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Posts Tagged ‘Return of Jesus’

One day this will be the question that everyone is asking. Where their loved ones, co-workers, and neighbours? When the Lord Jesus was resurrected (came back to life after His death) and returned to heaven it was on the understanding that He will one day come back. There are many references to this and it is a fundamental part of the hope that believers in Jesus have. He is going to return, to reclaim this world as His own, to rule in perfection and justice. One day, heaven really will be on earth.

In one reference to His return He said: “so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24, verses 39 – 42 (ESV). It is quite a famous passage and is often used to refer to the event known as the ‘rapture’. In refers to a day yet to occur when all Christians will be taken off the earth in preparation for the terrible events described in the book of Revelation. There are actually two views on this. The other is that everyone stays on the earth throughout the events of Revelation until the end when it is non-believers who are removed, with the believers remaining on earth. What there is total agreement on is that Jesus returns and then sets up His Kingdom on earth, so both are possible. However, my own opinion is that it is more likely that this passage refers to believers being removed prior to the events described in Revelation. First I’ll explain why, then why it is really important, and finally what it might mean for us.

If you read the entire passage (all of Matthew 24), Jesus says “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (verse 44), and that is the whole point of the passage. It is a day like any other. People are going about their usual business. In today’s language people are at work; they are sleeping; they are eating and getting on with life. As this is a split second occurrence, some will be starting their day, while for others it will be during the night. There is nothing out of the ordinary. Probably in some places there is crisis, there always is, but for most it is an ordinary day. Now read Revelation. If you had just gone through all that it would feel like the end of the world. I don’t know how much of everyday life would be able to continue. It would mean total economic and ecological collapse, along with out of control disease, famine and war. I think I would be expecting the return of the Lord in those circumstances! We also know that those events last seven years, so the end is not a surprise time. So for that reason I think it means that believers are removed prior to the events of Revelation. If I am wrong, it matters not. But if that is the correct sequence of events, we need to be ready for it. Personally, I think Rapture happens first, at a time like now. For most people the very last thing they expect is the return of Jesus.

So won’t everyone know what has happened? It is really hard for us to imagine what it will be like. My personal view is that the events of Revelation will be initially triggered by the removal of believers. Imagine millions of people suddenly going missing. There would be mass panic and economic collapse. Those are the conditions for any number of existing global tensions to be suddenly unleashed. I think we underestimate how fragile our world systems are. Sure, with all things going well we can cope with a disaster. But problems on multiple fronts are entirely another matter. If all the Christians suddenly disappeared people might realise what had happened, but that will not appear to be the case.

Yes, Christians will be taken, and others left, but it will not appear to be like that. Please read my previous post ‘Christians who don’t go to Heaven’ at this point. There are many Christians who are only culturally Christian. In some parts of the world ‘Christian’ means not being of another religion. They have no personal relationship with Jesus. And even in the West here, it is my opinion that most Christians are so in name only. They have no relationship with Jesus. Even within churches, I would not be surprised if the majority are left behind. Perhaps they will realise they have never really loved Jesus and make things right with Him. Perhaps they will form a real and new church immediately after the Rapture. Or, perhaps they will deny that it had anything to do with God and further harden their hearts. I have no idea, but obviously if it is the latter you would do well to avoid churches altogether at that point as there will be no real Christians left in them.

But there is a further major complication that most Christians don’t acknowledge. There are many people in the world today who are followers of Christ but are not identified as such. On the outside they appear to follow other religions, or none, but these secret believers are very much part of the church. So taking those two things together that would result in many churches remaining with few missing, while many people who are regarded as following other religions are missing. The ‘Christians’ who are left will say it is nothing to do with God, and they will point to all the people in non Christian countries who appeared to follow other religions as proof. It will not appear to be as it was.

So what does this mean for us? As believers we need to stay alert. If you, in the next minute, and completely expectantly, were to find yourself in the presence of the Lord Jesus, would you want to be ashamed. Would you want to have been just complaining or arguing or doing something else He wouldn’t like? And if you find yourself reading this after some very strange events, get into the book of Daniel, Revelation and the rest of the New Testament – especially Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The way to be saved has not changed. Repent of all you have done wrong, give your life to Christ and then ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in order to know what to do next. The world will have seven terrible years ahead, the like of which have never been experienced before. Make sure you stay close to the Lord and obey all He says. You will be a history maker.

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