We are living through dark days, but the days will grow darker before the light comes. Paul said that the whole creation groans under the weight of what he calls “the bondage of corruption.” This corruption is the result of the sin and fall of man. This perversion has spread for centuries, generation after generation, and continues to infect the entire human race – even until today (Rom. 8:18-23). These “pangs” will steadily intensify into what Jesus calls the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:8). The word “sorrows” is from the same Greek word as “birth pangs” in Romans 8:22. This steady increase in sorrow is clearly shown by nation rising against nation, famines, and diseases, and earthquakes in various places (Matt. 24:7).
We are now living through an unforeseen pandemic and turmoil in our nation that brings fear to many. I don’t know about you, but as we shelter in place, it is hard to be optimistic. Paul said that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the “glory” that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). He called this glory “hope.” We are saved in this hope of the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:23). Someone said that human beings can live without many things, but it is impossible to live without hope. What is our hope? It is to see Jesus Christ face to face. The world is now suffering through a pandemic and many less fortunate are living with unimaginable heart-gripping fear of imminent death every day. But the world has seen nothing yet. This is only a glimpse of what is to come. Revelation speaks of unprecedented sorrows unleashed in this world that will come like waves on the beach – seal judgments, trumpet judgments, and bowl judgments (Rev. 6-19). Each judgment intensifies bringing unimagined fear, sorrow, and death in unprecedented proportions.
I unashamedly cling to the position that the body of Jesus Christ (the Church) will be removed from the earth before the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation. Those who have heard the gospel and trusted by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will not have to live through the looming darkness of the seventieth week of Daniel. I recall once again the words of Gandalf from “The Return of the King,” when he said, “Hope is kindled.”
I will go through several passages in the next few days that I pray will kindle hope in us. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul wrote, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet 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 in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
Paul did not want us to be uninformed concerning believers who have already died. He did not want us to grieve as those without hope. His suggestion is clear. We do have hope! If we believe the gospel, attached to it is the fact that at His coming Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those who sleep in Jesus – the spirits of those who have died in Christ (Zech. 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:1-5). They will be coming to be reunited with their glorified bodies – like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21), the bodies of those who will rise first. This is what is meant by, the dead in Christ will rise first. Then those who are alive when Jesus comes shall be caught up in the air. The living believers will be snatched away receiving in that moment our glorified bodies.
Oh yes, I get it! The word rapture is not used in the Bible, but the truth that the word conveys certainly is. The word “trinity” is not found either, but the truth of it surely is. “Caught up” is the Greek word arpadzo. It means to be snatched away. The word is translated into the Latin raptura! This is where we get our word “rapture.” Believers in this age who have believed in Christ will not have to endure what the Bible calls “Jacob’s trouble,” the Jews trouble (Jer. 30:7), or the fires meant to purge and purify the Jews (Mal. 3:1-3), or what Jesus and John refer to as great tribulation (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). We will not be here. What are these words meant to do? Paul ends, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” They are comforting words, are they not! Hang with me! Stay safe and stay tuned.