I have been hearing a lot from non-LDS sources about the ‘Rapture’ of Christ’s church prior to his Second Coming when “…two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matt. 24:40). I’m having difficulty equating this concept with anything I’ve encountered in gospel doctrine. What do Mormon’s believe about the Rapture? And what of the 144,000 who will be ‘saved’?
I don’t wonder that you are having difficulty equating the sectarian concept of the “Rapture of Christ’s church” with LDS doctrine. Sectarian notions are all man-made and have no basis in revealed truth. Therefore, there is indeed no correlation. As I understand the sectarian concept, it is as follows:
The Rapture is defined as one of two appearances of the Lord at His Second Coming. During his first appearance, they believe, his feet will not touch the earth, but the faithful will be caught up to meet him in the clouds of heaven. This is the Rapture. The sectarian doctrine states that after he has gathered the church to himself in the air, he will then come with the church to stand upon the earth.
The word “rapture” is defined as a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion. There is also a more specific definition that I believe applies to the context above: as a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things.
Although we may be at times overwhelmed by emotion and acquire knowledge of divine things, we don’t use the sectarian term “rapture” to describe our experiences.
The concept of only 144,000 being saved is another ridiculous sectarian doctrine that is hard to believe that it could have been formulated, let alone believed by any rational people. Could one ever imagine that the Eternal Father of all mankind would condemn all of his limitless children but a mere 144,000?? If you will look at Revelation 7:4 you will see that the word referring to the 144,000 is “sealed”, not “saved.” Further, who they really are is clearly stated in Doctrine and Covenants 77:11,
Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel–twelve thousand out of every tribe?
A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.