The Rapture” is that segment of the return of our Lord consisting of the sudden removal from the world of all believers (dead or alive) who comprise the body of Christ (the Church). In Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 12 and 20 the Lord speaks of this aspect of His return. Those four references are each qualified by the term “quickly.” Sadly, some contemporary translations have used “soon” instead, suggesting an occasion removed from the present moment. It seems more appropriate to keep the thought of “swiftly” and note how it qualifies “coming.” Since the Lord left this world, He has been in the attitude of coming and the occasion itself will be rapid. No sense of unfolding will take place. The Rapture will be in a moment (1Cor 15:52) and will be the culmination of the Savior’s promise to come again (John 14:3). This sudden event will undoubtedly have significant consequences for the world that rejected Him. So, what will happen in the world in the aftermath of the rapture? Let us consider two aspects of this: the immediate impact and extended impact.
Immediate Impact – Exodus followed by Deception
Like some fictional books or movies with dramatic scenes of the Rapture’s aftermath, it’s easy, though perhaps somewhat distorted, to envision mass chaos due to the rapid unexpected exodus of such a multitude of people. Second Thessalonians 2 provides insight on the immediate impact of the rapture. The Thessalonian saints had been misled by teaching that indicated the day of the Lord had come (Darby, etc.). From the basis of theRapture (v1), the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul lays out the chronology of the era they feared. The Man of Sin must be revealed before that time of wrath, and before that happens, the “what and whom” that restrains his arrival (vv6-7, what withholdeth and “He who now letteth”) must be taken out of the way. The “what” of verse 6 is believed to be the Church of Christ and the “Whom” of verse 7, the Holy Spirit. This view has strong merit. Noting that verses 6-7 have only one reference to the restraint and restrainer being removed, “taken out of the way,” it is reasonable to see their removal as occurring simultaneously. For the Church it means to be removed entirely from the world (our gathering unto Him) and then the “salt-like” influence of believers today (Matt 5:13) will be gone. The Holy Spirit will have “stepped out of the way” and will no longer restrain the mystery of lawlessness (NKJV). However, He will still work in the ensuing years of darkness, but in a manner different from today.
How will these events impact the world? Chapter two goes on to tell us of the lawless one who is the Man of Sin and is marked by “deceit” (v10). He is the agent of Satan (the father of lies, John 8:44). Then we read that God Himself will send the Christ rejectors “strong delusion” (v11), so that they will believe “the lie,” which refers primarily to the Man of Sin himself. At that time, souls who believe not “the truth” (speaking particularly of our Lord), will be deceived and, in the end, damned. How tragic in the extreme. They reject the Savior and then receive the deceiver.
Extended Impact – Peace gives way to Tribulation
The details of the antichrist’s deception may not be known, but we do see something of his approach. Bringing “peace” will be his scheme. This world is weary of war, particularly the “religious war” centered in the Middle East. Israel and the surrounding Arab nations are in constant tension, affecting the entire globe. The Rapture opens the way for the Man of Sin to deceive the world. The promise of “the lie” will be believed, “Peace! World peace!”
Revelation 6:2 and Daniel 9:26-27 harmonize and give us a look at this unfolding period. The seven year “week” (introduced in Daniel) commonly known as the Tribulation begins with the character of the “white horse rider.” When the Lamb opens the first of the seven seals at the outset of this tribulation period, John sees a white horse and its rider. A white horse reminds us of a “hero” who has gained the victory, but this rider has a bow with no arrows, suggesting conquest without war. Then we read that he is given a crown; leadership and authority are gained without violently defeating any opposition. In Daniel, the “prince” of the people, who long ago destroyed Jerusalem, makes a covenant with Israel early in the 70th week of God’s prophetic program, seemingly bringing real world peace (Rev 6:2). The weapons are restrained and the antichrist is given power as a world leader. His amazing ability to deceive has settled the conflict of the East. But it does not last.
As Revelation 6 continues, we see that world peace rapidly vanishes. The second seal reveals a red horse and rider which take peace from the earth. There is rampant killing and the sword returns. The third seal delivers a black horse and rider spreading famine abroad, and the fourth, a pale horse with a rider named “Death and Hell.” His power unleashes havoc on a quarter of the earth; killing by sword, hunger, death, and beasts. There is no peace on earth. Daniel 9:27 tells us that in the middle of the seven year “week” the prince breaks the peace covenant by disallowing Israel the liberty of worshiping at their temple. He, in turn, installs himself as the object to be worshiped sitting in the temple at Jerusalem (2Thes 2:4), just as Daniel’s vision had foretold and the Lord Jesus confirmed in Matthew 24:15. The peace the world longed for is gone. What it didn’t want, world religion, reigns and as the horror of tribulation sweeps the earth, there is nowhere to hide.