Earthquake Rapture: A Pattern in Prophecy?

 

David Lowe

Introduction

There has always been much speculation as to what will happen when the catching away of the church, or the rapture, takes place on the earth. I remember watching a movie called, A Thief in the Night way back in the 1970s, when I was still an impressionable youngster. It made me fear the event, not look and hope for it as we should.

In that movie I recall that people were going about their lives, and all the sudden they just disappeared, leaving behind irons still on, water running, cars driving down the road without a driver any longer. Those left behind went about, searching frantically for their missing mother, father, brother, sister, only to realize they had been caught away in the rapture, and they were left behind on the earth to endure the Tribulation.

Another more recent movie with big-name stars was, of course, Left Behind. There was a similar depiction of the moment after the rapture with airplanes left without a pilot, a pile-up of cars in wrecks with mothers looking for their missing infants, piles of clothes left sitting on seats in an airplane, and those left behind wondering what happened. These movies base these type of scenes on basically one passage of scripture, which it turns out isn't even referring to the Rapture:

Matthew 24:38: “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark.”

Matthew 24:39: “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

Matthew 24:40: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

Matthew 24:41: “Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

Matthew 24:42: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. “

What We Know for Sure

Let’s look at what the Scripture actually says will happen at the catching away:

  1. The dead in Christ will rise from the dead:

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.”

  1. The church alive and remaining will be forcibly snatched up into the clouds to meet both the dead in Christ, and Christ himself, in the air:

1 Thessalonians 4:17: “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.

  1. Both the dead in Christ, and all Christians alive at the time of the Rapture, will have their corruptible bodies changed into incorruptible bodies in the twinkling of an eye:

1 Corinthians 15:51: “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”

1 Corinthians 15:52: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Let's look at each of these in more depth, in reverse order.

 We Shall Be Changed

Paul tells us our bodies will be changed into incorruptible ones “in a moment.” The word moment is atomos, and is where we get our English word “atom.” It literally means that in the smallest, tiniest space of time you could imagine, we will be changed. The word “changed” is allasso, and means to exchange one form for another form, or to transform. This brings to mind two scenarios:

  1. We will leave our mortal, corruptible bodies on earth at the Rapture.

This scenario is pure speculation, and really has no scriptural basis. But it is interesting to wonder about, and offers a different result than the standard ‘leaving behind your clothing” interpretation. Could it be possible we will simply “exchange” our mortal bodies for our immortal bodies, which according to Paul happens in an atomic second, leaving our mortal bodies on the earth?

Those left behind would see our slumping bodies left on earth, and would simply think we had a heart attack or just died somehow. Meanwhile, what really happened was that we were forcibly snatched up to the clouds with a new, immortal body, our spirit and soul coming along for the ride. The explanation back on earth could be any number of reasons for why we died, or what happened to us. Again, this is purely speculative, but an idea that would help explain a lot of the questions about how the rapture will be "explained away" after the fact.

  1. Our mortal bodies will be transformed into eternal, incorruptible ones, leaving the earth.

This view is the more likely of the two, because it has the most scriptural proof. Consider the following examples of “harpazo” in the New Testament:

We Will Be Caught Up

Philip’s harpazo in Acts 8

In this account, Luke the physician tells us that Philip was conversing with an Ethiopian consulate, who was reading from the book of Isaiah in that great chapter, 53. As Philip witnessed to the eunuch, he believed and wanted to be baptized. So they stopped the chariot, found some water, and Philip baptized the eunuch. As they were walking up out of the water, Philip was forcibly raptured from that place and placed in the town of Azotus (known in Hebrew as Ashdod, a Philistine city about 30 miles from where Philip and the eunuch were). This account tells us that Philip's physical body was definitely moved from one place to another.

Acts 8:38: “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

Acts 8:39: “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Acts 8:40: “But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”

  1. Jesus’ harpazo in Revelation 12 and chapter 1

Here we read in the beginning of Revelation 12, a stunning chapter tucked in the middle of the book with a high-level history of Israel, that after the birth of Israel's man-child Jesus Christ, he was forcibly caught up to the throne of God. This is the ascension of Christ to heaven, where he was bodily lifted in front of many witnesses up into the clouds. So, this account too shows that the physical body is removed when raptured.

Rev. 12:4: “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.”

Rev. 12:5: “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”

Acts 1:9: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

Act 1:10: “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel.”

Perhaps the strongest argument that our mortal bodies WILL NOT remain on the earth at the catching away is found in I Corinthians 15, just after Paul reveals the mystery of the Rapture:

1 Cor. 15:42: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.”

1 Cor. 15:43: “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”

1 Cor. 15:44: “ It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

1 Cor. 15:53: “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

1 Cor. 15:54: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

We see here that our current, mortal bodies must “put on” an incorruptible body, which suggests there will not be a mortal body left on the earth. The mortal body will be transformed into a new one.

The Dead in Christ will Rise

At the same time the Christians alive and remaining are receiving the incorruptible bodies, the dead in Christ will be rising from the dead and receiving their incorruptible bodies. Yes, even those bodies that were cremated and have long since rotted away will be reformed into a new body, with the same soul and spirit. But what will be happening on earth when the graves of the dead in Christ are opened and they rise to meet the Lord in the air? This section will deal with the major thrust of this paper, the possibility of an earthquake Rapture.

First, we must make a distinction between being raised from the dead BACK INTO THE CORRUPTIBLE BODY, and being raised from the dead INTO A NEW BODY, THEN IMMEDIATELY TAKEN TO THE HEAVENS. There are a few cases in which people were raised from the dead, and the life was simply restored to their mortal bodies:

  1. Lazarus in John 11.
  2. Eutychus in Acts 20.
  3. Tabitha in Acts 9.

Again, these accounts show the recipient of life from the dead coming back into their mortal bodies, which then obviously died later in time. They were not raised up with incorruptible bodies. However, we also some examples of in which those rising from the dead were obviously given incorruptible, immortal bodies.

  1. The saints at the crucifixion and death of Jesus in Matthew 27

This account tells us that many saints rose from the dead, went to Jerusalem, and actually appeared to many people. What an incredible time to be alive! These saints arose with incorruptible bodies. It is believed by many, including myself, that this group of saints are those who were faithful to God under the old covenant, and actually accompanied Jesus to heaven at his ascension.

 The “cloud” that received him out of their sight in Acts chapter 1 is the same word as found in Hebrews 12:1 in describing the “cloud of witnesses” that we are surrounded by as we run the race of our lives. Those "witnesses" are described throughout Hebrews chapter 11, the famous faith chapter.

Matt. 27:50: “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”

Matt 27:51: “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.”

Matt. 27:52: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.”

Matt. 27:53: “And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

  1. Jesus Christ after 3 days in the tomb in Luke 24:

Jesus received a glorified body, not a mortal one, after his resurrection. We see that in Luke, some of the disciples thought they were looking at a spirit when they looked at Jesus post-resurrection:

Luke 24:36: “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”

Luke 24:37: “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.”  

  1. The Two Witnesses after 3.5 days laying dead in the streets of Jerusalem in Revelation 11:

In the amazing account of the future two witnesses during Daniel's final week of 70 weeks, we read that the beast takes over Jerusalem in the middle of the 7 year period and kills the two witnesses. After 3.5 days of lying dead in the streets for the whole world to see, the Spirit of God Almighty will enter those corpses and bring them to life. They receive their glorified bodies at this time and ascend to eternity with their Father.

 This is not the time to discuss who the two witnesses are, but I am of the opinion that they are Enoch and Elijah, two men who have never died according the Scriptures. Zechariah tells us in chapter 4 that the two “candlesticks” have the holy anointing oil constantly pouring through their bodies, and Revelation chapter 11 tells that the two witnesses are these two candlesticks. I am of the belief their mortal bodies are being supernaturally preserved until their appointed time, when they will again come to the earth, minister during the Tribulation, and be killed as Hebrews 9:27 tells us every man, other than those alive at the rapture, must experience.

Rev. 11:7: “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. “

Rev. 11:8: “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

Rev. 11:11: “And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.”

Rev.11:12: “And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.”  

Earthquake Rapture

Looking even closer at these three examples of resurrection from the dead, where the persons being risen actually arise with their new glorious, eternal bodies, we see an EXTREMELY INTERESTING pattern. It is that of an earthquake. Here are the three accounts of the resurrections again, with the evidence of an earthquake occurring in each case:

  1. The saints at the crucifixion and death of Jesus in Matthew 27:

Matt. 27:50: “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. “

Matt. 27:51: “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.”

Matt. 27:52: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.”

Matt. 27:53: “And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

Matt. 27:54: “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”

  1. Jesus Christ after 3 days in the tomb in Matthew 28:

Matt. 28:1: “ In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.”

Matt.28:2:  “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.”

Matt. 28:3: “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.”

Matt .28:5:  “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.”

Matt. 28:6:  “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

  1. The Two Witnesses after 3.5 days laying dead in the streets of Jerusalem in Revelation 11:

Rev. 11:11: “And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.”

Rev. 11:12: “And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.”

Rev.11:13:  “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.”  

Putting It All Together

In all three cases in which those dead are resurrected and given INCORRUPTIBLE, IMMORTAL bodies, the only three such cases found in the New Testament, there was an earthquake. Is it possible that, at the resurrection of the dead at the catching away of the saints, that there will also be an earthquake, or earthquakes?

Just think about it: there are dead in Christ buried all over the world. Christians who throughout the ages have been born again, since the thief on the cross until the last person who dies in Christ before the rapture. They are buried on every continent in the world, no doubt. Many in the nation of Israel, in Europe, in Russia, in China, Japan, Australia, Africa, South America and yes, North America.

It would be hard to conjecture, but there may be more dead in Christ in America, just 400 short years, than anywhere else on earth. This is because Christ has been preached in this country from the beginning, unlike the areas of Europe, the Middle East and the Far East which have been around a lot longer than America, but have been dominated by false religions.

Many wonder what will happen to America, and why it isn’t prominent in the prophetic scriptures, such as Revelation, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Isaiah. Is it possible, if earthquakes accompany the raising of the dead in Christ as it did in the three examples above, that America will be so devastated by earthquakes, that it will cease the same nation as it was? Remember, there were only two people risen from the dead in Revelation 11, yet there was a massive earthquake that killed 7,000 people.

What will happen when ALL the dead in Christ rise from the dead at the rapture, if there are earthquakes? If there were worldwide earthquakes at the rapture, especially in America, it would help us to envision the world's reaction to the disappearance of bodies. It follows that the world’s nations will be too busy about the devastations caused by the earthquakes than to even notice people are missing.

Quite possibly, the molecular metamorphosis that occurs when God Almighty both raises a person from the dead and gives them their incorruptible body is one that causes so much molecular action that the earth's magnetic forces are disturbed. It is up to conjecture as to whether this is the case. Regardless, there seems to be a pattern, as seen in the three passages above, of earthquakes accompanying the resurrection of the dead into immortal bodies.

It is altogether possible that there will be NO earthquakes when the dead in Christ from the dead and the alive in Christ are raptured. It may just be a quiet transformation as the movies have depicted in the past. But if you diligently study the prophetic scriptures, you will notice prophetic patterns, as well as prophetic parallels, all over the place. Will the pattern of an earthquake occurring at the resurrection of the dead into immortal bodies continue at the rapture of the church?

Conclusion: A Speculative Scenario

Given the above analysis, I offer the following event scenario at the catching away of the saints:

  1. The dead in Christ rise from the dead when they hear the voice from the heavens telling them to "come up here!"
  2. Following the resurrection of the dead in Christ, in an atomic second, the Christians alive and remaining on the earth will be caught up together with the dead in Christ, meeting the Lord in the air.
  3. Back on the earth, devastating earthquakes begin to take place all over the earth where the dead in Christ were risen. America, Europe and the Middle East see the heaviest and most clustered of the quakes. Go to the link below to see the various fault lines all around the earth:
  4. The communications technology infrastructure of the earth is severely disrupted by the earthquakes, knocking out electricity and cable lines. People around the world are unable to turn on the television to find out what happened and where. People are missing. They seem to have disappeared, but given the upheaval from the earthquakes, it is difficult to know how many disappeared.
  5. You may not be aware of this, but Satan and his evil agents have been at work for MANY YEARS, explaining through New Age  psychics that many people will disappear from the earth at one time. The hierarchy of Satan knows that the rapture is coming, and they have been working hard to CONDITION people about why it will happen, and where people will be taken.
  6. America is completely devastated by the earthquakes: economically, politically, socially, morally, and geographically. The west coast, from Nevada to the coastline, could be completely lost underwater from the San Andreas fault collapse. It will be difficult, but maybe even impossible, for America to rise from these ashes.

 

The above conclusion is pure speculation, but I believe possible if the patterns in Scripture continue as they are described..May God bless you through this writing, and may the Holy Spirit guide you in your Bible study and daily walk with Jesus Christ until He comes.