"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 who 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" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
This is one of more than 300 references in the New Testament to the literal return of Jesus Christ. What an exciting time! Christians who have died will be raised and given glorified bodies like Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21). All Christians who are alive at His coming will rise to meet Him in glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
Many call this "The Rapture of the Church." The Latin root of "rapture" means "transported or carried away." Jesus removes His bride from the earth. All non-Christians left on earth face a seven-year period of judgment called "the tribulation." During this time, Jesus and His church move into Heaven for the judgment of Christians and the marriage of Jesus and His church. At the end of the tribulation, Jesus will come to earth for the battle of Armageddon and to set up His millennial kingdom on earth.
The disciples asked Jesus, " when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming " (Matthew 24:3)? Jesus answered, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Vs. 36).
Jesus gave them no date but listed signs of His coming:
FALSE CHRISTS. "For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:5 & 24). In the last fifty years, more than 1000 have claimed to be the Christ.
INCREASED WARS. "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars;" (vs. 6) In 1996, former president, Jimmy Carter, said his office was monitoring 26 armed conflicts around the world.
FAMINES. (Vs. 7b) World population more than doubled in the last century. Millions have died of starvation and experts say the worst is ahead. Since 1996 the United States wheat reserves have been lower than in many decades.
DISEASE EPIDEMICS. "pestilence,," (vs. 7c). Disease organisms are developing immunity to our medicines. New diseases are appearing. Aids is spreading. It has killed almost as many Americans as the Korean and Vietnam wars combined.
EARTHQUAKES. (Vs. 7d) Seismologists are amazed at the worldwide increase of earthquakes every year.
PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS. "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my names sake" (vs. 9). "Christian bashing" has become fashionable in Hollywood, the news media, universities and in court.
JEWS RETURN TO ISRAEL. The fig tree in Scripture is Israel. Jesus said, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When its branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:32-34). Jesus was predicting the return of the Jews to Israel. In 1948, the flag of David was raised in Israel for the first time in more than 2,000 years. Israel has put forth leaves, suggesting we might be in the last generation. Jesus could come today! Are you ready? Believe in Jesus Christ now, and welcome Him when He comes! Amen.
©2002 D. B. Martin