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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


How Soon Will the Rapture Take Place?

Art Sadlier

From Sound the Trumpet!, March 2014

I believe we are living in the most exciting days in all of the history of the world! Man's day is drawing to a close! Christ is about to come for His Bride. The trumpet is about to sound!


We will be caught up to the Father's house, remember the Father's house is our eternal home. All of our believing family and friends will be there, what a time that will be. We will be loved and love with a new capacity to love. There will be hundreds of millions of saints who will be known to us and who will love us as brothers and sisters, what a family that will be.


Better than all of that Jesus will be there; we will look on the face of the one who gave His life and shed His blood for us. Our heavenly Father will be there and just as our earthly fathers desired to be with us and to have us with them, so also our heavenly Father desires us to be with Him.


We will stand at the Bema, the judgment seat of Christ and receive rewards. "And, behold, I come quickly (suddenly); and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Revelation 22:12) We are about to go to the Father's house and receive rewards. We stand on the threshold of a marvellous prospect. Can you imagine the trumpet sounding and in the twinkling of an eye we are in glory.


But for the unsaved all around us the awful Day of the Lord judgment is about to break upon their heads. Then in a few short years Christ will return to set up the long promised utopia on earth.


One of the saddest things of this present hour is that a large portion the bride of Christ is asleep and unaware of the nearness of the catching away of the believers.


Even more tragic is the fact that many who profess to be Christians are self-deceived and are unknowingly outside of the kingdom. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21) Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is really a Christian. Profession of faith does not make one a Christian.


Notice that these people profess to be followers of Christ, verse 22, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?" What could possibly be more tragic than to think you are a Christian and to discover at the last that you are not? "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (v. 23) What a shock in that day!


Paul warned those at Corinth of this possibility. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (counterfeit)?" (II Corinthians 13:5) My friend this is the hour of great deception, search the scriptures and search your heart and let God give you assurance of salvation or strip you of a false hope.


In Matthew 25:1, Jesus foretold of the present hour, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom." This is a metaphor of Christ coming for the church.


"And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them" (Verses 2-3).


The lamps represent profession and the oil represents possession. The oil represents the Holy Spirit within those who are born again. But those who had the lamps without oil represent the unsaved; those who had profession without possession. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is really a Christian. Profession of faith does not make one a Christian.


"But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps." (verse 4) Oil in their vessels could represent nothing else than the believer who has the Holy Spirit indwelling his body or vessel."

 

Now in verse 5 we come to this very day in which we now live. "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." Notice at the very time the bridegroom was to come, "They all slumbered and slept."


I believe that this is speaking of the very hour in which we now live. Never in my lifetime has there been such a dearth of preaching on the second coming. But there are also false teachers declaring false things to discredit the true message of the nearness of the Day of the Lord and the rapture.


Immanency is the doctrine of scripture that says that Christ could come at any moment. Down through the centuries millions of Christians have lived out their lives, their hours and days and years with an expectation of the soon and sudden call into the presence of Christ. It hovered over the horizon of their daily responsibilities and cares like the first pale light of the rising sun. It walked with them down the lonely, sorrowful, sometimes torturous pathways, a silent companion, and a comforting presence. Through dry years, bleak landscapes, and withered hopes, it bubbled up from deep within them, a fountain, a secret well of joy and refreshment, a hope beyond all hopes.


It was an expectation that in the next breath, in the next blink of the eye, the next tick of the clock, the next beat of the heart or the next rustle of the leaves. They lived with anticipation that Christ could descend from heaven at any moment with a shout and call them home, maybe today, maybe tonight, maybe before I draw my next breath.


Immanency was the hope of the apostolic church, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love that love His appearing." (Timothy 4:8) That is an exhortation to watch for is coming, His appearing.


"For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (I Thessalonians 1:9-10) They were serving and working, but all the while they were watching. That's immanency.


Our Saviour has always wanted His church to be in an attitude of readiness and waiting for the rapture. John 14:2-3, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."


That is a wonderful promise; that has always been the blessed hope of the church.


A shout! A trumpet note!

A glorious presence in the azure sky!

A gasp! A thrill of joy,

and we are with Him

In the twinkling of an eye.

(Unknown)


Understand that the purpose of Bible prophecy is not to tickle our ears or entertain us. It is intended to change our lives!


If we knew for certain that Christ was coming tomorrow night, how would we live tomorrow? That's the way God wants us to live every day. The expectation of an imminent rapture is a faith producing and a purifying influence in our daily lives. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (I John 3:3)


That is why the day of the rapture has been hidden by God, in order to produce fruit bearing in the lives of believers and in order to produce purity in the lives of His children. Oh the wisdom of God!


"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matthew 24:36)


"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:42)


"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 25:13)


I have absolutely no doubt that today as the signs of His coming are everywhere; the reason for His long delay is His purpose to produce faith and purity in our lives.


Understand that the rapture is an imminent event and it is a sign less event, The Lord planned it that way for our benefit.


Understand that the glorious second coming of Christ to the earth in power to set up the kingdom is not an imminent event. The rapture must occur first. The seven years of tribulation must take place first. It can't happen until those events occur.


The second coming then is not a sign less event. There are many signs that must be fulfilled before Christ's second to the earth. Today we are seeing the foreshadowing of the fulfillment of those signs. These signs are now all around us, in fact we are being overwhelmed by them; they are everywhere.


Understand also the second coming will not be a surprise as the rapture will be. The exact day of the second coming can be known by those living in the tribulation period.


Understand that it is clearly spelled out in Scripture that the tribulation period is a seven year period. We see that in Daniel 9:27, "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause hidden the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."


The above verse tells exactly when the tribulation period starts. It starts with the signing of the peace treaty with Israel by Antichrist. Anyone will be able to take their Bible and see this and be able to count seven years and know exactly when the second coming will take place.


Our Lord's second coming will not be secret kept from the world; it will be expected by the world as it draws near.


"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Mathew 24:29-30)


I believe that the books of Daniel and Revelation will be the handbooks of the tribulation saints; they will live in those books. They will be able to read Daniel 9:27 and calculate from the signing of the peace treaty seven years or 84 months or 2520 days, they will able to know the exact day of the second coming.


Also the abomination of desolation takes place at the mid-tribulation point. They will be able to mark their calendars and know that it is 3½  years until Christ comes.


Jesus spoke of that event in Matthew 24:15, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)" "Whoso readeth, let him understand" or let him figure it out. What is that about?


The significance of this is found in the fact that Jesus described two very different scenarios for two separate and distinct comings of Christ. We find these two different scenarios in Matthew 24&25. He teaches that you cannot know the time of His coming and He also teaches you can know the time. We seem to have a contradiction, but there is no contradiction; the obvious conclusion is that there are two separate comings, one coming before the tribulation period and one coming after the tribulation period. Hence we have the doctrine of the Pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.


We see another seeming contrast; Jesus said that when they are saying peace and safety I will come. In contrast He also says I will come in the midst of the most devastating war of all of history. Which is it? It is simply two separate comings?


Jesus says I will come when men are marrying and giving in marriage and life is perfectly normal. He also says I will come when the world is devastated by war, famine and catastrophe, when men are crying for the rocks to fall on them to hide them from the wrath of God.


Which is it? We have a seeming contradiction. There is no contradiction! Our Lord is telling us of two separate events with two separate time frames and two separate comings.


QUESTION?


If we cannot know the day or the hour of the rapture and if it is a sign-less event, how can we know that the rapture is drawing near? God has provided a way.


In the books of Matthew, Daniel, Ezekiel, Thessalonians and Revelation and others we have a picture painted for us of the scenario surrounding the tribulation. If we can look out on the world scene and determine that those scenarios are coming into place. Then we can know that the rapture is near because it must precede the unfolding of these events.


Today the dark clouds of the Day of the Lord are forming on the world stage.


How close are we? That is not the real question. The real question is how close do you want it to be? That involves a choice.


The battle that is fought in man's heart began as a choice between two worlds. Between the world as God made it and the world which man in partnership with Satan has proceeded to make.


Adam bartered the world God made for another world which man as the presiding deity would fashion to his own liking.


One day God will destroy this present evil world system and restore the world as He intended it to be. Ultimately He will make a perfect, eternal universe into which sin will never enter. Make no mistake; the actual choice we all face moment by moment is between man's world system and God's world or God's kingdom.


The real test is whether we truly long to make that exchange now, now when life is exciting and vibrant and enjoyable. Everyone wants to exchange sickness, death and hell for heaven, but that is not the true issue. Do we right now want to exchange the best that this world offers for God's presence? That's the unique challenge of the imminent rapture.


How close are we to the rapture? The answer is very close! But the real question is how close do you want the rapture to be? Better stated, what are you living for? Such is the heart searching impact of the many warnings of Christ to, "Watch and be ready".


Let me take your spiritual temperature. Is the rapture something you really want right now or do wish for a delay?


Yes, we wish for the salvation of unsaved loved ones and friends. Our hearts are torn to see them saved before it's too late! But nothing must stand in the way of our love for Him and our desire to be with Him.


We see the signs all around us, Jesus is coming. If ever there is an hour when we ought to get our eyes off of the things around us and onto the Lord, it is now.