How Close Are We To The Rapture Of The Church By George Stroh, Senior Pastor August 4, 2009
I'm often asked the question, "How close are we to the rapture of the church?". What is commonly known as the "rapture" is the next Scriptural prophetic event and a mystery revealed to us in several New Testament verses.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 the Apostle Paul wrote, "For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, That we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep (died physically). For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
How close are we to the rapture of the church? The answer is, no one knows for sure. Every generation of Christians has rightly looked forward to the imminent return of our Lord. Jesus told His disciples, "But of that day and hour no one knows..." (Matthew 24:36). So, if anyone predicts the exact day of the rapture, you can be sure they are wrong. Having said that, we need to remember that Jesus also said that we can know the season- "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door." (Matthew 24:32)
Our understanding is that the rapture of the church will precede the 7 years of tribulation outline in Revelation chapters 6 through 19. As we observe and compare all that is happening in the world today to the tribulation period prophecies, it looks like the rapture and the second coming of Jesus Christ is close indeed. The Apostle Paul wrote to encourage the Thessalonians who were being persecuted because of their faith and wondering if they missed the return of Christ; "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord (7 year tribulation period) will come just like a thief in the night.... But you, brethren, are not in the darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of the day." (1 Thessalonians 5:2,4).
That verse tells us that believers (Sons of light and sons of the day) will not be surprised like the the unbelievers when Christ returns. Based upon all that is happening, especially in and around Israel, I will be surprised if the rapture doesn't come within the next few years. It is hard to see how Israel can survive much longer without wars that will involve the use of massive nuclear weapons, which seems to be part of the coming tribulation described in the book of revelation. There is growing world economic problems, geopolitical events and false religious movements that also seem to be consistent with what will be happening during the tribulation period. Additionally, there seems to be an increase in the number of and intensity of earthquakes and other natural disasters, also predicted to reach a climax during the tribulation period.
Now again, nobody, including me, knows the day or hour, but I'm thinking "summer is near" and "He is near, right at the door." I hope and pray that all who read this will be leaving with us. If you are not sure that you are a Christian, please ask me or another Christian, "How can I be sure that Jesus Christ will come for me at the rapture of His Church? We would love to tell you the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ and how you can be sure He will soon be coming for you too. Maranatha!