The Old Testament in the Bible, the Word of God, is full of types, pictures, shadows of things in the New Testament, or the real thing. For example, there are some scenes or events in the Old Testament that are types or pictures of the rapture. The word ‘rapture’ does not exist in the Bible, but 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 has a phrase, ‘caught up’, which indicates that it is a rapture.
Now the Old Testament believers and prophets did not know anything about the rapture, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His saints as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (all those who believe in Him and are saved), but they knew about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with His saints, which is His appearing after the great tribulation (see for instance 2 Thessalonians 2). There are also types of the great tribulation in the Old Testament, and even the Old Testament refers this period as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
When people skip the Old Testament and just stick to the passages of the New Testament because it is about Christ and how we should live our lives, they miss out on blessings and vital teachings in the Old Testament that point out to Christ, the rapture, and so on. If you, dear reader, are tempted to disregard the Old Testament, please remember that this is also part of the divine Word of God, and that God has a lot of things to tell us from the Old Testament.
In this article, I will attempt, with supporting Scripture, to show some of the Old Testament events as types of the rapture. When we speak about a type, it really is a picture of something, or someone. For example, we see a photograph of a country, or a city, and immediately we say that this is country so and so, or city so and so, but in reality, it is only a picture of the real country or city. It is only when we actually visit the country or city that we can appreciate the beauty that is displayed in the photograph that we see. This is exactly the same with the Old Testament in the Bible. It presents to us pictures and types of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Person, His work, and many other aspects of Him.
Let us look at the first instance, or type, of the rapture, which can be found in Enoch in Genesis 5. Now that chapter in Genesis is very interesting in itself. It has a list of genealogies from Adam, and every descendant is mentioned of him that he died. When we get to Enoch, the seventh from Adam (read Jude verse 14), he did not die. What happened? Genesis 5:24 tells us that Enoch walked with God, and was not, for God took him. It means that Enoch did not see death, but called his son Methuselah, pointing out to the coming judgement by the flood. The name Methuselah means ‘when he dies, it will come’, or something along those lines. What will come? The judgement of the flood. However, Enoch walked with God and in Hebrews 11 he had the testimony that he pleased God.
The interesting fact is that Enoch was taken away by God, before the judgement of the flood. Is this not a clear type of the rapture of believers? We, as those saved by the precious blood of Christ, will be taken up and be with Him before the judgement of the great tribulation. Revelation 3:10 indicates that we will be taken up before the great tribulation. As Enoch was taken by God and ‘raptured’ before the flood, so will be the same situation with all who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
After Enoch was taken up and Methuselah died, Noah comes into the scene, and at that time Noah was building the ark in anticipation of God’s word of judgement. The flood then came upon the earth, and because Noah was righteous and found grace in the eyes of God (Genesis 6:8-9), God made a provision for him and his family. The ark speaks of Christ, but this will be explained in another article. Noah built the ark and went into it, he and his family, all together eight people were saved (1 Peter 3:20). Therefore, the flood is a type of the great tribulation that will come upon the earth, and Noah and his family present a picture of those who will accept the coming of the Lord in His kingdom, not in grace, but in judging the wicked. These people who will accept Christ as their King are represented by Noah and his family who went into the ark and were saved.
There are three different types of people when we read Genesis 5 and 6. The first is Enoch, who was caught up, or ‘raptured’ before the flood, representing all true believers in Christ, whether they believe in the pre-tribulation rapture or a post-tribulation rapture, or a mid-tribulation rapture, if they truly accept the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, they will be caught up together with those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then there are those who died in the flood, those who refused to listen to the preaching of Noah and perished (see 1 Peter 3:18-20 and the article called Preaching to the spirits in prison).The last group are those who are saved in the flood, those who went into the ark, speaking of Christ, and were saved out of the tribulation. There are those in the future who will be saved out of the tribulation, a remnant of the nation of Israel, and others of the nations who may not have heard about the gospel of salvation. They will accept Christ as their King and will be saved, but not like the way in which we are saved today.
Another instance is found in the book of Daniel, we have a faint picture of the rapture and the great tribulation. In the book of Daniel, the children of Judah were taken captive by Babylon and served their first king, Nebuchadnezzar. This commenced the times of the gentiles and the different ways in which God dealt with gentile kings. Daniel and his friends were faithful even unto death, and God gave them favour in the eyes of the gentile king. In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar, after hearing about his dream and interpretation about what will happen after his time, built a huge statue covered in gold. He commanded all in his kingdom to worship that statue and those who do not, are cast into a furnace of fire. Is this not a picture of what will happen in the great tribulation, at least in the last half of the seven years? Revelation 13:16-18).
If we read Daniel 3 closely, we read about the types of music that are played, and there are six types specifically listed, and these are mentioned in the chapter three times (see verses 5 the herald speaking and verse 7 the narrative when the people heard the music, verse 10 when the accusers spoke to the king about Daniel’s friends, and 15 the words of the king himself). If we read Revelation 13:18, the number of the beast is actually 666, which is the number of man. The whole idea is that man will be worshipped instead of God, and if the people refused, they will be killed. Again, is this not a type of the great tribulation? We can ask ourselves, where was Daniel in chapter 3? We do not read of him. There are some who suggest that he was taken out of the scene, being a type of the rapture of believers before the great tribulation. However, Daniel was there in chapters 4, 5, and 6 and in chapter 6 he was thrown in the den of lions for refusing to ask petition of the king, so there has to be another explanation, which will not be discussed here. Whether he was present or not, we can be sure that he would not have bowed down and worshipped the statue along with his friends.
The interesting fact is that his friends were cast into the furnace, and it was heated seven times more than normal as a result of the king’s wrath (Dan 3:19). Because of the heat of the fire, those who threw Daniel’s friends actually died, but God saved Daniel’s friends. In fact, another Person was with them, and many suggest that this was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Daniel’s friends were saved in the fire, a type of those faithful people who will not worship man, but faithfully await Christ as their king, and will be saved through the tribulation, but NOT out of, or from, the tribulation. Of-course there are many who will die in the tribulation for being faithful to Christ as the rightful King, but they will be saved and enjoy the blessings of the Millennium. God showed in Daniel 3 that He can save His own people out of fire, even though He may choose not to. He is showing His greatness to gentile kings at that time, because it was the starting point of the times of the gentiles and the captivity of Judah.
There is another type of the rapture in the Old Testament found in Elijah. It is interesting to note that the two people who did not see death both begin with the letter E in the English language. These are Enoch and Elijah. In Elijah, we see a prophet speaking the words of God as a sign of judgement. He was bold in his approach to the wicked king of Israel, Ahab, but the king regarded Elijah as the enemy and troubler of Israel. Elijah was caught up in a chariot at the end on his ministry (2 Kings 2:1-12) seen by Elisha, who was his successor. Both these men had different types of ministry from God, but God saw it fitting that He should take up, or catch Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind. This will be the same with us, except that the Lord Jesus will receive us to Himself (John 143; 1 Thess 4:13-18). He will come for us and we will be forever with Him.
Perhaps there may be one other type of the rapture in the Old Testament. If I may suggest, this is found in Asenath, who was given to Joseph as a wife after he was exalted by Pharaoh. He was still rejected by his brethren when Asenath was given to him. She bears him sons during the time of plenty before the famine commenced. The famine can be seen as a type of the great tribulation as people were struggling for food and for survival, but Joseph saved the lives of his family, the Egyptians, and the nations. They came to him as the one who was exalted. His sons Manasseh and Ephraim are seen in the famine, a type of Israel who will go through the great tribulation and a remnant will be saved. Where is Asenath in the time of the famine? There is no mention of her as helping Joseph. There is a faint glimpse of her being ‘raptured’ as she is not mentioned at all as being involved in the scene in the time of the famine. It is interesting that the famine Joseph told Pharaoh lasted for seven years, another strong type of the great tribulation, which will last for seven years after the rapture of the Church. Therefore, as Asenath was not present on the scene in the years of the famine, so the Church will not go through the great tribulation. Why would the bride of Christ enter this scene that is reserved for Israel as God’s earthly people? It is true that the name of Asenath is mentioned during the time when the famine commenced, but we do not read of her being by Joseph’s side helping him.
May we appreciate the Lord Jesus more and more as we read the Old Testament and see the typology in the Word of God, especially that of the rapture, the Lord Jesus will come for us one day and we will be forever with Him. Blessed be His glorious Name!