The Christian Rapture and the Coming Collapse of Technology

The Rapture is an event predicted in the Bible in which living Christian believers will be raised along with the dead into heaven. It is especially important today because the Bible predicts that it will happen within the lifetimes of many who are alive today, including some who are senior citizens.

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”  (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NIV)

“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 will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV) [Note: the word Rapture is taken from the Latin word meaning “caught up,” a term which is used in this verse.]

In the Bible the Rapture is prophesized along with Christ’s Second Coming to the Earth. While various events are predicted to precede the Second Coming, such as the battle of Armageddon, the Bible indicates that the Rapture will occur without prior warning and says the following about it: (1) No one will know the day or hour when it will occur. (2) It will occur while people are going about their ordinary routines and celebrating ordinary life events. (3) Some people will be taken while others will be left behind. (3) The Lord will come for believers like a thief in the night, at an hour when he is not expected.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt 24:36-44 NIV).

The Rapture is necessary to bring to an end the Age of the Church. Christ is the personal savior of Christian believers, but he is also prophesized as the political savior of the nation of Israel. The Church Age began on the Day of Pentecost with the indwelling of believers by the Holy Spirit. It will end with the removal of believers and of the Holy Spirit with them at the Rapture. In many ways the world will return to the way it was before the Church existed. There will be no personal salvation offered and no indwelling by the Holy Spirit.

Israel will rebuild its ancient temple and begin animal sacrifices. In other nations belief in monotheism will decline and people will engage in polytheistic practices just as they did before the spread of Christianity. Social customs of the past will return, such as the buying and selling of slaves. A dictator known as the Beast or the Antichrist will assume power over a revived Roman Empire. This Empire, called the kingdom of the beast, will be a confederacy of ten nations which were part of the old Empire (Dan 7:24). The city of Rome will be part of this kingdom and presumably its capital. A corrupt religion identified with this city will persecute and kill believers in God.

God will end his enmity with his chosen people and bring all of them dispersed among the nations back to their own land of Israel, “not leaving any behind.” (Ezek 39:28). A coalition of nations led by Russia that includes Persia (Iran) will attack Israel. This attack will provoke the Lord to anger and the attacking nations will be massively annihilated on the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 38-39).

At some point, presumably shortly after the Russian war, Israel will sign a treaty with the Antichrist (Dan 9:27). It would appear that the treaty will provide Israel with the Antichrist’s military protection. The signing of this treaty will mark the start of a seven-year period known as the Tribulation Period. This period ends with the return of Christ at the Second Coming. Halfway through the Tribulation Period the Antichrist will place his image in holy of holies in the Jewish temple and demand worship. During the Tribulation Period a number of plagues or judgments will befall the world, growing in intensity and severity like the pangs that a woman suffers prior to the birth of a baby. These plagues include the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments detailed in the book of Revelation.

The Antichrist will apparently unite the world for a time under his leadership, but eventually face rebellion. An eastern army of two hundred million soldiers will head west from Asia, crossing the Euphrates River. The Antichrist will gather together a western army to meet them, and the two armies will meet at a place called Armageddon, an apparent reference to the town of Megiddo in northern Israel.

Christ will be returning to Israel at this time and the western and eastern armies will join forces to fight against him. Christ, with the armies of heaven accompanying him, will make landfall on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and annihilate his opposition. He will then set up an earthly kingdom and rule over the earth for 1000 years.

Due to the reported length of the Tribulation Period, the Rapture must occur at least 7 years before the Second Coming. The Antichrist will not be revealed until the restrainer (the Holy Spirit who indwells believers) is taken out of the way at the Rapture (2 Thess 2:6-7). While the Bible indicates that no one will know the day or hour the Rapture will occur, it does give the general time frame of the Rapture and the Second Coming in the following parable:

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matt 24:32-34 NIV) [Note: “these things” include the Second Coming mentioned in Matt 24:30]

The fig tree has been equated by many commentators with the nation of Israel. There does not appear to be direct reason for this view as no other Bible verse makes a direct association of the fig tree with Israel. However the association gives the parable meaning and no one has come up with plausible alternative association that provides meaning. Thus by a process of elimination one can conclude the fig tree refers to Israel.

Israel was destroyed as a nation in 70 A.D. and for centuries many Christian commentators have had trouble making sense of Bible prophecies involving this extinct nation. Israel was like a tree in the middle of winter that appeared to be have died. But on May 14, 1948 it came back to life as a nation.

A student of the Bible might suspect that Israel came back to life so that prophecies concerning it can be fulfilled. The parable agrees with this view. It indicates that the summer of prophecy fulfillment is near. It further specifies how near this fulfillment is by indicating that of the generation of people who are alive when Israel becomes a nation, some will still be alive and not pass away before all the prophecies are fulfilled.

By 2070 all persons born in 1948 or before, when Israel became a nation, will presumably be dead as they would all be 122 years old or older. Only one person lived to a documented age of 122. Thus one can infer with reasonable certainty that Christ’s Second Coming will occur by 2070 and the Rapture will occur by 2063.[1] These events may happen much sooner than their last possible dates as persons born in 1948 are already senior citizens. Despite their advanced ages and an expected large drop in life expectancy during the Tribulation Period, some will witness Christ’s Second Coming and enter his Millennial Kingdom.

The Bible indicates that the Church Age began on the feast of Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Historical information reliably indicates that this event occurred on May 24, 33 A.D. (See Dating). One might conjecture that the Church Age is set to last 2000 years. If so, then perhaps the Rapture will occur on May 24, 2033 or during the year that follows.

There are alternate conjectures based on dating which one can make that place the start of the Tribulation Period on March 29, 2033 (the anniversary of Palm Sunday) or the Second Coming on May 14, 2033 (the anniversary of Christ’s Ascension). These alternate conjectures would advance the date of the Rapture forward. All of the conjectures may be wrong as the Rapture may occur without apparent connection to any of them. But they remain possibilities. By mid-2034, one will know whether any are accurate or not.

The occurrence of the Rapture will be an amazing news story. Nothing as strange or as seemingly supernatural as it has happened in the history of the world. It will be like a B movie in which a number of people have suddenly disappeared and no one seems to know why.

Many discerning individuals will take note of the Rapture and compare life before the Rapture to life in the years that follow. Rev 13:6 indicates that the Antichrist will find it necessary to “blaspheme … those who live in heaven,” an apparent reference to individuals who were raptured.

The Rapture will presumably just happen to saved Christians. These are people who know the Lord by accepting his gift of salvation. They are the Lord’s because he bought them by giving them salvation. The Rapture won’t happen to people who hold Christian beliefs but have not gotten saved or were not taught the importance of personal salvation. The Rapture will also raise saved people who have died. It will not raise anyone who died before the day of Pentecost as personal salvation was not available before that day. Those left behind after the Rapture will not necessarily be unrighteous or worthy of damnation.

Many saved people will not be awaiting the Rapture. Jesus predicted some will say to themselves, “My master delays his coming,” and then proceed to beat their fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards (Matt 24:48-49). The master will not be pleased when his unexpected return catches them in such activities.

Saved Christians have had a profound effect on world history. They possess eternal life and as a result the societies in which they live have eternal life which means these societies progress economically and technologically. For much of the past 2000 years Europe progressed enormously because it had a large population of saved Christians while Asia and the Muslim world which had no such population did not.

Within the Christian world following the Reformation, northern countries with large Protestant populations, like England and Germany, progressed faster than southern countries that were largely Catholic or eastern countries that were largely Orthodox. The same situation occurred in the New World following its settlement where largely Protestant Anglo-America progressed faster than largely Catholic Latin America. Many Protestants teach the importance of being saved while Catholics and those of Orthodox persuasion generally do not. Thus there are presumably many more saved Christians in largely Protestant countries than in largely Catholic or Orthodox countries.

Countries with few if any saved Christians are quite capable of economic progress, but only through importation. Japan, which closed to the Christian West in the 1630s, opened up after 1854 and began a vigorous importation of ideas, technologies and techniques. Since it had little progress when it was closed, it is clear that its progress was not native.

When the Rapture occurs, the era of economic progress will come to an end. Even after Christ’s return there will be, despite utopian conditions, no native economic progress among the mortal inhabitants. There will be economic progress in the camp of the saints. In order to progress nations will have to come up to Jerusalem once a year as required to worship Christ and to interact with the saints from whom they can import ideas or attitudes that will allow them to progress (Zech 14:16). If a nation does not go up to Jerusalem, it will economically fall behind its neighbors.

The ending of economic progress might not be so bad in itself. It would give people time to catch up with and fully understand current technology rather than constantly being asked to upgrade to better technology. However, the Bible indicates that a major technological collapse will occur.

The Rapture and its aftermath will be reminiscent of the 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. In the novel the industrialists, inventers, and other “men of the mind,” go on strike and withdraw from the world to a hidden valley in Colorado. The withdraw takes place over a period of time as the strike leader, John Galt, visits the remaining competent people and gets them to join the strike. It is not an actual strike in the sense that the strikers expect the world to respond to their demands. During the withdraw, the novel depicts economic regress setting in with people being unable to maintain existing technology. The novel ends with the completion of the withdraw and a final act of economic regress: the destruction of the last remaining railroad connection across the Mississippi River between the eastern and western halves of the U.S. The U.S. then descends into anarchy.

The Rapture will be a real life Atlas Shrugged. Economic progress will stop and economic regress will set in following the withdraw of Christians as they go on strike, so to speak.

In past centuries economic progress caused the price of a day’s food to fall from about 90% of a day’s wage to less than 5%. Rev 6:6 indicates that the price of food will rise considerably such that a day’s wage will only buy two pounds of wheat or six pounds of barley and that oil and wine will be too expensive to buy. Such prices indicate that a day’s food will cost about 70% of a day’s wage if one lives on wheat and about 20% of a day’s wage if one lives on barley. Presumably people will live mainly on barley, a grain that was eaten widely by peasants in Medieval Europe. The rise in the price of food suggests that farming will become an attractive occupation and the attraction will cause a significant migration from cities to rural areas.

Rev. 19 indicates that the battle of Armageddon will be fought with horses. These horses cannot be metaphorical stand-ins for metallic entities as the birds of the air will eat them. The use of horses in war indicates that motor vehicle production has ceased or become very limited. One can assume that civilian motor vehicle production has completely ceased as the military typically get first use of any vehicle production capability.

Ezekiel 39 also indicates that the military attack on Israel by the Russian coalition will include horses. In the coalition’s defeat an enormous amount of wood will be left such that the people of Israel will use it as firewood for seven years. It would appear that the coalition will not possess many motor vehicles and that it will be largely dependent on wooden rather than metallic military equipment. One can assume that steel and iron production has greatly declined.

From the use of horses at Armageddon and in the Russian war, one can infer that new car production will cease or become too expensive following the Rapture. Already built cars may be kept in use for some time, but these will probably be bought or confiscated by the government after it finds itself unable to produce new military vehicles. Cars might be refitted or rebuilt as military vehicles. They can at least ferry troops or supplies quickly to battlefields. Military vehicles will get used up or destroyed in wars and have to be replaced by horses. Shortages of commodities such as gasoline or rubber might further limit the use of motor vehicles.

One probable contributor to the rise in food prices is the lack of motorized plows, combines, and other farm equipment. Without such equipment the planting and harvesting of food will have to be done using oxen or by hand. Civilian air travel will probably cease as civilian airliners are taken by governments for military use. Military air travel will probably cease a short while later. The inability to produce motor vehicles indicates a decline in technical skills. Such a decline will likely affect other industries requiring such skills such as electricity production, internet service, and telephone service. A decline in industries across the board will return life to 19th century conditions. It may remain possible to build steam engines for railroad locomotives and steam ships. The technology in such engines is not that sophisticated and such engines were in use by 1830.

At the Rapture many technically skilled Christians will vanish, so there will exist a shortage of technical people. But the lack of technical people cannot be major cause of the decline as there will still remain many technically skilled people who are non-Christian or not saved Christians. These should suffice to staff many factories and to keep motor vehicles in production even if a lesser number are produced.

Since the decline cannot be explained by a lack of technical people, the decline will likely be due to widespread corruption. Corruption exists today but Christians are a check on such corruption. They are called “the salt of the earth.” (Matt 5:13). Salt was used as a preservative to keep meat from rotting. If one removes Christians from the earth, the earth begins to rot. Christians are called “the light of the world.” (Matt 5:14). If one removes the light, people who desire to do evil will no longer fear exposure.

Following the removal of Christians at the Rapture, there will be a great “increase in wickedness” (Matt 24:12). At the Rapture the United States and parts of northern Europe will find themselves without large numbers of saved people on whom they were morally dependent. These areas will likely become quickly corrupt. People lacking technical skills will use political pull or kickbacks to get themselves appointed to key positions such as heads of factories or nuclear power plants. Those in key positions will fill subordinate positions with cronies also lacking in technical skills. Merit will not be valued. When something goes wrong everyone will be clueless about how to fix it. The result will be that every factory or business that needs technical expertise will simply not have it. They will have to close down as they will not be able to function. A technological collapse will set in.

Areas that do not have large numbers of saved people, such as southern Europe and Israel, have a greater tradition of depending on unsaved people for their morality. These areas will remain relatively unchanged in the short-run as far as corruption is concerned. Because former saved areas will quickly decline, southern Europe and Israel will become relatively dominant and prosperous. Jews in the United States and other declining areas will find it advantageous to flock to Israel and will fulfill the prophecy that the Lord will bring all his people back to Israel, “not leaving any behind” (Ezek 39:28).

In an online video, an author of prophecy books indicated his belief that the attackers in the Russian war will be destroyed by nuclear weapons. The belief is based in part on the employment of specialists to bury the bones of the dead as mentioned in Ezek. 39:15. Such specialists may be used because the bones will be radioactive. However, Ezek. 39:9 indicates the people of Israel will be burning the wood left by the attackers for seven years. If the bones of the attackers are radioactive, the wood presumably will be radioactive as well.

The war raises an issue of why Russia, a nuclear power, will suffer a major defeat in Israel without launching a nuclear attack in retaliation. Presumably it will no longer have the technical capability to service its arsenal of nuclear weapons and will retire them to prevent them from blowing up or leaking radiation in Russia. Russia will also not likely have a means of delivering nuclear weapons other than using wheeled vehicles pulled by animals. At the time of the war, Israel might still possess the ability to maintain and explode its nuclear weapons. The Lord might use the Israeli military in the destruction of Russian and coalition forces.

Another issue that comes up regarding the end times is to how Israel will rebuild its ancient temple. Currently the temple site is occupied by the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine, which marks the spot many believe Mohammed ascended into heaven. Destroying the shrine would provoke outrage among millions of Muslims, so it would appear that a rebuilding of the temple on its required site is politically impossible. However, after the Rapture, polytheism will take hold, and the influence of monotheistic Muslim beliefs will decline. At some point former Muslim believers will not especially care if Muslim shrines are destroyed.

The End


[1] The oldest documented living person was Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days. Had she been born on the same day as the state of Israel, she would die on Oct. 25, 2070. The oldest documented person still living is typically much younger, about 114 to 116 years, so no documented person born is 1948 is likely to live past 2064. There are presumably additional persons who live to especially long ages who lack documentation.