“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive will gather together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). “And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. and Elisha saw it and cried out, `My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw him no more” (11 Kings 2:11-12). These two men of God are types and shadows of the third rapture that will soon take place, the rapture of the Church (born again Christians). Notice in the above scripture that it will be the Lord Himself who will step out of heaven’s gate and call His Church unto Himself. In the twinkling of an eye those who have fallen asleep (died) will be awakened and rise first, and those who are in Christ and are still alive will then meet the Lord in the air. We do no meet Him on earth, but in the air! Jesus will not put His feet back on earth until He returns and puts an end to the soon coming Tribulation, or the Seventh Week of Daniel. Sixty nine weeks have already been completed, but the seventh week, seven years of tribulation are still future. Understandably, not everyone agrees that the Church will miss the Tribulation, but I am certainly of that persuasion. Let’s look once again at events that are recorded in the Old Testament, events that are types and shadows of a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.
The Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all of your household for you alone I have seen to be Righteous ” (Gen. 7:1). This is a beautiful portrait of the reward of salvation. Judgement was impending, but God made a way for Noah and his family to escape. Next we see a man named Lot, the nephew of Abraham who had fallen into deception and taken his family into Sodom, the city of sin. Most of us would have called Lot an underserving sinner, but God called him Righteous (2 Peter 2:7). Why? The answer is found in Romans 5:7, and it is the same answer that makes us Righteous. “For until the Law sin was in the world, but where there is no Law sin is not imputed.” Lot lived almost 500 years before the Law was given to the nation of Israel. Therefore, God did not impute his sin to him. That does not mean that there is no consequence for sin. Lot paid a heavy penalty for his sin, yet God delivered him and his family from the impending disaster. In the same way, God does not impute our sins against us for we are not under Law, but Grace. Jesus atoned for our all of our sins, those past, those present, and those we commit in the future. It all happened when Jesus went to the Cross. Since the blood of bulls and goats kept Israel from judgment during the first Passover, how much more will the blood of Jesus keep us from the coming judgment.
Read and listen to this promise of Jesus to the Church of Philadelphia, the current Church. “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world to test those who dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 3:10). In the Book of Revelation, the Church (the saved) is mentioned nineteen times in the first three chapters, but thereafter the Church can’t be found until chapter nineteen. Why? Because the Church has been raptured. In chapter four, we see Jesus stepping out of heavens door and calling the Church unto Himself. In chapter nineteen, we are seen once again coming back to earth with the Captain of Host, Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For we were not destined for wrath, but for salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Is there a prophecy that must take place before the rapture of the Church? None that I am aware of! Yet God has appointed a time that He alone knows. It is very possible that His pre-appointed time is linked to a predetermined number of souls that will be saved. When that number is reached, the Church door will close. Several years ago Penny and I were rushing to get our children out of our car and into church to avoid being late. As we hurriedly moved towards the sanctuary an usher stood at the door and joking called out, “Too late, the door is closing.” Even though I knew he was joking, a momentary spirit of fear gripped me as I pictured the moment in time when God closes the door to the Church. As in the days of Noah, many will be left to impending doom. The question is this: Are you ready for His call ??? Blink your eyes! It will happen that fast and it can happen at any moment. If you aren’t sure, a previous article titled, “Got A Paid For Ticket?” may be helpful.
As we move forward in our study, it is quite evident that the prophecies that separate the Rapture from the beginning of the Great Tribulation are closely entwined. They are two separate events, but each event will be completely orchestrated at the will of Jesus, the Father’s Son. With that in mind we may surmise; what will happen to those who are left behind? Can anyone be saved? Will the saved be indwelled by the Holy Spirit? Can a saved person lose their salvation during the Tribulation? Who will take the mark of the Beast? What happens to those who do? Lots of questions, and of the times and epochs no one knows, but the Book of Revelation reveals a lot that we can know. What we need to know is written in the Book. Next week we will focus on “The Days After The Rapture!” In Christ, Don & Penny