Zephaniah’s Pre-Tribulation Rapture
I recently came across an excellent article which happens to be in line with some of my own studies in the Old Testament Book of Zephaniah. It was written by an author by the name of Corey (last name unknown to me) and is found on a website called “End Times: Darkness Descending”. I decided to share the majority of the article with you just as it was written and without my own personal comments except for a short conclusion at the very end. Let it be an encouragement for you today!
It is a fact of Biblical scripture that there is coming an event so momentous and beyond human expectation that it staggers the imagination to even contemplate it. This event, as many Christians already know, is called the Rapture. As exciting as it is for the born again believer in Christ to contemplate (and horrible as it will be for those who are not ready), the Rapture will see millions of people worldwide disappear off the face of the earth and ascend into Heaven to be with the very one who was the center of their faith. For those left behind, an untold nightmare of seven years of divine judgment will strike the earth. As common as it is for the skeptics of the Bible and some Christians to doubt the Rapture’s veracity, the below two scriptures are the two most quoted and recognized verses in the biblical text that affirm the reality of the rapture rather clearly and most devastatingly for the rapture critic…
“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 who 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” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
“Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
In addition to the plain surface reading of some biblical text such as quoted above that there will be a rapture, many do not realize that the Old Testament contains additional hidden prophecies indicating a pre-tribulation rapture of all born again believers. The book of Zephaniah is one such hidden prophecy found in the Old Testament. Zephaniah, a descendant of King Hezekiah, wrote during the reign of Josiah (640-609 B.C.), shortly before the Babylonian invasion of Judah. His book occupies ninth place among the twelve minor prophets. Though there are only three chapters to his work, his theme concerns God’s judgment upon all nations in the “Great Day of the LORD.” The context lifts us out of the generation that experienced the Babylonian captivity and carries us into the future—to the very days in which we now live—to the concluding days of the sixth millennium…
“The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities, and against the high towers.” Zephaniah 1:14-16)
The terminology used to describe the impending “Day of the LORD” is indicative of the Tribulation period. God’s judgment is about to fall upon an unbelieving world. Among terms such as “wrath, …trouble,” etc., Zephaniah speaks of the blowing of a trumpet. Though he tells us that the trumpet represents an alarm against fortified cities and high towers, we can be sure that the trumpet signals the beginning of God’s day of judgment. It is not a mid or post-tribulation trumpet. Three verses later, Zephaniah gives an unusual message to a nation comprised of Gentiles. His admonition contains the heart of what the Bible refers to as our “blessed hope”—a pre-tribulation rapture…
“Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility, it may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:1-3
First of all, take notice of the language used in the very first sentence of this prophetic passage…”Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation” (vs 1). The gathering together is the same language used in the rapture passage found in 2 Thessalonians 2 which states the following…
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together in Him…”
This is yet more evidence that confirms and solidifies the fact that there will be a “gathering together” or a “pre-tribulation rapture” of every born again individual within the body of Christ in the end times. Second of all, this message is directed to a “nation” not desired. This is not Israel. The Hebrew term used here is HaGoy, used exclusively by Gentiles. Furthermore, they are described as “not desired.” Again, these people are not the Jews, they are Gentiles. This changes the complexion of Zephaniah’s message. It is to the Gentiles that the prophet says, “Seek the LORD.” More specifically, these Gentiles are believers. Zephaniah’s continuing description leaves no doubt. The prophet is not discussing a few Gentile believers in this verse, he uses the terms “all” and “earth.” They are “all…(the) meek of the earth.” Having just told us in the earlier verses that the time of this prophecy points to the “Great Day of the Lord…,” there can be no doubt that he is addressing all of the Gentiles on planet Earth who meet his criteria of “righteousness” and “ “meekness.” To all believing Gentiles, Zephaniah promises a special dispensation—they shall be “hid” in the “day of the LORD’s anger”. Not only does Zephaniah promise that we shall be “hid,” but he emphasizes the time of our hiding in verse 2…
“Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you” Zephaniah 2:2
When shall we be hidden? The answer is made clear…”before the decree is issued.” “Issued” is sometimes translated “to bring forth”, but also “birth.” These are birth pangs—pains that bring judgment as the seventh millennium is birthed. When shall we be hidden? The answer is again made clear—”...before the day passes like chaff.” This is a harvest term in which the chaff is separated from the grain by the winds of judgment. When shall we be hidden? The answer is yet again made clear”…before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you.”
Here we are told that we shall be hidden “before the day…comes.” This further emphasizes a pre-tribulation rapture. Though the term translated “before” is used three times in the Hebrew text, there is a fourth description in which “before” is implied and is, therefore, added to the King James Version of the Bible—four descriptions of the time of our hiding:
- Before the birth pangs
- Before the winds blow the chaff
- Before the fierce anger
- Before the day comes
It could not be any clearer that Zephaniah, while addressing the time when the day of the Lord is near, promises all Gentile believers throughout the earth that we shall be spared the wrath of God. We will be “hid” as verse 3 predicts! Among Zephaniah’s many signs that let us know when the day of the Lord is near, two are pertinent. The first concerns the revival of a dead language…
“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord…” Zephaniah 3:9
With the return of the Jews to their ancient Promised Land in this century, special interest has been placed on the revival of Hebrew, a language considered to be dead for centuries. The man credited with reviving the language of Hebrew is Eleazar ben Yehuda, who moved his family to Palestine around the turn of the century and spent the rest of his life restoring the ancient Hebrew language.
He published a dictionary of Hebrew words, adding new words for terminology used in modern society, but not available to ancient civilizations.
The other prophecy concerns a return of Jews from Ethiopia…
“From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my worshippers, the daughters of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering” Zephaniah 3:10
Zephaniah was the son of Cushi (the Ethiopian). It seems significant that an Ethiopian Jew would be the one to predict the return of the Ethiopian Jews. This prophecy came to pass from 1984-1991. The offspring of Moses and his Ethiopian wife are back in the Promised land today. Therefore, we can be certain that Zephaniah was writing about the very generation in which we are living. The “Day of the LORD” is near.
The demonstrably divinely inspired text that we call the Bible promises a coming horrendous seven-year Tribulation period of judgment upon Earth for all of mankind, no matter what your religion, belief or creed is, and even to those who don’t believe anything spiritual at all. We can now clearly see the signs of this approaching nightmare. However, as we’ve already seen, this same divinely inspired text that we call the Bible promises a dramatic escape from the face of the earth before this horrendous time of judgment only to a certain category of people.
Put simply, an event is coming that will be so stupendous that it strains the mind to contemplate such an event happening. It is an event that will see millions upon millions of people across the globe suddenly disappear without warning. The millions of disappeared will have literally ascended into Heaven itself after instantaneously receiving a new glorified body fit for Heaven. A body that will be able to withstand the atmosphere and glory of Heaven. This event is known as the “Rapture.” But the promise of escape is only to those who are “born again” in Christ. This is why it is crucial to understand what Christ meant when He declared in no uncertain terms that only those who are “born again” in Him will enter the Kingdom of God.
In conclusion, I (Jake), would like to ask the reader: Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? The “escape” mentioned in Corey’s article above, offends some people today because they think it shows spiritual weakness to seek an “escape.” But why should it? Jesus Himself provided that escape, and if I were to reject what He Himself has provided, wouldn’t it be showing spiritual arrogance on my part? I certainly believe so. Let’s go on… After presenting a long list of events that are going to come upon this earth at the end of the age, Jesus added these words:
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36
And one of my favorite promises that Jesus made to His true Church:
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial, which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Revelation 3:10-11
So…how does one escape what is now at our doorstep? Read on…
Do you know that there has never been a human being born without needing the intervention provided as a free gift from God, through the God-Man, Jesus Christ? The Bible teaches us that all of us fall short and are born in a lost condition, which the Bible calls “sin.” Sin is not just the individual acts of sin that all humans commit. The greater problem is that we are born with “sin” in our genetics. Once Adam and Eve broke fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden through their disobedience, they died spiritually, and eventually physically as well. However, not only did they die spiritually, the genetics of the human race was thereafter affected. All of us inherit a “sin” nature. This is why, when God intervened by taking on human form as Jesus Christ, He had to be born of a virgin. “Sin” or our “fallen nature” is carried through the bloodline. When Jesus was born, as all other humans throughout history, He did not have the blood of Joseph in His veins. Mary truly had not had relations with a man. God provided the necessary miracle so that the birth of Jesus was untainted by the corrupted genetics of the human race. This is why He was known as both, the Son of Man, and the Son of God.
We live one life upon this earth. Throughout that one life, we all face one decision which is greater than all others. God’s word to all of humanity has always been: “Choose today whom you will serve!” You might say you refuse to serve anyone. Good luck with that– It can’t be done. Human beings are eternal beings. This short life on earth is barely a “blip” on the screen of eternity. The Bible describes it as no more than a “puff of vapor.” You will live eternally, regardless… and there are only two destinations to choose from, not three, not more. It will be Heaven or Hell. It’s your choice. Insisting on not serving anyone will leave you destined to spend eternity in Hell. Choosing, however, to accept God’s free gift of Salvation through His sacrifice on the cross 2000 years ago, changes your eternal destiny. But, it doesn’t happen by osmosis. You must choose, but, when you do, all of Heaven hears you, no matter where you are. If you are kneeled by your bed, praying under your breath, God hears and responds. He is not willing that any perish! If your choice is from the heart, you become adopted into the family of God as one of His own. As earth-bound humans, we can’t imagine the joys of Heaven. On the other hand, as humans, we also can’t imagine the horrors of hell. Hell is our automatic choice if we choose to reject the enormous price paid for our eternal freedom. If you haven’t made that choice, please make it today! Today is the day of salvation. Our world today is spiraling out of control. Time is of the essence because the end of the age is upon us. Besides, even if the world were not circling the drain, not one of us has the guarantee of our next breath, do we?
If you were to die today, do you think you would go to Heaven? If you think you would but have left Jesus Christ out of the equation, you have miscalculated. He is the only way. There is none other. Why put off the most important decision you will ever make in your life, concerning eternal life? Here’s what the Bible tells us:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that none can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
How does one accept the free gift of Salvation?
- Admit that you are a sinner. This is where godly sorrow leads to genuine repentance for sinning against a righteous God and there is a change of heart. We change our mind and God changes our hearts and regenerates us from the inside out.
- Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Jesus from the dead. This is trusting with all of your heart that Jesus Christ is who He said He was.
- Call upon the name of the Lord. Jesus really was Who He said He was. Every single person who ever lived since Adam will bend their knee and confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, the LORD of Lords and the KING of Kings, either willingly or by compulsion. He really is the “Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and Last!” There is only one! Do it willingly!
Anyone who prays a sincere prayer in acceptance of the simple facts stated above, will immediately have their name written in what the Bible calls, “The Lamb’s Book of Life.” You really do want your name in this Book!!
Forever in His Service,