I am reminded that our lives are filled with many expectations. There are many things that we look forward to. I know that it could be the weather, especially if we have something important planned. It is interesting to consider that our hope, our expectations can influence our perspective on life. It is easy to become discouraged when we are expecting nice weather and then it rains. The point is this, that our expectations can influence our disposition, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively!
I am in the middle of preparing for the Celebrate Summer sermon series from Revelation. It will be a continuation of our last series “Knowing the Unknown” as we focus primarily on the “Tribulation Period” in the book of Revelation. My reading today reminded me of a great expectation that should be at the top of the list for every follower of Jesus Christ. This priority is especially important living in our current confusing times. The expectation is the “Return of Jesus Christ” in the Rapture. Those that study the Bible refer to this as the “Imminency” of Jesus’ return.
The next prophetic event for the follower of Jesus today is the return of Jesus Christ to take His people, the church, to be with Him. This event is often referred to as the Rapture of the Church. Now, I know many today, even Christians, downplay or even question the Rapture but it is taught in the Bible. The Rapture is mentioned in three key passages John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 along with other indirect references. Jesus introduces that rapture in John 14 while the Apostle Paul explains it more fully in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians. It is worth mentioning that the word Rapture is not found in the Bible, but this is not a problem because the title describes what is taught in the Bible. There are many Biblical words that are not found in the Bible but describe truths that are revealed in God’s word (i.e., Trinity).
The term “Rapture” is actually derived from, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) The English phrase “caught up” is the Greek word “harpazo.” The words appears 13 times in the New Testament and is translated as “take by force,” ”snatch,” or “caught up.” It is a term that is used to describe the Lord Jesus Christ’s return to gather His saints to himself. The English term “Rapture” is based on the Latin translation “rapio” of the Greek word “harpazo.”
I am wondering, when is the last time that you stopped to ponder that the Lord Jesus could return at any time to take His followers home to heaven? This is the next event in God’s prophetic timeline. The Bible reminds us many times of this wonderful hope and the influence that it will have on your life. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”(Titus 2:11–13) It is a wonderful reality for those of us living for the Lord in an uncertain world!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson