The Blessed Hope

The next biggest event to take place that we are waiting for as believers is the rapture of the church.

Titus 2: 13(KJV)

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

The blessed hope that Paul the apostle is referring to here is that moment that our Savior Jesus Christ appears in the clouds and we are caught up to meet Him in the air. In the twinkling of an eye which is quicker than the blink of an eye, we will be forever changed and our eternity of eternity begins. My peanut brain cannot get around the logistics of all of that, but it is an event that I am looking forward to with great excitement.

I believe in the rapture of the church which I also believe will take place prior to the tribulation years which lasts for a period of seven years, therefore I hold to a pre-tribulation rapture view. There are mid-tribulation and post tribulation rapture views as well within the Body of Christ and that is perfectly okay,  we are all entitled to our own views on the matter. These are not salvation issues and therefore we should not argue and fight about it, after all we will all find out soon enough which one is the right one. However I certainly believe that the rapture of the church is very biblical.

The word ‘rapture’ does not occur in the bible if you are reading an English one, but if you look at the Greek translation one will find the Greek word ‘Harpazo’ which means the following: to plunder, take the spoils, to seize with eagerness and or desperation, a catching away or caught up.

While we are waiting for Jesus with great eagerness, I bet He is also eagerly waiting for the Father to give Him the thumbs up in fetching us, His Church. We are the spoils, unique and of precious value to the Father and according to Scripture we will certainly be caught up to meet His Son, Jesus, in the air. What a glorious moment that will be!

In the Latin Vulgate, the word, ‘rapio’ appears and means: to seize, steal or snatch in relation to an ecstasy of spirit or the actual removal from one place to another. So, therefore I believe this is speaking of the removal, the ‘rapture’ of the church where we will be carried away in spirit from earth to our new home in heaven.

DO WE SEE ANY ACCOUNTS OF RAPTURES IN THE BIBLE?

The answer to the question above is yes we do.

Old Testament Accounts: Fulfilled.

Genesis 5: 24 (AMP) – Enoch:

“And Enoch walked (in habitual fellowship) with God; and he was not, for God took him (home with Him).”

It is appointed for all men once to die and after that the certain judgment (Hebrews 9:27), however Enoch never experienced death like the rest of humanity as God removed him from the earth while they walked and talked. I guess they were so caught up in fellowship with one another that as Enoch walked with God he just walked on right out of this world in the spirit and went home with God.

2 Kings 2: 11 (KJV) – Elijah and Elisha:

“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

In the previous verse Elijah tells Elisha that if he sees him when he is taken, then Elisha will receive a double portion of his anointing. The very next thing that happened had to have taken Elisha completely by surprise when he witnesses Elijah being whipped up in a whirlwind by a chariot of fire being drawn by horses of fire. I do believe that this occurrence represents the presence of God and the power of God, but what an experience it had to have been for Elisha to witness.

In both these accounts of Enoch and Elijah, neither of these two men experienced death and it is thought that it is very possible that these two men will be the two witnesses during the Tribulation years we read about in the Book of Revelation.

New Testament Accounts: Fulfilled.

Acts 1: 8-9 (KJV) – Jesus:

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

Acts 8:39 (AMP) – Philip and the Eunuch:

“And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord (suddenly) caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and he went on his way rejoicing.”

2 Corinthians 12: 2 (KJV) – Paul the Apostle:

“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.”

Revelation 4: 1-2 (KJV) – Apostle John:

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were a trumpet 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 on the throne.”

New Testament Account: Un-fulfilled.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (AMP) – The Body of Christ:

“Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep (in death), that you may not grieve (for them) as the rest do who have no hope (beyond the grave).For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him through Jesus those who have fallen asleep (in death). For this we declare to you by the Lord’s (own) word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way pre-cede (into His presence) or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep (in Him in death).For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first. Then we, the living ones who remain (on the earth), shall simultaneously be caught up along with (the resurrected dead) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord! Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.”

And this final account is the one we are eagerly and excitedly waiting for! O come Lord Jesus!

THE ETERNAL PROMISED LAND, OUR HOME!

John 14: 1-3 (KJV)

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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.”

Have you ever considered that this incredibly beautiful world  we live in which God created in six days displays the most awesome natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, The Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest and the Northern Lights just to name a few, and yet it is a fallen world. Jesus left 2000 years ago to prepare a place for us. I cannot even begin to imagine what our new home must look like, if this world in its fallen state is so beautiful, how magnificent must our heavenly home be which is uncontaminated, without sin and is pure perfection in every way. Our new home is our eternal promised land!

I love that Jesus left us with these re-assuring words before He left. If you look back at the wording in these three verses, they really come across as words spoken from the mouth of one who loves us and re- assures us with promises of a new home where peace and joy abide, and an appointed day when He will fetch us. They are like the words of a bridegroom to his bride and indeed that is exactly what they are!

THE TYPICAL JEWISH WEDDING IN JESUS’ DAY:

It is amazing to see how much the typical Jewish wedding of bible times lines up with scripture in relation to Christ and the church.

The first step always began with the ‘Ketubah’, which is the commitment or betrothal where the bridegroom and the father of the bride would establish and agree upon a bridal price.

1 Corinthians 6: 20 (AMP)

“You were bought with a price (purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own). So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.”

Before the foundations of this world, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had to have held a meeting to discuss the bridal price for the Body of Christ and it was agreed upon that Jesus would be that price. As we look back to the cross, it is a stark and real reminder that we His bride, the Church, have been bought and paid for with the precious blood of Christ. We should never take what Jesus went through for us lightly. The Roman Crucifixion has been by far one of the worst, if not the worst way for a person to be executed and yet Jesus despised the shame and endured the cross because He saw you and I on the other side of the cross and that was the joy that he set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).

After the bridal price was agreed upon, the bride to be was then ‘set apart, separated, sanctified’ and considered exclusively belonging to the bridegroom to be.

Ephesians 5: 25-26; 32 (AMP)

“Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word.”

“This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning (the relation of) Christ and the church.”

The moment you invited Jesus to come live in your heart and you became a born again child of God, you were set apart, separated and sanctified as wholly belonging to Him. Look at these verses:

1 Corinthians 6: 11 (AMP)

“…………..But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified (pronounced righteous by trusting) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the (Holy) Spirit of our God.”

Ephesians 2: 13-14 (NIV)

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory.”

So, as a symbol of their commitment to one another, they would then drink wine, the fruit of the vine, which established and set the relationship with each other in place. The first thing we think about here is the communion table which as believers we should do as often as possible in remembrance of Jesus and all He has done for us.

1 Corinthians 11: 25 (AMP)

“Similarly when supper was ended, He took the cup also, saying, This cup is the New Covenant (ratified and established) in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink (it), to call me (affectionately) to remembrance.”

It is so important to remember the broken body of Jesus which symbolizes our healing and wholeness purchased at the cross, plus the shed blood which signifies the forgiveness of sin, but we should also remember that we are in essence engaged to Jesus, and partaking of the bread and the wine also symbolizes our commitment and relationship to Him as our bridegroom.

From this point onwards the bridegroom returns to his father’s home where he immediately begins to prepare a room for himself and his bride to be by building on to his father’s house. While he is doing that, the bride prepares for the wedding and his imminent return. They do not see each other again until the wedding takes place. The bride has no idea how long he will take or when he will return because a date for the marriage is never set. She simply needs to keep watch and be ready for his return.

Luke 12: 40 (AMP)

“You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour and a moment when you do not anticipate it.”

Matthew 24: 42; 44 (KJV)

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

“Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as you think not the Son of Man cometh.”

In the same way, we as the Body of Christ are waiting for the return of Jesus, our bridegroom.  We do not know the day or the time in which He will come, but we simply wait eagerly and excitedly and are told to be ready for His return. One thing we can be certain of is that He is doing what he promised to do and that is preparing a place for us, His bride. I have used the following verses previously in this post, but let us look at these verses again:

John 14: 1-3 (KJV)

“Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. 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 you may be also.”

Are these not the words of a bridegroom to his bride, the words of one who loves us and re-assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but that he will do as He has promised to do, and that is fetch us in the appointed time and then take us to His Father’s home in heaven? Yes, I believe they are! They are the words of hope and truth and we should certainly hold these words in our hearts.

The timing of the bridegroom’s return to his bride is a surprise and often his arrival to meet his bride would be at midnight (Matthew 25: 1-6). This was something that always puzzled me and I could never get my head around it until I lived in the Middle East. You would be astounded at the hive of activity that takes place at night especially into the late hours of the night. While Middle Eastern culture dine, shop and hang out with friends and neighbors into the midnight hour, people of Western culture and mindset are not accustomed to this way of life and hence our lack of understanding as to why the Jewish bridegroom would fetch his bride at such a late hour. We must remember that Jesus was a Jew, and the Jewish biblical wedding plus the wedding that will take place into the future between the Church and Jesus must be understood through the lens of the Jewish culture which is Middle Eastern in nature.

When the appointed time came for the bridegroom to fetch his bride, the men would assemble together and proceed with much jubilation and celebration to fetch the bride to be. As they drew closer to her home, a typical loud shout was given so that she would know that he had arrived.

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17 (KJV)

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”

THE HUPPAH:

The ‘huppah’ is the wedding proper. At the right time, the bride and bridegroom will enter a private and separate area called the bridal chamber where they will have physical union and consummate the marriage. It is after this that they would proceed to the marriage supper and celebrations which would last typically for seven days and this concludes the marriage model in relation to the church.

The seven days of wedding celebration in heaven calculates into seven years on this earth which will be the seven year tribulation period. While believers will be living through the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven, those who are left behind on the earth, will be living through the most wicked, evil and most frightening times ever known to humanity which they will not be able to escape (1 Thessalonians 5: 3). It will be a stressful time of oppression under the Anti-Christ system as well as the time of God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth. It will come as Paul describes like a thief in the night (1Thessalonians 5: 2). For this reason, if you are not a believer, I implore you, today is the day of salvation. Time is running out on this world as we see natural disasters escalate more and more, wars and rumors of wars, pestilences which are pandemics as well as humanity spiraling out of control into an immoral abyss. Stop procrastinating and get right with God today because as the scriptures tell us, we do not know the day of Christ’s return and no one in their right mind would want to be left behind. Not only for this reason, but more for the reason that Christ died for you because He loves you and wants you to be part of His family who will spend an eternity with Him forever in the presence of His love. If you feel like this is you, please click on the ‘receive Jesus’ on my website to pray the salvation prayer provided especially for you.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RAPTURE AND SECOND COMING:  No Confusion!

There are three hundred prophecies of Jesus’ first coming of which all have been fulfilled, but there are two thousand five hundred prophecies of His second coming. These ‘second coming’ prophecies are broken down into two main events still to be fulfilled, and they are the ‘rapture’ prophecies prior to the tribulation years, and the second coming prophecies where Jesus will set His feet down on the Mount of Olives at the consummation of the age which will be at the end of the seven year tribulation. What will be the differences between these two groups?

  1. When it comes to the rapture of the church, we do not know the day or the time when Jesus will appear in the clouds to receive us unto Himself, but from the time the rapture occurs one will be able to set their calendar and clock to seven years and that will be exactly the day and time when Jesus will return at the end of the seven year tribulation. The seven year tribulation period is a very documented period in the bible as to what will take place from one event to the next and that is also one of the reasons why one can set their clock to the timing of Jesus’ second coming.
  2. With the rapture, Jesus is coming for the true believers in Christ. At His second coming, He will come to wage war against His enemies, against those who have divided up His land. He is coming for Israel and to take the throne of David where Jesus will forever be the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
  3. With the rapture, we will hear the sound of the trumpet and immediately we will see the appearing of Jesus in the clouds where we will be taken up to meet Him in the air. With the second coming, Jesus will physically set His feet down on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel.
  4. With the rapture, Jesus fetches His church – His bride, but at the second coming, He comes with His church – His bride.
  5. The rapture occurs before the day of God’s wrath as promised in God’s Word, but the second coming will conclude the day of God’s wrath upon the world.
  6. The rapture does not include Satan, thank goodness! But one thing can be for sure is that Satan will certainly know that his time is short. At the end of the seven year tribulation, Satan will be bound for a thousand years.
  7. With the rapture only those who belong to Jesus will see Him, but at His second coming, every eye will see Him and tremble, every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that he is Lord and Savior of the world whether they want to or not.
  8. The rapture is the trigger which sets in place the final seven year period known as the Great Tribulation –the consummation of the age and the end of the church age as we know it, the dispensation of grace. The second coming of Jesus at the end of the seven year tribulation will be the trigger that sets in place the thousand year reign of Christ on this earth known as the Millennial Age.

CONCLUSION:

1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11 (KJV)

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

God has not appointed us to His wrath that He will pour out in the seven year tribulation, but with the same breath, we must also not be naïve to think that we will escape hardships, struggles and yes, even some persecution. It is dangerous to believe that we will escape what most Christians in most of the world for most of the last two thousand years have had to endure. When looking at the condition of the world as it is today, we know that we are in the last of the last days. While we sense that the rapture of the church is close at hand, we also simultaneously do not know exactly how long we will have to wait for Christ to fetch us. While we wait, I guess things are going to get a whole lot worse than what they are presently. It will become a season of a testing of our faith and each one of us independently will be faced with where we stand in our relationship with the Lord, what we truly believe and whether we will  move forward with our two feet firmly grounded and rooted in the Kingdom of God or not.

Whatever we are to face in the coming months and should the Lord tarry, the coming years, we can do it boldly because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus and no weapon formed against us shall ever prosper. The Lord is with us, for us and has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. This is a time now for us to draw closer to God, to abide in Christ and to seek the Holy Spirit’s strengthening. Remember that God has given us His Word and countless promises of which we need to meditate on and hide in our hearts because when things get tough, it will be His Word that we will need to stand on, fight with, proclaim and encourage ourselves and each other with. It is His Word that will get us through!

What can we do while we wait for Him? The verse below is self-explanatory!

1 Corinthians 15: 58 (KJV)

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord

In Luke chapter 19, Jesus said, ‘to occupy until He comes’, and that is exactly what we need to do. Keep dreaming, keep setting goals, working, living and loving, doing all this while sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ where and when you are able.

I close with these words I read recently posted by Amir Tsarfati:

“Looking at the world can be distressing. Looking at our circumstances can be depressing, but looking to Jesus will keep us resting.”

Yes, Jesus is our rest! He is the Author, the Finisher and the Perfecter of our faith! He will certainly have the last word when all is said and done!

Until my next post,

Blessings,

Joanne.

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