4. The Rapture of the Church

To some it seams foolish to believe that one day Christ will call his Children home and Millions of people will disappear from the face of the planet earth.
However, a few years ago, most of us would have thought it foolish to think the world could be placed on lock-down overnight.
Fifty years ago, most of the modern amenities of today would have been called fantasies of science fiction.
As we look at the events of this end times especially the Book of Revelation, we must realize that John is writing 2,000 years ago of events that have yet to happen for us.
So many of the things describe will sound strange and outlandish.
It was once believed man would never take flight. In 1870 a minister was visiting a friend that happened to be a college president. The minister told the president, I believe from the Bible nothing new can be invented after this point in history.
The college president responded; He wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. “Why I believe within 50 years man will soar through the sky like birds.” The Minister turned to his friend and said, “be careful lest you be guilty of blasphemy. For flight is reserved only for angels.”
The twist of irony the Ministers name was Milton Wright. And yes, he had two sons Wilbur and Orville. Who, with in 30 years would be taking to the sky as the birds. At times we have trouble understanding or even believing that the things prophesied in Scripture could happen.
But just think of those that made up that first century church. How would they have perceived these things, yet they believed.
Abraham Lincoln said this about the future.
"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time"—Abraham Lincoln
As Jesus addresses the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3, he says this…
Revelation 3:11 NKJV
11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
This statement does not speak to the time frame in which Christ will return, but it speaks of the speed at which He will return. When He comes, it will be with great speed.
If you look at our timeline of History, you will see that we have one timeline for believers and nonbelievers up until the rapture at that point we have a split.
The Believers go up starting a new timeline that recon verges with the original timeline after the Tribulation Period.
Today, we will look at the Rapture.
As I said last Sunday, the word rapture is not in the English Bible, yet word harpazo is in the Greek; it’s used 13 times in the New Testament.
As the Bible was translated to Latin harpazo was translated rapturo that is where we get the word rapture from.
The Word Rapture or harpazo, literally means “snatched away”.

I. The “Snatching Away”

Turn your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Here Paul is righting in response to a question.
Paul and Silas only had a few weeks with the Thessalonian Believers before there were forced to flee in Acts 17.
It appears that they had some concerns about what would happen to the Believers that died before Christ return.
They believed as we do today that Christ could return at any time, but they felt that those that had died already may miss out on something. In response Paul says this…
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NKJV
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
• This is a common passage of Scripture that we read at funerals.
Grieving is normal after you have lost a loved one. But we as Christians should look at it different than the rest of the world.
We don’t mourn like those that have no hope because we know someday, we will be reunited with the saints that have gone on before us.
1 Thessalonians 4:14 NKJV
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
We see this term sleep in verse 13 and 14. This word is euphemistic for death.
When a believer dies the body is placed in the ground as asleep but instantly the soul and spirit are in the presence with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 NKJV
15 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 by no means precede those who are asleep.
The Thessalonians feared that they would see the Lord descend from Heaven but that the ones that had died would not.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 NKJV
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
• Here we see Jesus meeting the Saints in the air He does not return to the Earth yet.
That will still be another 7 years off.
Christ descends, then a shout , this is a command from the Archangel to come up.
The trumpet sounds summoning the dead.
This shout and this trumpet blast will serve as a warning to those left behind.
But we see that those that had died that the Thessalonians worried about would get a front row seat to the events of the day. The dead in Christ rise up first.
Here in this text we see one of the clearest pictures of the Rapture.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 NKJV
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
• That term caught up is that word harpazo that gives us the word rapture.
Then we which are alive and remain shall be (Raptured, snatched up, seized) into the clouds.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 NKJV
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
• The Believers in Christ are the only ones who can truly find comfort in these words. Only those who have died in Christ will be resurrected to new life. Only those alive in Christ will be called out before the Days of Great Tribulation here on the earth. When these things come to pass the unbelieving world will be in confusion.
Let’s look at a few other areas of Scripture that deal with not only this “snatching away” but others that help set a president for the future “snatching away”.

II. Examples of Rapture

In Scripture we are given examples of those that have been “snatched away” already.
First we see… a.Enoch: Genesis 5:24
Genesis 5:21–24 NKJV
21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. 22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
• As you read through this genealogy. You see a pattern of he lived, he begat, he died, he lived, he begat, he died.
Until you get to Enoch, he lived, he begat, he was not for God took him.
We see this man walked so closely with the Lord. That God broke the cycle He did not allow Enoch to suffer death. God “snatched” Him away into His presence
The writer of Hebrews had this to say about Enoch. Hebrews 11:5
Hebrews 11:5 NKJV
5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
We also see Elijah was taken up into heaven without tasting Death.
In 2 Kings Elisha asks Elijah for a double portion of blessing and he is told to watch as Elijah is taken up he will receive it. 2 Kings 2:11-13
2 Kings 2:11–13 NKJV
11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan.
We see these two men that followed so closely to God were taken not to suffer the penalty of death.

III. The Promise & Timing of the Rapture

As we study the End Times or Last Things this is a study in Theology referred to as Eschatology.
Within the world of Eschatology there is much debate and the area of largest debate is, when will the Rapture happen?
This is even a debate among Premillennialist.
Which simply means those that believe the Rapture happens before the Millennial Reign of Christ.
Some as we do believe that the Rapture happens before the Tribulation that seven years of wrath that proceeds the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
Others believe that the Rapture happens mid-Trib, or at the 3.5-year mark of the Tribulation.
Yet others believe it will take place at the end of the Tribulation. They are called post-Trib.
Some have joked they are pan-Trib, because it will all pan out in the end.
From a teaching perspective we hold to the view that the church will be called out before the tribulation and the location of the sequence of events can be found in Revelation 4:1-2.
In Revelation 3:10 Jesus had just told the church at Philadelphia… Revelation 3:10-11
Revelation 3:10–11 NKJV
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
Christ has told the church you have kept my Words, I will keep you from the hour of temptation or trail, which shall come upon the world. Revelation 4:1-2
Revelation 4:1–2 NKJV
1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.
There are at least four reasons for the Rapture being in this time frame.
The location of events is right for the Rapture. Chapter 4-5 show visions of Heaven. Chapter 6 introduces the Tribulation. Revelation 3:10 says the church will be kept from the hour of trial that the world faces.
The church is absent from Revelation 4-18 not being seen again until the Marriage of the Lamb in Heaven, just before the triumphant return of Christ in chapter 19. Which leads us to believe the Bride was already in Heaven.
Interestingly there are no quotes from Scripture in Revelation. However, there are references that mirror other passages of scripture. But there is a lot of Old Testament Imagery and language. This would be understandable if the church age has ended and the Nation of Israel is being addressed once again. In the O.T. book of Daniel the Tribulation is called the time of Jacob’s Trouble or the 70th week of Daniel. God is clearly dealing with Israel in this time not the Church.
There are similarities to this passage and passages such as 1 Thes. 4:13-18.
As Tim Lahaye states in his book Revelation Unveiled, all of these considered together incline us to believe the Rapture is at this point.
“The Rapture of the Church is not explicitly taught in Revelation 4 but definitely appears here chronologically at the end of the Church Age before the Tribulation.” - Tim Lahaye
As we look at the Rapture Jesus promised to come again for His people. John 14:1-4
John 14:1–4 NKJV
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Christ has promised to come again for His Bride.
In verse 2 we see the word mansion used. When we think of a mansion in our modern context we think of like a Beverly Hills type of mansion. When the Greek word (mone) was translated to English the word mansion in English simply ment a dwelling place. Their are records of apartments being advertised as mansions.
Over time however we have redefined what words mean.
So lets look at the original context. To do this we have to look at a Jewish wedding of the time.
When a young man would get engaged the process lasted at least a year. Once the young man was engaged he would return to his father’s house and begin to add on to the house a room for he and his wife to live in.
As I understand it in Israel today you can still see houses that have been added on to, out and up to accommodate growing families.
Once the addition, the mansion, the room was finished. The son would receive permission from his father and go get his bride. He would bring her back to the house and their would be a week long celebration at the end of which the head grooms men would take the hand of the groom place it in the hand of the bride and all the guest would leave and the two would retire to their dwelling place.
Let me add some more context to this statement from Jesus. In chapter 13 Jesus has just told them He is leaving.
John 13:33 NKJV
33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.
John 14:1–4 NKJV
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
At this point we should all be glad for Thomas. Peter seemed to be the one that always opened his mouth with out thinking and got himself in trouble.
Thomas is the one who asks the honest questions we would all like to ask it we had the courage.
John 14:5 NKJV
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Thomas is like, time out Jesus, I am missing something, I don’t know where you are going, let alone how to get there. Jesus response verse 6.
John 14:6–7 NKJV
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Jesus makes it abundantly clear, that the only way to the Father, the only way to eternal life is through Him and Him alone.
Jesus is assuring His Disciples all though He is leaving they will see Him again. He is going to prepare a dwelling place for them. Just as He has gone to prepare a dwelling place for all who have repented and followed after Him.
Whether through death or through rapture all those who have placed their Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for the sins of the world will dwell with Him forever.
Today, we have only scratched the surface of looking at the Rapture.
But our take away from this is Jesus is coming again and we should be ready.
As we close lets look to these words from the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 15:50–53 NKJV
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Christian you should be excited today and everyday with this promise that one day all the effects of sin on this human body, on this human mind will be removed. This corruptible soul will put on incorruption and our mortality will put on immortality. Never to see violence or feel pain again to live in the presence of our Savior for eternity.
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