Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is the Rapture Imminent?

Those who are watching for signs of the Lord’s imminent appearing to snatch away His saints, as commanded in Matthew 24:42-44, sense that the Rapture is quickly approaching. Although no sign is given in the Scriptures concerning “the day and hour” of the Rapture, some believe Hebrews 10:25 implies that we will be able to see the day of the Rapture approaching: “...Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is: but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.”

Anticipation of the approaching Rapture of God’s saints seems to be implied in Luke 21:28: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.” We are admonished in Luke 21:34-36, concerning the Rapture, to “...take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be weighed down with dissipation, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it [i.e., that day—the Rapture] come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch you therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 that “ brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” These verses teach that the Rapture (sometimes referred to as “the great escape”) should not catch us off guard (“unawares”) even though we don’t know “the day or hour” that Christ will return for His bride, the Church. Let’s review one of the major Rapture passages before going further:
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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 which 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The timing of the what Paul calls “blessed hope” in Titus 2:13, will be as a thief in the night to those not watching, but the “times and seasons” of the Rapture will not be a surprise to those who are looking for His return (1 Thessalonians 5:4, Matthew 25:1-13). Christ told His apostles, as recorded in Acts 1:6-7, that it was not for them “ know the times or the seasons...” But Paul gave indication that we would know the season as it approaches. “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so will come as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction will come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Therefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).

The Thessalonians passage just quoted (5:3) provides clear evidence that our generation is now living in the “times and seasons” of the Lord’s return. The specific wording Paul used to link the Rapture with a specific generation that would see Christ’s return is “peace and safety.” Some translations say “peace and security” (ESV, ISV, Douay-Rheims, et al.). Paul said: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

In retrospect, the “peace and safety (security)” concept could not be understood properly until Israel had returned to its land during the 20th century and the current Middle East peace process had progressed to the point that Paul’s statement about “peace and security” was common usage among those who were promoting “peace and security.” The “they” and “them” in verse three refers to those who would be using the words “peace and security” frequently in “their” speeches when this prophecy was nearing fulfillment. The “peace and security” speeches “they” would be giving prior to the Rapture would also need to take place in a public setting (i.e., London, New York, Jerusalem, the White House, et al.) on numerous occasions so there would be no misunderstanding about whom the “they” referred to.

Further, we understand the season according to pertinent passages in the Old Testament that clearly demonstrate that the end times are triggered by the regathering of the Jews to the promised land of Israel. Ezekiel 36 tell of the ingathering. Ezekiel 37 (The Valley of Dry Bones) tells of the restoration of the covenant people. Verses 11-18 clearly specify that Israel would be drawn together, not as a divided nation as in pre-Ezekiel times, but as a Unified Israel never again to be destroyed. May 14, 1948 became the pivot point of all apocalyptic history. Knowing the the alignment of the Ezekiel 39-39 nations has occurred, we are sensibly led to conclude that the Rapture of the church is not only within our generational time period, but imminent.

Are you ready? Look to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ made for your sins and mine. Believe in his resurrection and provision. Seek to follow HIM instead of YOURSELF. Only then can you be assured of a quick and speedy exit when the trumpet sounds.
Jimmy Root Jr
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