Summary: This sermon deals with the rapture from a pre-tribulation viewpoint. Excellent background for the movie Left Behind.
1/28/2001 Genesis 7:11-24 Matthew 24:36-44
Let’s meet Curt. This was Curt’s first visit to the church. Dave had jokingly told Curt, come to my church because not only can you find Jesus, but some of the women are beautiful. Nicole had stood up to give a testimony. The moment Curt saw Nicole, he knew she was the woman for him. Curt continued coming to church, and he and Nicole got together. Nicole made it clear, she was only interested in marrying a Christian. Curt wanted her so badly, he did all the things Christians do, except make Jesus the Lord of his life. He fooled the church, and he fooled Nicole.
The wedding was set. Everybody was excited on the wedding day. Curt could not have looked more handsome standing there with his best man, Dave. The bridesmaid came down the aisles totally in step with their escorts. When Nicole came down the aisle in her beautiful white dress, she looked absolutely gorgeous. Curt had never seen her look so stunningly beautiful.
As she stood there by his side his heart was beating faster and faster. He could hardly repeat the vows as the pastor led him. Then came that moment when the minister said, "I now pronounce you husband and wife." Kurt put his arms around Nicole to give her a kiss that she would remember forever, when it happened. All he had in his arms was an empty wedding dress.
He looked at the minister, and saw only a robe on the floor. He looked at his best man Dave, only to see a Tuxedo covering the tape which marked the spot where Dave had been standing. There were screams from the congregation as people saw clothes and jewelry on the floor all by themselves.
Curt’s eyes looked up at the banner in the church which read, "are you ready to meet Jesus?" Obviously he was not, nor were any of the others who were there who had been Left Behind with him. Jesus had come like a thief, just like he told us he would. Jesus specifically tells us, just like in Noah’s days they will be marrying and be giving in marriage, and the day will come upon them unexpectedly one will be taken and the other left.
We call this event of the removal of believers from the world, the rapture. The rapture is not something any believer is to fear. It serves as a reminder to us that we never know how much time we have left to serve the Lord, nor how much time our unsaved friends or family members may have left. Jesus emphasizes his coming to remind us to stay on track on doing the work and the will of God.
When a thief comes, a thief only comes to take that which is of value. No thief breaks in to steal your dirty laundry or you garbage. A thief comes after that which has value. Jesus is coming after people whose lives have value to him. If you’re saved, you have great value because you have been filled with the priceless Holy Spirit.
Now Jesus speaks of a great tribulation period which is coming upon the earth. The tribulation period described in the book of Revelations lasts for a period of seven years. During the first part of the tribulation period, a world leader will arise on the scene who will bring peace to the entire world. Shortly thereafter war will break out and many people will be killed. The war will be followed by famine and high inflation. The war, the famine, and the plagues will kill over 1/4 of the world’s population. There will be a great earthquake. The sun will grow darker, and meteors will strike the earth. People will seek to hide in mountains and caves.