Series: Revelation

Passage: Revelation 4:1-2

Speaker: Jeff Thompson

Speaking of the doctrine of the Rapture, the late Chuck Missler said, “It’s the most preposterous doctrine in all of Christianity. The only thing it’s got going for it is that it’s unquestionably true.” In this message, we'll take a look at the Rapture's place in the Book of Revelation and what the rest of Scripture says about it.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

Some people say they want to understand the book of Revelation, but they just can't because it's too hard to understand. And to them we say, Well, apparently you can't handle the truth because the word revelation means that something has been revealed. And the first words of this book tell us exactly who it is that's being revealed. It's the revelation of Jesus Christ. And God wanted us to read this book so much that he promised anyone who would take the time to read and respond to it a special blessing.

And that's found in Revelation, chapter one, verses three. Let's claim it together. Blessed is he who reads, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. But God knew there would still be those who would claim revelation is hard to understand. So to make it easy to understand, he also included in it its own easy to follow outline.

And that's found in Revelation 119, where Jesus gives John these instructions, right, the things which you have seen that was the resurrected and glorified Jesus in chapter one. The things which are that pertains to the Church age, which began around 32 Ad, continues to the present day and is prophesied in chapter two and three. And then lastly, the things which will take place after this. John is told to write about future events that will take place after the Church age ends. And those future events make up the third act of Revelation and begin in chapter four, verses one, which we will be studying today.

Let me read it to you. After these things I looked, and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard that was the voice of Jesus in chapter one was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. And up John goes, serving as a picture of the Church which will be taken up to be with the Lord. And when the Church goes up, what comes down the wrath of God.

We find that in Revelation 616, where the period known as the Tribulation begins. And we're told the response of those who are still on the Earth at that time, they said to the mountains and rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, that's God the Father. And from the wrath of the Lamb. And in the Bible, the Lamb is who you know this. It's Jesus.

Chapter one introduces the focus of Revelation, Jesus Christ. Chapter two and three take us through the Church age up to the present day. Then the Church goes up to four verses one. Rath comes down in chapter 616, and it's followed by seven years of tribulation that will take us all the way up to chapter 19. When Jesus returns to the Earth, with his Church in the event known as the Second Coming.

And there will be even more revealed later in our study through this incredible book. But here's what we know, if you love Jesus, then your story ends with the words and they lived happily ever after. I trust that you were blessed by our study through the seven letters Jesus wrote to the seven Churches in chapter two and three. I want to ask you to take a moment and reflect specifically on the prophetic nature of those seven letters and the way in which they perfectly lay out roughly two thousand years of Church history.

When you see the historical parallels and specific details in each letter, and when you realize that the prophetic pattern wouldn't work if the letters were in any other order, I believe you're left with only two options.

The letters are indeed prophetic, or it's a coincidence of preposterous proportions. And the more I study Bible prophecy, the more convinced I am that God's Word does not deal in coincidences. That's why I want to challenge you to reach a conclusion regarding the data. If you don't believe in the prophetic application of the letters, then you are obligated to provide a reasonable alternative explanation. You cannot simply say I don't buy it.

That's not a valid argument or a productive way to study the Bible. If you're not quite there yet, perhaps I can provide some comfort in the form of an alternative approach. We should all be open to changing our opinion on Scripture. If we're not, it means there's no room to grow. I hope I have some different opinions 10, 20, 30 years from now if the Lord carries because I hope to grow in my understanding of God's Word.

So let me suggest this approach. Believe in the prophetic application of the seven Letters unless you find a better, better explanation for the evidence. In fact, that's going to be my request all the way through our study of the Book of Revelation, believe the best explanation considering common sense and the whole Council of Scripture. I genuinely believe that by the end of our time together, you're going to see there's no other approach to revelation that better interprets the information in a way that fits with everything the Bible says about the end times, and that's really the key.

It's easy to pluck out a verses from here and there and use it out of context.

But any view of biblical eschatology, any view of what the Bible says about the end times must work with everything the Bible says about the end times. And I genuinely believe there's no other view or perspective that works better with the whole Council of Scripture than the position that we're taking during this study. If the prophetic application of the seven Letters is designed to help us understand the state, the condition of the Church in the end times, in other words, it reveals the four churches that will still exist in the end times, then what is it that happens at the end of the Church age?

If Revelation is, for the most part, a chronological account of the end times, which is what chapter two and three seem to tell us the what happens next in the chronology of end times events? The answer, The Rapture of the Church.

The late Chuck Missler, one of my favorite Bible teachers, said this about the Rapture. It's the most preposterous doctrine in all of Christianity. The only thing it's got going for it is that it's unquestionably true. So what is the Rapture? It's the term used for a specific future worldwide event in which Jesus calls his Church to meet him in the clouds.

As the Apostle Paul said, the moment Jesus issues that call every believer alive on the Earth will instantaneously and simultaneously disappear from the Earth and find themselves in the presence of Jesus. If this is the first time you're hearing this, then you're probably immediately recognizing why most churches don't talk about this a whole lot. If you've got some firsttime guests checking out your Church, they might think they've accidentally hopped on board the train to Crazy Town and look to make a quick exit. But before you seek to join them, remember that this is this is God.

We're talking about the same God who created the universe, ex nihilo out of nothing.

And if he's powerful enough to create the universe exactly the way he wanted to, then he's obviously powerful enough to end the universe exactly the way he wants to. No option is off the table for him. He's free to do whatever he wants, and he can do whatever he wants. So let's see what his word says before we jump to any conclusions. Revelation, Chapter four, Would you turn there in your Bibles?

Opens with two massive verses. The Church age has ended. The first and second divisions of the Book of Revelation have been completed, and now something changes. The Apostle John writes, after these things, underline that after these things, I looked and behold a door standing open. And then underline this 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, would you underline that phrase, Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place, and then underline after this, verses two, John says, Immediately, I was in the Spirit, and behold a throne set, and then underline in heaven, and one sat on the throne. If you've been with us through our study of Revelation thus far, then you know that one of the reasons verses one here is significant is because it harkens back to chapter one, verses 19, where, as we mentioned in the intro, Jesus tells John to write about three distinct subjects, and the third subject is the things which will take place after this.

Here in Revelation four one, Jesus calls John to join him in heaven so that he can show him things which must take place after this. It's the same phrase in the original Greek in Revelation 119 and in Revelation four one, meta Tata.

In fact, it's the very next place in the book. That phrase shows up after Revelation 119. Jesus made it as easy as possible to connect Revelation 119 to Revelation four one. All you have to do is look for the next place. That key phrase, meta Tata show up.

So if you haven't done it yet, you might want to write chapter four, verses one in your Bible next to Revelation 119, because those two verses are linked. The Holy Spirit does this because he does not want us to miss that this is a dividing line in the narrative. This is where the Church age ends and something else begins. The scene shifts dramatically, symbolically. John the Apostle is us, the believer, the Church.

And as the Church age comes to a close, the believer sees a door standing open in heaven. And here's a voice like a trumpet, speaking to him, what voice would that be? Well, back in Revelation chapter one, verses ten through eleven, John wrote, I heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet. So again, if you want to go to Revelation 110, you might want to write again. Chapter four, verses one above that phrase, as of a trumpet saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega the first and the last.

And we learned that that voice obviously belongs to Jesus. So John, representing the believer here, is once again hearing Jesus speak to him. Jesus calls to John the believer and says, Come up here. Jesus doesn't say, you stay there, John. I'm coming down to you.

Jesus is not the one changing location. The believer is being called up. Jesus then tells the believer that once he has come up here, he will show him things which must take place after this. Not things that might take place, but things that must take place, meaning they will happen with a hundred percent certainty. After this, after what?

After the end of the Church age, which was prophesied chapter two and three, and after the Rapture which takes place in chapter four, verses one, I want to make sure we understand that Jesus is telling John that there are things he has ordained to take place only after the believer has been removed from the Earth, and only after the Church age has ended and the Church has been brought up here. In Acts chapter two, Pentecost begins the Church age. In Revelation chapter four, verses one, the Rapture ends the Church age.

Write this down at the end of the Church age. Before the tribulation begins, the Church is called up to heaven by Jesus.

I'll say it again at the end of the Church age. Before the tribulation begins, the Church is called up to heaven by Jesus, and then take a look at verses two. John says, immediately, I was in the Spirit underline all of that. Immediately I was in the Spirit, as opposed to what? Well, as opposed to being in an earthly body on Earth faster than the blink of an eye, John says, immediately, John is in a different type of body and a different type of dimension.

Jesus calls the believer up, and the believer is instantly in the Spirit. There's been a change of body and a change of location. Every believer who leaves the Earth in the Rapture or through physical death will arrive in the presence of Jesus in a new resurrected body. The theological term for this is being translated, and I like that because our earthly bodies don't speak the language of heaven. They're infected with sin and sickness and brokenness, and they can't withstand the glory that we're going to encounter in the presence of the Lord.

Simply, our bodies will need a translation. And the good news is that your resurrected body will be perfect. When Jesus rose from the dead, he rose in his resurrected body. Was it a physical body? Absolutely.

The disciples and hundreds of other people saw him and touched him. Thomas felt the wounds in Jesus' hands inside. Jesus even ate food to show to the disciples that he was not a ghost and had a physical body. But his body was more than physical as we define it. We are three dimensional beings that generally interact with a three dimensional world.

And while we don't know how many dimensions Jesus resurrected body exists in, we do know that it's more than three, because after his resurrection, he passes in and out of our three dimensional world, seemingly no longer constrained by the laws of physics as we understand them, and we're going to receive bodies just like that. John gives us further glorious insight in his first epistle. When he writes this, It's on your outlines. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.

Therefore, for this reason, the world does not know us because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are children of God. And underline the rest of this verses, it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. In other words, John says, we have no paradigm, no construct for what we are destined to become an eternity. Whatever you're thinking, it's more, it's better, it's greater. And then John says this, but we know, and then underline the rest of this, that when he is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is.

There's only one way for us to behold the true glory of the resurrected Jesus. We must be made like Him. Read that last part of the verses again. What it says is so glorious, it's scandalous. How amazing will our resurrected bodies be?

According to John, according to the Word of God, our resurrected bodies will be just like Jesus's body. Trust me when I tell you we have no idea how much God plans to bless us in eternity. His kindness. Is it's truly outrageous? I don't know what other word to use for it.

I can't wait to be in the Spirit because I'm so tired of being in the flesh. I'm so tired of being in a body that resists the will of God day after day. I'm so tired of having to battle with my flesh and crucify my flesh every day. Like Paul, I'm so tired of doing the things that I don't want to do and not doing the things that I want to do. Our family was wandering around a really old Cemetery and Agassi on Wednesday because that's the kind of family activity we do.

And I came across the tombstone of a man who for three years was the Bishop of Agassi, and his tombstone quoted part of Philippians 123 simply stating with Christ, which is better. And as my daughter would say, I felt that I felt that speaking of the Apostle Paul, who also wrote about the Rapture and our coming translation in one Corinthians 15, verses 50 to 57, let me read it to you. It's on your outlines, Paul says. Behold, I tell you a mystery. The idea there is that Paul wants to reveal something that up to this point has not been understood.

It's been a mystery to believers, he says. This is what I want to reveal to you. You. We shall not all sleep. That means we won't all die, but we shall all be changed 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.

That means imperishable. They'll never die again, and we shall be changed, Paul tells us there will be some believers who won't die a physical death. That implies write this down. That implies there will be a final generation of the Church on the Earth. When the Rapture occurs, there will be a final generation of believers on the Earth.

When the Rapture occurs that will not know a physical earthly death because they'll be raptured. Paul says, the Rapture will take place in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, just as John experienced it happening immediately to use his word. In Revelation four one, Paul says that in the Rapture we shall all be changed. Just as John was changed to be in the Spirit and made like him, like Jesus, as he said in his Epistle. And when does Paul say this will happen?

Paul says, it'll happen at the last trumpet. How did John describe the voice of Jesus that called him to come up here? He said it sounded like a what? A trumpet. The phrase the twinkling of an eye is most reasonably interpreted as being the time that it takes light.

To travel through the human eye. We don't have space for the long scientific explanation. But what I can tell you is that the amount of time we're talking about is the shortest unit of time that can exist. It's called the digital limit, and it's ten to the negative. 43 3 seconds.

When you examine the descriptions of John and Paul and how they harmonize, it becomes clear that the Rapture is not going to involve us slowly floating off the Earth. It will be instantaneous. We will be here 1 second and go the next. So write that down. The Rapture will be instantaneous.

Instantaneous. Paul continues, referring to our coming translation, for this incorruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory, o death. Where is your sting? Hates.

Where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. What a moment that's going to be. Write this down.

The believer will receive a new body. The believer will receive a new body. Let's get back to John and our revelation text. Because he's now in a resurrected body. He's in a spiritual dimension.

And check out what he sees when he looks around. In verses two, he says, and behold a throne set. And then underline where in heaven and one sat on the throne. The Holy Spirit wants to be Crystal clear that John. Is he's in heaven at this point?

Are you catching that? Beholding the glory of the Lord. John saw a door open in heaven. He heard the voice of Jesus call him up. He was translated into a resurrected body and is now in heaven before the throne of God.

John has been Rapture. Now let's unpack some more of what the Bible says about the Rapture. Firstly, you need to know that Jesus himself promised it to us. Take a look at John 14, verses one to three. On your outlines, they record these words of Jesus to his disciples.

Let not your heart be troubled. So what Jesus is going to share is intended to be a comfort for believers who are troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you.

The first comfort is in knowing that there's enough room in heaven for all who belong to Jesus. There's not only 1440 slots. Space is not going to be a problem in heaven. I go to prepare a place for you underline that prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, and then underline the rest of this, I will come again and receive you to myself.

That where I am. There you may be. Also, Jesus tells his disciples that part of the reason he's going to leave them, he's going to leave the Earth is to prepare a place for Him for them. Sorry. Now, where did Jesus go to prepare a place for them?

At the end of his earthly Ministry, we know he ascended back to heaven. That means the place Jesus is preparing for believers. The place he calls my Father's house is heaven. Jesus then promises that he's going to come again for the specific purpose of receiving believers to himself. This receiving of us is not going to involve Jesus coming down to us, but rather us going up to Him.

And to make sure we understand that we are the ones who will be changing location. Jesus adds this specific explanation, that where I am. There you may be. Also, Jesus does this to make sure that we understand he's not referring to the Second Coming. When he'll come down to the Earth and rule from the throne of David and Jerusalem for the thousand years of the Millennium.

Jesus wants us to understand that he's talking about the Rapture, which is a completely separate event to the Second Coming. Jesus is going to come again to receive believers to himself and take them to be where he is, which is heaven. We're gonna learn that at the Rapture. Write this down. Jesus comes for his Church.

That means we leave the Earth to be with Him. While at the Second Coming, Jesus comes with his Church, we will return to the Earth with him. It's genuinely puzzling to me how someone could read and or study John 14, verses one to three and say, no, that's not talking about the Rapture. It must be talking about the Second Coming. That conclusion can only be reached through some combination of willful, ignorance, and egregious EXO.

Jesus just read it. Just read it. It's plain and simple and one of the clearest passages of Scripture on the doctrine of the Rapture. There's a whole another layer to the words of Jesus we just read in John 14. In the Greek model of prophecy, which is the model that we're most familiar with in the modern Western world, prophecy is based on prediction and fulfillment.

It's that simple. But in the Hebrew model of prophecy, there are actually three components, prediction, fulfillment, but also pattern. Pattern. When Jesus's disciples heard his words, the verbiage would he recalled a traditional Jewish wedding which would begin with the Moha. The brides agreed upon price known in some cultures as the dowry.

Until this price was paid, the wedding could not move forward. Once the groom had paid the Mohare, the bride would he considered set apart, which is what the word sanctified means. Betrothed she's off the market. Everybody would know that she had been purchased, even though she was not yet with her husband. She belonged to him.

Next, the groom would return to his father's house, where he would begin to prepare the bridal Chamber, a room addition onto the family home. Simultaneously, the bride would occupy herself with preparing for her grooms imminent return, and she wouldn't know exactly when her groom was going to show up. It was a bit of a game in which she had to keep herself ready and he would do his best to surprise her. And even though Amen bride would murder her future husband for surprising her like this, both the bride and groom enjoyed this Amen back then.

For some reason, this scenario here is also the basis for Jesus's parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25 one to 13, which I encourage you to study in our previous study.

Then one day the bride would hear a shout from her approaching groom in his party. He would appear along with up to half the town and claim his bride. They would ride together back to the house of the groom's father, where the bride would undergo ritual cleansing before the Hoopa, which is the wedding ceremony. The happy couple would then disappear into the bridal Chamber Chamber. Everyone would scatter and give them Privacy and then return later that same day to celebrate their marriage supper, which would last four seven days.

It's all a perfect prophetic pattern of Jesus, the Church and the Rapture. You see, our bridegroom, Jesus has purchased his bride, the Church with His blood and life on the cross. Because our price has been paid, Jesus has made us sanctified, set apart and reserved to be the eternal bride of Christ. In the future. Jesus has returned to His Father's house in heaven to prepare a place for us.

While he does that, the Church is to occupy herself by preparing for His return. That means studying His Word and learning how we can be the most beautiful bride possible for our King. Even though we don't know exactly when our groom will return, we do know that it could happen at any time. Jesus is going to come and collect his bride, his Church, and he's going to take us back to His Father's house to heaven. Before our wedding ceremony can take place, we will need to undergo ritual cleansing in the form of translation, where we will receive new resurrected sinless, perfect bodies.

And our ritual cleansing may also include the judgment of our works to determine rewards, not Salvation. We will then come together with Jesus for what's known as the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, a celebration made up of every tribe, tongue and nation. How long does a traditional Jewish marriage supper last? Seven days. How long will the Church be in heaven with Jesus while the tribulation takes place on the Earth?

We'll soon discover that the answer is seven years. Then Jesus will return to the Earth with his bride to establish the millennial Kingdom. So write this down to the Jew. Pattern is prophecy pattern is prophecy and a Jewish wedding is what Jesus is alluding to when he shares those incredible words with his disciples in John 14. There are many Christians in churches who believe the Church will not be spared from the tribulation.

Some believe will be raptured halfway through the seven years. That's the midtrip position. Others believe in a Rapture after the tribulation. That's a post trip position, while others believe there won't be any type of Rapture because pattern is prophecy in scripture as well. I want to challenge you to show me anywhere in the Bible, Old Testament, or knew where God punishes the righteous along with the wicked.

In other words, I want you to show me a text where God pours out his wrath on righteous people who have rejected him and allows the righteous to suffer as collateral damage. Spoiler alert for you here. You can't. You won't be able to because it has never happened. Noah and his family are safe in the art when the Earth is flooded, lot and his family are taken out of Sodom before God destroys it with fire.

Moses is unaffected by the plague of snakes that God sends upon the Israelites in the wilderness. Rehab and all those in our household are kept safe as Jericho falls all around them. And I could go on and share several other examples. If you believe that there is no Rapture and the Church is going to be left on the Earth to suffer through the tribulation, then you believe in something God has never done and something that I will argue goes against his fundamental character, allowing the righteous to experience his wrath.

The Lord simply does not do that.

Remember Paul's assurance and first Thessalonians 59. It's on your outline. God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now please don't misunderstand me. The Church has been experiencing the wrath of man since the days of acts too.

The wrath of Satan since the days of Acts too. But believers have never and will never experience the wrath of God simply doesn't happen. I encourage you to search the scriptures for yourself on this. I believe you will find great comfort in the realization that because we are God's children, we will never be objects of his wrath. Write this down.

The righteous have never and will never experience the wrath of God. Never. The prophetic pattern of the Rapture is further present in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The Prophet as he writes, Prophetically, from the perspective of Jesus, Come my people is on your outlines. Enter your Chambers and shut your doors behind you.

Hide yourself, as it were for a little moment until the indignation is passed. For behold, the Lord word comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the Earth for their iniquity. God's people hear His voice. Call them exclusively, saying, Come my people, and they go into their rooms. It says, Enter your Chambers.

Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you. In my father's house are many rooms. They enter their Chambers or their rooms through a door, and then that door is closed behind them. Shut your doors behind you. They can't go back.

And that's good news. Then God's people are told to stay in their Chambers or in their rooms for a little while. This is a temporary relocation until the indignation is passed. What is the indignation? Well, we're actually told exactly what it is.

It's God pouring out his wrath on the inhabitants of the Earth for their iniquity. And that's exactly what God will be doing during the seven years of the Tribulation. But before God pours out His wrath upon those on the Earth, he makes sure that his people, God's people, are safely tucked away in their Chambers in their rooms, because that is God's character. And by the way, while the Lord will fulfill Isaiah 26, 20 to 21 by rapturing his Church to heaven, he will also fulfill it on the Earth by supernaturally protecting a chosen remnant of the Jewish people through the Tribulation.

But we'll talk more about that in future studies, while after being tucked away for a little while, while the indignation runs its course, the Church will return to the Earth with Jesus in the event known is the Second Coming.

In fact, the Second Coming is the event that will Mark the end of the seven years of Tribulation. Remember, the Rapture is Jesus coming for his Church, while the Second Coming is Jesus coming with his Church. Paul used the phrase the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his Saints to describe the second Coming in first, Thessalonians 313 that's on your outlines. And we'll see this event unfold in Revelation chapter 19. But to state the obvious, Jesus cannot return to the Earth with his Saints until he has come for his Saints.

We have to be with Jesus before we can return to the Earth with him. So he has to at some point before that come. And guess he can't return to the Earth with his Saints right now because all his Saints are not with him. That's part of the purpose of the Rapture. Does that make sense?

Let me reference one more portion of Scripture on this point. Do you remember what happened to John at the beginning of Revelation chapter four? Let's read it again. 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 immediately. I was in the Spirit. And behold. Now, here's the key, a throne set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. No, revelation is going to unfold chronologically for about 95% of the book.

And I want us to notice that in the flow of the narrative, John the Believer, the Church is now up in heaven before the throne of God, before the wrath of Jesus begins falling upon the Earth. In Revelation Sinned 16, before the tribulation begins, turn with me to Revelation five, verse nine. In this scene, John sees a group of people singing the Jesus before the throne of God in heaven. He writes, and they sang a new song saying you are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us Kings and priests to our God and we shall reign on the Earth.

Notice that they sing to Jesus that he has redeemed us to God by your blood.

Is Israel singing this? No, because they are out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. We're told that they are the Church. It's clear. It's obvious.

Revelation seven is the only other place in the Bible where we encounter the phrase Kings and priests, and John uses it there to describe what Jesus has made every believer into. Look at the last line of Revelation 510. And we so those who are there in heaven before the throne shall reign. Future tense, Meaning it's something that's going to happen after the Church has been up in heaven with Jesus and we're going to reign with him then in the future on the Earth. Don't miss this.

They are in heaven singing about how they're going to return to the Earth in the future to reign with Jesus. In Revelation four one, the Church has taken up to heaven when Jesus comes for his Saints. In Revelation six, God's wrath comes down. In Revelation 19, Jesus returns with his Saints to reign on the Earth for a thousand years. That's the big picture of what's going to happen to the Church.

In the end, times the enzymes were announced by something truly miraculous, the state of Israel rising from the dead after around 1900 years. And what's even more amazing is that the Bible predicted it would happen thousands of years ago. But that's not all. Jesus himself further prophesied that this event would Mark the final generation, the generation of the Church that will be alive on the Earth when the Rapture takes place. In a monologue known as the Olivet Discourse, Jesus speaks in detail on the signs that will Mark the last days.

You can and should read it in Matthew 24 through 25 and in Luke 17, Jesus lists some very specific things that are going to happen. And if you'll go through his list item by item, I don't think that you'll reach the conclusion that Jesus is speaking exclusively about things which have already taken place. Let's take a quick look at some of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew chapter 24, turn there with me. The chapter opens with Jesus prophesying to his disciples that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, which it was in 70 Ad.

And then in verses three, we read now as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately saying, Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age.

So the disciples asked Jesus three questions, when will these things happen? What will be the sign of your coming and what will be the sign of the end of the age? And then over the next two chapters, Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus answers their questions, and it goes without saying that it's worth studying what he tells them. The term last days actually applies to the entire Church age, which began around 32 Ad on Pentecost, and that's chapter two and continues up to today. In the midst of describing all the signs of the last days, Jesus says this in the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24, verses eight, he says, but all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs, the beginning of birth pants.

If you're a parent that you know that when the first contraction happens, the husband usually freaks out, and sometimes the wife too, and says, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. The baby is coming. There's often a rush to the hospital, where you're greeted by some jaded nurse who has done this a thousand times and explains that the contractions have to get much closer together before it's time to start getting the hospital involved. So you go home, and sure enough, over the next 24 hours, sometimes less, the contractions become more intense and get closer together, and when they get very close together, you know the baby's arrival is imminent.

Jesus describes the signs of the last days being like that.

He says, They're going to get more intense and more frequent before things really start to happen. Paul gives us a description of the attitudes and behaviors that will Mark the last days they began in his time, but have gotten more intense and frequent in our time. Paul says this in second Timothy, chapter three, beginning in verse one. But know this that in the last days perilous times will come for Amen will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving slanderers without self control, brutal despisers of good traders, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of Godliness but denying its power.

We talked about the La Odyssey in Church last time, and from such people turn away.

The original Greek for perilous times refers to harsh, fierce, or Savage times of trouble. When we look across the Earth, do we see societies getting more violent or less harsh, less fierce and Savage? Are crime statistics generally going up or going down? How about attitudes? How many of us grew up without an alarm system in our home?

How many of us have an alarm system now. Why? Because violence is increasing on the Earth. How many tragedies and how much violence is recorded and posted to the Internet by people who should be helping? Why?

Because these are perilous times increasingly harsh, fierce, and Savage. The selfhelp movement seems to have flowed right into the age of social media, producing new generations of boasters who are proud what we used to call narcissism. We now exalt as children are raised to be lovers of themselves in the name of selfesteem. The older folks have to read books and seek counseling to figure out how they can catch up and learn to love themselves more deeply. If you and I look at a group photo, what criteria determines for us whether it's a good photo?

Well, how I look, obviously right. I am always on my mind. But Paul says that in the last days, things are going to be characterized by a dramatic increase in the obsession with self. And what better encapsulates that whole movement, then the selfie. Check it out.

It's just a photo of me. No, nothing else. Just me. That's all it takes to make the photo awesome. Just me.

The word unforgiving is the Greek word and Sands, and it means to be irreconcilable or without truth. The age is going to be marked by people who cannot be reasoned with and who refused to make peace. The kind of people who will say, if you don't believe the same thing I do, you need to be canceled. You need to lose your job. You need to lose your social media accounts.

You need to lose your friends. You should be kicked out of your apartment. Unreasonable and one of the great modern geopolitical realities that continues to astound me is the number of high ranking political figures from first all countries who seem to genuinely believe that at the end of the day, everybody is reasonable. And as it blows my mind when I watch presidents and prime ministers and the UN and the EU go into negotiations with rogue States and terrorist groups under the assumption that they're dealing with reasonable people because everyone's reasonable.

And yet we know that places like North Korea are led by a dictator who was raised to believe that he's the chosen One.

He actually believes that he believes he's a God in the flesh. He's not reasonable. The real power brokers in Iran and groups like ISIS are devoted to the Shia form of Islam, which teaches that things like the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a caliphate which is a unified Islamic state may hasten the return of the 12th Amen, the Mai, who is their Messiah figure. These leaders would gladly give their lives and the lives of their people in return for the destruction of the state of Israel.

They're not reasonable.

As we look at North America and Europe, we see more and more Liberal groups. As I mentioned, who are no longer willing to be reasonable, no tolerance for other views. The only acceptable view is theirs, and you must celebrate it or suffer the consequences. All these things are manifestations of the last days attitude that is irreconcilable or without true, Paul says. People will be increasingly without self control.

Addiction in our generation is unparalleled in the scope of history. From painkillers to mood altering drugs to Internet porn. Our belief in our right to instant happiness and pleasure drives us to indulge our base desires more readily and easily than ever before. Paul mentions people being despisers of good. You can't hand out Bibles and schools which can hand out condoms.

You can hand out Flyers educating preteens on their right to an abortion. We started by allowing increased evil into our society, but we've long since moved on to celebrating it. Things have already gotten so crazy that it can seem like the whole world has gone mad until you realize that this is exactly what the Lord told us we would see in the last days again. The attitudes and behaviors that Paul describes have been evidence since 32 Ad, but will and have become more intense and more frequent as the Rapture approaches.

Everything Paul says points to what Jesus has said, the last days will be a time where things are in reality, very unusual, increasing and more intense evil and tragedy in the world.

But almost everyone, especially those who don't love the Lord, are going to think that it's business as usual. The world will be and is like a frog in boiling water, failing to discern the radical changes taking place until circumstances become catastrophic. In the Olivet discourse, Jesus makes it clear that he doesn't want us to get into date setting, but he expects us to recognize the generation of His return and to be looking for it with expectation and longing, and to help us do that. Jesus shares this in Matthew 24 37.

He says, but as the days of Noah underlying Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Jesus doesn't say as the days of Isaiah, or as the days of Ezekiel. He says, as the days of Noah. And then in verses 38, he says, for as in the day days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the arc, and then underlying all of verses 39, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away. So also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Even though the world was on the verge of catastrophic judgment, much of life went on as normal.

In the days and moments before the reigns of the flood began to fall. Jesus is drawing our attention to a parallel between the days of Noah and the days of the end times right before the Rapture takes place, and the tribulation hits the Earth in both instances, Jesus is saying, There will be obvious warning signs that almost everyone will miss, and those same people will go about life as normal right up until the moment God's wrath begins to fall upon the Earth. The story of the flood of Noah can be found in Genesis six, and I want to highlight something the text there tells us about the state of humanity just before the flood.

In Genesis 611 we read the Earth. So not just one region, not just the ancient Near East, but the whole Earth was corrupt before God, and the Earth was filled with violence in the eyes of God.

Violence was one of the defining characteristics of the Earth in the days of Noah. And while the Earth has seen violence ever since Amen killed able, there was something dark in people's hearts that inclined them toward violence in a greater way than normal in the days of Noah. And so shall it be in the days leading up to the Rapture. But don't forget the good news that even in the days of Noah, God had a plan for those who belong to him. He put them in an arc that they entered through a door, and the text tells us that once they were inside, God himself closed that door and kept them safe as his wrath was poured out on the Earth through the flood.

Does that sound familiar? Luke's Gospel records an additional sign mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse in Luke 1728. Jesus says, likewise, as it was also in the days of lot, they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. But on the day that lot went out of Sodom and it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be.

In other words, it will be just the same in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Jesus is making a very specific point by referencing what happened to the city of Sodom. He wants us to understand that life was going on as normal in the eyes of the people of Sodom. All the way up to the moment he began pouring out his wrath on the city, raining down fire and brimstone. The people of Sodom were not even remotely anticipating what was about to happen.

They were drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building for the future. When catastrophe came upon them in the blink of an eye, they thought it was just another ordinary day. And Jesus says, It's going to be like that on the day I come from my Church. In case we're not grasping that the Rapture will be a worldwide event. Luke's Gospel adds this detail as well to the Olivet Discourse.

It's in Luke 1734 through 36. Jesus says, I tell you, in that night there will be two Amen, meaning two people in one bed, the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding wheat together. The one will be taken and the other left. Two Amen will be in the field harvesting.

The one will be taken and the other left. Jesus describes an instantaneous event taking place at different times of the day. Jesus taught that when this event happened, it would be early morning in one location, which is the time of day when woman ground wheat. It would be the main part of the day in another location, which is when Amen would be working in the field and it would be night in another location. That means Jesus cannot be speaking about an event that took place or will take place in only one region.

It cannot be that Jesus was talking about something that took place or will take place only in Israel or the ancient Near East. Now we've alluded to first Thessalonians chapter four before, but it's worth revisiting, as it is likely the most famous text on the Rapture in all of Scripture. So would you turn with me in your Bibles to first Thessalonians chapter one? First Thessalonians chapter one. Paul spent only three weeks in the city of Thessalonica and in that time he established a Church there.

Paul was faced with the question, what is a group of new believers need to be taught? And when he thought through the essentials of the faith, Paul concluded that the end times and the Rapture needed to be among them. Think about that for a moment. Paul had three weeks with this group of new believers, and he taught them eschatology well. Paul had to flee the city, and five to six months later, silence and Paul went back to visit the young Church.

They found believers that really loved the Lord and were living for him faithfully. But who would also misinterpreted Paul's teachings about the end times. Some had even quit their jobs in anticipation of Jesus Amen return. Others were concerned about persecution they were beginning to experience as it left them wondering if they had possibly missed the Rapture and were in the tribulation. Furthermore, some wondered if their loved ones who had died had missed out on heaven because they hadn't lived to see the Rapture.

To address their concerns and clear up misunderstandings, Paul wrote the letter of verses Thessalonians so let's turn there and read from chapter one. Verses 13. Paul says, But I do not want you to be ignorant. That means uninformed brethren concerning those who have fallen asleep, those who have died lest you sorrow as those who have no hope. So Paul says, I don't want you guys to grieve over death the same way non believers do, because unlike them, we have hope.

We're all going to be together again around Jesus in heaven. Verses 14, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. In other words, if you believe that Jesus died and rose again, then you can believe that at the Rapture he will bring with him every believer who's died before, including your loved ones. Verses 15 for this we say to you by the word of the Lord, underlined by the word of the Lord. So Paul saying, this isn't just my opinion or my interpretation.

This isn't how Pastor Paul hopes things work out. What I'm telling you comes straight from the Lord. This is God's word that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. So when we're raptured to be with the Lord, every other believer from all of history will be there, too, in the clouds, meeting us with Jesus. And then Paul explains how this is all going to happen in verse 16, for the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an arc angel, and with the trumpets of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord on the Earth. No in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. The Lord Jesus will descend, but not all the way down to Earth. He will give a shout with his voice that sounds like a trumpet, and we will hear some version of the words, Come up here immediately.

We will be caught up and find ourselves in our new, resurrected, eternal bodies in the presence of the Lord in heaven. The text seems to imply that believers who have already died will be with the Lord a split second before those who are on the Earth at the moment of the Rapture, and all of this will take place in the twinkling of an eye. How is that possible? We'll find out soon enough. One possibility is that heaven exists in multiple dimensions, that our current reality does not.

Time almost certainly functions differently, likely in ways we cannot even fathom if time is linear on the Earth. In other words, if it functions on a line moving from left to right, time in heaven almost certainly works differently. Heaven is likely not even on a timeline like the Earth is. If every believer leaves the linear timeline of the Earth upon their death or at the time of the Rapture, then it's entirely possible for all of us to arrive in the presence of Jesus at the same moment.

We would simply be leaving the timeline of Earth at different points, but all arrive at this same location, heaven, which is off the timeline at the same time.

I'm not saying that's how it works. I'm just sharing this to make the point that there are explanations in the realm of physics that we don't even know to consider. And in himself, the Lord has infinite options to fulfill his will. Jesus will receive us to himself. We're not going to meet Him on the Earth.

We're going to leave the Earth and meet him in the air, in the clouds, in heavenly places, in another dimension. And from that moment on, Jesus tells us, Paul tells us we will be with the Lord forever. One of the most repeated myths regarding the Rapture says the word Rapture isn't even in the Bible. And before we go any further in our study of Revelation, I just need to clear this up. Up to the three hundreds, the Bible existed in parts and in multiple languages, Greek, Aramaic, and some possible Hebrew.

The decision was wisely made to translate the complete text of scripture into one document and a single language. Latin was chosen because it was a dead language, meaning it was no longer used by any society as their main dialect and therefore finished evolving. Unlike languages that are still being used, conversationally that meant Latin would be the same 1000 years later. This is what makes dead languages an excellent choice for creating source or reference documents. In first Thessalonians 417, which we just read, we see the phrase caught up.

When Paul wrote in Greek, he used the word harpazo. When the Bible was translated into the Latin, Vulgate harpazo was translated to rates. From where we get the English word Rapture, both harpazo and Aptus referred to being caught up or snatched up. So to be clear, the word Rapture is absolutely in the Bible. It's simply been translated as caught up in our English Bibles.

This myth is based entirely on ignorance of Bible translation history. Some who don't believe in the Rapture will say that when Paul talks about being caught up, he's referring to an earthly experience where he's emotionally overwhelmed by the Lord's presence. The problem with that type of thinking is that the future Rapture of the Church is not the only Rapture that takes place in the Bible. It may surprise you to learn that the scriptures record multiple people being raptured in various ways. Enoch was taken by the Lord and did not see death.

Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind. Jesus ascended to heaven. And remarkably, Revelation twelve five even uses the same harpazo to describe the ascension of Jesus that Paul uses to describe the Rapture of the Church in one Thessalonians four, it's the same word. There's an issue here in the realm of biblical interpretation. When a word appears in the Scriptures, it must be interpreted consistently unless there's a compelling reason not to do so.

In Jesus harpazo, did he literally leave the Earth and ascend to heaven? Of course he did. Nobody's arguing that. So when Paul writes that the Church will leave the Earth and ascend to heaven in a harpazo, it means the same thing. There's no compelling or valid reason to interpret the word usage differently, and there are more examples.

Philip was raptured. He was caught up from one location to another. The Apostles Paul and John were temporarily raptured to heaven. That's what's happened to John here. That's what he's recording in Revelation.

Paul says he was taken to the third Heaven. He was raptured. And the 7th Rapture recorded in the Bible is the Rapture of the Church. Those examples should prove to you and me that when the Bible talks about being caught up or snatched up, it's not being figurative. The Bible is being literal, and we know that because other literal raptures have already happened, they've already been recorded in Scripture as occurring to multiple Amen.

This is how Paul wraps up his explanation of the Rapture to the Thessalonians in verses 18. He says, therefore comfort one another with these words. Jesus shared the Rapture with his disciples for the same reason Paul shared it with Thessalonian believers to give them comfort. And that's the reason Jesus has shared it with us in his word. He wants us to be comforted by the knowledge the Church will not experience his wrath on the Earth during the tribulation or ever.

If I said listen, I'm post trip. I believe there's going to be a seven year tribulation in which God's wrath is going to be poured out on the Earth, and most of even the righteous are going to die horrific deaths during that time because they'll be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But when it's all over, when pretty much all of us have died horrific deaths, Jesus will come for the few that are left. Is that comforting? No.

If I said one midtrip, I believe there's going to be a seven year tribulation of death, doom and destruction. Most believers are gonna die horrific deaths because of the wrath of God, and they're in the wrong place at the wrong time. But halfway through those seven years, Jesus is going to come for the few that have managed to hold on that long by living in caves or something. Is that comforting? No.

What if I said, just as Noah Lot Rehab and countless other righteous men and women were spared from the wrath of God, Revelation 401 tells us that the Church will be taken up to heaven before God's wrath comes upon the Earth because we are not appointed to wrath. Instead, we're gonna be with Jesus for the duration of the seven year tribulation, enjoying feasting with the Lord. Is that comforting? Absolutely. Absolutely.

There is much more we could say on the Rapture, much more. And if you'd like to learn more, a great place to start is by listening to or watching the three messages I taught on the Rapture when we studied first and second Thessalonians at New Hope Church. Those messages are available on the website and they're titled Going Up, Parts one, two, and three. I always welcome your questions via email, but if you have any questions on the Rapture, please listen or watch those messages first before emailing me because there's a good chance they contain the answer to your question.

Jesus said in Matthew 24 44.

Therefore, you also be ready for the Son of Amen is coming at an hour. You do not expect. We can't know the day. We can't know the hour, but we can know the generation when the Rapture will take place. If we'll take God's word seriously, most people, including most Christians, won't see it coming.

It's not a cliche to ask the question. If the Rapture happened five minutes from now, would you be ready? The reality is that it really could happen five minutes from now. And if it does, you don't want to realize them that you weren't really saved. You don't want to be the one left in the field.

Make sure you're right with the Lord. Be sure of your Salvation today. May we be comforted by these words of John the Apostle, which we read earlier, behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God. Therefore, the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved.

Now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like Him. So we shall see Him as he is, as he is. Let's pray. Would you buy your head and close your eyes?

Jesus, thank you that what you've prepared for us is better and more glorious and more wonderful than anything we could imagine. And, Lord, we're just so excited about the future more than anything, because that's where you are. And we're going to be with you face to face closely, intimately, in a way that we can't even fathom. We can't wait for that. We can't wait for translated bodies that no longer wore with the flesh.

We can't wait to be in bodies that, like our spirits now, completely desire to do your wealth. So, Jesus, we asking the time between now and then. Help us to die to ourselves daily. Help us to crucify the flesh. Help us to live for you because we want to, Lord, we want to and help us, as you want us to, to find great comfort in knowing that we are not appointed to wrath but to obtain Salvation through you.

Jesus, thank you that your plan for your people is not wrath but Salvation and shelter in the place you have prepared for us, your Father's house in heaven. We love you, Jesus. And what more can we say then? Thank you. Help us to live lives that say thank you in your precious name, we pray.


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