1 Thessalonians 4:16 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: 17 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.18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
One of the current stirrings going on in some parts of the Body of Christ is about the prophecies being made about the Rapture taking place on the date of September 23, 2017. There are multiple variants as to what is being used as the basis for setting a date ranging from an alignment of constellations, to verses in Revelation, to using Israel’s Feasts or the Feasts of the Lord. The truth is we are cautioned by Scripture not to set dates for no man knows when it will occur and we are to be ready always as we busy ourselves in the work of the Lord.
When it comes to the Rapture, the Blessed Hope of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:13) there are NO SIGNS TO IT. Our posture before the Lord is to be ready always, watching and waiting for the Lord from Heaven, not a date. A central principle to the blessedness of our hope and what gives it the element of a purifying hope (1 John 3:3) is that it is an imminent event. Imminence means that Jesus could come for His Church:
- At any moment, not a set known time.
- There are no warning signs to prepare us.
- There are no prophecies or precursor events that must be fulfilled first.
The Rapture is distinct from the literal physical Return of the Lord to Earth in His Second Coming which is preceded by physical signs. The physical signs point to His physical Return not the Rapture. The Rapture event is a sign-less event and there nothing in the Bible that gives any basis from which to set dates. The exhortation to look for the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus (Titus 2:13) loses its significance if signs of the Tribulation are to come first. It would then make sense to look for signs of the Tribulation (which Tribulation saints/those saved after the Rapture should do). The weight of Bible evidence that instructs the Church of what to look for relates to looking for CHRIST HIMSELF not signs (1 Cor. 1:7; 16:22; Phil. 3:20; 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:10; 4:15-18; 5:6; 1 Tim. 6:4; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:13; Jude 21; Rev. 3:11).
The Bible also teaches tremendous and rich truths every Christian should study about Israel’s Feast Cycles or the Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 16). They are a part of “All Scripture given by inspiration of God … 2 Tim. 3:16, 17, and are a shadow of good things to come (Colossians 2:16, 17). Their prophetic insight alone makes them worth studying. The Seven Feasts are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First-fruits, Pentecost (Weeks), Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. The first four are celebrated in the Spring and the last three in the Fall on the scheduled day and month according to the Jewish calendar year. The Feasts are prophetic of the total ministry of Jesus related to God’s redemptive plan, from His Jesus’ First Coming to His Second Coming. The Feasts in the Spring have been fulfilled by Jesus at His First Coming and the Fall cycle feasts will be fulfilled in the future through events connected to His Second Coming.
What often happens is combining God’s plan for the church with the fulfillment of His remaining plans for Israel using the Seven Feasts of the Lord given to Israel in the Law (Leviticus 23). Some teach that the Feast of Trumpets, the fifth feast that happens in the Fall as a reference to the Rapture. Since this feast called Rosh HaShannah (The feast of Trumpets) is yearly celebrated on Tishri 1 according to the Hebrew calendar (usually in September according to our calendar) it is sometimes used to argue that it is the Rapture trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). This is why date setting attempts of the Rapture happen in September. Many of the current and past date setting schemes use Israel’s feast cycle. Since all the feast dates can be well known in advance because they are strict appointed times, to apply them to the Rapture would remove the Rapture from being an imminent sign-less event. The future feasts relate to Israel and Israel alone and it is
Jesus Who will fulfill them just like He fulfilled the first four and supplied the provisions we needed for our redemption.