The Rapture—What, Who, When and Why? (Part 2)April 1, 2019
(- continued Part 2)
The Select Multitude of the Rapture
Not everyone will rise in the rapture. The Rapture is not a “general resurrection.”
7. Turn again at Revelation 4, verse 4.
“And round about the throne were ______ and _________ seats, and upon the seats I saw four and twenty ________ sitting clothed in _______ raiment, and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”
Who are these people around the Throne of God in Revelation 4? These are
- the dead in Christ and
- those who have been transformed as they rose to meet Him in the air.
Why does Paul see them as twenty-four elders? Why are they called elders? These aren’t angels, as we are about to learn.
8. Turn to Revelation 5:11.
And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders.”
Here we have angels, living creatures, and elders around the throne. We see that the elders are not the same as the living creatures, and they’re not angels.
Are they just some sort of symbol? No, because they talk to one another.
See Revelation 5:5
And one of the _________ _______ unto me, “Weep not. Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”
They’re not inanimate symbols—they talk—and they’re not angels.
So who/what are elders? They represent both the Old Testament and New Testament saints of God. Your pastor is an elder of the church; he represents your church, but he’s not your church.
Why are there 24 of them? It’s a representative, symbolic number. Twelve is God’s governmental number, four is the earth number, and three is the divine number. Three times four is twelve.
4 -- earth
3 -- the divine number.
12 -- representing the rule of God on earth
12 = God’s governmental number
And 12 is represented twice.
WHY THE NUMBER 12 TWICE?
Studying the book of Revelation, you’ll find:
1.—There are 12 gates to the holy city, also called the “new Jerusalem,” the place we call “Heaven” or “glory.”
Each of those 12 gates has the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel (the 12 patriarchs, the 12 fathers/rulers of the tribes descended from them).
2.—The foundations of the holy city have the names of the 12 apostles
Twelve patriarchs + twelve apostles= twenty-four. These are representative of both the Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints.
We’re going to meet Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom.
We’re going to meet Peter, James, John, Paul—all of these in glory. These elders represent you, me—all of us. You’re going to be there in that glorious scene.
9. Notice how they are described (v. 4).
a. “clothed in white raiment,” representing the righteousness we have in Christ because of His sacrifice for our sins.
The best interpretation of many of these symbols is in the Bible itself. Turn to Revelation 19:8.
“And to her” [the church], “was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white, for the fine linen is the ______________________ of saints.”
We know that these who are dressed in white are saints.
b. Besides white clothing, they are wearing ___________ (v. 4).
How did they get them? They received them at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
That’s how I know the Rapture takes place right before the Judgment Seat of Christ, because before this moment in the timeline, none of them is wearing crowns of gold. We don’t get our crowns until we go to the Judgment Seat of Christ. And here are these saints (we know they’re saints, not angels), dressed in white and wearing crowns.
First the Rapture of the church takes place; then you have the Judgment Seat of Christ. Then by Revelation 4—just after Jesus has been addressing the church on earth—we are gathered around the Throne of God in Heaven.
10. Not everyone will be there. Turn to Luke 17, verses 34 and following. Jesus said,
I tell you in that night, there shall be two men in one bed. The one shall be taken and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together [at a mill]. The one shall be taken and the other left. Two men shall be in the field. The one shall be taken and the other left.
Even on Sunday morning in a church where the Bible is faithfully taught, if the Rapture were to take place, how many would be taken and how many would be left sitting there? Everyone looks alike, dresses much the same, has a Bible in their lap. But there is a vast difference that separates people in every church building: those who are saved and those who are lost; those who are ready for Jesus Christ to come and those who are not. It could be that at the Rapture, the person sitting next to you will go and you’ll still be there. Around the throne in Revelation 4, there is a select multitude. Not everybody is going up in the Rapture; only those who are saved.
When will the Rapture take place?
11. Look back once more at chapter 4’s first verse:
1 And after this I looked and behold a door was opened in Heaven, and the first voice which I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet [remember “the trumpet shall sound”?] talking with me, which said, “Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.” “And immediately I was in the Spirit, and behold a throne was set in Heaven and one sat upon the throne.”
How quickly did this happen to John? He was not even expecting it. He’d been looking at the churches (chapters 2-3) as the Lord walked among them with messages for each church, and John had been writing down what the Lord said about the Church Age, when suddenly—WHOOSH!—the trumpet sounds, and immediately he’s caught up into Heaven in his vision for the rest of the vision and the message God asks John to write for the Church Age saints.
If you’re living at the moment of the Rapture, you will be caught up.
IT’S CHAPTER 4—WHERE’S THE CHURCH?
Right now, we’re living in the Church Age, the period of chapters 2-3. But beginning with chapter 4 on through the rest of the book, the word “church” drops off the map.
What a contrast to chapters 2 and 3, when we heard “the church, the church, the church, the church,” over and over again. Now on earth from Revelation chapter 4 on, “the church” is nowhere to be seen. Why? Because we leave the age of grace, the Church Age, at the end of Chapter 3, and immediately in Chapter 4, when the trumpet sounds, we’re caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
When is Jesus Christ coming for His church?
I don’t know.
You don’t know.
Only Jesus and the Father know, and when Jesus was on earth in His humanity, He denied Himself that privilege until He ascended to Heaven.
12. The occurrence of the Rapture is a sacred mystery, a time known to God alone. Turn to Matthew 24:36. Jesus Himself is speaking:
But of that day and hour knoweth ____ man. No, not the angels of heaven, but ___ __________ only.
If some charming, authoritative-sounding Bible teacher says he has the date for the coming of Jesus, or even knows the year, just laugh it off. Ask him, “If you’re sincere, will you give me the deed to your home the day after that happens?” Anyone who declares they know the date of the return of Jesus Christ is either (a) sadly deceived or (b) a false prophet. You can write them off.
Now, it becomes interesting in our day as we watch the turmoil in the Middle East and see events that seem to indicate the coming of Jesus is near. The coming of Jesus is always near. We’re not waiting for some fulfillment of prophecy. Remember, the apostle Paul was expecting Jesus Christ in his own lifetime!
Was Paul wrong? No, he was absolutely right.
Every Christian is right to be expecting Christ in his lifetime. The coming of Jesus Christ has been Imminent since His return to Heaven. If there were certain signs that had to be fulfilled before His return, that would take away the imminence and expectancy of His return.
Every Christian, from the time of the Ascension until today, should be living with that “any moment” mentality. No signs prove that Jesus is coming soon, and no lack of signs prove that He’s not coming soon.
13. The following Scriptures emphasize this.
- We’ve already covered Matthew 24:36.
“But that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of Heaven, but My Father only.”
- Turn to Matthew 24 verse 38.
“But as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark.”
People were going about business as usual, life’s daily routine, eating and drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, just like today.
- Look farther down at Matthew 24:42
“Watch, therefore, for ye _____ _____ ______ ______ your Lord doth come.”
- And Matthew 24:44
“Therefore, be ye also ready, for in ______ ___ _______ ___ ____ _______ ____, the Son of Man cometh.”
If you say, “I don’t think He’s coming today;” that’s a good sign He might.
How quickly will it happen?
14. We’ve already looked at First Corinthians 15:51
Behold, I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed….
Now look at verse 51 for the span of time it describes:
“ ___ __ __________”, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.”
How fast is that? The Greek word “moment” is where we get our word “atom.” It was the smallest indivisible period of time then known to man. “In the twinkling of an eye” or “in the blink of an eye,” in a nanosecond, the Lord Jesus Christ will come.
But what about those signs—indications that the Lord’s return is near?
Do the signs tell us Jesus is coming?
Think about them this way: Every year, long before Halloween, the stores start putting out Christmas decorations. You’ve noticed it seems to get earlier every year. When you see those decorations in the stores, does it mean Christmas is coming? No, it means Thanksgiving is coming!
When you see signs indicating things are shaping up for the Lord’s return, whether it be the increase of moral depravity in our land or saber-rattling in the Middle East, particularly as it impacts Israel, you might ask, “Are these signs of the times?” Yes, but these are not the times of the signs.
What do I mean? They are signs, but these signs are not linked to the Rapture. The signs we’re seeing actually relate to and point to conditions on earth after the Rapture. They relate to the direction this lost world is moving and what Is shaping up to happen in Revelation 4:2 and following.
Now if we see them ahead of time, that doesn’t mean they’re not valid, but what I’m saying is, the Rapture is not the Second Coming—the time Jesus comes in power and great glory, returning to earth with His saints to establish His millennial kingdom. The Rapture is when Jesus comes for His church before He comes in power and great glory.
It’s not Christmas, it’s Thanksgiving. I hope you get the illustration I’m trying to make. Jesus Christ may come today. He could come now! And you need to be ready. “For in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man comes.”
Why the Rapture?
Why does the Rapture precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Why not just wait until there’s a general resurrection? There are 3 reasons.
- The Rapture is for Reception
15. Our Lord is going to come and receive His bride to Himself. Turn to John 14:2-3. Jesus said:
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 ________ again, and ____________ ____ unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
What a day that will be when the Lord Jesus Christ comes for His bride and receives those who come to Him into the heavenly kingdom. My first thrill in Heaven will be seeing my Lord Jesus Christ.
16. We’re going to see His sovereign majesty—the Lord Jesus sitting upon His throne. The Amplified Bible describes that scene (Revelation 4:2-6) like this:
2 …behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne.
3 And He who sat there appeared like [the crystalline sparkle of] a jasper stone and [the fiery redness of] a sardius stone, and encircling the throne there was a _____________ that looked like [the color of an] emerald.
5 From the throne came flashes of lightning and [rumbling] sounds and peals of thunder. Seven lamps of fire were burning in front of the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;
6 and in front of the throne there was something like a sea or large expanse of glass, like [the clearest] crystal.
What is a jasper like? Most likely it’s a diamond, because it’s pure and sparkling white. We know that because later in Revelation 21:11, the Bible describes the heavenly city having the glory of God:
And her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
Jasper and Sardius
You look at Jesus (v. 3), and there’s this sparkling, pure, clear, diamond. But there’s also the blood-red sardius, two emblems speaking of Jesus’ purity and His blood sacrifice for the church. You see, He is our High Priest. The high priest in the Old Testament wore a breastplate, on which were twelve stones—jewels—representing the people of God that he as the high priest had upon his heart. The first and last are represented by these two stones. Just like alpha and omega, they include everything in between.
What is the meaning? That our dear Lord has us on His heart. He loves us, and He wears us upon His heart. He is our high priest; He ever lives to make intercession for us.
- The Rapture is for Rescue
17. Verse 3 of chapter 4 describes something you wouldn’t expect to be all around the throne—a ____________________.
The Greek word for it is where we get our word “iris” from. It’s like a halo—a circle.
But something’s different about this rainbow.
In v. 5, accompanying this rainbow are ______________s and ____________s. And it’s emerald green. What does all this represent?
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE RAINBOW AROUND THE THRONE
When we see a rainbow on earth, it usually means the storm has past, but lightning and thunder mean the storm is coming. And rainbows are not ordinarily green. What does a green, circular rainbow mean? Green is the color of life. Since the Flood in Noah’s time, the rainbow stands as God’s eternal covenant with His people.
Remember after the flood, Noah stepped out of that ark. Can you imagine the carnage, the slime, the wreckage Noah looked down on? But when he looked up toward the heavens, there was that glorious, beautiful rainbow, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, like a scarf thrown over the shoulders of the storm.
There are seven prismatic colors in a rainbow and 3 primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. If you take out red, that leaves blue and the yellow, which when blended together make green. Red speaks of the suffering, the blood sacrifice, that the Lord Jesus Christ took for us, to leave an emerald rainbow, a covenant around the throne for us.
Notice it’s a perfect circle. From our earthbound vantage point, when we see a rainbow, we see only one half, the crescent-shaped arc. But if you were up high enough, you’d see a perfect circle. The circle speaks of eternity; it has no beginning and no end. On earth, sometimes we only see half the story, don’t we? We go through storms, and we look up, then we see a rainbow and say, “Thank You, Lord; I know it’s going to be alright.”
But one day, friend, we’ll see it all; the circle will be complete. Someone wrote:
Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in a better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears
And there someday we’ll understand.
This beautiful emerald rainbow round about the throne, speaking of God’s covenant, tells us that for us there is a rescue. The storm is over.
While we’re in heaven around the throne where the rainbow reminds us of God’s covenant, down on earth, at the same time, a storm is brewing—and that storm is the Great Tribulation.
Why the Rapture? Not only Reception but also Rescue
IS THE CHURCH GOING TO GO THROUGH THE TRIBULATION?
18. No. The church is taken out before the Tribulation. We’re not going through it.
Turn to 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. In his letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul says that the believers in Macedonia and Achaia…
…show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, how you turned to God from idols to serve the true and living God [now watch this], and to wait for His Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who ______________ ____ from the ________ to come.”
God pours out His wrath upon the wicked, but never His wrath upon his bride, the church.
I’m not waiting for the Great Tribulation, friend, I’m waiting for Jesus. Some teach that the Church is going through the Great Tribulation. It will not. I have taught about that in another message.
The Rapture is for Reunion
Remember, Revelation 4:4 speaks of the 24 elders, who represent all of us who’ll be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Look one more time at 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
For we which are alive and remain shall be caught up ______________ _____ ________ in the clouds to _______ the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be _______ the Lord.”
You’ve probably been to a family reunion. But never one like this. What a day that’s going to be.
You should learn of His coming.
You cannot afford to be ignorant concerning the Rapture, Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and Bible prophecy.
You should live for His coming.
The proof that you believe what I’m saying is not whether you write it in your notebook or get it in your head, but whether you get it into your life.
You should look for His coming.
You should expect Him to come. You’re not wrong to expect Him to come. He may come at any moment.
You should long for His coming.
You should desire the Lord Jesus Christ. The last prayer in the Bible—“Even so, come Lord Jesus,” Revelation 22:20—is for Jesus to come again.
Are you too busy about many things? Are you ready? Are you saved? When you get that settled, you’ll be ready for the rest.
-- -- -- -- -- --
If you would like to know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, I want to help you. You say, “Pastor, I really do, I want to know Jesus, not just because of the Second Coming, I want to know Him in this life.”
Let me help you pray. Pray a prayer like this, sincerely and fervently:
“Lord Jesus, I know that You love me. I know that You want to save me. You shed Your precious blood on the cross to atone for my sin. Thank You for doing that. You came out of that grave to prove You’re the Son of God. I now open my heart and I receive You by faith, not only as my Savior, but as my Lord. Take control of my life, and begin now to make me the person You want me to be. Like a little child, I trust You to save me and give me the courage to make it public. In Your name I pray, Amen.”