Continued from Part One…
It was not only the Apostle Paul who warned against mocking. We find the Apostle Peter spoke about it as well.
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
There are many types of mockers these days. Some mock God, some mock the Scriptures, others mock those who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. We also have many who mock the Rapture of the faithful followers of Jesus. Sadly, too many of these are from within the modern day church. There are even those who mock those who desire to be raptured away before the Apocalypse begins—as if it were some type of spiritual weakness. I find that offensive because it mocks the very promise of my Savior and Lord. Listen to the words He Himself spoke to His disciples:
34 But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:34-36
What could Jesus have meant when he said that we could be counted worthy to escape? The word escape is defined as: to flee out of, flee away, to seek safety in flight. Did He promise to spare us from the trials and tribulations of the world? No. He warned that we would have many trials, tribulations, and persecutions. He did however promise that those who are true followers of Jesus would escape the Tribulation, with a capital T. There is only one period of time called the Day of the LORD and it includes the Apocalypse that John the Apostle described in great detail in the Book of Revelation. Why would anyone criticize believers for desiring to enjoy the benefits of such a wonderful promise from Jesus, the Bridegroom, to His beloved Bride? I suggest that anyone who criticizes God’s people who are looking forward to receiving such a promise from the Savior may be guilty of a type of “mocking” that is dangerous. It is mocking a promise made by the Son of God Himself!
So, with all these things in mind, let’s follow the advice in Hebrews 4: verses 6 and 11:
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience…..11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest lest anyone fail according to the same example of disobedience.
A principle we find in the Scriptures is that God will respond to a person’s belief or their unbelief. We have been given many examples in the New Testament. In Nazareth, Jesus could do no mighty miracles because of their unbelief. But a person will receive from God that for which He believes God. If God makes a covenant promise to us, it honors Him and He is delighted to provide what He has promised. Should we look at that in reverse?
If God has promised to provide His treasured ones an escape from the wrath that will be poured out in judgment on a vile, depraved, degenerate world, would He provide that escape to those who, in unbelief, mock, scoff, or outright reject the Rapture of the Church? That’s a good question, and it must be answered! Is it possible that a person’s unbelief or even mockery of God’s promise to catch His Bride away would disqualify him from this escape? God will not force anyone to believe in what they refuse to believe in. I would however like to add this: There are many true believers and followers of Christ, including many that are young in the faith who are ignorant of God’s promise to His beloved Bride; maybe because they live in a land where the persecution of Christians is so grievous that Bibles are very rare. God will not penalize these lovers of Jesus for their lack of knowledge by leaving them to face the Apocalypse along with the scoffers. God knows every man’s heart.
Throughout Revelation 2-3, we are told that overcomers will inherit all blessings. This is referring to us overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are instructed to walk in the Spirit, follow the Lord and do the right thing, as the Spirit leads us. These are the ones that are counted worthy to escape the things coming on the whole world. Let’s look at a passage referred to earlier.
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, 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. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Revelation 3:10-11
I believe the crown mentioned here is the same one mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8:
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Because of what we have read above, it is clear that as Christ followers, we should have a great interest in the second coming of Jesus and be able to recognize the season of His return; in fact, we should have an ever increasing longing for Him. The closer we get, the less the things of this world should mean to us. We must recognize that everything in this life is a preparation for a much greater one? Isn’t it time to loosen our tent stakes a bit instead of anchoring them in cement?!
Those that “play” because of the Lord’s “delay”…
I am not sure that the Lord ever really delays anything because He is outside of time and always knows the end from the beginning. We as mere humans however sometimes think that God is busy, has changed His mind, or is delaying what He said He would do. Some even believe there is no literal second coming of Christ. This reminds me of another passage in Matthew 24:
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, “my master is delaying his coming,” 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:45-51
This Scripture is fairly self-explanatory. In applying it to the subject of the “Harpazo”, it leaves little for us to question. What God has said will be done. Does He delay? Probably not. We just think He does because our lifespans are so very short. If we really believe God’s Word, we have no time, nor is it wise to let ourselves slip into being unaccountable for the way we live. Even though there isn’t one of us who can earn our salvation, Jesus still said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” We are also to be salt and light to a fallen world. We can’t do that when we allow our carnal nature to take over and rule our lives. The Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, left us the instructions below:
5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
We are instructed to judge ourselves whether we are following the leading of God’s Spirit or not. Are we walking according to the instructions the Master has left for us to follow? There is a danger if we do not see that we are preparing ourselves to be in His presence soon. Our life on this earth is not a vacation from godly living. It is our testing ground.
We read in Matthew 24:51 how the wicked servant will be thrown to the same location where the hypocrites are thrown. In that place we are told there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. We have always assumed that this is speaking of hell, and undoubtedly this description does fit for those sent there, but could it possibly also refer to those being left behind when the Rapture happens? The person left behind will surely be where there will be much weeping and great gnashing of teeth! Scriptures could be referring to either one, depending on the context.
The “cutting in two” or “cutting asunder”, could very well be referring to how there will be a separation of those who are watching and are ready for their Lord’s return and those who have put off His return to another time, or have denied it all together. This is what we found in the Scriptures describing the two women grinding, the two men working in the field. In each case one was “taken” and the other left behind. Luke gives another detail regarding God’s dealings with the servant who thought his master was delaying his coming:
47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required, and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. Luke 12:47-48
I am an avid believer in God’s grace and I thank Him for His grace every day! But, I do not see that the teaching of Scripture allows us to take advantage of God’s grace by living sloppy, carnal “Christian” lives, expecting God to overlook our thinking that we can live however we like, assuming His grace will cover it all. That is not what Jesus taught. We are not discussing earning our salvation here, but rather walking in obedience to His commands. Jesus did say, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”
The Rapture is God’s reward for faithfulness. Not all people attending church are faithful. In fact, the percentage of those who truly are faithful is much less today than it was ten years ago. Our life’s priorities tell the real story. God’s reward for faithfulness is to escape all the things that are coming upon the world and allow us to stand before the Son of Man. What does this really mean? It is speaking of us standing before Him at the Bema Seat for our lives to be examined and determine our rewards for service of Jesus our Lord. Paul the Apostle referred to this event in Romans 14:
7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:7-12
Another powerful passage that refers to God judging the dead and rewarding His servants is found in Revelation 11:18:
The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come. And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.
Standing before the God that created the entire universe will be a terrible experience for those who have rejected Him and His Messiah. On the other hand, for those who have learned to live humble, contrite lives before their Lord and have been faithful, it will be a time of great blessing and fulfillment. God has rewards that we cannot even imagine—just for being faithful.
The alternative to not being faithful could be being left behind to face what Jesus described as the worst time of cataclysm and catastrophe mankind has ever experienced, or ever will again. Humbling oneself before the Lord is so easy today but will be so very difficult during the time of God’s judgment on this Christ-rejecting world. There will however be those who decide to repent—even after God’s faithful ones have been removed in the Rapture, but most of these will pay the ultimate price. I believe this is who is described in the passage below:
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”……14 ”These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:9-10, 14
There is such a contrast in how easy it is to commit oneself into the hands of the One who created us in this age of grace, and how difficult it will be when that grace is not available in the same way it is today. Recognizing this fact should cause many of us to examine ourselves to see if that connection with the Savior is what it should be.
A fascinating study is how the ancient Jewish wedding is used as an example of how our heavenly Bridegroom will come to snatch His beloved Bride. We have discussed earlier how He will come as a thief. In Jewish tradition, the bridegroom would often come a bit earlier than expected, and if needed, take a ladder and climb up to the window of his bride. He would then snatch her out the window before anyone in the house had any idea of what had happened. This is how I believe the Rapture of the true Church will very likely happen. Our Messiah will snatch us out of this fallen world before anyone has any idea what has happened.
Just knowing what is about to happen should encourage us to keep Jesus’ promise alive in our hearts and maintain the anticipation. Knowing the Rapture is so near should also cause us to make sure we are walking as if He could surprise us at any moment. Once it happens, there is no preparation that can be done. We must prepare right now. This is why I posed the question above: What if you knew you only had 24 hours left on this earth? How would you live? What would you change? Hebrews 12:1-2 has some good advice:
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Knowing that we are at the very end of the age should also cause us to be busy about the work of the Kingdom, whether it is sharing the Good News of the Gospel, encouraging the saints around us, or interceding for those God lays on our hearts. This is all part of completing the Great Commission. Believing that the Lord’s return is that close should change how we live, how we spend our money, even our attitudes. And it may even change our lifestyles a bit! It will also cause us to keep watching and praying for His return!
There is another category of people that will likely miss the Rapture of the Church:
Those that hinder others from believing…
Jesus had some very strong words to say about this very subject:
“…woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Matthew 23:13
The Scribes and Pharisees were very religious but they were missing the mark entirely. They had religion and all its rituals and rules memorized, but were spiritually dead. So it is today. Many people go to church, some every week. All of our church attendance, charitable giving, and even participation in social justice programs are of no value in God’s sight unless we are walking in a personal relationship with Jesus and our actions are Spirit-led. Listen to the words of Revelation 3:1-3:
1 …these things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard, hold fast and repent. Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”
The thing we forget or ignore is that as we go along in our religious sleepwalk, not only are we likely to miss the great event of the Rapture, but we are probably influencing others in the same direction. The very things we do and say to excuse our spiritual apathy are also the things that influence others. We all have influence over others in one way or another. It was Cain that asked God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Although none of us can be responsible for all the actions of those around us; ultimately, everyone is responsible for their own actions, we still do not live in a vacuum nor do we live a hermit’s life. Our words, actions, and attitudes will be weighed on the balances by others, and this will have an effect on their own attitudes and resulting actions.
A more extreme example of someone leading others down the wrong path is found in Acts 13. Note how the author, Luke, described the deadly influence of just one man.
8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord. Acts 13:1-3
God has every intention of the Church fulfilling the task of spreading the Good News of the Gospel all around the world. Satan is a powerful foe that would like to stop the task from being completed, and not only is he too late, he has also been unable to do so. Although he has sent innumerable enemies of God in the last 2,000 years to try and hinder God’s plan, he has failed. But, woe to those who have chosen to be in league with him!
Most people today within the established church world doubt the literal fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Many even take an adversarial role. That is a great mistake. If nearly one-third of the inspired Bible contains God’s Word informing us of future events, who are we to marginalize what God has given us and avoid these parts? Do we believe in the full gospel or not? Many churches today won’t touch the Old Testament, saying it is archaic and not for this generation. Still others purposely avoid anything prophetic in the Scriptures, including the Book or Revelation, saying it is too controversial. Some go as far as to say it is not really inspired. Many seminaries explain the book away as being mostly symbolic and so the theological explanations are mostly the fantasy of fallen human intellect.
All of God’s Word is meant to be read, studied, spiritually digested, and applied to our daily lives. If there has ever been a time to know “what time it is”, it is today. The return of the Messiah for His faithful Church that He spoke to in Revelation 3:10-11 is imminent. Jesus intends to remove them from this earth while the Great Tribulation / Apocalypse is ravaging the planet. He will then bring them back with Him when He returns to take complete authority over the entire earth and rule as God-King. He will rule as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords! Nothing can change what has been decreed.
We are now in the last throes of the age. It is our generation that will witness the return of the Lord and it’s high time that we prepare ourselves—not to go through the Apocalypse, as so many are, but rather to meet our KING face to face. Are you ready??
In conclusion, I would like to include one last passage of Scripture; The parable of the ten virgins. Take time to contemplate what is being said by Jesus in this parable.
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but while the bridegroom was delayed they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:1-13
Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus…