A SHOUT, a VOICE, a TRUMP — a SECRET?
John Nelson Darby said that his belief in the rapture virtually jumped out of the pages of scripture once he accepted the distinction between Israel and the church. He deemed it necessary for the church to be removed in order for God to proceed with plans for the earthly Jews and fancied that he found his desired answer in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; 5:1-2:
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
A Secret Coming?
Dispensationalists claim this as textproof of a secret rapture, but can the Lord descend from heaven and none see Him? And what secret is announced with A SHOUT, A VOICE of the archangel, and A TRUMP? We also do not read here of Christians vanishing, but of being caught up in the air, in the same visible sense in which Jesus was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9-11).
When scripture states that Jesus will come as a thief in the night, it is not referring to a silent or secret coming, but rather the unexpectedness of His coming (Matthew 24:44). “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Pet. 3:10. There is no mistaking here that the Last Day is intended. It is referring to the same day that Paul was speaking of in 1 Thessalonians 4.
The Last Day
It is imperative to consider the context of scripture–to whom it is written and why. The saints in Thessalonica were undergoing persecution (1 Thess. 1:6, 2:14; 2 Thess. 1:4) and experiencing distress as to what would become of those who had already died. Paul told them to “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13) and comforts them of the resurrection to come at the Last Day. Those yet living on this day would not precede those in the graves.
The dead would rise first, then all would be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. The wicked are not mentioned here for he is addressing only the saved in Thessalonica. This does not mean that there will first be a resurrection of the righteous and a future resurrection of the wicked.
The scriptures are clear. 1 Thess. 4, 1 Cor. 15 and John 5:28-29 are all speaking of the events on the Last Day. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice [same voice as 1 Thess. 4], And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28-29. All in the same hour. Then the earth and all the elements will be burned with fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10). There will be no place for a 1,000-year reign on earth and there is no second chance!
The events in 1 Thess. 4 are in no wise meaning a secret rapture of Christians which precedes further events on the earth, but rather the end of all things.
This trump of God is one and the same with the last trump of 1 Cor. 15:51-54, wherein all bodies will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye” to incorruptible, immortal bodies. Some erroneously refer to a secret rapture taking place in the twinkling of an eye, but the scripture is referring to the change of the bodies for both the resurrected dead and for those still living at the second coming of Christ.
The First Resurrection
Millennialists believe their supposed secret rapture is a literal resurrection, but this the scriptures do not sustain. The “first resurrection” is a spiritual rising from a dead state of sin (Eph. 2:1; 1 Tim. 5:6) to newness of life in Christ Jesus, through salvation. Jesus “delivered us from the power of darkness, and…translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” Col. 1:13.
In John 5:24, Jesus plainly taught this spiritual resurrection: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Once “dead in trespasses and sins,“the Christian arises and walks in “newness of life.” A miracle indeed!
Ye Do Err
Many of the Jews of old rejected their Messiah at His first coming due to erroneous expectations of Him being an earthly king to deliver them from the yoke of Roman rule. But He was a King of a much greater kingdom–and not merely for 1,000 years, but one that would have no end (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 7:14). To them Jesus said, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.”
We now stand on the verge of His second coming, and Satan has again deceived multitudes into expecting an earthly kingdom, but there will be no such age to come. Dear millenialists, “ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.”