. Since the Church was "born" on this day,13 one wonders if we, too, will be "raptured" on its birthday!14
(As some pre-tribbers love to point out, Enoch wasn't "mid-flood" or "post-flood," he was "pre-flood.")
We all have enjoyed the famous confrontation between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3. Many prophecy buffs view Nebuchadnezzar and the forced worship of his image as a "type" of the Antichrist, and the three Jewish young men as a foreshadowing of the 144,000 miraculously preserved through the "furnace" of the tribulation. That leaves a provocative question: Where was Daniel himself? Who might he represent as a type?
Some prophecy buffs see the use of a threshing floor as an idiom alluding to the tribulation.15 The marvelous romance of Ruth, who becomes the Gentile bride of Boaz, her Kinsman-Redeemer, is seen as an anticipatory type of the Church and her Redeemer. In the critical threshing floor scene in chapter 3, where is Ruth? At the feet of her Redeemer.16 Interesting.
In Genesis 22, Abraham left the donkey and the two young men at the foot of the hill as he and Isaac went up to the top of Moriah for the famous offering of his son. After the episode concludes with the substitution of the ram, it lists those that then returned to Beersheba:
So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
Where's Isaac? Obviously, Isaac also returned with Abraham and the two young men. But we are fascinated that the Holy Spirit appears to have edited the person of Isaac out of the record from the time he was offered until he is united with his bride two chapters later!17 We believe this was deliberate to have the narrative fully conform to the type.
One, of course, should not build doctrine from "types," metaphors, or similitudes. But we feel they can be instructive and illuminating.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. -Romans 15:4
I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. - Hosea 12:10
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -2 Timothy 2:15
The legendary John Walvoord used to joke that when he got to heaven, one of the first things he planned to do was to conduct a course on "Remedial Eschatology." But he admitted that he "wouldn't enjoy it as much because he would have lost his sin nature by then!"
He recently was called home to be with the Lord he served so faithfully for so many years. I wonder how he and Walter Martin are getting along
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For a more comprehensive review of this controversial topic, see our video, The Rapture: Christianity's Most Preposterous Belief.