I am teaching a class on prophecy on Sunday mornings at 10:15 am at JBC. It is being Live Streamed as well or you can watch it anytime on You Tube after the class is taught. One of the topics that we will be talking about in the days ahead is the ”Rapture” when followers of Jesus rise into the air to meet Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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 will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
There are several things to note in these passages; (1) the spirits of those who have already died will be with Jesus when He comes and they will get their glorified bodies just a split second before those who are alive and on the earth will. (2) We will all meet together in one big crowd in the sky at the level that the clouds usually form.(3) There will angels with Jesus along with the spirits of those who have previously died. ( 4) When Jesus descends from heaven He will give out a big shout, which I believe will be, ”COME UP HERE” and those alive will all hear it. (5) An angel will blow a trumpet which seems to be the signal for everyone to get their new bodies.
One of the points that there is discussion about is the timing of this event, when does it happen in regards to the other events that are going to be happening. The main one being the seven-year Tribulation period. I strongly believe that the rapture happens before the Tribulation starts, this is called the pre-tribulational view. Others think it will be in the middle of the Tribulation or a little after the middle, this view is called the Mid-Tribulational view or Pre-wrath view. And then some think it will be at the end of the Tribulation which is called the Post-Tribulational view. There is also the ”partial rapture” view that believes only mature delivers leave with Jesus before the Tribulation and the rest go through the Tribulation to further develop their character. And then there is the ”Preterist” view that teaches that the Tribulation already happened way back in 90 AD.
There are a dozen reasons I believe in the Pre-Trib view, but I will give you just one today.
2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.
Again some observations; (1) God gives relief to all believers alive when Jesus is revealed from heaven with His angels. That relief would come because we are taken out of the world. (2) Those who do not know God and have not believed the gospel get left behind, separated away from the presence of the Lord to experience the awfulness of the Tribulation and ultimately hell forever. (3)Those who Paul wrote to at the church in Thessalonica were suffering at the time he writes the letter so he certainly was not suggesting that the rescue and relief he was promising was from the Tribulation. (4) Paul is writing this passage to give the saints at Thessalonica hope suggesting that the rapture could be at any moment, the imminent return of Jesus has been a foundational teaching of the church since Paul wrote this letter.
And the final observation for us. Times will get bad and we will experience trials, but we will get rescued and experience relief when we get raptured and then it will get awful here on this planet. Some are fearful of the increasing lawlessness and chaos that seems to be increasing daily, but that is what we get rescued from, so take heart.