Could the Rapture Come at any Moment?

Is the Doctrine of Immanence biblical? Those that teach this doctrine say that at any moment Jesus could come. The urgency to be ready for the return of Christ is pressed upon those who are without Christ. I wholeheartedly agree that the Church should preach that those without Christ should repent (turn from sin toward obedience to Christ) and get their lives right with God, but it is not biblical to tell people that Jesus Christ could come today. Jesus Himself said that He would send forth His angels and snatch away His Church, the people of God, only after the Abomination of Desolation had taken place, and during a time of great tribulation or persecution of Antichrist. The Greek Word that is translated as Tribulation is Thlipsis, and contrary to what some teach, it is not the wrath of God. Twice in Matthew 24, Christ tells us that His people will endure persecution:

9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted (Thlipsis) and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me (Matthew 24:9).

21For then there will be great tribulation (Thlipsis), unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21).

Paul the apostle writes, “Tribulation [thlipsis] works patience” (Romans 5:3 KJV). The NIV translates thlipsis as suffering, and that it produces perseverance. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering [thlipsis] produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3 NIV). We don’t get out of tribulation; we become changed through our right responses in the middle of character-transforming difficulties. The Lord said that His people should anticipate times of distress or tribulation. In the Parable of the Sower, for instance, those who had no root, when tribulation [thlipsis] or persecution came, many fall away. Jesus said that we will not know the day or the hour of His coming (Matthew 24:36), but those who are born-again and spiritually renewed or regenerated by the Spirit of God, will know the season of time as it approaches—and it is approaching! If it could come at any moment, then why would Jesus tell us to watch?

42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:42-44).

The Lord shared a lesson from the fig tree, that when it’s leaves come out and its twigs get tender you’ll know that summer (the return of Christ) is near. He explained that there would be certain signs that will indicate the season, “When you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33). The question is asked, “What signs are we to look for?” How are we to take this? The signs are those that He had mentioned earlier in the chapter—the rise of the Antichrist, the peace covenant in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27), the Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15), and the persecution of the saints (vs. 9, 21). Paul the Apostle talked about three things that must happen before the gathering together of the saints by the Lord, a great falling away by many Christians that are not really walking with Christ, the rise of the Antichrist, and the seating of Antichrist in the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

It is only after the signs of the times that we can expect the snatching up (rapture) of the saints. We will know the season because of the signs happening, but we will not know which day it will happen, or what hour. The time that we are in at the moment is a time for the Church to spiritually prepare for the difficult time ahead—it is time to get close to the Lord, learn to hear His voice, and if you are not yet right with God, it’s time to cry out to Him for His full and complete salvation to come to you. It is not earned, but a gift of God when you are ready to turn your life over into His hands:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

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

Paul’s 3 Things That Must Happen Before the Rapture

1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

The apostle Paul has received a letter back from the Thessalonian church after his first letter that was in part about the rapture. We know this for he starts out this chapter with the word “concerning.” The Thessalonians had received some communication from some people trying to deceive them into believing that the Day of the Lord, and with it, the Rapture, has already happened (Verse 2). They were being told that the persecution they had been enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4) is the persecution associated with the end time coming of the Lord. It’s interesting that Paul uses the same Greek word, thlipsis, translated with the word tribulation (Matthew 24:21 KJV) or distress (NIV) to describe the persecution that the Thessalonians were enduring at the time Paul was writing. He replies to this false thinking in order to ease their fears that they had missed being caught up (raptured) to the great gathering together with the Lord in the air. It is clear that Paul believes that the Day of the Lord will happen just after the Church is caught up to the Lord (vv. 1-2). He calls the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to Him as, “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

He reassures them that they have not missed the rapture by telling them that there are three things that must happen before that Day (The Day of the Lord) comes (Verse 3).

1) The Rebellion occurs. The definite article is in the Greek text, but is not explicit in the English translation. It is the rebellion, not just any countrywide rebellion but a worldwide falling away from the faith. The Greek word used is Apostasia, which means to depart, defect, and revolt. The meaning of this word is always speaking of a religious defection, a departure from what is considered to be orthodox.[1] What would cause a worldwide defection from the faith? It is possible that when Antichrist and the False Prophet demand that everyone should receive a mark on their forehead or hand, and worship the beast, many that have a half-hearted faith will compromise and fall away from the Lord. Those with true faith in Christ, will not take the mark, and continue to walk with the Lord, anticipating His return.

2) The second thing Paul says must happen before the Day of the Lord is for the man of lawlessness (another name for the Antichrist) to be revealed. I believe that when he comes to power he will resolve the Palestinian problem and a peace treaty or covenant will be signed on the whole issue of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27). His bargaining position chip will be to allow the Jewish people to rebuild their Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in exchange for the Palestinians to have a state and possibly even their capital city to be East Jerusalem. This peace covenant or treaty is a sign that we can look for as it will start a period of seven years, with a desecration of the Temple at the mid-point. Those who hold to a Pre-Tribulation rapture view do not believe the Church will witness any of these things. However, even in Paul’s day, the Holy Spirit warned the Thessalonians, and us, to be aware of these events as signs of His coming and the rapture.

3) Paul says the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, will oppose everything that is called God; in fact he will exalt himself as God, sitting in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself as God (verse 4). He will set himself up in the newly rebuilt Jewish Temple. As at this present time (November 12, 2017) there is no Jewish Temple that lies at the heart of Jerusalem. We must prepare to endure persecution and when the temptation comes to take the Mark of the Beast and worship Antichrist—we must refuse and cling to the Lord Jesus—trusting that He will deliver us from Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12, and 17). Grace will be poured out on God’s people and the Lord will intervene in deliverance for His people and wrath on His enemies. Pray that you may endure and be found on the right side.

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, 686 Apostasia, Page 693.

What is the Great Tribulation?

15“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be (Matthew 24:15-21. ESV).

Many of you have heard of the time that Jesus warned us about, the time He called the “Great Tribulation”. The Lord said that an event called the “Abomination of Desolation” would precipitate this time of great distress in Israel, along with the rest of the world too. So the first question for us to consider is, what is meant by the term great tribulation? What will happen at that time?

The Greek word that the term is translated from is Thlipsis. I have a Key Word Study Bible, which enables me to search how the Greek word was used in other passages. The word literally means, “to crush, press, compress, squeeze. Tribulation, trouble and affliction.” This Greek word “conveys the picture of something being crushed, pressed or squeezed as from a great weight. It is used to denote grievous physical affliction or mental or spiritual distress.”[1]

How this word was used in context in other passages of the Bible will shed some light on what the Church should expect to happen during that time. In Acts 8:1, the word thlipsis is translated as great persecution after the martyrdom of Stephen:

1And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

In Acts 11:19, the same Greek word, thlipsis, is translated again as persecution:

 19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews (Acts 11:19).

And lastly, Paul used the same Greek word when he wrote to the Thessalonian church about the persecution they had been going through:

4Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

We need to prepare ourselves for that time by living in close relationship to the Lord. The Great Tribulation, when it comes, is a time of worldwide persecution against those who serve the God of Israel, true Christians and Jewish people too. I believe the persecution will be aimed at all those who will not take the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:16-17) or worship his image. We should not think that the Lord will rapture us out of here before the tribulation, but we should prepare to endure. The tribulation is never called the wrath of God. The wrath of God is only poured out after the church is taken at some point (no man knows the day nor the hour) during the time of great tribulation that breaks out after the mid-point of the seven-year period. Let’s grow in our dependence and trust in Him.

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

[1] New Testament Lexical Aids, Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Thlipsis, Page 1632