Summary: This sermon deals with the rapture from a pre-tribulation viewpoint. Excellent background for the movie Left Behind.
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.
Seven angels will blow seven trumpets and each blast on the trumpet will result in a plague striking the earth. The first angelic blast leads to hail and fire mixed with blood coming down on the earth which destroys, a 1/3 of all the trees and the green grass. The second angelic blast leads to something like a huge mountain set on fire falling into the sea, and a third of the seas turning into blood killing a third of the animals in the sea, and the destruction of a 1/3 of the ships.
The third angelic blasts leads to a great star blazing like a torch which falls into the rivers. The star is called Wormwood. It poisons the fresh water supply and many people die from drinking the water. The fourth angelic blasts leads to a great decrease in the temperature and in the amount of light we have. A 1/3 or the sun, moon, and stars light and heat will not be available. Electric bills and gas bills will skyrocket if its during the winter.