Gray-Haired Perspective

The Purpose of the Rapture


The last chapter in the book offered five reasons for the tribulation and two reasons for the rapture. When my brother asked me, "What is the purpose of the rapture?" I responded (having forgotten the two reasons), "I would re-phrase the question to say, what is the purpose of the tribulation, and Revelation 3:10 answers that straight on." The purpose of the tribulation is to try, or to test, those who dwell on the earth.

But my brother wouldn't let me go that easy—he asked me again about the purpose of the rapture.

I suppose you could say that the purpose of the rapture is to meet the Lord in the air. So it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Post-tribs have inferred from the word "to meet" that our purpose is to escort the Lord back to earth. I don't argue with that at all. We will meet the Lord and escort Him back to earth. How much time transpires between the meeting and the escorting, the passage doesn't say. When the brethren went "to meet" Paul in Acts 28:15, the time between the meeting and the escorting must have been a day or two at least, judging by the way the passage reads and by looking at a map.

Beyond the meeting in the air, what is the purpose of the rapture? The rapture allows us to be active participants in the tribulation from heaven rather than mere observers of the tribulation from earth. This conclusion comes from several passages in Revelation.

First, Revelation 3:10. The tribulation comes to test those on the earth. But the church has no part in this, because we have already been tested. Whatever constitutes the tribulation, and whatever your view of Revelation 3:10, we all agree that the church is kept, protected, and guarded during this time, in a special way that unbelievers are not. If we were on earth, this would make us observers of what is going on around us.

Next, the passages about the twenty-four elders show them as active prayer participants in the great battle of the ages. Read Revelation 4:9–11, 5:8–10, 11:15–18, 19:4. Do you see yourself in the picture? What role does God have laid out for you? I think He'll put you where you can do some good.

But, you say, what about tribulation saints? They'll be on the earth, and they won't be mere observers, will they? Of course, not. As Daniel 12:10 says, "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried...." These need the trial to bring them to faith. But you, have you been purified and made white by the blood of the Lamb? Have you been tested since you've been saved? Have you kept His word regarding patience? Then you don't need to be put to the test all over again.

God sees the tribulation you go through now. He knows every little test of patience you have. He remembers every time you lean on His Word. Yes, because you have kept His Word close to your heart, He also will keep you close to His heart and trust you, rather than test you, with a place of honor.