Friday, June 24, 2011

God will Spare Us from the Coming Wrath

As we have been studying signs of the End Times, the question has arisen of the evidence for the Rapture of all believers occurring before the tribulation. Rapture is the event in which Jesus will descend from Heaven and believers will rise up to meet Him in the air, the dead in Christ first and then living believers, all transformed instantaneously into glorified bodies (1 Thess 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-53). Jesus will return to heaven with the Church, where we will stay during the tribulation.

The Rapture is imminent (could happen at any time) but will occur at an unknown date and time (Matt. 24: 13, 42). This unknown day and date must apply to the Rapture, and not to the Battle of Armageddon when Christ returns with His armies, because 3.5 years (1260 days) occur from the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15-16) to the return of Christ to defeat Israel’s enemies.

The abomination of desolation refers to the Antichrist, whom the Jews previously thought of as their peaceful Messiah, desecrating the Temple and stating that he is God (2 Thess 2:4). Finally the Jews will realize his deception and they will flee for their lives. This will occur halfway through the 7-year tribulation (Dan 9:27), which ends with the Battle of Armageddon. So the timing from the abomination of desolation to the Battle of Armageddon is known (3.5 years), and the unknown date and hour for the Lord’s coming must refer to the preceding Rapture. Jesus warns only those in Judea to flee, and not other nations.

Paul tells us that God will spare believers from the wrath to come, i.e. the tribulation, which must be because we are Raptured before the tribulation occurs (1 Thess 5: 1-9; 1 Thess 1:10).

1 Thessalonians 5: 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ

Paul also tells us that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth before the Antichrist will be revealed (2 Thess 2: 7-8). The Holy Spirit now resides in every believer, so when we are all Raptured, the Holy Spirit will leave with us, allowing the Antichrist to do his work unopposed.
After the Rapture, the believers enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19: 7-9). We will stay in Heaven with Christ until the great tribulation on earth is nearly over, about 7 earthly years.

We will return with Him to earth as His armies to fight the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:14). If the Rapture were not until the end of the tribulation, we would be caught up in the clouds with Christ and then turn right around and go back with Him again to fight the battle, leaving no time for the marriage supper.

In the first 3 chapters of Revelation, Christ addresses each of the churches, i.e., the believers. The church is mentioned 19 times in these chapters as being on earth. Thereafter, the churches are never mentioned, and the focus turns to the Jews living in Israel. John is called up to Heaven in his vision in much the same way the believers will be caught up at the Rapture – with the sound of a trumpet and a call to “Come up hither” (Rev 4:1).

John sees Christ seated on His throne in Heaven, surrounded by 24 elders, or representatives of saved believers, dressed in white robes (Rev. 19) and wearing crowns (Rev 4:2-4) that believers can win to lay at Jesus’ feet (2 Tim 4:8). Because they already have the crowns, the judgment seat of Christ must have also already occurred (2 Cor 5:10). So the believers are already Raptured before the tribulation begins, and the events of the tribulation are described in subsequent chapters of Revelation.

As the tribulation unfolds, an angel descends to earth and seals the servants of God to protect them from destruction (Rev 7:3). There are only 144,000 people sealed, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Believers can be considered to be the servants of God, and it stands to reason that He would protect us also, unless He has already done so by removing us at the Rapture before the tribulation begins. The 144,000 Jews are sealed on the earth, while we, a very large number of believers from all nations, are in heaven worshipping God (Rev 7:9-10).

Jesus compares His coming to the times of Noah and of Lot – in each case, the righteous believers who had faith in God were removed from destruction and harm, so it follows that the Rapture will remove believers from the harm and destruction of the tribulation to follow (Luke 17: 26-30). Those who reject Jesus as Savior will be left behind in the tribulation; those who trusted Him will be Raptured to Heaven.

1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

1 comment:

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Jasmin! God bless you too.