The Word for today:
mark this: Revelation 3:10
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
and this: Revelation 4:1
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."
(Over the next two days, Stand in the Rain will consider the Rapture of the church. Part 1 will locate important biblical references to the Rapture. Part 2 will attempt to envision the Rapture from "the far side"--God's point of view.)
Chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation consist entirely of letters from Jesus Christ to the seven churches of Asia. But after chapter 3, the church seems to have dropped off the face of the earth—never heard from again in Revelation. Where did they go?
They didn’t drop off, they were “caught up!”
You've probably heard about "the Rapture." It's become the subject of books and movies--and a whole lot of debate. So what, pray tell, is it?
You will not find the word "Rapture" in your Bible, but you can find the event which we call "the Rapture" in these verses:
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. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)("Caught up" is the Greek word harpazo. The English word rapture, as defined by Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, means "the experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion." Both technically and emotionally, rapture precisely and powerfully conveys the biblical description.)
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. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52)
In the Old Testament, the sudden departures of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) are prophetic pictures of the Rapture to come. Furthermore, Lot's departure from Sodom just before judgment fell on that city is seen as a prophetic picture which indicates that the Rapture will occur just before the judgment of the Great Tribulation Period.
In the New Testament, the Rapture is first described by Jesus (of course) in kernel form (of course) in John 14:1-3:
"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."
The Rapture is imminent; it's the next thing on God's prophetic calendar. Note that "next" can mean "soon," but it does not have to mean "soon." Next means next!
The Rapture is not the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
Jesus does not come down at the rapture. The church goes up--it is "caught up" to meet the LORD in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17, above). Jesus said (in John 14:3, above) "I will receive you to myself" (KJV and NASB) / "take you to be with me" (NIV).
But at the Second Coming, Jesus' feet will touch the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem. (Zechariah 14:4)
(To be continued tomorrow.)
(1) Further New Testament Rapture references are found in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 5:9; Titus 2:13.