The "Rapture of the Church" Myth
The idea of a “Rapture of the Church” is thought of in several different ways in modern traditions of Christian eschatology, but the one most people are aware of is called the “Pre-Tribulationist” view. It holds that the “true Christians” will be “beamed up into the clouds to be with Jesus,” and everyone else will be "left behind" on earth to suffer in the prophesied tribulation -- when there will be horrible wars and terribly destructive natural disasters.
First, it’s painfully obvious that we’ve already been suffering from the great tribulation that Jesus of Nazareth prophesied. In fact, it has increased during the last hundred years, with all the wars and rumors of war, the “seven plagues” (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts, famines, diseases, pestilences) and “many other terrible things” like tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, man-made atrocities and disasters, pollution, etc.
The other big problem with that "Rapture" belief is that it’s obviously delusional, and, in fact, it is based on a gross misunderstanding and misinterpretation of prophecy.
The modern idea of the “Pre-Tribulationist Rapture of the Church” can be traced back to 1830 when the “Plymouth Brethren,” a conservative, Evangelical Christian movement came up with it. And, even though most mainstream Christian denominations including Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Anglican Christians, Lutheran Christians, and Reformed Christians do not believe in it, there are several denominations and sects that do. That has become quite obvious by the amount of books in the “Left Behind” series have sold, and by the news reports of predictions of when the “Rapture” would take place.
Now, even though the Christians who believe it love to quote Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians and his 1st letter to the Thessalonians, the fact is that Paul got his ideas from Daniel 12:1-2, which states that: “ ... and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was ...; and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to rebukes and everlasting shame.”
However, if you understand the book of Daniel in context, and especially in context with the book of Isaiah, and understand what Jesus actually taught, the meaning of Daniel's prophecy is not as Paul assumed.
As is explained in the article About Christianity, Paul was not an apostle (as even the apostles stated), and he had never heard or seen Jesus in person. And yet, because Paul had a spiritual experience and was converted to Christianity after having “heard the voice of Jesus” from out of the blue, and believed he was a “chosen vessel” of the Christ, he assumed his interpretation of the Hebrew Torah and Tanakh was correct, and he even assumed he could elaborate and expand on it.
For example, in 1st Corinthians 15:50-54 Paul essentially claims that Christians will not all sleep [die] but be changed, that when “the last trumpet sounds the dead will be raised and we will be changed and the mortal will become immortal.”
In 1st Thessalonians 4:14-17 Paul essentially claims that just as Jesus “died and rose again, so God will raise those who have fallen asleep [or died] in Jesus.” Paul claims that the “Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
What should be understood, however, is that Daniel 12:1 begins saying: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble ...” Therefore, the “prince” in this instance is Michael. It is not the same person as “The Prince of Peace” mentioned in Isaiah 9:7.
The “Prince of Peace” is the modern Messiah, who sends “his work before him” according to Isaiah 40:10 and Isaiah 62:11-12, and he “speaks” (writes) in behalf of the people and against religious and political leaders who abuse their power or fail to use it for the common good. (See the article on Isaiah Chapter 53).
As other articles explain, that “prince” and modern Messiah is not Jesus, but he is a “son of man” who fulfills the prophesies of the prophets like Isaiah and the prophecies of Jesus. For as the articles on Prophecies Re: He Who Fulfills Them and Sheep vs Goats explain, Jesus prophesied that a son of man and messenger for the Spirit of truth would come at the end of the age (aeon) to “separate the goats from the sheep,” issue judgment, guide you to the truth, and show you things to come.
Of course, the book of Matthew claims that the son of man will bless the sheep and "curse" and condemn the goats to hell. (Matthew too borrowed from and expanded that sentence from Daniel.) But the modern son of man explains in modern terms what the prophecies mean, and explains that God is loving, merciful and forgiving of all who are repentant and realize the error of their ways. (And the wrongdoers who are not repentant but defiant and arrogant will suffer the natural karmic consequences of their own words and actions, in one way or another.)
Matthew, like Paul who influenced him, unfortunately misunderstood some things. In fact, Paul, being the first one to produce Christian writings, influenced many of the original Christians. And the problem was that he took many liberties with his own interpretations of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), and with his imagination and opinions.
Paul not only misinterpreted the Torah and Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) an many instances, he also fabricated a new doctrine and theology insisting that his idea of Christianity superseded Judaism. He was not aware that the basic mission of Jesus was to further Hillel the Elder's work in reforming and advancing Judaism. Consequently, Paul came up with a new theology now called Christian Apologetics.
Paul claimed that “we who are still alive will be caught up together with [the dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” That’s one of many indications that Paul mistakenly thought that the "second coming of Jesus" and the "end of the world" was imminent and would come during his lifetime.
However, Paul was obviously wrong on both counts. He was wrong about a group being "caught up in the clouds" together. He did not understand that it is individuals who are carried away in spirit into the spiritual realm. And he misinterpreted terminology such as "clouds" and "the air" and the "end of the aeon" (the end of the age Jesus ushered in).
In fact, Jesus will not come again in this world, and the world will not end but "last forever," as is written in Daniel and Revelation, and as is explained in other articles.
So you see, the problem is that what Paul wrote in his many voluminous writings is not correct in certain instances, because Paul had his own ideas about many things.
Of course, the book of John also says Jesus "will meet us in the air" and quotes Jesus as saying, "If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again." But, if we examine what he said in context, we can see the real truth, because Jesus immediately added that this "meeting us in the air" and "coming again" would be only "to receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3)
John clarifies that later in John 14:16-20 that Jesus was talking about an individual experience, because he said: "God will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you will know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. ... On that day you will realize that I am in God, and you are in me, and I am in you."
In other words, we can realize our oneness with the Spirit of truth who is within us, our oneness with the Christ, who is in heaven with God, and our oneness with God. And that revelation and realization from within brings the personal rapture, with overwhelming ecstacy and total awareness of the love of God.
When one realizes even one aspect of the divine reality through divine revelation, it can be like a key that opens the door to a new perspective or reality, which can then lead to the opening of the seven seals of revelation, whereupon one is then carried away in spirit to that high and holy place where God inhabits eternity.
That is the internal experience which brings the rapture and ecstacy. For the "kingdom of heaven" comes not with observation in the world, but from within. And it is with this experience that one is spiritually reborn, and sees the world anew, as a loving, blessed child.
The leaders of the Jesus Cults and Doomsday Cults do not understand that. They believe in variousversions of a cult fantasy and myth about the so-called "Rapture of the Church," and that myth has caused many doomsday cults to be misled and alienated from society because they’ve been led to believe they were "chosen" or "saved" by God, and that the rest of us are doomed. And history shows that such judgmental, self-righteous delusion usually leads such cults to meet a disastrous end.
The truth will dispel the myth, as it will dispel many other myths. And the tribulation will begin to end as soon as enough people get the message from the Spirit of truth and acknowledge that all human beings are created equal and we are all endowed by our Creator with God-given equal rights.
Therefore, ignore the false prophets, false shepherds and pretenders who divide us. Instead, listen to the Spirit of truth which tells you to love one another, share with one another, and work together to make this a better world.
Here's a pretty funny video making fun of the rapture myth. Very fitting.