I am starting a new Question & Answers from our new weekly Shabbat Midrash. Many times I wrestle with scriptures, not because I doubt the Word at all, but I want to make sure I am understanding the correct interpretation of a verse or passage. Again, last Shabbat we touched a little on the theory of the “Rapture”.
There are certain topics that we wrestle with and how they are interpreted, such as the “Catching Away” at the end of days:
The Catching Away of the Saints, i.e. the Rapture and interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, i.e. the great Tribulation escape clause.
You will get different arguments pro and con from both Messianic Believers and Christians (non Torah observant believers). When I was in the traditional Christian Church, I believed in the Rapture teaching, but when I started studying scripture over 20 years ago from a Jewish, Hebraic mindset I questioned the interpretation of this verse, not the verse itself.
To rightly divide the Word of God is a skill we must all learn in the study of Scripture. Of course the Rapture is not a salvation issue, but it is important that we have the correct biblical understanding. Some use examples of Enoch and Elijah as examples of people who were “caught up” to heaven without seeing death, and yes this is absolutely true, but does there experience apply to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18? There are many excellent teachers of the Word who do not agree on the “catching away” theory.
One of the arguments is that God has not appointed us to wrath. When I was thinking upon that word wrath and looking it up on both Hebrew and Greek it means the following:
There are 2 Hebrew words for wrath
1) nostril, nose, face
Part of Speech: noun masculine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H599
Same Word by TWOT Number: 133a
חרן / חרון
1) anger, heat, burning (of anger)
1a) always used of God’s anger
Part of Speech: noun masculine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2734
Same Word by TWOT Number: 736a
1) anger, the natural disposition, temper, character
2) movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but especially anger
3) anger, wrath, indignation
4) anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself
4a) of punishments inflicted by magistrates
Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G3713
Citing in TDNT: 5:382, 716
Yes it is true, we have been forgiven and are saved from God’s wrath. So what is the ultimate “wrath” that the lost will suffer and that we will not experience? I believe that wrath refers to the punishment of “hell” for those who have rejected God and His Truth and Salvation Yeshua.
I was looking up several Scripture translations and the Ruach Hakodesh led me to look up the Scripture in the AENT (Aramaic English New Testament) translation and also the commentary. Andrew Roth referred the reader to an article on this topic, which I have attached.
The AENT Translations reads like this:
“And this we say to you by the Word of our Master (Y’shua), that we who may survive and be alive at the coming of our Master (Y’shua) will not proceed them who have slept. Because our Master (Y’shua) will himself descend from heaven with the mandate and with the voice of the chief Messenger and with the Qarna (Shofar) of Elohim; and the dead who are in the Mashiach will first arise; and then we who survive and are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet our Master (Y’shua) in the air; and so we will ever be with our Master.
John McKee is a Messianic Apologists & Scholar who also does not agree with the PreTrib Rapture Theory, here is a link to his teaching on the Pre Trip Rapture which is very good.
So the bottom line is this; that 1 Thessalonians is absolutely true, however the time of Pre, Mid or Post catching away is a matter of interpretation.
Yes there will be a “Catching Away” of the saints, but most believe it will be at Yeshua’s return, after the Tribulation. In the meantime our focus should not be that of fear or a looking to escape the Tribulation, but to be faithful now and to the end doing what He has called us to do. As one person said, “I would rather be surprised by the Rapture and prepared for the Tribulation, then prepared for the Rapture and surprised by the Tribulation😐”
Shalom In Yeshua