The Rapture and the Second Coming
Many people don’t realize that the rapture of the church and Christ’s second coming to the earth are two separate events. There’s some disagreement amongst Bible scholars as to when the rapture will occur in relation to the seven year tribulation. In fact there are whole books that are dedicated to the subject, so I won’t address that here. But there’s no disagreement as to when Christ’s second coming will occur. It will happen right at the very end of the seven year tribulation.
Many people today who profess to be Christians don’t believe that there will be a rapture of the Church. Satan must hate the rapture because it’s one miracle he can’t duplicate. Also because he knows that once Christians are raptured and Jesus takes them to heaven, they will be outside of his satanic reach. He will no longer have an opportunity to deceive them and attempt to turn them away from God.
The devil doesn’t want us to believe that the rapture will happen. But the Bible tells us it will happen.
Some people who have rejected Christ try their best to deceive us and in some cases they’ve succeeded. They do this by saying that the rapture is not mentioned in the Bible. This is only a partial truth. Satan loves to mix just enough truth with his lies to deceive those who don’t study the scriptures. It’s true that the word rapture doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible. Rapture is simply a word that Christians use to describe this blessed event.
But why would Christians use a word that’s not in the Bible to describe such an important event? It’s because the word perfectly describes how Christians will feel when this event occurs. Here’s how the dictionary defines the word:
- The state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy.
- An expression of ecstatic feeling. Often used in the plural.
- The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven.
It seems reasonable to me that being transported to heaven would cause anyone to feel ecstasy. So all three of these definitions apply to this discussion. But where’s the rapture mentioned in the Bible? Let’s see what the Bible says.
Jesus warns us to be ready because we don’t know the day or the hour that Jesus will come for us.
How will Christians be raptured? 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17 provides the answer.
In verse 16, we see that the Lord himself will descend from heaven and with a loud voice and a trumpet call, raise the dead in Christ. These are the people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior before they died.
In verse 17, we learn that those of us who are alive and left will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. These are the people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are still alive at the rapture. Verse 17 also tells us that we’ll be with the Lord forever. I know that many Christians eagerly await this moment and believe that there’s a very good chance that they’ll be alive to see it because we are at the very cusp of the tribulation.
The disappearance of Christians during this event won’t take long, either:
Sadly, many people today who call themselves Christians don’t even believe in the rapture of the church. Even some of them who do believe in the rapture are not living in obedience to God’s Word. In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus uses a parable to warn us against being like the unwise virgins who weren’t ready when the bridegroom came for them.
In this parable, Jesus is portrayed as the bridegroom and the virgins are the Christians that he will return for and take back to heaven with him during the rapture. Some were ready when he came for them. Some were not, and were not taken.
For those of us who are ready when He comes, the apostle John records where Jesus said he would take us.
If the rapture hasn’t happened by the time you read this, I hope this will motivate you to get right with God so that you’re ready when Jesus comes for His church. The unthinkable alternative is to miss the rapture and have to experience the wrath to come during the tribulation period.
How will you know if the rapture has occurred?
Movies and books have depicted the rapture as people disappearing usually leaving a pile of clothing behind. They show cars crashing and un-piloted planes falling out of the sky, and trains running off the rails. Some movies have even shown that there will be a great lightning storm and people seen ascending skyward in beams of light, one after the other.
But is this how it will really happen?
The Bible doesn’t say what will happen to our clothes and it doesn’t say anything about being carried upwards in a light beam or even if our bodies will be seen moving skyward. What it does tell us is that this will be a one-time event that will happen quickly (in the twinkling of an eye) and at a day and time that no one knows but God the father himself, and that those who are ready for the event (the true Christians) will be taken.
It’s likely that millions or at least hundreds of thousands of people will suddenly disappear from the earth. I don’t know if graves will be opened to reveal the absence of the bodies of the saints that will be taken but that could happen if Jesus so chooses.
What if you miss the rapture?
Don’t believe the Hollywood folklore. There won’t be a second rapture and you can’t earn your way into heaven by doing good deeds. You never could. There will be three types of people who will be left behind at the rapture:
- The Rejecters. These are the people who outright rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This group will consist of atheists, people who were deceived by false religions, and people who were not antagonistic towards God but just don’t believe God exists.
- The Fence Sitters. These are the people who never made a decision one way or the other. These people never gave God much thought or they decided to live life their way and then become a Christian when they’re old.
- The Deceived. These people thought they were saved. They thought they had met all the requirements they needed to meet in order to spend eternity with Christ. But they were wrong. Either they deceived themselves or they were deceived by others in regards to what it means to be a true Christian.
If you miss the rapture, you’ll have to endure the wrath that Satan and God will pour out during the tribulation. The last half of the tribulation will be the worst time the earth has ever seen or will see. Billions of people will die during this time, a carnage that has never been seen since the creation of the earth. Odds of surviving the entire seven years of the tribulation isn’t in your favor, either. The only safe place to be is in Christ Jesus. Here’s how:
- Believe that Jesus is the son of God.
- Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again on the third day.
- Confess your sins and ask God to forgive you of your sins.
- Repent of our sins. This means that you make a decision to stop sinning and obey the will of God over our own will.
- Refuse to take the mark of the beast.
The Second Coming
Jesus’ return to the earth, known as the second coming will happen right at the very end of the seven year tribulation.
Many have claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ and many of them are with us today. But they are all false Christs. We can be certain that they’re not who they claim to be because the Bible tells us clearly that Jesus will return visibly the same way he left.
The Bible also says that and every eye will see him return. This is a key point because no one who has ever claimed be Jesus can make this claim.
While being interrogated by Caiaphas, the chief priest of Israel, Jesus acknowledged himself as the Son of God and spoke of his return.
Jesus will return with great glory and pour out His wrath.
Revelation 19:11-21 tells us that Jesus will leave heaven on a white horse and he will be followed by the armies of heaven. He will put down the nations and rule the world with a rod of iron. He will slay the kings of the earth and their armies that prepared to make war against Him. He will capture both the antichrist, (also known as the beast) and the false prophet and cast them both into the lake of fire (hell).
Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that Jesus will sit on a glorious throne, judge and condemn the wicked and reward the righteous. And finally, Revelation 20:1-2 tells us that Christ will bind Satan for one thousand years so he won’t be able to deceive anyone.
Oh, what a glorious day it will be when Jesus finally eradicates evil from the world. I’ve read to the end of the book and it says God wins!
Since this has been a lot of information to take in, let’s take a quick look at how the rapture and the second coming compare.
|The Rapture||The second coming|
|Happens before the end of the seven year tribulation. Most Bible scholar believe it will occur before the tribulation.||Happens at the very end of the seven year tribulation.|
|Jesus won’t be seen by everyone.||Everyone will see Jesus coming in the clouds.|
|Jesus will meet His church in the clouds and then return with them to heaven.||Jesus will return with the armies of heaven, destroy His enemies, and rule the earth with a rod of iron.|
I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years. In 2013, I began growing in a closer relationship with God as I turned over more and more of my life to Him and asked Him for wisdom. Since then, I’ve been strongly compelled to share God's word and to warn others that we need to get ready because Jesus is coming soon.