Rapturous - By Jerry McDermott -
Considering the worldwide fear that the virus is creating, it is no wonder people are searching the Bible for answers. The major question is whether the reality of the current pestilence/virus is really as Jesus indicated in the birth pangs. The simple response is that a pestilence is mentioned for the End Times (Matthew 24:7).
Once you start a deeper search within the scriptures, it is difficult to not believe we are the final generation leading to the Rapture of the Church and, later, the horrors of the Tribulation. However, you will soon realize that, as a believer, you will neither be present for the actions of the Anti-Christ nor the Wrath of God that is meant for the unbelievers.
"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The Body of Christ, the Christian church believers, will be instantly changed and brought to Jesus who will be waiting in the clouds, and then they will be taken to the heavenly kingdom. Our Lord prophesied that He was preparing a place for us in heaven, that we might be with Him (John 14:3). John also told us that we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). Therefore, as we receive our glorified body, we will see Jesus in a similar glorified body. This wonderful gift is called the Rapture of the Church.
Once you realize heaven could be so near, curiosity rises, and you may wonder whether scripture gives any preview of what it will be like. Our Lord, again, shows his love for His people by the Holy Spirit by revealing particulars that will answer our quest. There are so many indications, so let's start.
We will begin with Jesus being transported as our first example. After His temptations by Satan, scripture states, "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee and His reputation spread throughout the region" (Luke 4:14). The other major example involves Phillip who joined the other apostles in Jerusalem after conversion experiences in Samaria. An angel gave Phillip directions that he was to take the desert route to Gaza. On the way, he came across a carriage with a eunuch court official. The Spirit told Phillip to catch up with the carriage, as the man was having trouble understanding scripture. Phillip's explanations were so realistic that a baptism resulted. As they came out of the water, Phillip was snatched away by the Holy Spirit to Azotus (North of Gaza along the coast), eventually reaching Caesarea.
For this gift, a new body is not required. The travel is instantaneous. It is like the rapture change, which is described as the Twinkling of an Eye. You are here and suddenly you are there as the Holy Spirit has subjugated gravity, time, and distance. Also, there is no feeling of motion. Perhaps the sacred scriptures' examples of being transported were the origin of "Beam me up, Scottie" in the Star Trek series.
Before examining the next example, we need to reaffirm our belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and that "Nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). The apostle John related the time the disciples left Tiberias, heading toward Capernaum, via boat. They rowed about halfway (approx. 3.5 miles), but the journey was becoming difficult due to the strong winds and rough sea. Suddenly, they saw Jesus walking on the water. Approaching the boat, Jesus said, "It is I; do not be afraid" (John 6:16-21). They wanted to have Jesus come in the boat, but suddenly they and the boat reached the other shore.
Moving on to the Rapture, before joining Jesus in the clouds, a spiritual body is necessary. One such body is an incorruptible immaterial body, as the resurrected Jesus Christ experienced. Paul certainly knows how to get our attention when he says he is going to reveal a mystery (1 Corinthians 15:51), as he indicates that the dead will be the first to receive a new body, followed by extant believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Here's a thought. Have you ever considered that our parents and so many others in heaven do not have a body? After their demise, like thousands of others, their spirit joined Jesus in heaven but without any body, which will be given at the time of the earthy rapture. That is why Paul indicated the dead with corruptible bodies would be the first to receive incorruptible bodies.
Have there been any examples of being raptured in sacred scripture? Yes. The first book of the Bible, Genesis 5, lists the first rapture. It was the prophet Enoch who walked with God, did not die, and was lifted to heaven. In 2 Kings 2:11-12, we are treated to an incredible sight as Elijah was lifted to heaven in a fiery chariot with fiery horses in a whirlwind. Too bad he didn't have an opportunity to race Ben Hur. Other notable examples were Isaiah, Paul and the Apostle, and John, who visited heaven but returned to earth in their normal bodies.
Paul reminded us that, "There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). In heaven, there is no need for faith and hope, as it has been fully consummated in Jesus whose love is evident everywhere in heaven.
Here's a verse that came to me, to the tune of "Unforgettable" by Nate King Cole:
Incorruptible, that I shall be
Incorruptible, you so can be
Incorruptible, accept Jesus and see
Incorruptible, as free as can be.
Why not join me and sing this prophetic word, as scripture confirms a new heavenly body:
"Just as we resemble the man from earth, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:49).
"The body is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:42).
"He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body by His power to subject everything to Himself" (Philippians 3:21).
Though he is taken away from the presence of evil, the just man enters into peace (Isaiah 57:1).
Remember the scripture where the risen Jesus suddenly appeared to the apostles and disciples in a room. That was also the gift of being transported. Aren't you curious what it feels like to walk through a door or a wall (Luke 24:36)?
We have mentioned the Rapture, so let's take a closer look. It is one of the pivotal happenings in the world's history, as it is the end of the Church Age. This era began with Pentecost and extended to these thousand years. One of the consistent concerns of some Christians is how they will survive the Tribulation. Such fear is evidence of scriptural ignorance. Biblical followers know they won't have any problem during the Tribulation with the wrath of God, as the church won't be here. The church of believers and the restraining power of the Holy Spirit will be snatched away in the Rapture, which happens before the Tribulation. When I limit this to believers, I mean those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and redeemer and have changed their lifestyle. Knowing about the Bible, Jesus, or even going to church will not necessarily credit you as being saved.
As for the rapture of the Church, scripture scholars or readers will immediately refer us to Elijah and Enoch, but maybe they have never considered that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was clearly a rapture.
You might have said, "What in blazes is going on?" during the biological warfare/pandemic starting in 2020. That was political, whereas the Rapture is a heavenly reward for believing Christians. If you are not raptured, you may say that again, as you wonder why some people, calling themselves Christians, were not in the Rapture which took millions away to heaven. That is because that may have been only a claim and not a reality. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Some folks are church goers but have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. That is the difference.
The world will change due to the Rapture of the church. The work force will be substantially lessened, and the business world will be up for grabs at the end of the Church Age, as the restraining power of the Holy Spirit also does not remain. There might be rumors that the disappearance of Christians was due to an alien invasion. There are aliens all right, but not from some planet or anywhere else. They are demonic beings from their habitation in the second heaven. Scripture explains that we wrestle against these demonic beings in heavenly places. As predicted throughout the Bible, it was finally time for Christ to call His followers home. The Christian disappearances will be due to the calling of Christ to meet Him in the clouds.
Without the steadying hand of the Holy Spirit, the fractured world will look for a leader to solidify the world's business and religion. His name is the Anti-Christ with a prophetic helper. Far from establishing peace, this ruler is led directly by Satan and will conquer the world with one third to one fourth of the world's people being killed, as he proclaims himself as God. Soon after, the one true God will release His angels with His wrath upon the world for not accepting His Son and deliverance from the world system. If you are still alive after the Tribulation, you will certainly, again, wonder what in blazes is going on? You will shortly know, as a judgment separating the sheep and the goats will take place. This is also known as the judgment of the nations, which separates believers (sheep) and unbelievers (goats) to their eternal destinies (Matthew 25:46).
Everyone would be wise to read the book of Revelation, which details the Tribulation and the next one thousand years, before the glory with our Lord. Continuing the tradition, the inspired scriptures always have additional details for our questions. Jesus Himself describes what will happen to people who are not in the Rapture:
"For then there will be great tribulation such has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).
As you picture the horrors, pray for the gift of faith for you to discover Jesus Christ, become a Christian before the Rapture, and guarantee your participation. Salvation is a gift by the heavenly Father who gave His son, Jesus, to die for us and forgive all our sins (John 3:16).