As with so much in the Old Testament, Elijah’s timely snatching away foreshadows elements of the New Covenant. In this case, it foreshadows our timely rapture.
If you’re not familiar with Elijah’s tenure as God’s prophet, it’s recorded in 1st and 2nd Kings. In a nutshell, he was a Tishbite living in Gilead, a region of Israel. His not-so-pleasant job involved calling out the sin of the leaders during the divided time of the kings, in particular, that of King Ahab and his ungodly wife, Jezebel. King Ahab was responsible for turning the nation against God and worshipping false gods. When the king rejected Elijah’s rebuke, the nation experienced a dreadful 7-year drought. It ended with a dramatic showdown between Elijah and 850 pagan priests. Hopefully, you know who won!
Elijah called down fire from Heaven to devour the priests. He soaked down his own altar with water so that it could not be ignited naturally, and then called on God to bring fire from Heaven to ignite it—which did indeed happen. He also multiplied food for a woman during the drought, raised her only son from the dead, condemned Ahab for killing his neighbor in order to take the man’s land, and made a repeat performance of calling down fire on soldiers when the next king, Ahaziah, sent them to collect Elijah for speaking against him.
I would be amiss, however, if I did not also mention that Elijah had his low moments. He ran in fear and intimidation when he received word that Jezebel was planning to have him killed. Despite the afore-mentioned, astounding showdown, the prophet fled into the desert, cowered under a tree, and prayed that he would die first. Elijah felt sorry for himself and felt as if he was all alone in serving God. Of course God set him straight and then gave His servant new tasks. It seems God was not done with Elijah.
Like Enoch before him, Elijah did not die. Instead, he was snatched away at a timely moment—a moment that foreshadows our own God-ordained destiny for such a time as this.
The Chronos Lesson: You may have heard someone reject the chronos times and seasons because the word “rapture” is not in the original manuscripts of the Bible. That is like saying that the word Jesus is not in the Bible. “Jesus” is our Anglicized (English) transliteration of His Jewish name.
The original Greek New Testament word for the rapture event is harpazo, which describes a timely snatching away. It is often translated as caught up. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).
The Latin translation of this verse uses the word rapturo, which is where we get our English word, rapture. So the next time you hear this cop out, turn to this passage in 1 Thessalonians and ask the person whether or not it is in their Bible. You might also add that the foundational apostles often referred to the rapture as the “gathering” as in 2 Thessalonians 2:1.
Interestingly, this same idea appears in 2 Kings 2:1, when God is about ready to “take up” the prophet Elijah to Heaven by a whirlwind. The Hebrew word is ‘alah, which comes from the root word meaning to ascend. It has many variations: to arise, to be carried up, to fetch up, to get up, to exalt, to excel, to mount up, to be perfect, to put on, to restore—to name a few. I think you get the picture.
Also interestingly, the word is associated with the rising of the sun, at daybreak. In Rev. 22:16, Jesus refers to Himself as the Bright and Morning Star. Earlier in Rev. 2:28, He promises that to those who overcome, He will give the morning star. The apostle Paul described it this way: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).