READ MATTHEW 24:1 DOWN
The Lord Jesus Christ did not leave the Church in the dark concerning events of the end-time. In response to His disciples’ questions, He gave the conditions and signs that would precede His coming, which are already evidently manifest in the world. Their questions showed that they wanted to know about the future. Although the destruction of Jerusalem had not taken place at that time, the prophecy was eventually fulfilled, as the Lord predicted.
Christ’s coming to take the redeemed to heaven is certain. Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with prophecies concerning His coming. The Lord’s revelation to His disciples that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations”, shows that every community of the world must be given a chance to either accept or reject the gospel before the end comes.
As believers, our responsibility is to warn sinners of the impending judgment. People, who revel in sin, as if the world and its activities will continue forever, should understand that the end would surely come. Christ repeatedly emphasised this in the Scripture. “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just” (Matthew 13:40,49).
Current realities indicate that the end is near. Our knowledge of eschatology or events that will precede the end is not enough. We must watch and be ready, because we “know not what hour (our) Lord doth come.” The order in which Christ listed the events that will precede the end shows that the next event the Church is waiting for is the rapture.
The rapture of the saints will be unexpected and unannounced. This glorious exit of people, whose names are written in the Book of life from this present world, will be heralded by a sudden sound of the archangel’s trumpet. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first….” It is understandable then that Paul the apostle exhorted the Thessalonian believers to holy living prior to his admonition on rapture to enlighten some believers, who sorrowed almost uncontrollably over their loved ones that died as believers.
When a child of God dies, his spirit and soul go to heaven to be with the Lord. Stephen understood this and prayed to God to receive his spirit into heaven. While the soul and spirit of the rich man went straight to hell when he died, that of Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom. At rapture, the soul and spirit of dead believers in Christ will reunite with their resurrected body to be with the Lord.
The hope of Christ’s return to take saints home should make us endure trials and persecutions that come our way. Believers who desire to enter heaven must be genuinely saved and cleansed from outward and inward depravity. The rapture is the translation of God’s people. Bible characters like Enoch, Elijah and our Saviour, Jesus Christ have been translated literally to heaven. The translation of Enoch in the Old Testament was a pointer to the rapture of saints. As his translation was sudden, so will the rapture be unexpected and unannounced.
Believers who desire to experience this glorious translation must live to please the Lord in their dispositions, thoughts, words, actions and plans like Enoch. Besides, there is need for personal preparation. One incident in the Bible Ollie started this well. The sons of the prophets, during the time of Elijah, had a prophetic knowledge about his translation, but they were not ready to obtain anything from him. Elisha on the other hand, requested for a double portion of his master’s spirit.
Further Reading (King James Version): Matthew 24:3,14,25; 13:40-42,49,50; 24:32,33,42; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:1-3; Genesis 5:22-24; Hebrews 11:5; 2 Kings 2:3,5,9,11; Acts 1:8,9; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52; 1 Thessalonians 1:9,10; 5:9; Colossians 3:1-4; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 24:21,29,30; Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 30:6,7; Daniel 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Isaiah 13:6-10; Joel 2:1,11; Revelation 6:15-17; 9:6; 13:16-18; 14:9-11; 20:1-4; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:7; Daniel 7:9,10,28; Luke 16:24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:10,11. By Pastor WF Kumuyi