As Birds Flying

Isaiah 31:5. “As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it: and passing over He will preserve it.”

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When Jesus returns to defeat the armies of Antichrist, He will be accompanied by His heavenly armies, and angels flying, to destroy the armies surrounding Jerusalem (Joel 2; Zech. 14:1-5; Matt. 24:29-31; 25: 31; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Jude 14-15; Rev. 19:11-21).

People have always believed that the end times are near. They believed it way back in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus ascended back into heaven. Always, believers have hoped and prayed that the return of Christ would be soon. What we have to remember is that God is not contained by time. A thousand years are like a day to Him, and a day like a thousand years.

In the waiting, we need to be about the business of sharing the gospel with the people all around us.  II Peter 3:9 says, ” “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

This verse is a clear indication that it is souls still coming to Christ that, in our thinking, “delays” the Rapture of the church.  It is God’s desire that ALL should come to repentance, that no one should perish eternally in hell.  So we who already know Him need to be about the business of bringing others to Him. It is soul-winning that will hasten the Rapture of the church.

Just Thinking About Things

Yesterday, our friends  Pete and Marge drove us up to JFK airport in New York so we could spend a couple of hours with our grandson Kyle, who was on his way home to South Dakota from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  We hadn’t seen him for nearly two years, and it was just wonderful to have this opportunity.

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After Kyle was on his way, we headed through the departure area to get the elevator to the first floor.

It was chock full of people, from all different nations, standing in lines that seemed miles long as they waited for check-in. Hundreds of people, and just in one terminal of that vast airport.

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Pete was pushing the wheelchair I was using, and we both commented on how incredible it is to think how many people are in the air at any one time, flying all around the globe, crisscrossing each other’s flight paths, and, for the most part, landing safely and going on with their lives.

And then my mind took a different turn. I thought about all those thousands of people traveling around the globe, and what it will be like for them when Jesus calls all believers to Himself, and takes us home to heaven. We call it The Rapture, because the Greek word, harpazo, is translated in the Latin version to rapio, and it means to snatch away. 

I believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture.  I know there are many who disagree, and that’s up to them.  I’m not writing this in order to start an argument.  I’m just picturing how it will be if, for instance, the pilots of some of those planes are believers, and suddenly they are gone!  People seated next to each other in close quarters are going to disappear. Planes will go spiraling out of control jf both the pilot and co-pilot are taken, leaving passengers screaming in terror. It will be a wonderful split-second of time for all who have trusted Jesus for forgiveness and salvation; it will be the beginning of terror and confusion for those who remain, wondering what happened, and dealing with the chaos that will ensue here on earth.

What should we be doing right now?  Easy.  We should be sharing Jesus Christ with all the people we can, every day that we can.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

 

Judgment

Matthew 25:41.“Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

I want to go back to the previous  passage for the purposes of clarification. When Jesus spoke the words in verses 31-46, He was not speaking to the Church.  Remember, these events are taking place after the church has been raptured, and after the Great Tribulation.  During the period of the Tribulation, the remnant of believing Jews will carry the gospel to all the nations of the world. They, the Jews, are His brethren (Matt. 10:6; John 1:11; 19:20; 20:10). Those (nations) who treat His brethren well and receive the preaching of the gospel  will be blessed.  Those (nations) who persecute the Jews who are preaching the gospel during the Tribulation will be cursed not by God, but by their own stubborn unbelief, and they will share the eternal fire that has been prepared for Satan and his angels.  This place was not prepared for man.  No man needs to go there.  But if by persistent unbelief and rebellion against God they choose to continue to serve Satan, then they will share Satan’s fate.

There will be no second chances, no do-overs. Their choices have been made, and are irreversible at this point.

America has been, by policy and treaty, a supporter of the nation of Israel. I am watching our nation turn away from this position of support.  We are turning instead to the support of nations whose God is not the Lord God of Israel. I believe that the scene is being set for the rapture of the church and the Great Tribulation as all the nations of the world, including America, are either literally or in spirit aiming their guns against Israel.

I don’t know when. No one does. But the world-wide hatred of Israel is surely one of the signs of the end times.

Comfort One Another

I Thess. 4:18. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Comfort indicates animating and cheering speech.  Apparently the new believers were indeed very discouraged that some of their number had died; they feared that those who had died would miss out on the Rapture and all that followed.  Paul’s teaching helps clear up that misunderstanding. 

I like it that Paul doesn’t say,”Let my words encourage all of you.”  Instead, he tells them to comfort each other on the basis of his teaching; they are to build each other up in the Lord, to watch our for one another’s well-being, and to encourage each other to continue eagerly awaiting the return of the Lord. 

So should it be among believers today. 

I want to say a few words here concerning the various positions on the Rapture, just to help clarify what the beliefs are. 

Pretribulational Rapture: This is the view that the church in its entirety will be resurrected and removed from the earth before any part of the Great Tribulation begins.  The Rapture is NOT the return of the Lord  to the earth in open glory. That is a separate event. 

Midtribulational Rapture: This is the belief that the church will be taken out at the midpoint of the Great Tribulation, at the end of the first three and a half years of the seventieth week of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27). This view holds that some prophetic events must first occur before the Rapture can take place, and they will not occur until the Tribulation is under way. 

Posttribulational Rapture: This view holds that the church will remain on earth throughout the Great Tribulation and will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at the end of the Tribulation as He comes back to earth in His glory, to rule and reign for a thousand years. The Rapture ushers in the Millenial Kingdom. 

There may be a deeper look at all this sometime in the future.  However, I tend to steer clear of debates that have going on for centuries with no resolution. 

I have already done a study of I Thess. 5.  If you joined at some point after that, you can easily find that study in the archives, starting in April of this year.   I have decided that my next study will be II Thessalonians.  Just seems to be the sensible thing to do 🙂

Sleep in Jesus

I Thess. 4:14b. “Even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.”

Because we know that Jesus died and rose again, we can also know that those believers who have died before Christ’s return “will God bring with Him.”

Bring who? Bring where? Bring how?  Good old Journalism 101 questions. So, one thing at a time. 

First, Paul uses the word sleep again to denote the death of a believer. This is reassuring in and of itself. The body “sleeps” as it awaits resurrection, while the soul is immediately united with Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-24; Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 6:9-11).

 

I was not with my mother when she died, but my sister was.  She described the moments just before Mom’s heart stopped beating.  She had been carefully watching Mom, realizing that it would be only moments before she went to heaven. One of Mom’s eyes was slightly open, allowing my sister to watch for any expression or indication of awareness.  What she describes is the gradual diminishing of light in that eye until there was, literally, no more life. It was very peaceful, and as the body relaxed my sister could see the reality of being asleep in Jesus. Death had lost its sting because my mother was already rejoicing in being with God. Hallelujah!

When Christ leaves heaven to come down in the air of the earth (v. 17), the saints who are in heaven will come back with Him and be reunited with their bodies which will be resurrected in a moment (v. 14; I Cor. 15:51-18). This event is what we call The Rapture. The word rapture is from the Greek harpadzo, which means to seize, remove, or take away. The Latin word with the same meaning is raptus, which is to seize, or transport.  So we’ve come to the term Rapture by a roundabout path, but it really does picture the event described here and the joy that accompanies our going to meet the Lord in the air.  Here is one link where you can read about  The Rapture: http://www.biblefood.com/raphist.html. There are many, many more. 

So, the answers:  Bring who?  God will bring the saints who have died before His return, who are waiting in heaven with Him. 

Bring where?  He will bring the saints from heaven to be reunited with their resurrected bodies “in the air.” We’ll talk more about that next time. 

Bring how?  This even will come about through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.