Summary: The rapture is a reality for every Christian. Maybe your wondering “If I experience the rapture, will it hurt? How fast will it take?” “But Pastor, I hate to fly!”
The Reality of The Rapture
Last time we saw Christ standing in the midst of the churches. May I say that this assures my heart, even though His churches struggle at time, He will never abandon His people!
Even though His churches have struggled over the centuries – this I know, that His church will never fade away, or drop out losing, but instead will always be triumphant! Though we may lose some battles, the war will be won by the power of God and with the sure presence of Jesus Christ standing with His people!
The testimony of the churches over the centuries has never faulted and never been silent as they would say… “We overcame by the blood of the Lamb!”
Napoleon said in one of his journals and some of the last known words before he died, “…Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist…everything in Christ astonishes me. His Spirit overwhelms me, and His will confounds me…His ideas and sentiments, the truth that he announces, His manner of convincing, are not explained by human organization or by nature of things…His religion is a revelation from an intelligence and certainly is not that of man…I search in vain in history, nor humanity, nor ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or explain it…”
So up to this point, John has been writing about the past and the present (chapter 1-3) now he takes a turn toward the future hope for all believers.
1:19 - “The things which you have seen” = his vision of Christ in chapter 1. “The things which are” = chapter 2,3 with the 7 churches. “The things which will take place after this” = chapter 4-19 the rapture and then tribulation of ch.6 on.
Chapter 4 and 5 are the introduction to the tremendously sweeping prophetic picture predicted for a generation to come. Could we be that generation?
We live in an epic or space of time that is purely unique to mankind past. For 2000 years, Christians have experienced God move in 3 unique ways:
· The age of grace
· The age of the church
· And the age of the Spirit.
What’s unique about this time is that never before this time has God move in the affairs of man! Which tells me that never before has God pulled out all the stops to bring people to salvation!
I do not think it’s a coincidence that the first thing that happens to John after describing the church age that is wrapped up in grace and the Spirit, --- is him now “caught up to heaven”.
I give you 3 reasons why I believe the “rapture” fits in verse 1 and 2:
a. It fits naturally and chronologically.
Chapters 6-19 we see the 7-year tribulation and then the second coming of Christ with His saints in ch. 20-22.
b. The absence of any mention of church from the rest of the book.
Why? Several reasons:
· It’s going to be a terrible place to be. How bad will it be, you ask? Matthew 24:22 “Unless those days be shortened, no flesh would be saved.”
· Luke 21:36 “Watch therefore, and always pray that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and stand before the Son of God.”
· The rapture is key to the start of judgment on earth with the non-believers and the believers in heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we (Christians) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…”
“Noah” = rest
c. The extensive use of O.T. language and symbolism.
Which indicates that God is speaking to Israel and the rest of the world.
You will notice words used by John in the next several chapters like:“seals”, “bowls”, “alters”, “censers”,
“tabernacle” and “plagues”.
In Daniel chapter 9, he uses the phrase, “Jacobs trouble” to describe his vision of the last half of the tribulation.
3 Key Words to Help Understand The Rapture:
· “Caught up” = to spring up or ascend. Used in Vs. 1.
· “Catch up” = to snatched up. Seizing from the temporal to the eternal.
Latin = “raptus”, where we get our English word “rapture”.
This word is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Luke 17:34-37 “I tell you on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding grain together: one will be taken and the other will be left. Two will be in a field: one will be taken and the other will be left…”