It seems a bit ironic that 40 years ago we were talking so much about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, but now, 40 years later, we are not hearing nearly as much about the event as we were then. I thought it would be good to refresh our memories regarding these things and to look specifically at the subject of the rapture of the church, which Paul referred to as “the blessed hope“ (Titus 2:13).
The Great Tribulation
The basic statistics of World War II qualify it as the greatest war in history in terms of human resources expended. Sixty-one countries and 1.7 billion people were involved. Sixty million lost their lives. But the bloodshed of World War II pales in comparison to the utter devastation this world will experience in the not too distant future. Based on the present population of the world, and the numbers given to us in the book of Revelation, over 5 billion people will die during the great tribulation period. The tribulation will be a time of unprecedented destruction. As Jesus Himself said, “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. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:21-22).
For any thinking person, the prospect of having to endure such a time is terrifying, to say the least. The good news is that we as God’s children will not go through the tribulation, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Those are the words of the apostle Paul. The event that we call the rapture is the means by which God will deliver us from the wrath that is coming.
What Is the Rapture?
The rapture is a unique event in history where every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is miraculously and instantly taken to heaven without experiencing death. The rapture is similar to what happened to Enoch before the flood. The Scriptures tell us that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). At the rapture, God is going to take His people to heaven as He took Enoch.
The rapture is, in a sense, part one of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And we will look at that in detail next time.