“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:16-18 ((All quotes are from the New King James Version.))
Many years ago I saw this picture and it got me to thinking. Shown are many kinds of disasters, due to the Saints being “Raptured” out of this world. I wondered, is it really going to happen that way, that God would let all those innocent people die without a chance to repent? As I read the Bible and would encounter relevant passages, over time I have formed the following views.
“But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:23. “… Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead …” Rev 1:5 “… but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. So, if Jesus is the first to be raised from the dead, and we are to be like him, then resurrection should happen for us the same way it happened for Jesus.
“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” John 20:6-7. Jesus’ earthly body was transformed, but His earthly clothes were left behind, and I think we can safely say that He immediately got a heavenly, supernatural set of clothing to replace them. “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.” Luke 24:30-31. In this and other instances in the New Testament, obviously His supernatural clothing went with Him. So, when we are resurrected, our earthly clothes will be left behind but not our bodies, and we will get a new set of supernatural clothing, probably white robes. (Rev 6:11, 7:9, 7:13 and 7:14.) For those living and not participating in the Rapture, it will surely be a stunning event that full sets of clothes will be found wherever someone was raptured. Just imagine a resurrected person standing next to his fallen earthly clothing, garbed in his new heavenly clothing.
“Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father …”. John 20:17. So, Jesus did not immediately ascend into heaven after being resurrected, but He stayed a while. So, we should be able to do the same, as the Holy Spirit directs. Right after His resurrection we find that “… the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Matt 27:52-53. So, these Old Testament saints were raised from the dead, but like Jesus did not immediately go up to heaven either, but rather stayed around long enough to appear to many people and no doubt talked and probably even preached to them. So, likewise, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, we should be able to go to our unsaved friends, relatives and others to explain to them what has happened and what they need to do to be saved.
Furthermore, I can even imagine a Christian pilot saying to a Christian co-pilot “you can go on up, and I’ll be right up after I land this plane.” Christian drivers could stop their cars, and then go up, etc. This way many would have the opportunity to repent, who wouldn’t if they died immediately in a disaster. But I would not expect it to happen like this in all cases because God knows who will and will not repent, and God is not predictable.
“All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth … And when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.” Isaiah 18:3. I have explained in another article why I believe that this is the trumpet of the Rapture. And quite a trumpet it is in that everyone on earth will hear it, but of course only the Saints will respond to it.
“I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” Luke 17:34-36. This indicates the Rapture will take place at the same instant all around the world. An interesting sidelight is that this passage shows that the earth is round, in that night and day exist in different places at the same moment.
“So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” Matt 24:33. And a few verses later: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matt 24:36. How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? Perhaps when that final week arrives we may be able to know it, but we won’t be able to know in advance because most of us would probably serve God with less intensity, and some of us might even be tempted to run our credit cards to the max.
With world events as they are, the accelerating advance of technology, which is rapidly making possible the prophesied one-world government with absolute control over all mankind, increasing deception of all kinds, the alignment of the nations, wars and rumors of wars, the increase in earthquakes, all as prophesied in the Bible, I have no doubt that the time is near.