Let us now examine those passages of Scripture that speak of the rapture. I Thess. 4:16-17 reads, “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…”.
There are three things that connect this passage with Israel. 1) Thessalonians was written before the secret that concerns the dispensation during which the church which is His body is being built was revealed. 2) The archangel is the protector of Israel. 3)The trumpet callis part of a prophesy that has to do with Israel.
We read of the archangel in Jude, also a pre-prison epistle. Jude 9 reads, “But even the archangel, Michael….”. We learn that the archangel is Michael and this connects us to Daniel 12:1 which reads, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise”. “Your people” is obviously Israel, that is, the archangel Michael is the protector of Israel.
The “trumpet call of God” connects us with Matt. 24:31 where Christ mentions the trumpet in connection with His second coming. “And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call“. It is not immediately apparent that this passage has to do with Israel, in large part because of the unfortunate translation of verse 30. Matt. 24:30 reads, in the King James, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the tribes of the earth will mourn“. The word “earth” is a translation of the Greek word “ge”. E. W Bullinger gives this definition, “land as distinct from water; or earth as distinct from heaven; or region or territory, used of one special land or country as distinct from other countries”. In Zech. 12:10 we have a parallel passage to Matt. 24:30 which makes it quite clear that in Matthew, “ge” refers to “a country as distinct from other countries, i.e. Israel. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me the one they pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child”. (Zech. 12:10). Zech. 12:10 has to do with Israel, and so, of course, does Matt. 24:30-31.
One more thing that connects Matt. 24:31 to Israel is the phrase, “gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”. We can not take this phrase out of context. The immediate context is about Israel at the end times. There are several passages in the Old Testament that refer to the gathering of Israel. See for example Is. 43:5-7, “Do not be afraid for I am with you; I will gather your children from the east and gather your children from the west, I will say to the north, ‘give them up’ and to the south ‘do not hold them back’. Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth“. Other passages that speak of the gathering of Israel for the millennial reign include Ezek. 11:17, 20:34, 20:41, Zeph. 3:18-20 and Ezek. 28:25.
I believe that it is clear that when we compare Scripture with Scripture that l Thess. 4 concerns the rapture of believing Israel which will include grafted in Gentiles.
Another passage having to do with the rapture is I Cor. 15:51-52, “Listen, I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep, we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ will be raised imperishable and we will be changed”. Again, the trumpet call and the fact that I Corinthians is a pre-prison epistle gives us reason to conclude that this passage tells of the rapture of believing Israel. (See notes on Matt. 24:31).
I am suggesting that believing Israel and grafted in Gentiles will be raptured. They will meet Him in the clouds and come down with Him and thus fulfill the promises made to Israel, i.e. the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth.
The Church which is His Body did not exist while Israel was God’s chosen people and because Israel will once again be His chosen people at the time of the second coming, will not exist then.
In my opinion, this view is consistent with the following facts; 1) the rapture is mentioned in pre-prison epistles only, 2) the trumpet call of God concerns the gathering of Israel and 3) the Church is seated in heaven whereas those raptured are coming down with the Lord for His reign on earth.