This is a complicated and controversial subject and it won’t be settled here, but some insight is needed in order to look at this concept and get a good idea of what is going on. The word “imminent” means “likely to occur or threatening to occur.” In other words, could the catching away of the believers occur at any moment because there are no prophesied events that need to happen first? The answer is “no” because the rapture is not “imminent” as some prophecy teachers say.
It seems that this doctrine goes back to a man named John Darby in the 1800’s so this teaching has not been around long. But even if it has been around longer, it is still inaccurate. There are many true believers that believe in the imminent return and many who don’t. If you do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture than you don’t believe in the imminent return of Yeshua either. Here are some reasons why the imminent return of Yeshua in the “Rapture” is inaccurate.
Biblical Eschatology is the study of the Messiah and the Redemption and the story of the redemption. It is playing out according to a very intricate plan and that means that there are certain times and seasons that the Lord is carrying out according to his plan and timing. The blueprint for this plan is called the 7000 year plan of God and this has been dealt with on other posts.
We see this blueprint in Genesis 1 during creation week. That means that the heavens and the earth are less than 6000 years old right now, but that is another story in and of itself. In Leviticus 23 we have seven biblical festivals that are given and they are not only festivals, but they are prophetic scenarios dealing with the life and ministry of the Messiah. These festivals of God have literal fulfillments in the history of Israel and there are deeper meanings as well.
Passover has to do with the deliverance from Egypt through the blood of the lamb. The next day was the beginning of a seven day festival called Unleavened Bread. The festival of First Fruits happens during that week and that dealt with the plucking up of the first fruits of the barley harvest and these were presented to the Lord in the Omer. Fifty days later the festival of Shavuot is celebrated and this was another harvest festival.
After that, the summer growing period occurred and on the first day of the seventh month a festival called Yom Teruah, or Rosh ha Shannah was celebrated. This day was the beginning of the civil year and it had many themes associated with weddings, the coronation of Kings, resurrection and judgment. Ten days later we have a festival called Yom Kippur and that is when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with blood and atoned for sin. Five days after that the festival of Sukkot was celebrated and this festival commemorated the years in the wilderness, so people made temporary shelters called “sukkah’s” to live in for a week.
This is a brief overview of the prophetic festivals and there will be more on this later, but this is a picture that the Lord has given us concerning his plan of redemption. These festivals had to happen on certain days and they will play out in the life of Yeshua. Some have been fulfilled already and some have not. The first coming of Yeshua was not imminent, and neither will his coming in the Rapture or his coming at Yom Kippur to Jerusalem. Both of these events are separated by at least seven years. All of this will play out according to God’s plan, purpose and timing.
Yeshua came the first time “in the fullness of time” and there was great expectation. He was crucified on Passover, buried on Unleavened Bread, was resurrected on First Fruits and sent the Holy Spirit on Shavuot. We are at the end of the prophetic “summer growing season” and if the Lord fulfilled (gave them meaning) the first four festivals on their exact days of celebration, then it would be reasonable to calculate that the last three festivals will be fulfilled on their exact day of celebration as well.
So, in Part 2 of this series, we will deal with the last three, unfulfilled festivals that remain and discuss their overall themes and idioms. Yom Teruah (the day of the Rapture), Yom Kippur and Sukkot play a major role in the prophetic plan of God and these will play out according to a very orchestrated, biblical blueprint and this will show that the doctrine of the imminent return of the Lord cannot be possible.
Yeshua’s coming is “fixed” in time and there is no “tarrying” on his part, as some like to say. There is nothing we can do to speed it up or slow it down, but his coming will occur just it did in the first century. Everything had to be in place including the politics of the nations, certain people had to be born, the land, the Temple and Altar and so many other factors had to be in place in order for the Lord to carry out his plan.