The Rapture and the Return of Christ
What will Jesus’ return be like? What will happen when Jesus comes back? What is the Rapture? What is Armageddon?
Acts 1:9-11 – [Jesus} was taken up before [the disciples’] very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, Who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.”
Jesus will return, coming down from the sky, just as He was taken up into the sky at His ascension.
Jesus’ return will also be visible and obvious.
Matthew 24:27 – “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
Everyone will see and know that Christ has returned.
Matthew 24:30 – “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”
That verse says that people will mourn when they see Jesus returning. Why would that be?
Very simply put, people will mourn because when they see Christ coming back, they will have no choice but to realize their mistake in not believing in Him.
I imagine that He will also be a very alarming sight, as He will not return as the meek, unimpressive Jesus that Isaiah describes but the glorified Christ seen by John.
Also, when Jesus returns, He will not be alone.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe thatGod will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
The trumpet call is most likely the seventh trumpet of Revelation.
Notice that it says, though, that “we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” Those Christians who have already died and those persons in the Old Testament who believed in God are now living as spirits in Heaven. When Jesus returns, He will bring those persons in their spiritual forms back to the earth with Him.
Then, it says that “the dead in Christ will rise first.” This means that Jesus will bring the bodies of those spirits He has with Him back to life. Their bodies will rise from the dead, being resurrected and perfected, and the spirits of those persons will re-enter their bodies. This is the resurrection of the dead that Christians often talk about, and probably the scene described in Revelation 11, as the two witnesses rise from the dead and ascend heavenward.
Paul continues by saying, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” This is the famous “Rapture” passage.
Matthew 24: 31 – “And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other”.
There’s the seventh trumpet again.
When Jesus returns, and as the bodies of the dead saints are being raised, the angels will gather the Christians who are still alive and carry them into the air. Notice that there is no disappearing acts here, nor are Christians flying by themselves up into the atmosphere. The angels are carrying us.
Then, when we reach Jesus, He will transform our bodies, just as He raised and perfected the bodies of the dead saints.
Philippians 3:20-21 –But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.
1 Corinthians 15:36- 58 – But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
When Jesus changes us, He will transform our bodies to make us imperishable and immortal. We will no longer age or get sick or die. Our bodies will be like Christ’s perfect resurrected body.
After Jesus raises the dead and transforms our body, He will not take us back into Heaven but will descend with us to the earth, where He will put an end to the reign of the Anti-Christ.
This blog post is included in my book, Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times.
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