illions of people were glued to their television sets on Monday morning, July 26, 1971, when, at 9:34, three astronauts blasted off from Cape Kennedy. A nation excitedly watched the prodigious spaceship slowly lift from the earth, then gain ever-increasing speed and quickly streak out of sight.
As the astronauts sped toward the moon, news reporters, searching for comparisons, made the incredible statement that the energy expended to lift the gigantic ship from the launching pad equaled the power of all rivers of our nation, if harnessed.
What a technological achievement for science, and what an exhilarating experience for those astronauts as they raced to the moon! However, the energy of the spaceship was anemic compared to the awesome power Christ will expend when He bursts forth at the Rapture.
Multiplied millions from around the globe will suddenly be empowered to ascend to meet the Lord in the air. What a fabulous day that will be when we meet our Lord and millions of fellow believers!
The Bible is clear as it differentiates between the rapture of the Church and the second coming of our Lord. The Rapture will be secret and instantaneous (1 Cor. 15:51-52), while the Second Coming will be public (Rev. 19:11-14; Zech. 14:4).
Here is a synopsis of the Bible’s teaching of the future:
• The Rapture (1 Thess. 4:16-17), which could happen today
• The following Tribulation period (Dan. 9:24-27; Rev. 12:6)
• The following Second Coming (Matt. 24:30)
• The following Millennium (Rev. 20:1-6)
• The following White Throne Judgment (vv. 11-15)
• The following new heaven and new earth (21:1)
The Imminent Rapture
The Rapture, or the translation of the Church, could take place at any moment. His coming will be secret and unannounced, and we who are His followers will be whisked away forever to be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17).
Though you and I get excited about this truth, it must surely sound preposterous to people who hear it for the first time. Yet, the Bible clearly and emphatically teaches the doctrine of the Rapture:
Take notice! I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God). We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed) (1 Cor. 15:51-52 Amp.).
There will be millions of people who will never die, and if we are living for Christ when He returns, we will be among them. We will take a “plain air” trip through the sky, past the moon, the stars, the sun, and into heaven.
We will be changed suddenly, as quickly as we blink our eye, and we do that in 11/100th of a second! Jesus said, “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left” (Matt. 24:41-42 NIV).
The Lord will return and secretly sweep us from this world. We will vanish into thin air—think of it! Those left will not even be aware of the event until it is over.
Christ wants you to know He is coming back, and He wants to take you with Him to heaven. The most startling phenomenon since the resurrection of Christ could happen any hour, and that is the rapture of believers.
Bow before Him as Lord. Confess your sins. Accept Him into your life. Now you are ready!
Otherwise, you will find your surroundings quite different. You will call a Christian friend without getting an answer until the voice mail responds. You will pull into a driveway and note that lights are on inside, but you will find no Christian family members at home.
Wife and baby aren’t there. The playing television tells you that people are missing everywhere. Then it hits you: you have missed the Rapture! You ask yourself, Why didn’t I listen when they told me Christ was coming again?
The Great Tribulation
In 2012, 11 different weather and climate disasters causing losses exceeding $1 billion each took place in the U.S., reported the National Climate Data Center. More than 300 people died. This made 2012 the second-costliest year since 1980. These disasters included seven severe weather and tornado events, two tropical cyclones, and a yearlong drought with its associated wildfires. In 2011, billion-dollar disasters totaled 14 events—the most ever.
Meanwhile, large earthquakes greater than 8.0 in magnitude struck the earth at a record high rate from 2004 to 2011, reported the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Philip Stark (University of California), who examined the global frequency of large-magnitude earthquakes from 1900 to 2011.
Interestingly, the Bible describes mammoth natural disasters occurring during the Tribulation period, which will follow the Rapture. French Arrington wrote:
Jesus predicted this period when He said, “There will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time,
no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21 NKJV). . . . Many believe it will last seven years—the Seventieth Week of Daniel’s vision (Dan. 9:24). However, it is difficult to determine the exact duration of the Tribulation, since it is not specifically indicated in the New Testament (Christian Doctrine, Vol. 3).
Horrendous upheavals will come during the Tribulation, including scorching heat followed by thick darkness (Rev. 16:8-10), hailstones weighing up to 100 pounds (v. 21), and an earthquake so severe that islands disappear and mountains are shaken down (v. 20).
During the horrid Tribulation, Antichrist, a ruthless world dictator, will rule the world and millions will die (see 6:8; 9:15). Human nature says, “Such unspeakable things can’t happen.” But they can . . . and they will.
Any day God’s judgment can come, when He will declare, “That’s enough! It is over.” Then His wrath will fall upon all who have rejected His Son.
“Oh,” but you say, “surely not! God is loving and gentle! He wouldn’t do that!”
What about Noah’s day? What about Sodom and Gomorrah? Remember, Jehovah is a just God as surely as He is merciful and loving. The apostle Paul warned, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1 NIV).
“What depressing news,” you say. “The gospel is supposed to be good news!” We all like good news; we all prefer upbeat talk and writing, but there isn’t much of that in the Tribulation. Jesus said, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive” (Matt. 24:21-22 NIV).
The Second Coming
At the Second Coming, Christ will touch ground first on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). The Bible says, “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30 NIV), and His followers will be with Him (Jude 14).
So, our Lord will come back to earth and immediately end the Battle of Armageddon. When He comes, He will find the earth wet with tears and soaked with blood, but He will immediately bring wonderful, worldwide peace.
For a thousand years (the Millennium), Christ will rule the world from Jerusalem in blessed peace and tranquility.