April 21, 2022
We hear the news. Stories of war, natural disasters, and disease fill our ears. We remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:6-7 as He spoke of what the world will look like just before He comes again: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars…nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” We hear of food shortages, see rising prices and read Revelation 6:6, which talks about two pounds of wheat costing a day’s wages.
And so, we ask: When will Jesus return and rapture His bride, the Church? We’ve been waiting for 2,000 years! The answer, as it was in the Apostle Peter’s day, is soon and very soon. Peter warned us that “scoffers” would ask, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Echoing Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 24:6 to “see that you are not troubled,” Peter further encouraged us: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9). That “longsuffering” should point Jesus’ followers toward evangelism as we await the Rapture.
We will not know the date and time when Jesus will come for us, but Pastor Adrian Rogers likened our wait to a walk at the edge of the ocean. If the ocean’s edge is the Rapture—the doorway to forever living bodily with Jesus—our feet are in the sand, just touching the water. It is not that we have been journeying to the ocean from 2,000 miles away; we are at the surf’s edge.
“Now some people have the idea that…we’re way over here, the Second Coming of Jesus is off over there somewhere, and we’re just maybe trying to get to it,” Pastor Rogers said. “No, no, no, no, no. Friend, we’re right on the edge; we’re just walking along the seashore. We are living on the edge of eternity.”
In other words, eternity isn’t in front of us; it’s right beside us. Everything that needs to be fulfilled prior to the Rapture of the Church has been fulfilled. From the First Century through the 21st Century and now into the 22nd, we have been living in the “end times.” We look around us and observe that the days are becoming, as Pastor Rogers said, “gloriously dark.” We have the eyes of faith to understand the times and sense the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He may come at any moment.
How then, should we live? We live in hope because we know the promises God gave us in His Word are true. We live with our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. We live longing for and prepared for the return of Christ. We are watching for Him. While our hearts stretch toward the unimaginable above, our arms are stretched out in love to reach others beside us… before it is too late.
This is an active form of waiting as we work to bring a harvest to Jesus; we do not waste our precious time and our precious lives on lesser pursuits. We concentrate on the heart of the Gospel: Jesus died for our sins, He was raised, He is coming again. We do not fear the darkness, knowing that Jesus will always lead us in the light of His Word. Finally, we are aware that the enemy too knows the time is short, so we stand firm, with our feet planted in the truth of God’s Word. We withstand the enemy’s most clever schemes to tie us to this world so that we will point others toward the far better inheritance we will receive… in the twinkling of an eye.
What is the Gospel? In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul tells us the Gospel is, “That Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised again the third day.” The unfolding of this Gospel began in Genesis and continued throughout the Old Testament with prophecy about the first coming of Jesus. The heart of the Gospel was lived out in Jesus’ lifetime with His sinless life, His vicarious death, and His triumphant resurrection. In our days, the “Last Days,” Jesus continues to live out His Gospel in believers who share His love and bring others into the family of God.
The Book of Revelation gives us a glorious window into how God’s promises will be fulfilled; it explodes with a cosmic celebration of the triumph of the Gospel; it brings full circle the story of redemption that began in the Garden of Eden.
While the Book of Revelation contains many themes, ideas, symbols, and prophecies that may be debated by theologians, the critical message of the book is something all Christians may easily understand. The Book of Revelation is about one central person, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1), for one clear purpose, “to show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1), with one comforting promise, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).
To obtain this blessing as a certain prophecy for each believer, we must see Jesus high and lifted up; He is the hero of all redemptive history. We must be His bondslaves because those who are not committed to Him cannot understand what He “shows His servants” as He pulls back the curtain and grants us a heavenly perspective. And we must “keep the things which are written,” being faithful to share Jesus in the face of opposition to the Gospel and refusing to compromise with the culture.
For an introduction to The Book of Revelation from Pastor Rogers, read the article: An Introduction to the Book of Revelation.
We don’t know when the Rapture will take place, but we know it will be beautiful for those who belong to Jesus. A preschool girl was playing in a Sunday school class, busy with her doll and a tea party set, when she heard the voice of her father who had come to pick her up. She abandoned the toys and ran to the door. Caught up into her daddy’s arms, she wrapped herself around his neck and exclaimed excitedly, “I knew you’d come back”!
She was too young to tell time. Her father’s appearance at that precise moment was a complete surprise. But she trusted Him. She knew he would come for her. That is how we are to live—going about our business, enjoying all God has given us, sharing the Gospel, and trusting Jesus—as we prepare for the Rapture. The Lord’s appearance will be at a surprising time, but it will be both highly relational (we will be “caught up” to Him) and transformational (we will become “like Him” in our glorified bodies).
The Apostle Paul explained to the Church at Thessalonica that this relational and transformational reality will be both for those believers who have died previously and for those who are living at the moment Jesus returns for His own.
Paul wrote the following to comfort us when we grieve the death of a Christian loved one: “But I do not want you to be ignorant brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. …We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16).
Jesus is going to shout with a voice that literally wakes the dead who belong to Him. In an instant, “we who are alive and remain,” Paul said, indicating that he expected to be among the living at the time of the Rapture, “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:17).
All of this will happen, Paul told the Church at Corinth, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
This is why believers rightly ask, “Where will you be when the trumpet sounds?”
For more about the Rapture and what it means to be “caught up,” read the article, What is the Rapture?
The Rapture we await is not only a joyous reunion but also a rescue.
The Book of Revelation speaks of God’s wrath poured out on the entire world, and those who do not know Christ are right to be anxious. In fact, they should be downright terrified.
Following the Rapture, the Bible says the next seven years will be the worst time in our planet’s history. The Book of Daniel describes this period called the Great Tribulation: “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time” (Daniel 12:1).
During this seven-year period, a false Christ, the Antichrist, a man who, as Pastor Rogers says, “will make Hitler look like a Boy Scout,” will gain worldwide power. The Bible prophecies a ferocious end to the Antichrist and to all those living on Earth who do not belong to Jesus. This end comes on “The Day of the Lord.”
Jeremiah 30:7 says of this horrific day, “Alas, for that day is great, so none is like it.” “None is like it.”
“There’ve been unmitigated horrors of war, of torture, of ethnic cleansing...of earthquakes,” Pastor Rogers said. “But there’s never, never, never been a day like this.”
The Apostle John, speaking prophetically in the past tense as if having seen it already occur, says of the Day of the Lord, “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17).
It will be the most cataclysmic and terrifying day in history; yet, Pastor Rogers said, those who are now believers should not fear this Day. Instead, we should be concerned, as Jesus is, about sharing the Gospel so that others are spared from that time.
“The church will be taken out at the rapture,” Pastor Rogers said, “God chastises His children, but He never pours His wrath on His children. But there's coming a time known as the Day of the Lord when God is going to pour out His wrath upon this world, and I'm going to tell you this, that even now, right now, the raging waters of God's wrath are furiously pounding against the dam of His mercy.”
For more about the believer’s rescue from the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, including Scriptural support, read the article, The Second Coming of Jesus.
Believers living today will not face the Antichrist spoken of in Revelation. The Antichrist—also known as the beast, the son of perdition, the little horn, and the man of sin—will come to power following the Rapture and during the Great Tribulation. According to Revelation 12 and 13, the Beast is a malevolent dictator.
Revelation 13:1 references the beast “rising up out of the sea,” a symbol for society in great turmoil. Because the Church will have been taken out of the world through the Rapture by the time the Great Tribulation begins, society will be in chaos and wickedness will be greatly increased.
Revelation 13:1-2 symbolizes the beast with “seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name,” and says that “the dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.” Revelation 12:3 symbolizes Satan in this way: “Behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.” While Bible scholars may debate the exact meaning of each symbol, Pastor Rogers says it is clear the beast is Satan’s spawn. “If there was ever a man whose father was the devil, it is the beast. Jesus, who was God in flesh, could say: ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen My Father’ (John 14:9, KJV). The beast, who will be Satan in the flesh, will be able to say: ‘He that hath seen me hath seen my father.’ The beast will be the visible expression of the invisible devil.”
When the Bible speaks of the beastly characteristics of the Antichrist, it’s talking about his nature, not his appearance. Revelation 13:4 says that the world during the time of the Great Tribulation will worship not only Satan but also the beast, saying, “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” The beast will not appear hideous, Pastor Rogers said. “No doubt he’ll be handsome, charming, clever, greatly intelligent. He’ll be a global charmer.”
While Jesus came “to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10), the beast will have a five-point game plan:
A minister of propaganda will present the Antichrist to the world. Revelation 13:11-12 says, “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast.” Pastor Rogers said, “Remember that there is an unholy trinity. The devil always mimics God. The Holy Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. What is the unholy Trinity? The dragon (Satan), the beast (the Antichrist), and the false prophet (the propagandist).”
For more about the beast and the false prophet, including the mark of the beast, read the article, Beware of the Mark of The Beast.
While we are blessed by reading the Book of Revelation and understanding Christ’s instruction to us, it may be distracting to continuously relate the symbolism in Scripture to current events and world personalities. And it is fruitless to try and set a date for the Rapture. Our job is to share the Gospel and make disciples.
“God doesn’t punch a time-clock when He goes to work. He doesn’t wear a wristwatch. God is not concerned with time,” Pastor Rogers said. “I'll tell you one thing: It's two thousand years nearer than it's ever been before. Jesus Christ is coming. I’ve stopped looking for the signs and started listening for the trumpet.”