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The RaptureChapter 3
The Rapture of the Church
To Meet The Lord in The Air
“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.” (1Thessalonians 4:17)
The Rapture of The Church
As we have previously stated, the Rapture of the Church is going to be the greatest event in human history, at least as far as the attention of world is concerned. It will be eclipsed only by the literal Second Coming of The Lord, which will take place about 7 years later. The Rapture of the Church will sure get the world’s attention. The dead in Christ, being given glorified bodies and being reunited with the spirit and the soul, will attract no attention whatsoever because they will not be seen, known, or understood. However, when every living saint of God on the face of the earth instantly leaves this mortal coil, that is going to be the event of all events. On the one side of the world, it will be night, while on the other side, it will be the opposite. This means that Christian pilots, who are at the time flying airplanes, whether airliners loaded with people or cargo, will instantly leave the cockpit to go to be with The Lord. Consequently, that particular situation will spell real trouble for those in the planes who are left behind. Business transactions will be in process when, all of a sudden, one or some of the participants will instantly leave the scene and actually vanish before the very eyes of the other participants. An unsaved husband will be speaking to his redeemed wife, and she will no longer be there.
What will happen with all of the children when the trump sounds? We are speaking of those children below the age of accountability. First of all, I believe that the soul and spirit of every child who dies below the age of accountability, irrespective of the spiritual condition of the parents, instantly go to be with The Lord Jesus Christ “…Suffer the little children to come unto me,… for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14) But yet, I believe that when the trump sounds, if one or both of their parents are saved, all children below the age of accountability will go as well. If neither one of the parents is saved, I do not see that the little children below the age of accountability will go in the Rapture. It must be quickly understood that to not go in The Rapture does not mean the person is spiritually lost. When that child reaches the age of accountability, whatever that age might be, he can give his heart to The Lord. There’s no doubt many will. Many erroneously think that when we say this, we are meaning that little children are eternally lost. No. It is true that, if after reaching the age of accountability that child refuses to give his heart and life to The Lord, when he dies, he will be eternally lost. However, upon reaching the acceptable age, he can give his heart to Christ at any time, and he will be saved.
The Attention of the World
As stated, if one wants to get the attention of the world, it should definitely be understood that the Rapture will accomplish that fact. If we think this through, this will be something of earth-shattering proportions, even far beyond what we can begin to imagine. The idea of millions of people instantly disappearing, leaving only their clothing on the floor, shall boggle the mind. Most of these people will disappear right before the eyes of others. Some have claimed that the news will be put out that this is some type of hoax. However, that is silly. How can one explain the instant disappearance of millions of people before untold millions of eye witnesses and try to claim that it’s a hoax? That’s exactly what’s going to happen, that they will instantly disappear. Two things will happen at that time:
No, the world is going to know in no uncertain terms that the Rapture of the Church has taken place.
What Will the World Do At That Time?
It’s not so much what the world will do as to what the world will become. With all believers taken out, who constitutes salt (preservative) and light (illumination), satan is pretty much left with free reign. While there will be millions at that time who will then give their hearts to Christ, still, there is a vast difference in a new convert and one who is mature in The Lord. As to what will happen at that time, the world will begin a vortex of evil, a cascade of evil, and a Niagara of evil such as it has never known in all of its history. In this climate, the antichrist will make his debut. For a while, the world with think that he actually is the true Jewish Messiah, especially considering that the Jews will claim him as such. However, that will not be the case, but rather, the very opposite. Jesus said of this seven years, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” He then said, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22) The idea is that the first part of this seven year period will be relatively peaceful but with the second half, or approximately so, witnessing the most horrifying evil and destruction the world has ever known. It is that time of which Jesus speaks as being shortened, otherwise, there would be no one left alive on the earth. However, the real reason for this terrible time of bloodletting being shortened is for Israel’s sake, who is referred to here as “the elect.”
Why Seven Years?
The angel, Gabriel, appeared to Daniel and told him that “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,…” (Daniel 9:24) In the Hebrew language, seventy weeks literally means seventy-sevens i.e., seventy sevens of years, which is 490 years. Without going into detail at this time regarding what that means, suffice it to say that sixty-nine of these weeks, 483 years, have already been fulfilled. The only thing remaining to be fulfilled is the one week, or seven years, which is actually the time of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:21. Concerning this one week of years, or seven years, Daniel also prophesied and said, “And he (referring to the antichrist) shall confirm the covenant with many (this speaks of nations) for one week (seven years): and in the midst of the week (3 ½ years) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,...” (Daniel 9:27) The antichrist will stop the Jews from offering their sacrifices in the newly reconstructed temple in Jerusalem, which actually refers to him declaring war on Israel at that time. This will then show his true colors, with Israel going into the worst time of conflict and trouble it has ever known, even as Jesus said. In fact, they will be saved only by the Second Coming according to Revelation 19. So, when we say “seven years” as it refers to the coming Great Tribulation, that is why the number seven is used.
Then We Which are Alive and Remain
The heading refers to the second phase of the Rapture which will, no doubt, take place moments after the resurrection of the dead bodies of saints. As we’ve already said, the sudden disappearance all over the world of millions of believers actually vanishing into thin air, and even before the eyes of untold numbers of onlookers, is going to create the spectacle, a sensation, and an absolute phenomenon such as the world has never known. Due to the proliferation of the Gospel by television and radio, there are many in the world who have heard of the Rapture of the Church. In fact, just a short time ago, I overheard part of a song (not a Christian song) that mentioned the Rapture but in a very sarcastic and derogatory way. In other words, they were making fun of this that the Bible teaches. That is the spirit of the world. Concerning believers, will there be any warning that this is about to take place? Actually, the Bible does not say. We are, rather, told to expect this event at any time, and thusly, to live close to The Lord. In fact, John said “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) He then said, speaking of the Rapture “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he (Jesus) is pure.” (1 John 3:3) So, the very idea of the imminent return of The Lord Jesus Christ for His saints has a strong tendency, even as The Holy Spirit said through John, to keep one close to The Lord. That is, if one is truly watching and waiting for that coming. And here’s the reality, few are. Much of the modern church does not even believe in the Rapture. Worse yet, most in the church are actually not saved, so what can be expected?
Shall Be Caught Up Together with Them in the Clouds
The heading refers to the dead in Christ rising first and then all of those alive being instantly changed as well and then catching up with them to meet The Lord in the air. “Caught up” in the Greek is “harpazo” and means the following:
The short phrase “with them” implies a meeting of sorts even before meeting Jesus. The change that will take place in the believer at the Resurrection or the Rapture pertains, first of all, to the physical body being glorified, with The Lord changing those who are alive according to 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and the dead body given a new body as well as changed (1 Corinthians 15:38, 44). However, this change that will take place will not only be in the physical realm but in the mental realm also. Paul said concerning this present time “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” He then said concerning the Rapture “But when that which is perfect is come (the Resurrection), then that which is in part (the old way) shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-11) The apostle is likening the difference in now and then (after we are resurrected) as the difference in a child and an adult. This is how increased the mental ability of the child of God will be at that time.
Then Shall I Know
The apostle went on to say, “For now we see through a glass, darkly (not clear at all); but then face to face (will see clearly): now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (which implies perfect knowledge).” (1 Corinthians 13:12) As well, this great change also involves the spiritual. In our present state, the physical body pretty much dominates the human being with the spirit of man answering to the physical body. In the coming resurrection, this will no longer be the case. The spirit of man, then energized constantly by The Holy Spirit, will dominate the individual, giving man a completely new dimension. Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
The Spirit of Man
In other words, the Master is saying that the spirit of man cannot function as it ought due to the weaknesses of the flesh. As stated, that will all change in the Resurrection, when the spirit of man will then have dominion even as God originally intended. Before the fall in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were controlled by their spirits, which was energized by The Holy Spirit. At the fall, however, and because of that sickening degeneration, the flesh became the dominant factor. The reason was that the spirit of man is that which worships God. After the fall, man, being spiritually dead, could not worship God, so the spirit became moribund. After conversion (the born again experience), the spirit of man, of course, is no longer moribund (lifeless) but now can worship God. However, even though the believer is sanctified and justified, he still isn’t glorified and will not be such until the coming Rapture or Resurrection. Therefore, the physical body, although not now dominant, or else it’s not supposed to be, still plays a great part in our existence due to it being the weak link. Although spiritually neutral, still it presents the believer with great problems. Thank The Lord that will be changed at the Resurrection.
To Meet The Lord in the Air
The heading presents the greatest meeting that humanity has ever known. However, only those who are washed in the Blood of The Lamb will participate in this meeting. As we’ve already stated, the Greeks have two words for air. The first is “aer”, which refers to the lower, denser atmosphere. And the second is “aither”, which speaks of the atmosphere above the lower atmosphere. Actually, the Greeks, at least in their thinking, separated these two to the very foot. They used the summit of Mount Olympus, which is 9,570 feet high, as the limit of the lower atmosphere and refer to that as “aer.” Anything above that, they refer to as “aither.” Paul used the Greek word “aer”, referring to the lower atmosphere or from 9,570 feet down. Consequently, knowing that The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle to say these words, even giving him the exact words to say, we know that Jesus will come at least within 9,570 feet of this earth and perhaps lower. At this particular height, whatever it will be, 9,570 or lower, this great meeting will take place. Those who go to meet Jesus will be those for whom He died. Of course, He actually died for the entirety of the world according to John 3:16, but most of the world, sadly and regrettably, rejected Him. It was and is the most foolish decision they will have ever made. For all who have accepted Christ and what He did at The Cross on our behalf, that was the greatest move we ever made. The absolute glory of it all, the splendor of it all, and the wonder of it all, absolutely defies description. As someone has said, “all of this and Heaven, too.”
And So Shall We Ever Be With The Lord
The heading presents unparalleled glory, a Rapture absolutely beyond expression, which is the actual reason and purpose for all that we are and all that we hope to be, to be with The Lord. As well, we will be with Him forever and forever. This does not mean that the saints will always remain with Christ in the air, but rather to be with Him wherever He is. At that moment, all of the saints will go to Heaven with Jesus with the Judgment Seat of Christ then taking place as well as the marriage supper of The Lamb. Then, The Lord, along with every saint, will come back to the earth. Actually, it will be during the middle of the battle of Armageddon, when He will defeat the antichrist and then set up His Millennial Kingdom. He will reign on the earth for a thousand years with all the saints of God reigning with Him. Israel will, once again, become prominent during this time. At the end of the 1,000 years, satan will be loosed from the bottomless pit for a short period of time, but he will not be allowed to remain loosed very long. He will then be consigned to the Lake of Fire along with all of his fallen angels and demon spirits plus every lost soul who has ever lived. He will remain there locked away forever and forever according to Revelation Chapter 20. At that time, the end of the Millennial Reign, The Lord will renovate the Heavens and the Earth with fire cleansing them totally and completely from their defilement of the previous time. After that, John said, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth (refurbished) for the first heaven and first earth were passed away and there was no more sea.” (Revelation 21:1) John then said that he saw the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of Heaven, then being relocated on planet earth, where it will remain forever. In fact, God will transfer His headquarters from Heaven to earth according Revelation 21-22. John then described how this New Jerusalem will look, giving some information concerning that coming time, which presents it as glorious beyond compare.
Revelation 21 and 22 describe the perfect age to come when there will be no more satan, sin, or the effects of sin. However, I would remind the reader that The Holy Spirit, through John the apostle, reminds us as well that all of this beauty, glory, splendor, and magnificence has been made possible because of what Jesus did at The Cross. In these two chapters, The Holy Spirit refers to this that I say by using the name Lamb seven times. This is done so that the future ages, even forever and forever, will never forget that all of this was bought at such a great price, the death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Resurrection. (Revelation 21:9, 14, 22, 23, 27; 22:1, 3)
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Wherefore Comfort One Another
A little more than 300 years after the epistle of Paul had arrived at its destination in Thessalonica, seven thousand people were put to death in the circus in that city. This terrible slaughter was carried out within 3 hours by the order of the emperor Theodosius, AD 389. It is very possible that some of the believers in Thessalonica remembered so long before, the admonishment of the apostle, “comfort one another with these words”, did exactly that to the bereaved thousands at that horrible time. At its best, life is hard. Even if a person has all the money he can spend and place and position, life is still hard. Of course, there are not many who fit this bill, considering the population of the entirety of the world. Still, even with those things, if perhaps they would come one’s way, the disappointments, the frustrations, and the heartbreaks of life are present just the same, whether one is rich or poor. Even with believers, there are still frustrations and disappointments, despite the grand and glorious help of The Holy Spirit. The idea is this, preachers make grand mistakes when they attempt to acclimate people to this present world instead of the one that is to come. Regrettably, there is little interest presently in that which is to come with almost all attention directed toward the present. People who follow such preachers are being led down a path of spiritual oblivion. The saint of God is to ever keep his eye on the things of heaven. His inheritance is above, and The Lord is above. We look forward, even groan within ourselves, knowing that because of the fall of man, things are not right. So, we look for a better land, a better place, and a better time. To be sure, it is coming, according to Romans 8:23. The comfort we are to provide among ourselves and between ourselves is the knowledge that this mortal coil is going to soon end. Jesus is coming back for His church and we will be forever with Him. What a glorious thought! What a glorious promise! Indeed, what a glorious truth!
With These Words
“These words” refers to that which Paul gave concerning the Rapture of the Church. Some try to belittle the word “rapture” claiming that it should not be used because it is not in the Bible. However, in depth study shows that there is justification for using it. The Greek word used here means “to seize.” Then, it came to mean “to snatch up forcibly.” The Greek word was translated in to Latin by “raptus.” From this comes our English words “rapt” and “rapture.” Today, these words usually speak of being carried away emotionally or spiritually, but one meaning of “rapt” in current dictionaries is “lifted up and carried away.” Thus, it is perfectly good English to translate this verse, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be rapt (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air.” As well, we should understand that “these words” are actually the words of The Lord, and by all means should be heeded to the utmost. Consequently, for those who claim that there is no such thing as a rapture, they would do well to read and study these words very carefully.
That Which Has Been and That Which is Coming
The universal situation of the human race, I think, borders on desperation. The powers of evil seem to have intensified their activities to carry the human race on swiftly to a dreadful destruction. Juvenile delinquency is rampant, with morals long since gone because the Bible has been removed from the social position of mankind. This had resulted in schools becoming some of the most dangerous places in the city, with the home following a close second. Teenage crime is frightening, with gangs ruling parts of great cities. Drunkenness is on the increase. In fact, there are some 20 million alcoholics in America. Add to that the horrifying scourge of drug addiction, with prisons glutted, and we see the true condition of the nation and in fact, the world. And yet, the nation gets deeper and deeper into sin by legalizing same-sex marriages which, in a sense, is one slapping the face of God. Abortion is so horrible as to defy description, with body parts of little unborn babies, and some of them recently born, being sold to the highest bidder. I ask you, is that any different than the human sacrifices of boys and girls in Bible times?
The apostasy is sweeping the church, with it lulled to sleep as well, not seemingly realizing what is happening. Much of the denominational world has rejected The Holy Spirit, and consequently, has been left with nothing but an empty profession. Pentecostals and charismatics are running after hucksters and religious conmen. However, the more they are conned and their pockets picked, it seems the more they enjoy what is happening. This present darkness is subtle and therefore extremely dangerous. In fact, the church has never been bigger and has never been richer. However, the 500 pound man, although big, is not healthy, as should be obvious. As well, even while the church boasts of its gold and silver, The Lord says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:17) What an indictment! The reason for much of this is the church abandoning the Word of God, and in its place, inserting the wisdom of men. With one act of disobedience, Adam brought the entire human race into sin, with the result noted as we have just stated. Actually, the entrance of sin into the human race produced two problems, an individual problem and an international one. To meet the first, Someone was needed Who could pay the price for redemption. To meet the second, a nation was needed.
Due to Adam’s fall, each individual was and is constituted a sinner and needs a Savior. The promise of a Savior was given in Genesis 3:21. There, the type predicts a Substitute Who would bear that person’s sins, pay the penalty, and thus make way for a righteous God to bestow salvation upon the believing sinner. At the same time, He would maintain His righteousness by satisfying the just requirements of His law that sinners broke. However, the aggregate of sinners resulted in the formation of nations which were composed of sinners and became hostile to one another. The result of such is the international situation we have presently. To meet that problem, a righteous nation was needed that would form the nucleus, around which, other nations might live in a state of peace and righteousness. To bring that nation into existence, which is of absolute necessity in God’s plan of redemption, He called out a pagan living in Ur of Chaldea. He was a wealthy, sophisticated, and self-sufficient man of the world. God saved him in sovereign grace and gave him this unconditional promise. “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3) That man was Abraham, and that nation to be was Israel.
It is important to note that these promises are, first of all, a means to an end, the blessing of the entire human race. Secondly, they are unconditional and are to be fulfilled, irrespective of Abraham’s conduct or that of the race descended from him. God could not afford to base the blessing of all of mankind upon the actions of a frail human being. He promised to make the Jewish nation a great nation. The question becomes, by what standards could that be said of that nation up to the present moment? Despite His protection and blessing, Israel failed God by persisting in idolatry, and He had to send the nation into captivity in which the larger part still remained. The minority that returned to the land of Israel after the Babylonian captivity was offered the restoration of the earthly kingdom with a Davidic king on the throne. That offer was actually made by Christ, the Messiah of Israel. However, the nation of Israel would not recognize Him as the Messiah, despite incontrovertible proofs, and the results were that they crucified their Messiah, actually the very One Who made the offer. Because of that, Israel was sent into worldwide dispersion, which took place in AD 70 with Titus, the Roman tenth legion, completely destroying Jerusalem. Over one million Jews were killed and hundreds of thousands sold into slavery. In effect, the nation ceased to exist at that time, with the nation consequently being scattered all over the earth.
The Promise of God
This means that the promise of God has not yet been fulfilled, which means that the time of Israel’s greatness is yet future. Even with the nation destroyed, to preserve this people for its future history, God, in a loose sense of the word, throws His own protection around these people, as scattered as they might be. Their rejection of Christ submitted the world to a continued bloodletting, privation, misery, want, suffering, disease, and destruction that Jesus could have handled forthwith, even as His short 3 ½ years of public ministry proved. However, Israel rejected Him. In effect, because of who Israel was and the promises by God made to them, they answered for the entirety of the human race. As Adam answered for individuals, Israel answered for the nations. Both answered wrongly, and the suffering that followed has been astonishingly awful to say the least. The turmoil presently in nations of the world is due to the fact that Israel is not totally in her rightful place in the Promised Land and under her Covenanted King, the Son of God, her Messiah and the world’s Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. Jonah, refusing to preach to Nineveh, was swallowed by the fish. The gastric juices of the fish could not digest Jonah. Since the presence of the undigested body of Jonah was a source of discomfort to the fish, it vomited him out on the shores of Israel.
Israel has not fulfilled her mission to the Gentiles and has failed because they thought they had a monopoly on God’s salvation, for which The Holy Spirt, through Paul, warned them over and over. The Gentile nations have swallowed the Jewish nation, and not being able to assimilate it, are suffering the discomforts of international strife. All of the presidents from Harry Truman to the present time have had to deal with Israel. Despite her comparatively small size, Israel, along with her contenders in one way or the other, remains the great trouble spot of the world. The truth is, not until Israel is ruled by her Messiah, The Lord Jesus Christ from the loins of David, so to speak, will real peace come. Not until then will that nation be a blessing to the entire human race. The promise of Genesis 12:2-3 is still to be fulfilled in the future. Under Israel and by Israel, ultimately and eventually, all the families of the earth will be blessed by Israel. However, that will not come, in fact, cannot come, until Israel finally accepts the very One she rejected and even crucified, The Lord Jesus Christ, which she shall do at the Second Coming (Zechariah 12-14).
Israel as a Nation
In addition to the promise that God would make of Abraham a great nation, there was given him the promise of territory that the future nation would own and occupy. Here again, the covenant was unconditional, depending only upon the sovereign action of God and not at all upon Abraham. Here’s God’s promise “…Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Genesis 15:18). Notice, if you will, the past tense of the verb “have I given (I have given)” The action had already been taken by God. This land grant extends from the Gulf of Suez up to the western shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the upper reaches of the Euphrates River, down the Euphrates River to the Persian Gulf and west to the Red Sea. In fact, the Jewish nation had never occupied this entire land section. When Joshua conquered the land of Canaan, Israel occupied the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and a small stretch on the east side of the Jordan. Actually, this was the land section it occupied during Our Lord’s ministry on earth. However, David did push the borders to the Euphrates River, actually extending the boundaries not so far from the original territory promised by God to Abraham. To possess all that God promised, Egypt will have to give up the Sanai. Northern Arabia will be included along with modern Jordan and parts of Iraq and Syria. That means that this enormous tract of land will yet be occupied by Israel in fulfillment of its great destiny as a nation that will bless the entire human race. This will take place in the coming Kingdom Age and will begin at the Second Coming.
A nation must have a king to rule over it, at least as we think in Old Testament terms. So, God, in the process of time, established a dynasty of kings to rule it forever. He brought David to the throne, who, during his reign, conceived the idea of building a temple for the worship of God, but God had other plans for David. Instead of allowing him to build a house for His worship, He told David that He would build of him a house of kings. The prophet, Nathan, was sent by God to inform David of this fact. The prophet gave the king this message, “…the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son...” (2 Samuel 7:11-14).
Is There a heart that is waiting
Longing for a pardon today?
Hear the glad tidings we bring you
Jesus is passing this way
Coming in Love and in Mercy
Quickly unto Him go
Open your heart to receive Him
Pardon and Peace He’ll bestow