We have come to a transition point in our study of Revelation. We have seen John’s initial vision in Revelation 1 and the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. We now come to Revelation 4:1, but go back to Revelation 1:19.
19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.
This verse gives us a very good outline that we have already used. The things which John had seen are in verses 9-20 of chapter 1.
The thing which were at the time are found in Revelation 2-3. Those were seven real, literal churches of the first century in what we know now as Western Turkey.
Verse 19 finishes with the things which will take place after this. These are future events or things to come.
The next observation that I want you to see is the use of the word “church” in John’s Revelation. The literal word is ecclesia which means the assembly of the called out ones.
That word is used 20 times in the book of Revelation and 19 times in chapters 1-3: 1:4, 1:11, 1:20, 2:1, 2:7, 2:8, 2:11, 2:12, 2:17, 2:18, 2:23, 2:29, 3:1, 3:6, 3:7, 3:13, 3:14, and 3:22.
The only other time it is used is in 22:16. Isn’t that interesting? It is used 19 times in talking about the things that John had seen and the things that were. However, it is only used once after that.
Many evangelical, conservative Bible commentators tell us that chapter 4 begins talking exclusively about future events. I would agree.
Chapters 4-18 detail the great tribulation on earth. Chapters 19-20 detail the second coming of Christ to earth. Chapter 21 speaks of His 1000 earthly reign on earth, and chapter 22 speaks about eternity in heaven.
So what is going to happen between chapters 3 and 4 that would justify 19 uses of church in chapters 1-3 but only 1 in chapters 4-22. I would say it is the rapture of the church.
You will not find the word rapture in our English Bibles. Actually, our English word has a Latin origin which means “caught up” as translated in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
For the remainder of our time this morning, I want to show you the promise of the rapture, the plan of the rapture, and the persons who will be raptured.
- The Promise of the Rapture, John 14:1-3
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 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.
In Jesus’ words to His disciples, He promised His return and taking them to heaven. Verse 2 speaks of His Father’s house with many mansions or rooms, and verse 3 contains the promise.
The reason we know this is not Jesus’ second coming is because when He comes then, it won’t be to return to heaven. It will be to reign on earth for 1000 years.
John 14 contains the promise of the rapture.
- The Plan of the Rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul answered a question for the Thessalonian Christians who were concerned about their brothers and sisters in Christ who had already died. Jesus said they were sleeping in verses 13-14.
By the way, that description is never used of unbelievers. It is only used of believers, and it doesn’t mean spiritual inactivity but temporary physical inactivity.
Verse 14 speaks of some type of return with Jesus and these who have already died.
Verse 15 says their return will come become before a uniting of the living Christians and the Lord.
Verses 16-17 clear up much. The Lord will come down with a military shout. Perhaps this summoning His troops. There will also be the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God will sound.
Then, the dead in Christ will wise first. Who are these? They are all followers of Christ between the coming of the Holy Spirit and the time of this event who have physically died. They will be resurrected. This will be a reuniting of body and spirit.
Then, in verse 17, those who believers who are alive at the time will be caught up or raptured. That means that will ascend to meet the Lord in the air. They will never experience a physical death.
Cars will be wrecked. Jobs will be abandoned. Airplanes will be emptied. Clothes will be left behind. Will you?
- The Persons who will be Raptured, 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this first letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul addressed what will have to person who is to be raptured. Our bodies as they are cannot be united with Lord because of sin.
Therefore, in verse 51, we shall be changed. At a moment’s notice, the last trumpet will sound. Does that language sound familiar? See 1 Thessalonians 4.
The dead in Christ will be raised. Does that sound familiar? See 1 Thessalonians 4.
Then, those who are physically alive and followers of Christ will be changed. Our bodies will be changed to incorruption and to immortality, and this is only possible because of the physical and bodily resurrection of Christ.
So you have to answer this question, “Will you be left behind?” Some might be wondering about the timing before you answer, and that is the problem. The rapture will be without sign or warning.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Earlier in Matthew 24, Jesus was speaking about the great tribulation and second coming of Christ, but in verse 36, He went back to speak of the rapture.
Like the flood, it will come without physical warning. People will be carrying on as normal.
In verse 40, Christians will be raptured. Non-Christians will be left behind.
Like a thief, we will not know the timing so you be ready today. Will you be left behind?