Summary: This is the second part of the series on end times and deals with the Rapture
You could see the posters hung every where, asking the same question, Have you seem this person, my son, my daughter, my husband or wife. I don¡¯t know where they¡¯ve gone, or if they are alright. A year ago we saw the pictures of people searching for their loved ones in the aftermath of September 11th, people who were confused and frightened. So imagine that confusion magnified a million times.
One minute there they were and the next minute there they were gone. Hundreds of Millions of people all over the world just disappeared. Rich people, poor people, educated people and ignorant people. People from every race, every economic class and every country in the world were gone. And the only thing they had in common was the belief they shared that a Carpenter who lived and died over two thousand years before was the son of God. How would it be explained? What could the authorities possible say that would make sense? Those left behind, which by the way was the majority, were feeling emotions of every sort, confusion, anger, grief. Some wondered what had happened, others knew what had happened, they were just a might concerned because they hadn¡¯t gone.
It sounds like the plot from a ¡°B¡± movie. Invasion of the Christian Snatchers. As a matter of fact there are churches and preachers that treat it with the same seriousness that they¡¯d treat fiction, that is if they were to ever give it a thought. And yet this event where the ¡°Church¡± is taken to be with Christ is mentioned several times throughout the gospels and the Letters of Paul. Christ didn¡¯t view it as fiction, Paul didn¡¯t view it as fiction and the early church didn¡¯t view it as fiction. And if we actually believe the Bible is the word of God then we shouldn¡¯t view it as fiction.
There are people who scoff and say, ¡°For two thousand years the church has been talking about this and it still hasn¡¯t happened.¡± Well that isn¡¯t exactly a new argument. When Peter was writing his second letter he made this comment, 2 Peter 3:3-4 First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: ¡°Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.¡± Kind of sounds like today doesn¡¯t it. And then Peter answers the critics with these words in 2 Peter 3:8-9 But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn¡¯t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. And then he adds this warning in 2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.
Just because it hasn¡¯t happened doesn¡¯t mean it¡¯s not going to happen, it just means that it hasn¡¯t happened yet.
In Christianize we refer to this particular happening as the rapture. And even though that particular term is never used in the Bible the event it describes is mentioned throughout the New Testament. Jesus promised that he would return and collect his church before the final chapter of history was to be played out, time and time again we are told that just as Christ came the first time that he would come a second time and part of that promise was that he would take the church, his church to be with him. And that event has come to be known as the Rapture of the Church. Rapture being defined in Collins English Dictionary as 1. the state of being carried away with joy, love, etc. 2. an expression of great joy, pleasure, etc.
And so there have been books written, movies produced and songs recorded about this event. As Christians we talk about it, we joke about it, ever seen the bumper sticker that says ¡°In case of rapture this car will be driverless¡±, we study it, it intrigues us but I wonder if we really, seriously deep down in our hearts believe that someday that Christians all over the world will disappear. I have a memory of shortly after I became a Christian and went to Bible College, you have to understand that on August 30th I was a heathen fisherman and on September 5th I arrived at Bible College a brand new Christian. And so one morning as I came out of my dorm to go to chapel there was my cousin Rod¡¯s guitar case, in the middle of the side walk, all by itself, no Rod. And as I looked around the college campus I realized that there was nobody else around, and I thought ¡°I wonder if I missed it.¡± And just then Rod came out of the dorm grabbed his guitar case, said that he had forgotten his bible and life was back to normal. Anything like that every happen to you? There will come a time that it will happen. Maybe not today or tomorrow but it will happen.