Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope you had a great weekend.
For the last four weeks, we’ve looked at different aspects of the story arc of God redeeming mankind and how seeing and understanding that helps us interpret what scripture says about how that story ends, especially regarding the occurrence we call the Rapture.
While some may question the existence of the Rapture, I believe looking at the overall story of God’s plan leaves little doubt. He foretold the plan, He gave an example of it with Enoch and Noah, He initiated it with Abraham, and laid out the ending with Daniel.
Tonight we’re going to look at the actual scriptures regarding the Rapture. And since we have our story arc in mind and aren’t taking the passages without context, they should show their meaning on their own.
One thing I have forgotten to mention specifically which should also help. The concept and occurrence of the Rapture, while important, isn’t the main part of the story. God’s redemption plan, how He created the Jews to carry out that plan, and how He will fulfill His promises to them are the leads.
The Rapture is something of a sideline story, so the passages regarding it are a bit indirect. Which is why some people have a problem understanding it or even believing it exists. You just have to remember the arc as a guide.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3.
The fact of heaven as a place for believers is told other places. But here we see Jesus telling His disciples that He’s coming back to get them so they can be with Him. Could this just be Jesus saying He’s coming back at the end of time? No, it doesn’t fit what else we know of that time.
The Bible says that at the end Jesus will return from heaven with His saints to confront those on the earth. He will then set up His millennial kingdom and rule on the earth for a thousand years.
Here we have Jesus coming to get His believers that are currently on the earth to take them back to heaven with Him. This is part of the hope all believers have. If we die before Christ returns, we’ll be with Him immediately. If we’re still here when He returns, He’ll transform our bodies and take us home with Him.
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Notice that Paul isn’t telling the Thessalonians about the Rapture directly as a doctrine, but as an explanation of why they shouldn’t worry about fellow believers who have already died. God’s plan of redemption, the gospel, remains the primary message. Paul just gives the people the information so they won’t sorrow as others who died not knowing Jesus.
Paul gives us the play-by-play if you will, of what happens during the Rapture. Jesus comes down to the clouds with those souls who have died and have been living with Him in heaven. Those souls are reunited with their formerly dead bodies which are resurrected into rejuvenated bodies. More on that in a moment.
Then those who are currently alive when this happens will have their bodies transformed to match the others and all will rise to meet Jesus in the air. Then Jesus and all His believers with their new bodies head back to heaven to live while the earth and the remaining people go through the Tribulation.
Paul’s last statement is also important. “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” The knowledge of the Rapture is to bring hope to believers. Hope that those who have gone before are alive and well, that everyone will one day be reunited, and that all believers will be removed from the earth before God’s wrath is poured out on it during the Tribulation.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:51-55.
Here, Paul gives us a bit more information about what happens during the moment of the Rapture. And note that once again he is giving the details as a side to his main topic of discussion.
The trumpet will sound and every believer’s body will be changed from a corruptible, sin natured form to a new incorruptible one. While our old bodies age, decay, and eventually die, the new ones are totally free from corruption, won’t age, and will live for all eternity.
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10.
As God took Enoch out of the picture before His wrath of the flood, so He’s going to remove His bride before His wrath of the Tribulation is poured out on the earth. It’s interesting that some say the church, the bride of Christ, must go through the Tribulation for purification. Yet, some of the church are already in heaven with Him. Are they going to have to come back down to face the wrath of God?
Others say the Bible says all who follow Jesus will suffer persecution, and there is no difference between the persecution of the church, which is happening now, and what will take place in the Tribulation. But anyone who bothers to read Revelation can see the difference.
Persecution against the church today is man’s and Satan’s wrath against God and His followers. The Tribulation is the wrath of God Himself poured out on the unbelieving. God has no reason to expose His bride to His wrath. He did that to Christ on the cross so we would never have to experience it.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.” Revelation 3:22-4:1.
Revelation is the recording of a vision given to John the Apostle, written to the seven early churches of Asia. It is the revealing of Jesus Christ, King of the universe and Lord of all. John spends chapters three and four giving messages to the churches from Jesus, the head of the church. And at the end of chapter three he repeats his closing warning to the churches.
But at the beginning of chapter four, he says, “After these things.” After church things. This is an indication that what John is about to reveal no longer involves the church because it is no longer on the earth. The Rapture has occurred, and everything that happens now will be to those left behind.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8.
Just wanted to include this last little item regarding some timing. Many try to place us in the Tribulation every time something tragic happens. They also try to pick out who the Antichrist could be. But Paul lets us know that, not only are we not in the Tribulation as the church won’t be here for that, but the Antichrist can’t be revealed until the Restrainer, the Holy Spirit, is removed.
The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, of course, but He also inhabits every believer and plays an active role through believers. Once the Rapture occurs, all believers will be gone along with the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. He will still be here, but in a lesser active capacity, which will give Satan the freedom of reign he has been seeking. It will allow the rise of the Antichrist .
So until the Rapture occurs, the world won’t see the Antichrist on the scene. Someone could be alive who can become the Antichrist, but as Satan doesn’t know God’s timetable, he can’t reveal him until the Holy Spirit is gone.
So there we have it. God’s redemptive plan for all of mankind by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, through the Jewish people, and the removal of all believers in Christ before God finishes out His promises to the Israelites and His final wrath on unbelievers. I hope you have enjoyed walking through the scriptures on this. And I pray if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior today, you will accept His free gift of salvation so you, too, can be Raptured when He returns.
Thank you for taking the journey with me. And please take the time to ask any question you may have in the comments. We’ll start another study next week.
Until next time!
Do you know Jesus? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? According to scripture, all anyone must do is recognize their sin condition, realize that Christ died to pay for that sin, and ask Him to save them from it. Salvation is a gift of grace we receive by faith. Meet Him today! Contact me at email@example.com if you need more information.
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