By Nathan Jones
Because the Rapture may be more imminent than ever, and since so many of our loved ones will be left behind to wonder what has happened to us pondering what dark future awaits them in the aftermath, I will be running all this Feast of Trumpets week a message of hope. This message explains why millions suddenly and mysteriously disappeared and will give them answers to what has happened. It is our "left behind" message, and my prayers should we be departing really soon that it brings people to Jesus Christ.
This first segment of our "left behind" message will explain the Rapture, why it will happen, and what's it all about. It's also available in video below.
What Has Happened
If you are reading this because millions of people have suddenly and mysteriously disappeared, then you are looking for answers to what has happened, why it has happened, and what will be happening next.
First, as to what has happened — Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has returned.
For 2000 years the Bible has been proclaiming to the world that Jesus would be coming back. Jesus stated in John 14:1, "I will come again."
Because Jesus has returned, millions of people who have put their faith and trust in Jesus as Savior, accepting His free gift of salvation, have disappeared in an event called the Rapture.
You might be thinking that there was something mysterious in the sudden disappearance of millions of people, but the Bible has already explained this so-called mystery. Jesus said that when He came again, He would come for those who are saved. He said, "I will receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-4). The Apostle Paul put it this way: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
The Rapture happened to those of us who accepted Jesus as Savior, both those alive and those who had died since Jesus was resurrected. Both groups — living and resurrected believers — were caught up to be with Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
This all happened very quickly, like a flash of lightning. Jesus left as suddenly as He came, taking those who have accepted Him and His salvation, and leaving behind those who have rejected Him. And you, sadly, have been left behind.
Well, maybe you know a loved one who has disappeared — a wife, a husband, a child, a friend — and are wondering what has become of them. In that flash, as those who had accepted Jesus as their Savior were caught up to meet Jesus in the air, they traded their earthly bodies for bodies that are perfect, imperishable and immortal (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 50-55).
They sit with Jesus now in Heaven at a great banquet called the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19). They will live in great joy and know no sorrow. They will be with their King and live in love forever. They are well taken care, and you don't have to worry about them.
Why It Has Happened
But, it is the why of the disappearances that is your cause to worry. For believers in Jesus were taken out of this world to spare them from the great wrath that has just begun to befall the planet (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).
Jesus' return for all His true believers was just a prelude to His final Second Coming. The second phase of Jesus' return is to set up His Kingdom on earth. Jesus' Kingdom is why this whole thing is happening.
You see, we have come to the end of one age and will soon be beginning the age of Jesus' glorious reign right here on earth. But first, God has to deal with rebellion — sin — before setting up His Kingdom. God's going to use this intermediate time period you now live in to pour out His wrath on mankind for its continued refusal to accept His Lordship. The time you live in is called the Tribulation.
What It's About
What is the Tribulation all about? The unparalleled horror of the Tribulation is spelled out in detail in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Isaiah wrote that it will be a day of "the terror of the Lord" when "the pride of men will be abased" (Isaiah 2:10,17,19). Zephaniah proclaimed that it will be a "day of wrath," "a day of trouble and distress," and "a day of destruction and desolation." Men will stumble around like they are blind and "their blood will be poured out like dust" (Zephaniah 1:15,17).
This dreary picture is echoed in the New Testament. Jesus said it will be a time of tribulation "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall." In fact, Jesus said it will be so terrible that if it were not stopped at the end of seven years, it would result in the destruction of all life (Matthew 24:21-22).
The Apostle John states that the chaos will be so great that the leaders of the world will crawl into caves and cry out for the rocks of the mountains to fall upon them (Revelation 6:15-16).
Why is there going to be such carnage? How could a God of grace, mercy and love allow such an outbreak of unbridled terror and bloodshed?
One reason is to satisfy the justice of God. Yes, God is characterized by grace, mercy and love. God is a God of love. Jesus says so in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
But, God is also a God of justice. The Bible also says in John 3:36, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." It is God's very nature to love, but also in love to see justice done for evil.
The next segment of this "left behind" message will explain what's coming next for those who weren't raptured.