Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (NIV).
Be ready now. Regarding the Rapture and that whole 7-year Millenialist end times story, it might or might not be true. We might or might not understand how Jesus will bring about the end of all things and begin something totally new. There may be a Rapture where believers are snatched up to heaven in a flash and those ‘left behind’ get to endure seven years of worsening hell on earth to fulfill prophecy and give them one last chance (actually seven years of last chances) to repent. There may very well be a coming time where an Antichrist rises to earthly power, plagues and woes are unleashed, and the battle of Armageddon is waged to Satan’s loss. It could very well happen that, at the end of all this, Jesus will reign as earthly king here for exactly one thousand years, after which this earth will be burned away and something completely new unveiled. All this may be true.
Or it may not be. It may be all wrong. The end may be just one ending, and the words of 1 Thessalonians 4 may be completely germane to how things will happen. It may or may not be that Jesus will come back in the clouds – the way He left – and that this event will be the end. The faithful in Him will be taken to be with Him and the unfaithful rejected and sent away to perdition. The Rapture and the tribulation and the rise and fall of Antichrist may not happen.
We simply don’t know. Tim LaHaye didn’t know. Your pastor doesn’t know. The Pope (or Pope Emeritus) doesn’t know. Get the picture?
Be ready now. Be encouraged by this today.
The Bible simply says that Jesus will return and that we should encourage each other with that knowledge. Before He came the first time, at least 4000 years of human history passed. Is it so inconceivable that it would, then, take a very long time for conditions to be made right for the Messiah to re-appear? It isn’t up to us to pre-game the thing or know the specifics. All we know is that He said He will be with us in all things until the end of the age and then in person after that. The Bible mentions a great deal of figurative language describing events that happen to herald that. But knowing the hour, day and specifics are only up to God the Father, not us. Is there harm in believing in a Rapture? No. Is it necessary? Perhaps not. We don’t know.
What we do know is the ultimate end: that Christ returns. That’s it. The lesson? Be ready now. Don’t be mired in details. Be at peace with it. THAT is the biggest encouragement of all.
For further reading: Matthew 28:20, Acts 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:1.
Lord, how and when you come back I’m ready to meet You now.