The rapture has been imminent throughout church history. At any moment Christ could finish building His church and return in the air for her. When the rapture does occur, the dead in Christ will be resurrected first; then living believers will be instantly glorified and caught up to join them in the air. The Lord will then escort His bride to heaven (John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:1- 58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). What about young children who have not yet believed on Christ?
The Old Testament saint Abraham once prayed: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). Though there is no Scripture that directly addresses the believer’s children at the rapture, we can suggest that they are not left behind based upon God’s character as well as His past actions. Today He is still the same righteous God, for He does not change (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8).
Consider God’s special care and love for children. The Lord designed the family unit for parents to nurture their children to the age of maturity: guiding, teaching, training, and disciplining them (Eph. 6:1-4). Since the various facets of the Lord’s eternal purposes cohesively fit together, at the rapture it is inconceivable that He would disrupt His creative design by separating believers from their young children. For the same reason we would suggest that the unbeliever’s children will remain on earth with their parents.
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 18:10: “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” This would suggest that the Father has tasked various angels to minister to young children as well as to believers (Heb. 1:14). Additionally, He said in Matthew 18:14: “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Consider the Lord’s mercy for His people Israel in the Old Testament. During the first Passover, all the young children of Israel were sheltered under the blood that their parents applied to the lintel and doorposts of their homes in obedience to the Lord for their protection (Ex. 12:21-23). Though too small to understand they were still protected, with the parents and children all being redeemed out of Egypt.
Later, due to a lack of faith to enter the promised land, the people of Israel rebelled, planning to select a new leader and return to Egypt (Num. 13-14). Apart from faithful Joshua and Caleb, the Lord judged them by preventing those twenty and older from entering the land. They sojourned in the wilderness for 38 years until the older generation had all perished (Deut. 2:14). The Lord did not hold those younger responsible. Consider as well King David’s words after losing his baby: “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me,” indicating that David expected to see his baby again in paradise (2 Sam. 12:23).
Similarly, in this church age it is reasonable to suggest that young children are covered by the blood of Christ until they reach the age of accountability; the time when they are capable of choosing to accept or reject God’s way of salvation in Christ alone. This age could vary from child to child. Those protected by Christ include the children of miscarriages, murdered unborn babies, the untimely death of young children, as well as living believers’ children at the rapture. In Matthew 19:14 the Lord said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Heaven will have many children.
First Corinthians 15:23 says that those who take part in the first resurrection and the rapture are “those who are Christ’s at His coming.” The purpose of the Lord in removing believers is so that His wrath and judgment can fall upon an unbelieving world. The church is Christ’s beloved. It is unthinkable that He would leave His beloved’s innocent children behind for wrath. Instead, their children who have not reached the age of accountability are included in those who are Christ’s at His coming.