Most translations of the Bible do not contain the word “rapture”. The concept which has commonly become known as “the rapture” is taken from 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” Revelation 1:7 adds “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him …” At first glance, this appears to say that at Jesus’ return he is on a cloud, everyone on earth sees him, he raises from the dead Christians who had died before, and all Christians left alive on the earth will float up to the clouds to join him. Does this thought fit with other scriptures about Jesus’ return?
John 14:19 says, “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me…” And in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” These verses say only Jesus’ followers will see him, and be like him because they will see him. This is very logical, as if Jesus descended in a form where he could be seen, on a literal cloud, only people on that side of the earth could see him. Even if this sight was huge, this could only be seen within a few miles. This strongly suggests that these scriptures are using symbols to explain Jesus’ return. This is why we need to be watching. What do we watch for?
There are several things that happen in these verses:
1. His return is accompanied by a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God – This very likely points to the fact that those watching for the signs of his return proclaim his presence to all, whether others believe it or not. During this time the following happens:
2. The dead in Christ rise first – this gives us comfort, which is the point of the context.
3. We who are alive and remain are caught up together with them – 1 Corinthians 15:51,52 tells us that we will not sleep, but will be changed during this time. When Christians die after Jesus’ return they will not sleep, but will immediately be resurrected with the nature Jesus has.
4. He comes in the clouds, and those who remain are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air – clouds symbolize trouble in the scriptures, and we are told that Jesus returns and there is a great time of trouble on the earth. It is likely this trouble will cause the death of some or all of these during his presence. Then they are immediately resurrected to be united with our Lord and be able to begin the great work of blessing all the families of the earth (Galatians 6:8)
5. These are never separated from the Lord again – what a comfort!
Question part 2: What did I hear?
I appreciate that you heard something and you want to understand what that was. As shown in the question above, the trumpet spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is symbolic and not literal, and is heard by all. It is hard to say what it was that you did hear. It is very possible that you heard something that your brain interpreted as a trumpet sound, while the others around you were focused on something different and did not notice it. Or, there are times we can hear and see things, and even touch them, that seem so real. Then we wake up and find that we were dreaming. Sometimes if there is something we are really hoping for (or fearing), our minds can make us believe that we are experiencing them, just as in a dream. This may be something you’ll find out when you can ask our Heavenly Father in His kingdom.