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[Five Years Later Ė The Journey - 4/27/12]

 End Times - 3/15/11

What to Expect

I have included here some bible verse references that I think speak to what we can expect to occur when Jesus comes back to receive His church (His bride).

 First, from my studies of the bible, this is what I believe the Spirit of Truth has shown me. The next major prophetic event will be when Jesus comes back in the clouds to receive His bride (the church of believers) and take her to the place that He said He had prepared for her to be with Him forever.

 John 14:1-3

1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

 2In 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.

 3And 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.

 When He was here, Jesus called us the light and the salt of the world. We are the light in a dark world and we are the salt (preserving agent) in a dying world. If we were not here, then things would really be bad like they have never been before. That's what the tribulation is going to be like, worse times than have ever been. God will remove His church and His Holy Spirit and there will no longer be any restraint here for evil and it will run rampant. It is during that period of tribulation when God will pour out His wrath (furious anger) on the rebellious world for rejecting His incredible gift.

 Here are a few verses that describe what will happen when Jesus comes to receive His bride.

 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - Here Paul is encouraging the church saints to not be like people who have no hope and think that when loved ones die, they are just dead. He describes the events of the rapture of the church and how the dead in Christ (the saved ones who are sleeping) will be raised first and then we (the believers who are still alive at that time) will be caught up with them in the sky to meet Jesus. Notice here that Jesus doesn't actually come down to the Earth, but instead brings us all up to the sky to meet Him. His purpose here is to just get His bride. Soon after this when He next returns, He will actually come down to the ground. That second coming is what is being described in the middle chapters of the book of Revelation.

 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Ė Paul goes on to describe how this day will come suddenly and will catch many unprepared. But we (Godís children) should not be caught unaware because God will make sure that we are able to know about the times if we are paying attention. Jesus also talked about this a lot and cautioned us to pray and be watchful. 

 When Jesus starts to pour out His bowls of wrath on the world during the time of tribulation, it will be for punishment for the sins of the worldís people that have not been paid for. But remember, as believers our sins have all been paid for by Jesus on the cross. For that reason, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is another big bible verse that shows how the church will be raptured BEFORE the tribulation. We (the bride of Christ) have not been appointed to suffer the wrath of God (Jesus has saved us from this because He already bore that wrath in our place on the cross).

 When you look back throughout the books of the bible and study Godís character, you will find that He has always warned the people before He inflicted any kind of judgment and He has never punished the people who were living righteously for Him. Way back in Genesis chapter 18, look at the story of what God went through when He determined that He was going to punish (destroy) Sodom and Gomorrah. Read the whole chapter because it is a great picture of Godís fairness and justice even as He pours out His judgment. Notice in verse 17 that God did not keep this a secret from Abraham (and He is not keeping it a secret from us today). Moreover, notice in verses 23-32 how Abraham bartered with God over how many righteous people would have to be in those cities for Him to spare them. God was determined not to pour out His wrath on the innocent. In the end in chapter 19, there was only one righteous man to be found in those cities and it was Lot. So God sent two angels to get Lot and his family out before destroying those wicked and un-repentant cities (just like we will be taken out or raptured). Notice again that the angels had to physically remove Lot from the city (verse 19:16) when he didnít display a sense or urgency to leave and MORE IMPORTANTLY, in verse 19:22 the angel said that he could not destroy the city until Lot came out. It is not (nor has it ever been) in Godís character to punish the righteous with the unrighteous. When the angels brought Lot and his family out, they warned them not to look back as they left. Well you know what happened with Lotís wife. She had strong ties to those cities (like the world today) and had great trouble letting go. So she looked back and you know what happened (19:26). Much like that case of Lotís wife, we can not be too attached to the things of this world or we may miss our evacuation. There is another great example of God removing the righteous before His judgment in Genesis 6-7 (the story of Noah and the flood). The arc represents Godís offer of salvation from the wrath to come (our rapture today) and once God closed the door on that boat (the bible says that God Himself closed the door), there was no escaping the wrath for anyone who wasnít inside.

 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 is another passage where Paul describes the rapture of the church and says how we will be changed in an instant (in the twinkling of an eye).

 Luke 17:20-37 has a great description of the rapture as described by Jesus. Specifically, 17:34-36 talks about the instant of the rapture itself.

 Matthew 25:1-13 is the parable of the ten virgins. It is a parable that also talks about the actual event of the rapture and how some will be ready and some will not.

 These are a few passages that sometimes tend to confuse. At first glance, it sounds as if Christ will return in the sky to gather his church/elect after a period of tribulation/great distress on the Earth.

 Matt. 24: 29-31

Luke 21: 23b-27

Mark 13: 24-27

 I believe that these above passages all describe the second coming of Christ. This will be the time when He actually comes back in power and glory to finally recon with a rebellious and evil world. When Christ comes for His second coming, it will not be in secret, but rather everyone on earth will know it is Him. He will appear in glory in the sky very visibly and on that day, there will no longer be any doubt in anyone's mind that He exists and is the true God. Oddly enough though, because of their hardened (seared) hearts, many, many people will, with full knowledge of who He is, still shake their fists at Him and try to wage war against Him (it's hard to believe, but true).

 In these passages, Jesus says He will be coming back after the time of tribulation. This will be the time when God will shake the world terribly, still trying to get the last few to turn to Him and forsake their evil ways. Some (perhaps not many) will repent and be saved during the time of tribulation. You can see a reference to these people in Revelation 7:13-17.

 In the above passages cited from Matthew, Luke, and Mark, notice that in those accounts Jesus says that upon His coming, He will gather His elect from the four winds and from all ends of heaven. He is referencing us, His saints who will be coming back with Him as His army (although we will not have to do any fighting because the LORD will do all of that). We are already in heaven (having been raptured) when Jesus comes back after the tribulation. You can see a reference to us as the 24 elders worshiping the LORD in Revelation 5. Notice at the end of the chapter it shows that we will cast our crowns at His feet because He is worthy. These are the crowns that we received when we stood before Him (i.e. crowns of life or righteousness).

 Here are a few final points that I also want to share. When Jesus talks about the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15-22), He says when YOU see those things, flee to the hills. There, He is talking to the Jews who will still be here and enduring that time of Jacob's trouble (tribulation). The ultimate purpose of it again will be to get His people to turn their hearts back to Him (His people being Israel along with the remaining few gentiles who will be saved during the time of tribulation). Remember that Jesus' direct immediate audience that He is telling those things to in those passages are His many disciples who are following Him (who at that time are all Jewish). So when He tells them what they will see when He physically comes back in power and glory at His second coming, He is telling them of experiences that their people (the majority of Israel who still rejects Jesus as the Messiah) will actually have. Later in 1 Corinthians 15:51, Paul tells converted gentile believers of this mystery about how some of us will be changed and caught up.

 When he describes how we will be raptured or caught up, it will not have been the first time that this has happened. For in the Old Testament, there are two men before who have already experienced being caught up or raptured by God. Enoch in Genesis 5:24 and also the prophet Elijah 2 Kings 2:11 were also examples and precursors of what God is going to do with His bride the church.

 Here are a few last references in scripture that I think speaks clearly to the timing of all of this and shows that we are raptured BEFORE the tribulation starts and the troubles for this world get really, really bad.

 1 Thessalonians 5:9 - God has not appointed us (believers) to wrath (which is what the great tribulation will be). This passage comes right on the heels of chapter 4 where Paul had just described the events of the rapture when we are taken away.

 Revelation 2:22 - Jesus is warning the church of Thyatira to repent or He will cast them into the great tribulation. As a contrast, in Revelation 3:10, He tells the church of Philadelphia that because they have been faithful and kept His word, He will keep them from the hour of temptation which is going to come upon the whole world.

 One last point on trials, tribulation and suffering and its source. Jesus warned us that in this world we would suffer tribulation (John 16:33). This is troubling that comes from this world and its prince and it would afflict us just as it did Him because it hated Him. This is the source of the tribulation that Jesus describes in His letter to the church of Smyrna in Revelation 2:10... tribulation from the devil. But this is in stark contrast to the tribulation that God will pour out on the world as described in the middle chapters of Revelation. When those trumpets sound and those seals are broken and those bowls are poured out, that will be God shaking up the rebellious world like Isaiah described in chapter 24. It will indeed be the great tribulation and God's wrath being poured out (a wrath that we have not been appointed to).

 Signs of the times - Many of the end-time signs of the times that Jesus talks about around the gospel passages that are cited above have been happening for a very long time now and are still happening with greater frequency today. Sometime soon, I would like to explore with you the great parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 about the fig tree and the seasons. It's a great parable that I believe also shows us very clearly that we are very, very close to seeing our Lord. Closer than anyone has any idea.

 Be blessed today my brothers and sisters.  Keep looking up and pray!

 

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© 2010 Gerald L. Prater

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