What is Heaven Going to be Like?

So that we get a picture of what heaven will be like, the Scriptures tell us of a time when a heavenly city will come down from heaven to earth—a city that is prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Notice who we will be living with:

 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bridebeautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Nowthe dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with themand be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

 6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herselfready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:6-8).

Can you imagine what it will be like for you who know Christ to actually be in that moment, to be part of the great multitude shouting hallelujah to God? Imagine knowing that the fight of faith is over and that you will soon enter into the wedding celebration of the Lamb! How can anyone not want such a relationship with God as this? So loud was the sound of all those commingled voices that it sounded like “many waters;” similarly, so great will be the joy of the redeemed of the Lord. What a happy day that will be! Don’t you think the joy on the face of the Lord Jesus will be great as we look upon Him on that day. He will look upon you as He beholds the result of the work He completed on the cross for His people. I borrow from the words of C.H. Spurgeon here:

The marriage of the Lamb is the result of the eternal gift of the Father. Our Lord says, “Yours they were and you gave them to Me.” His prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. That they may behold My glory, which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” The Father made a choice, and the chosen He gave to His Son to be His portion. For them, He entered into a Covenant of Redemption, whereby He was pledged in due time to take upon Himself their nature, pay the penalty of their offenses, and set them free to be His own. Beloved, that which was arranged in the councils of eternity and settled there between the high contracting Parties is brought to its ultimate end in that day when the Lamb takes unto Himself in everlasting union the whole of those whom His Father gave Him from of old.

How wonderful it will be to live with God—the pain of this world will be dried from our eyes by the gentle touch of the Lord Himself. I think He has purposely not told us much about heaven, because many of us would want out of this world before our time. In another place Paul the apostle tells us:

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

In our wildest dreams and imaginations of heaven we cannot imagine how good it will be for those of us who walk with Christ on this earth. If your heart is troubled by the way this world is, and what you are going through, let your mind and heart be fortified with the fact that you will one day be with God Himself in His holy house. How that must have encouraged Peter, especially after he had denied Christ, that there was room for even him after he had denied his Lord. Will you be in that place with Christ? You can be! Ask Christ to come into your life and forgive your sin—receive the free gift of life—I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

If you would like to read more on this topic, this meditation was taken from the more in-depth study, found under the Insights into Eternity studies in the middle column, Click on Study 6, The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

What Happened the Day Noah Entered the Ark?

26“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30).

Jesus shared two examples of times when there was unrestrained evil on earth; one in a local area, and one that was worldwide. In both examples given, life was going on seemingly as normal, people were eating and drinking, they were planning long term, as in planting for a harvest, building homes, weddings being planned, etc. But all of a sudden, a day came when Lot and his family disappeared with a couple of angels, and Noah and his family got into his boat and the door was locked. As soon as the righteous were safe, on the same day for each of them in our two examples, the judgment of God fell on those who did not get their lives right before the Lord—those who had not turned from ungodly deeds

There was no time gap in between Noah entering the ark and the judgment of God falling. Similarly, in Christ’s second example, too, there was no time gap between Lot leaving Sodom and the judgment on the city. There was also no second chance where the Lord told those left behind to come back later and they would get in. No, my dear friends, there is no biblical truth in the Left Behind series of books, it is completely fiction and a deception, I believe. Jesus is saying in this passage above, that the rapture of God’s people and the wrath of God falling is a back-to-back event. As soon as the rapture happens, the judgment and wrath of God will fall.

We are never told in scripture that the tribulation is the wrath of God. If the seven-year period is the wrath of God, as some Bible teachers say, how can Antichrist be setting up an image of himself at the midpoint of the seven-year period (the abomination of desolation). How can Antichrist make war against the saints (Rev 13:7), if that period of time is when the wrath of God is being poured out? Scripture tells us that when the wrath of God comes on this earth, Antichrist and his minions will be hiding under rocks from the face of the Messiah! (Revelation 6:16). The wrath of God is poured out after the true Church has gone through the time Jesus warned us about, the time He called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:30-31). The tribulation is a time of persecution on those who will not go along with Antichrist’s one-world economic system of taking a mark on the wrist or forehead (Revelation 13:16). We must stay close to Christ in a time of unrestrained evil that is being poured out on our planet. We are not to compromise with evil, but we are to live a life uncontaminated by the world we live in:

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

There will come a day when our God will intervene, and what an awesome day that will be for every one of us who has chosen to walk with Christ.

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

Who Are the Believers Who Go Through the Great Tribulation?

9After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, 
who sits on the throne, 
and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: “Amen! 
Praise and glory 
and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength 
be to our God for ever and ever. 
Amen!” 13Then one of the elders asked me, These in white robeswho are they, and where did they come from?” 14I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-14 Emphasis mine).

There are those who tell us that the rapture (the snatching up of the saints from this earth) will happen before the tribulation starts. Well, how can that be? The passage above tells us that a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language will stand in white robes before the elders (v.11), before the living creatures (v.11), before the angels and before God, after going through a great tribulation. This is obviously the rapture. How do I know? We are specifically told that this great multitude that are seen are those who came out of the Great Tribulation (v.14).

Some say that these are believers who were left behind after a pre-tribulation rapture. They got saved during the tribulation, they inform us. But is that confirmed in any scripture? No, in fact the very opposite. We are told twice that the door is shut at the rapture—there is no second chance after a pre-tribulation rapture (if there was such a thing). The door was shut when the bridegroom came for His bride (Matthew 25:10, Luke 13:25). If there was a rapture before all the trouble (tribulation) starts, then why do we not see the pre-tribulation saints welcoming this great multitude and rejoicing upon their coming to heaven? We see the angels, the living creatures, the elders and God Himself welcoming this great multitude, but no pre-tribulation saints! Why not? Because there is no pre-tribulation rapture! The Church must wake up and prepare to endure hardship and persecution at the hands of Antichrist. We are told that we will be delivered by a catching up (rapture) at some point (no man knows the day nor the hour) during the tribulation/persecution. It’s time to wake up from sleep and prepare to endure hardship for Jesus Christ—it’s time to get close to Christ.

Prayer: Father, help us to be the Church in these dark days. The world is crying out for truth and to see the light of Christ in true believers.

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

 

What is the Rapture of the Saints?

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV).

There are some Christians who do not believe that there will be a rapture of the saints. I don’t know how they get around the plain understanding of these verses. Sure, I agree with them that the word rapture is not found in the Bible. The word Rapture is a word we use to describe the church, the people of God, being caught up to heaven. The English word comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning rapid. The Latin word rapere is from the original Greek word, harpazō, translated as “caught up” in theKing James Version and English Standard Version, as in the passage above. Harpazō means: “to strip, spoil, snatch. To seize upon with force; to rob. It is an open act of confiscatory violence…to snatch or tear away, yank away, pluck out of, remove by swiftly and aggressively grasping.”[1] There is coming a time when the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout (how those that have refused and scorned His grace and act of love will tremble), and at that instant we will be snatched from this earth and changed as we are gathered together to be forever with Christ. It goes along with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the change in our nature:

“in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

This word, changed, what does it mean? That which is on the inside, the real you, the character that God has been working on throughout your life, will someday be revealed. Our new bodies will not be the same as our old nature that we inherited from Adam; Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). It will no longer be perishable but imperishable (15:53). We won’t all sleep; there will be some who are transformed instantly without going through the death process. This is the rapture or being caught up, whichever word you wish to use. When Christ comes, in a flash, in the batting of an eye’s time, we will be changed from having a perishable body to being clothed with an imperishable body (Verses 51-52).

…the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21 Emphasis mine).

Isn’t this your longing and desire, to be like Jesus?—I hope it is. What a wonderful thing. This word that is translated transform is the Greek word Metaschēmatizō. It is a construction of two Greek words. Meta means a change of place or condition, and schēma meaning shape, or outward form. To transform, change the outward form or appearance of something, refashion, reshape.[2] There is a rapture of the saints at the coming of Jesus, a transformation. That which is on the inside will be revealed—and it will be glorious:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG publishers. 773 Harpazō.

[2] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Page 1651.

Is the Great Tribulation the Wrath of God?

9When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been (Revelation 6:9-11).

In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was asked as to what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age (v.3). Verses 4 through 31 are an outline of the major events that will happen at the time of the end. These verses describe events almost exactly the same as the outline that the Lord gives us in Revelation 6-7 in the opening of the Seals. After chapter 7, the Lord gets into specific details. We are not told that these events all happen in the seven-year period that starts with a peace treaty in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27) over the land of Israel, but it is an assumption on most Bible teachers’ part. Jesus calls the first three and a half years after that peace covenant is signed “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8). As each seal is opened in the Book of Revelation chapter six, a corresponding event happens on the earth that makes the situation on earth so much worse, similar to a woman’s birth pains getting worse as the time for the birth gets near.

At the opening of the fifth seal (Rev. 6:7), a great persecution will be initiated against believers in Christ and those Jews who will not take the mark and worship Antichrist. Some, perhaps many, believers will be martyred for Christ at the time of the fifth seal. The opening of this seal, I believe, corresponds to Jesus’ warning about the Great Tribulation (KJV) or great distress (NIV) that He spoke about in Matthew 24:21. I believe this time should be called the Great Persecution. However far ahead in time this is, we as Christians need to be ready to endure and not compromise our faith. Many will fall away when this persecution starts (2 Thessalonians 2:3). We cannot expect to be delivered (raptured) from the earth until sometime into this Great Tribulation or Persecution of the saints.

There are some teachers who say we needn’t be worried about this time that is ahead (how far ahead, we do not know). They say that this period of time is the wrath of God being poured out on those who are left on the earth. They believe that the church will be raptured out of here before the Antichrist comes on the scene and the seals begin to be opened with terrible consequences on earth. They say that the tribulation is the wrath of God, and that Paul taught that, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). How can the Tribulation or Persecution be the wrath of God? In the passage at the top of the page, we are told clearly that some believers who had died in the Great Persecution, will ask God, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10). This happens at the fifth seal, some way after the mid-point, perhaps well into the second half of the seven-year period. The wrath of God is the judgment on those who are persecuting His church. At the fifth seal and the persecution, the wrath and judgment has not started yet. The Lord answers for those believers to wait, “until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been” (Revelation 6:11). The rapture will not happen until sometime into the second half of the seven-year period and before the wrath and judgment of God begins. We need to be spiritually ready and learning God’s Word and growing in our dependence upon Him. It’s time to put away our toys and get serious about our faith. It’s time to get close to Jesus. When the darkness gets worse, God will pour out His Spirit and the Church will shine with His love, life and light (Isaiah 60:1-2. Daniel 12:3).

Taken from the series called the Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. The study is titled, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas