Once you get a grasp on the New Testament passages that describe the event we refer to as the rapture, you will find overwhelming support for it in the Old Testament as well. In just a general overview there, we learn a lot about God’s nature. He is depicted as a loving, merciful, graceful father. He does not reject those who repent from their sin and come to him with a humble and loving heart seeking forgiveness and fellowship. He is just. The Bible tells us that everyone will come to agree with his justice at some point. However we also find some very specific Old Testament incidents that illustrate the concept of the rapture of the church in quite a beautiful manner.
In Genesis when God visited Abraham to inform him of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, we get an incredibly important quote from Abraham that stands out as a monumental truth in scripture. If you remember, Abraham knew that his cousin Lot lived in Sodom, so he was taken aback some by this information. He asked God about the possibility of righteous men living in those cities amongst the wicked, who would also be killed. So in Genesis 18:25 he says to God:
…far be it from You to judge the righteous along with the wicked
This is very important and extremely significant. God did not correct Abraham when he said this! So that passage stands as an undisputed truth in the Bible. God will not include the righteous in his judgment upon the wicked.
Christians are righteous in God’s eyes because they have accepted the sacrifice of Christ, so when God sees us he sees Jesus. We are justified by our faith in his death on the cross being the atonement for our sins, and by seeking forgiveness through Christ. Therefore, it stands to reason that we will certainly not be included in any punishment doled out to the rebellious unbelievers. That should especially apply to the ultimate judgment coming upon the earth during the tribulation, don’t you think?
But wait, there’s more. Here is a concrete example of the rapture in the Old Testament. As this story goes on Abraham starts bargaining with God, asking what if 50 righteous men live in these cities. God promises to spare them all if fifty righteous men are found among them. He then asks what if forty righteous men are found, and finally whittles it all the way down to ten before not daring to continue any further. God agreed to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if 10 righteous men could be found.
However only one righteous man was found, that being Lot. Now I find it extremely comforting that Lot was a fairly poor example of a righteous man, and so should you. Despite the apparent generous standards of measurement, the righteous man count came up nine short. God was still within his agreement with Abraham to destroy Sodom while Lot was in it. But he didn’t! The angels came to remove Lot just before the judgment and they told him,
Get out of here because we can’t do anything until you are gone!
Think about that. The angels that were bringing the terrible destruction upon Sodom could not do it while even one righteous man remained. Lot was hesitant to leave, so they actually physically transported him outside the city and told him to scat. To think that Christians who love God will be left here to suffer the tribulation-period judgments (which will be many times worse than the judgment on Sodom was) is inconsistent with what we know about God from this story. This example is in the Bible for a reason. It is, in my opinion, the single biggest supporting factor for the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture in all of scripture.
There is other stuff in the Old Testament that supports the rapture of the church as well. In Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked with God and God took him, relatively shortly before the Noah’s ark flood judgment. In Biblical typology Enoch is considered to be a type of the church, having been raptured, while Noah and his family are a type of Israel, being protected by God’s hand during the judgment.
The book of Daniel brings a further typology that supports the notion of the rapture. Remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image that landed his three friends in the fiery furnace for refusing to worship it? Where was Daniel in this story? He is mysteriously absent, and there is no way he knelt to that image. He was probably out of town on business. He therefore becomes a type of the church while his buddies become a type of Israel, being protected even while in the midst of a fiery furnace.
I will admit that the typology stuff might be a thin argument if it were not for all the other supporting scripture. But when you have all of that, plus the New Testament descriptions of the two separate second comings of Christ, Jesus himself telling us that it is possible to be counted worthy to escape the hour of tribulation, the rapture itself being described in some detail by Paul, the enlightening story of Abraham, Lot, and Sodom that we just covered, and then you throw in the typology stuff, well the evidence just becomes clear to anybody with an open mind who is actually seeking truth from the Bible.
Just for fun, to wrap this up, here is Isaiah 26:20-21.
Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.
For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.