Of what relevance is this history lesson to the issue of the rapture? Plenty! It sets the backdrop for Jesus’s discussion with His disciples in the book of Matthew 24.
As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. 2 But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” 3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Matthew 24
One often overlooked fact in the above verse is that Jesus’ disciples asked him 3 questions. One of the questions was on the destruction of the temple, the second was centred around His return and the last was about the end of the world. All 3 were linked.
Jesus proceeded to answer all of these questions and His answers have been collaborated in all of scripture.
The first part of the question was with regards to the destruction of the temple. This was significant in establishing the New Testament and was part of a long series of events which would herald Christ’s Second Advent. Jesus summarises the events in Matthew 24: 4 -14 and then goes a bit in-depth from verse 15. He warned the disciples that if they saw the abomination of desolation (referring to the book of Daniel) and they should flee from Judea. This was fulfilled in AD66 when the Roman army besieged Jerusalem. The Christians remembered Jesus’ words and fled to a town beyond the Jordan. Not one of them was hurt.
History has it that this was one of the worst times the Jews had ever seen. A lot of the Jews died out of starvation with some mothers resorting to cannibalism; they killed and ate their babies to survive. This lasted for 3 and a half years, shortened just as Jesus had said or none of the Jews would have survived. In AD70, the Romans entered and put a lot of the Jews to the sword. Some ran to take refuge in the temple and a fire broke out and burnt it to the ground. About 1 million Jews lost their lives and only about 100,000 people survived.
If this referred to the ‘rapture’ of the saints why would winter or Sabbath make any difference? This was obviously a physical flight which could have been hampered by adverse weather conditions and the Sabbath because of the restriction on the distance one was allowed to travel.
The other verses begin to talk about Christ’s return; the mention of false messiahs & prophets which shall deceive many and Christ will come when no one expects. Verse 40 is something that is used in support of the doctrine of the rapture
“Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
The word that has been translated ‘taken’ is from the Greek word ‘paralambanō’ which means ‘an associate, a companion.’ It implies ‘to accept or acknowledge one to be such as he professes to be.’ This simply illustrates that salvation is personal and cannot be gained by association and confirms Jesus’ words in the book of John that we are now His friends.
Even though no part of the bible ever mentions the word rapture, it was coined to describe the ‘catching up’ of the saints at Christ’s return. What I have been told of Christ’s return is as follows; when the trumpet sounds the dead in Christ will rise and be caught up along with believers who are still alive to be with the Lord in heaven. Once this happens, the antichrist will be revealed and will unleash the great tribulation on upon the earth. People will be forced to accept the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell.