THE WORLD'S LAST DAYS
Greetings precious people,
In the past few articles, weíve been looking at the question: "What is the world coming to?í from a Biblical perspective. To date we have seen that the world, as we know it will come to an end and the reason for this end. The signs that God has given to us in His Word, the Bible, are to forewarn us of this time. In giving the many signs and warnings of this awful period of time, known by such terms as The Tribulation, The Great Tribulation, The Last Days, and The End Times, God is telling man that judgement is coming. God is not only giving fair warning of its coming but is also telling mankind how to escape this time. For The Time of Tribulation represents God pouring out His wrath on a Christ rejecting, proud, unrepentant, and rebellious world.
The only way to forego this terrible time is to repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. The call to repentance is the first word of the Gospel. In Matthew 3:1-2, "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" We will look at this term "Repent" in greater detail in an upcoming article, but for now it must be understood the importance of repentance. Jesus tells us in Luke 13:3, "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Then we are told in 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
Many balk at the fact of judgement and the wrath of God being poured out on this world. They say, "God is a God of love, He would never do that." They fail to realize that God is also a God of Justice, Holiness, and Righteousness. And because of this He must punish sin. But because He is Love also, He has not only given many warnings of the impending judgement but also provided a way to be spared from the judgement of God.
My family and I recently went to the Grand Canyon. As we walked along the path taking in the beautiful sites, I saw many warning signs posted by the path as well as close to the edge. These warning signs read, "Danger! Stay away from the edge, stay on the path." Now if someone were to disregard these signs, walk too close to the edge, and the ground gave way, they would fall to their death. Would you charge the park system with not being fair and loving? I hope not, you are no doubt too smart for that. Rather, you would probably think, that poor individual should not have been so foolish and paid attention to the warning signs. Yet untold numbers of people charge God foolishly when it comes to His judging of sin. God has given ten warning signs in the Ten Commandments and numerous signs and warning signals of His judgement of sin in His Word, the Bible.
Godís Word also gives us the order of the events of the Tribulation. One of the first events that will usher in the Seven Years of Tribulation will be what is known as The Rapture of the Church. This event is described for us in a number of places in the Bible. One of the most prominent is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, "But 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. Therefore, comfort one another with these words."
The term, "caught up" in the Greek has the meaning of seizing by force, of snatching away. We get the English "Rapture" from the Latin word "Raptus" which means to carry away. This Latin word Rapture has the same meaning of that in 1Thessalonians 4:17 and seems to be what many in the Christian Church has adopted to describe this event.
Letís take a moment and understand what exactly is the Rapture. As the above verse depicts, it is the return of Jesus Christ for His Bride, The Church. It is not His return to earth; rather He will descend from Heaven and with a loud trumpet shout raise up to Heaven those that had died in faith in Jesus Christ previous to the rapture. Then those that are alive, will be caught up to be with Him forever more. Does this sound far fetched? I know it does to some, but only to those that do not believe the Bible nor have faith in Jesus Christ.
The Rapture is the removing of Godís people, the Church, before He begins to pour out His wrath upon mankind. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Just as God saved Noah and his family from the world wide flood and Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, so too will God save His Church just as He said.
The Rapture can take place at any time. Jesus spoke to the multitudes and His disciples many times in Parables. Parables are and earthly story with a Heavenly meaning. Jesus used Parables to communicate deep spiritual truth in a way that the people could understand. The majority of Jesusí Parables had to do with being ready when He returns. He does not want His people to be taken by surprise. He would often say His return would be likened to a "Thief in the Night." He would come when we least expect it. Jesus intentionally does this because he knows his people ever so well. He knows how easily we get distracted or get off track. We get caught up in all kinds of "things" and become distracted from what Jesus has called us to do and be. The events of Sept. 11, and those that has followed has been a vivid reminder of the need to be about important, eternal things, rather than all the supurfalace things we are apt to waste so much of our time on.
If the Rapture were to happen this very moment, would you go to be with Jesus or would you be left behind? Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone? Are you living for Him? If not, would you repent today?
Next time we will continue to look at the events of the Tribulation as they are given to us in Godís Word the Bible. Until then, may the Lord richly bless you.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine