Aftermath of the Rapture
Millions vanish! Confusion reigns! World religious leaders divided about event!
These and many other similar reports may well become the headlines in newspapers around the world after the Lord Jesus Christ raptures His church. In “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52), true believers will disappear to meet the Lord in the air (1 Th. 4:16–17), ending forever the Church Age that began at Pentecost and leaving behind a world of stunned and unregenerate people.
What will it be like on earth after the Rapture? What if the Rapture occurs in our lifetime? What effect will the Rapture have on the Middle East? The economy? The nations? Political systems? The religions of the world? The Bible has much to say on these issues and can help Christians put this exciting event and its consequences into perspective.
The Rapture of the church will precede the seven years commonly known as the Tribulation period. However, the Rapture is not the event that marks the beginning of the Tribulation. That event will be the confirmation of a peace accord between Israel and her eventual enemies, principally, the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27).
One can only speculate on the length of time between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation. More than likely, it will be brief. An indication of this possibility is the period of transition from the end of the era of Law (Eph. 2:14–15) to the beginning of the Church Age (Acts 2). This interval lasted only fifty days. Consequently, it would seem the transition from the Church Age to the resumption of Daniel’s seventy weeks (see David M. Levy’s article, p. 10) would also be brief.
The period from the Rapture to the start of the Tribulation will undoubtedly play an important role in establishing the Antichrist’s reign. All born-again believers will have disappeared. Considering the millions of Christians who will be raptured worldwide, the devastation to the economies, militaries, and social structures of nations could be potentially significant. If the Rapture were to occur today, the United States would be particularly affected, as would South Korea, Canada, and other countries with large numbers of born-again Christians.
Generally, the Rapture and the resulting calamities will send the world reeling. Recent history teaches how unruly people can become when the infrastructure they are so used to collapses, even for a brief time. Ask any New York City resident who endured the summer of 1977 when the electricity went out for two days. Looting, robberies, muggings, and the like became epidemic. The Rapture of the church will more than likely produce similar events around the world.
Economies of the World
At present, the United States is the major economic power in the world. Pronouncements by Alan Greenspan, head of the Federal Reserve Board, carry so much weight they have the power to produce major shifts in the U.S. stock market. These shifts, in turn, affect the markets of the world. If a word spoken by one individual can send euphoria or turmoil into our economies, what will happen with the sudden loss of millions of people? Worldwide economic collapse and depression are a possibility.
The Bible is not silent about the coming economic problems in our world after the Rapture. The third seal judgment of Revelation 6 tells of the extreme expense of just a day’s supply of food. “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say, A measure of wheat for a denarius, and three measures of barley for a denarius, and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (6:6). Professor and author Robert Thomas’s comments on this verse are helpful: “This much wheat was only enough to sustain for one day a person of moderate appetite . . . the minimum daily food requirement of barley was three measures.” Thomas continues, “a denarius was the average day’s wages for a working man.”1
According to this verse, the average working person at the end of the day would have only enough money for basic food requirements. This severe an economic crisis can only lead to looting, stealing, and worse. Yet it seems as though the wealthy will not be affected, as “the oil and the wine,” symbolic of wealth and luxury, are not touched.
The financial disarray and disparity within the world will most likely become a main cause in the establishment of a one-world monetary system. The need to bring sanity to an obviously desperate situation will prompt the nations and their citizens to adopt a universal system of control so all can have the basic needs of life. The lawlessness of the times will be brought under control through the fair, equitable distribution of goods. In a period of such upheaval, the world’s citizens will consider it only reasonable and logical to install a strong, controlling authority. Anarchy leads people to give up their freedoms in exchange for peace.
We are told that “he [Antichrist] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and enslaved, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads, And that no man might buy or sell, except he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:16-17). The world’s leader will introduce a system where none can buy or sell without the mark of the ruling authority. On the surface, the system will bring an end to the strife as well as provide for the people of the world.
Understandably, the nations of the world will be looking for explanations regarding the sudden disappearance of millions of earth’s inhabitants. Wars will break out. History has repeatedly taught us that stronger nations conquer weaker nations for their own gain. The period after the Rapture may be no exception. The first seal judgment tells of the world’s leader making war: “And I saw and, behold, a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2). Jesus promises that at the beginning of the Tribulation, after the Rapture has occurred, “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Mt. 24:7).
The loss of large segments of population and the resulting turmoil will probably provide the opportunity for some nations to attack others in the hope of destroying their enemies and conquering their territory. Daniel 11:40–45 and Ezekiel 38—39 are several of the many passages telling of wars after the Rapture.
The Rapture will also undoubtedly cause political upheaval. If the Lord were to remove His church from the earth today, the United States would be among the countries most heavily affected. Many Christians hold positions of importance in every segment of American society. The Rapture could leave the U.S. critically wounded and possibly reduce it to a second-rate power. With the United States—the world’s policeman—crippled, many political changes could occur across the globe.
Scripture teaches that the countries of Europe will consolidate around a world leader (Dan. 7:7–8, 23–24; 9:27; 11:36–39). This leader, best known as the Antichrist, will crush all who come against him. Following the Rapture and during the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation period, he will consolidate his power bases of political authority (Rev. 13:7), military power (Rev. 13:4), economic power (Rev. 13:16–17), and even religious power (Rev. 13:3–4, 12). Ultimately, this man will not only rule over Europe but large segments of the world as well. Although relatively benevolent at first, his rule will become the cruelest, most demonic and catastrophic reign the world has ever seen.
In times of great distress, people tend to seek answers and comfort in religion. After the Rapture, many will flock to the religious leaders of the world. Unfortunately, all those left on earth will be false prophets. The Bible calls them “wells without water, . . . to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. . . . they speak great swelling words of vanity [emptiness] . . . they themselves are the servants of corruption” (2 Pet. 2:17–19). All the men who believed the Bible and preached it will be gone. And the religious leaders who will be left will have no answers.
God, however, has never left this lost and helpless world without some way to hear the truth. During the Tribulation, He will provide 144,000 Jewish men who will speak the truth in contrast to the false prophets who will seduce the world to embrace unified worship and the end of religious division. These false prophets will claim that if the religions of the world can accomplish this feat, world peace and prosperity will be at hand. And the deceived will believe this lie. A one-world religion (Rev. 17) will emerge from the pandemonium of the times.
Furthermore, an alliance will develop between the Antichrist (the world’s political ruler) and the religious system of the world (Rev. 17:3). The leading religious figure, known as the false prophet (Rev. 19:20), will use signs and miracles (Rev. 13:11–15) to cause the people of the world to worship the Antichrist, who will actually claim to be God at the middle of the Tribulation period (2 Th. 2:4). Because of his insatiable appetite for the world’s worship, this satanically empowered man will then destroy the religious system that helped bring him to power (Rev. 17:16).
The true believers who will emerge during the Tribulation period will be persecuted by this combination of darkness. Many of them will become martyrs for their faith (Rev. 6:9–10; 12:11, 17).
The Middle East
The focal point after the Rapture will be the Middle East—especially Israel. The seemingly irreconcilable animosity between Israel and her Islamic neighbors will be temporarily quieted. The Antichrist will use his charm and persuasive powers to bring a much-longed-for, albeit temporary, peace to the Middle East (Dan. 9:27).
Jerusalem, though, will remain a stumbling block for the nations surrounding Israel and even for the world (Zech. 12:3–4). The Jewish people and Israel will be blamed for the continuing problems of the world. Anti-Semitism will reach its worst heights after the Rapture (Rev. 12), culminating with the Antichrist marshaling all the forces of the world into Israel in an attempt to destroy her (Zech. 12:8–10; 13:1–3; Rev. 16:14–16).
What will start out very encouraging for Israel and the Jewish people (prosperity, peace, a rebuilt Temple [Dan. 9:27; 2 Th. 2:4]) will turn into their worst nightmare— worst, that is, until their Messiah comes (Zech 12:8–10: Rev. 19:11–21) and delivers them from destruction.
The Mercy of God
The aftermath of the Rapture will bring great distress, turmoil, and even death to the world. Yet the mercy of God still will be abundantly present.
Many Jewish people will recognize that Jesus is the Messiah and find forgiveness of sin. Initially, the 144,000 Jewish men will come to the Lord at the beginning of the Tribulation (Rev. 7:1–8). Ultimately, millions more will receive Jesus as their Messiah during this time period (Zech. 12:10; 13:9).
The aftermath of the Rapture will produce a horrific time on earth. The Lord Jesus Himself called it “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24:21). It is with thanksgiving that bornagain believers can rest in the knowledge that God will not allow His church to go into that terrifying period of unparalleled suffering. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 5:9). If you are a believer, you will not be around for the “aftermath of the Rapture.” If you are not a believer in Jesus as Messiah and Savior, you need to become one. You can come to Him now. He is waiting.