I started to write this short Thought after my kids and I were watching one of the many “earth disaster” movies which are on TV from time to time. I was telling them that even in these movies, they still don't come close to the mayhem that will occur during the 'end times' spoken off in the Bible. The good bit, however, was explaining to them my belief¹ that all true children of God will not have to endure this end-time holocaust. Many Christians all around the world are holding fast to this hope, the hope of “The Rapture".
The word 'Rapture' is not found in the Bible but comes from the Latin word 'raptus' meaning “to take away" or "to snatch out of”. One of the best passages in the Bible which summarizes this event is given below:
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, emphasis mine)
There is a time of reckoning for this world and its inhabitants. There are a few names given for this time, prophesied many times in the Bible, but the most common one is the 'Great Tribulation'. These passages explain a truly horrendous time for all who will have to go through this event.
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matt. 24:21)
Although the Great Tribulation lasts a mere 7 years (with the worst aspects left to the last half) the Bible lists 21 judgements from God. Among these 'seal', 'trumpet' and 'bowl' judgements, it tells us that:
Away back in the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel describes this coming holocaust as "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time" (Dan. 12:1).
And God's reasons for allowing such a thing to happen?
Well, the reasons for this Tribulation period are twofold. Firstly, it is to bring God's judgement on a Christ-rejecting world. Secondly, it is to prepare a small portion (remnant) of the Jewish people to meet their long-awaited Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Always remember, we will have to give an account to our Creator God some day. Some will receive mercy and some will receive justice. Mercy to those who cry out for it, in the knowledge of their weakness. Justice to those who demand it in the strength of their self righteousness.
Lets now concentrate on the escape offered to those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. Before this 7 year tribulation, my belief¹ is that born again believers will be removed from this scene of time! In the twinkling of an eye we will be changed (or 'translated') in order to meet the Lord in the air.
"Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
And if you are reading this like a fairy story, then just remember that the Bible accurately foretold the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus hundreds of years before the event. So why may it not also accurately predict His next direct intervention in our affairs? I know it sounds far fetched but it WILL happen. Funny enough, many non Christians will believe me when I say that this world is headed for disaster. It is just the intervention of a Creator God which they refuse to believe.
We in the Grove church are realists. I know the whole idea of the Rapture sounds like it comes out of a Star Trek movie (beam me up Scotty, energize etc.) but please remember that it is a prophecy contained in the word of God. Preposterous it may well sound but then most scientists would also use this very word to describe Quantum theory!
Did you also know that the Rapture could occur at any time? Again, from Bible prophecy, all the other major 'end time' events have already been fulfilled. We do all need to be ready. Only 'born again' believers will ever see Heaven. And true children of God ought to behave like true children of God! After the Tribulation Jesus will come again, this time majestically, as the world's King and Judge.
I will leave you with the words which were spoken to the heart-broken disciples of Jesus, just after he was taken up to Heaven, right in front of their eyes, some 2000 years ago...
And when he (Jesus) had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he (Jesus) went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:9-11, emphasis mine)
Jesus IS coming again. Maranatha and a very Happy New Year.
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!
¹: I am aware that the topic of the 'rapture' of the true church of God has divided the church for many hundreds of years. There have been differing interpretations of most end-time prophetic Scriptures. The author of this Thought has a personally held belief in a 'pre-tribulation' rapture. I do not write this Thought to show up differences within the church but to emphasise our shared hope that Jesus is coming again.