Are we truly in the last days of our world? How do we know we are? If so, what can we expect to happen in the days to come?
The Bible gives us signs that identify the period known as the “last days”. Last time we were together, I wrote about some of those signs.
We found according to scripture, that the last days actually began upon the birth of Jesus. The book of Hebrews begins by telling us that the last days began with the appearance of Jesus to His creation. Although the appearance of Jesus was an event that occurred nearly two thousand years ago, the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:8-10 teaches us that God counts time more in opportunities to repent than in days, weeks, months, and years. Suddenly, just as in the days of Noah, the end will come as a thief in the night with Jesus returning for His church and those left behind will encounter tragedy and pain like no other period in history.
In the last blog, we looked at some characteristics of the last days; attitudes and happenings that will be signs of the prophesied spiritual condition of those days.
Today, I want to look at another event of the end times: an event known by the church throughout history as “the rapture.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-58 details the event we have come to know as “the rapture.” It is interesting to note that the word, “rapture” is not in the scripture. But, neither are several words we use to describe biblical realities like the words, “Trinity” or “missionary.”
The word “Rapture” in Scripture is taken from the Latin “rapio” for the two words “caught up” used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
A day is coming when a shout shall come from heaven followed by a trumpet blast and the graves of all those who knew Jesus as their Lord and Savior will arise from the dead and those who are still alive will be “caught up” with them; flying like Mary Poppins without the umbrella and we shall be united together with the Lord in the air never to be separated from Him or one another again!
The word “rapture” is used to describe:
An intense feeling of pleasure or joy.
The book of Titus describes the appearing of Jesus for His children “the blessed hope.” The birth of Jesus started the beginning of the last days. The rapture of the church will signal the beginning of the end times.
Just like many doctrinal positions, the rapture of the church is an event that has several viewpoints.
I want to share those quickly with you now.
- Partial Rapture
Belief in this view is that those who are saved and sanctified (living an obedient life) will go to be with Christ while saved, yet unsanctified Christians will remain behind to be purified through the Tribulation. I have problems with this view due to our salvation being a work of Christ alone and the fact that the body of Christ is to be undivided.
- Post Tribulation Rapture
Belief in this view is that Christians will go through the Tribulation to receive their inheritance at the end. While I can see why some people believe this, I have some problems with this view. The Tribulation has a purpose: to judge the world and reveal the wrath of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:9: “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Revelation 3:10: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
The Old Testament story of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt which according to 1 Corinthians 10 is a type of what is to come shows the Israelites protected from the judgments of Egypt. At this point, I believe we will not go through the Tribulation.
- Mid Tribulation Rapture
Again, while I can see why some believe this view, I don’t believe it for the same reasons I don’t believe in post Tribulation Rapture.
- No Rapture
There are some that believe that the church will become so victorious that it will usher in the Millenial Kingdom of Christ.
2 Timothy 3:12-13: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
2 Timothy 3:1: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come..”
In Matthew, chapter 24, Jesus gives His disciples a glimpse of the events of the end times and of His coming. War, persecution, offense, false prophets, apostasy…….these are the events foretold by the One who knows the end from the beginning! Sounds slightly different from what is known in church circles as “Kindgom Now.”
- Pre Tribulation Rapture
In this view, Jesus will return for His church and that event will usher in the beginning of the Tribulation.
When you are studying the rapture of the church, there are several things you need to keep in mind. First of all, the second coming of Christ is in two parts, separated by a period of seven years.
The first part is sometimes referred to as the “Rapture” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:52-58). The second part occurs when Christ physically, bodily returns to this earth on the Mount of Olives from which He ascended. The interval between these two events, known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, is divided into two, three-and-a-half year periods each. The seventy weeks described in Daniel 9:24-27 speaks of this period as well. The term “week” meaning a seven year period.
The Great Tribulation is the “wrath to come” from which the believer is delivered by the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). The children of God, “because they have kept the word of His patience, will be kept from that hour of trial.” (Revelation 3:10).
I believe that the Scripture teaches that Christians will not be judged with the world when God pours out His wrath in the day of the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Scripture teaches us to look for the Lord’s return, not for the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:10 and Titus 2:13).
Whatever God has in store for us, it will be for His glory and could happen at any moment!
Jesus said regarding His second coming, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” We should live like Jesus is coming today. As we saw through looking at the characteristics of the last days, we are closer than we dare dream!