Awaiting the Bridegroom
Imagine someone loving you so much He wants you to live in a place He has prepared for you in His presence forever. There is someone like that. His name is Jesus; and as the troubles and trials of life oppress us, we need to remember what the early believers knew: Jesus is coming for His church.
Though some dispute the reality of the Rapture, the teaching is certainly biblical. A day is coming when the believing church will be caught up—snatched away—to be with the Lord. The early church, in fact, believed so strongly in Christ’s imminent return that Christians greeted one another with the word maranatha, meaning “O Lord, come!” (1 Cor. 16:22).
The belief buoyed the early church during suffering and persecution. That is why the Rapture is also called “the blessed hope.” This joyful expectation of the any-moment return of Christ is about love, a resurrection body, a reunion with believing loved ones, and the church’s removal from the earth before the coming and terrible Tribulation.
A Special Place
Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:3). This passage is about love, betrothal, and a wedding. In the Jewish culture of the day, the bride-groom prepared a dwelling place for his prospective bride. When the new home was ready, he returned for her.
My wife and I have been to some beautiful places. But I assure you, not one of them is even a little bit as wonderful as the heavenly home being prepared for the church, which is also called the bride of Christ (Jn. 14:1–3; Rev. 21:1–6).
A Grand Reunion
Another aspect of the blessed hope is the promise of a resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:50–53). Are you in pain? Is your sight failing or your body deteriorating? If you belong to Jesus, you will receive a new body that will be impervious to disease and decay. It will not need doctors or dentists or experience death. This is why born-again believers are looking for the “upper taker,” not the undertaker.
A sad part of life is being separated by distance or death from those we love. My wife and I live 2,000 miles away from our children and grandchildren. We have experienced the death of precious relatives and friends. But at the Rapture of the church, there will be a great reunion:
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 (1 Th. 4:16–18).
Luke’s Gospel tells the story of a widow whose only son had just died. Jesus arrived during the funeral procession. As He witnessed the widow’s grief, He was moved with compassion, brought her dead son to life, and “presented him to his mother” (7:11–15). This is but a tiny taste of what will take place at the Rapture, as our believing loved ones are restored to us in the presence of God.
My family has not been big on family reunions. But a few years ago, most of the cousins on my mother’s side were able to get together. Some of us had not seen one another for several years. What a wonderful time we had. Yet an even greater reunion awaits the believing church of Jesus Christ. No wonder the Rapture is called the blessed hope.
The Rapture is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar. Jesus is coming to catch away His bride before the seven-year Tribulation when the Antichrist will rule the world. There are three compelling reasons for a pre-Tribulation Rapture:
- The Argument From Scripture. Revelation 3:10 contains a wonderful promise: “I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” In addition, 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 clearly separates believers from this coming time of darkness and destruction, declaring,“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 9).
- The Argument From Sequence. The apostle Paul addressed the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4 and then, in chapter 5, the Tribulation. A similar sequence appears in Revelation. Chapters 2—3 discuss the Church Age, but not until chapter 6 does the Tribulation come up. In between, in chapters 4—5, we read of believers who are assembled around God’s throne in worship. Who are they, and how did they get there? I believe they are Church-Age Christians who were “caught up”—raptured—prior to “the wrath of the Lamb” (6:16) that begins with the seal judgments of Revelation 6.
- The Argument From Silence. Why is there no mention of the church in the Tribulation section of Revelation?Why is the church so prominent in the early chapters, yet so conspicuously absent in chapters 6—9, which deal with the Tribulation? I believe the answer is the blessed hope.
The Tribulation will punish unbelieving Gentiles and prepare Israel for its Messiah (Zech. 12:10), but it has no similar purposes for the church. Instead, the church will be taken up and out.
Far too many people in today’s believing church are dismayed, discouraged, and defeated. They have lost their focus and forgotten their blessed hope—the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ti. 2:13).
A new day is coming. Jesus will come for His church. Believers still on Earth will leave this vale of tears behind forever. “Surely,” Jesus promises, “I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20). And the apostle John’s reply is most fitting: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (v. 20).