Jack Kelley has written a three-part series on the Rapture of the Church and it is an excellent read.
Most of the information is probably familiar, but it is always a good idea to revisit the doctrine of the Rapture because it represents our hope and encouragement as we face these difficult days preceding the time in which we are "gathered up".
In the haze of disconcerting current news and the negativism that envelops us on a daily basis, it is both uplifting and inspiring to go back and reassure ourselves of what our fate will be.
This three part series is well worth reading:
Part I: The Hidden Doctrine of the Rapture
Part II: Rapture References
Part III: Conclusion
Just to get a feel for this excellent summary, here are a few paragraphs from Part I:
The second facet of God’s secret wisdom will be the way the Church is taken out of the world. At a time no one will be able to determine in advance and without any prior warning, the Church will simply disappear off the face of the Earth forever, leaving the unbelieving world in utter chaos. Because the birth of the Church took Satan by surprise, the details surrounding the Church’s departure have to be even more obscure. He’s a quick study, after all, and has had 2000 years to review what little the Bible has to say about the Rapture. He wouldn’t be so easily taken by surprise a second time.
Being a student of prophecy He knows at least as much as we do about the End Times. (Please remember this. It isn’t that Satan doesn’t know God’s plan, it’s that he believes he can defeat God’s plan.) He knows the rapture will precede the End Times judgments, will take place when the church reaches its full number, and that only God knows the number. But that’s about it, so his only hope is to prevent the Church from reaching that number for as long as possible. Because he doesn’t know what the number is, he’s effectively kept off balance. If he knew when the church was leaving he could plan some kind of counter attack. But since he doesn’t, he’s forced to remain reactive, unable to relax, never knowing when the whistle will blow and the game will be over. I think that’s God’s real purpose in keeping the rapture secret.
When God does take the Church out of the world, there will be another abrupt change as the Age of Law returns for its last seven years. Once again the focus will be on Israel. There will be a Temple with sacrifices and all the other associated ceremonies. Except for all the missing people, it will be like the Church Age never existed. And please understand that even when the New Covenant comes to Israel it won’t be like it is in the Church. A Temple, animal sacrifice, required Holy days, and a Levitical Priesthood will continue into and through out the Kingdom Age, or Millennium.
You see, it’s clear that the Church Age was not intended to be the next step in the progression of God’s plan, to supersede that which came before, and perhaps to be superseded by what comes after. It was a complete and radical departure from the norm and once completed it will never be repeated. Having known nothing but the Church Age we don’t appreciate how unique we are. But as Paul wrote, people in ages yet to come will study the Church to learn the extent of the incomparable riches of God’s grace (Ephes. 2:7).
Here, There, Or In The Air
To underscore the Church’s uniqueness, its departure will have to be even more dramatic, even more cloaked in mystery than its arrival was. Soon and very soon, on a day that no one could have predicted in advance, believers will hear a loud command, “Come up here!” (Rev. 4:1), accompanied by the trumpet of God. Immediately the spirits of dead believers will receive new resurrection bodies and the living will be transformed from mortal to immortal. Together we will meet the Lord “in the air” having disappeared from Earth in the twinkling of an eye (1 Thes. 4:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:51-53) and then we’ll proceed to His Father’s house (John 14:2-3).
This has always intrigued me. The Greek word for air refers to that space between Heaven and Earth called its atmosphere. So we’re not immediately going to Heaven, nor is the Lord coming all the way to Earth, as He will in the 2nd Coming. Instead the meeting will take place in the atmosphere.
The atmosphere was created on the 2nd day when God made an expanse to separate the water under it (the sea) from the water above it (the water vapor canopy that surrounded the Earth until the flood.) He called it the sky or firmament (Genesis 1:8). Unlike all other creation days, the 2nd day was not pronounced good. Some scholars speculate this is because demonic spirits immediately inhabited it. This may be why Paul also referred to Satan as the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
If this is the case, then it means the Lord is going to shock Satan again, this time by suddenly assembling the raptured Church in his front yard without any warning. Each list of sins that Satan saw nailed to the cross 2000 years ago will be represented by one deliriously happy redeemed believer in a final grand display of victory before we fly off to our mansions in the sky. Talk about a dramatic ending for the Age of the Church. What a day that will be. Now do you see why its exact timing has to be kept secret? We wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 10-02-10
Amen. What glorious hope we have as believers. Our future is secure, and it is magnificent. We will be in New Jerusalem soon, and we will experience the celebration which will dwarf all celebrations past. It will be an epic reunion with loved ones who have already ascended to "the real world". A world which is free of sin, hardship, impurity, pain, shame, deceit, or tears (Revelation 21-22). The light of God will illuminate this world. No longer will there be any curse. We will live in the very presence of God Himself and we will walk with Jesus.
To close, lets look at some of the last scriptures from Revelation:
"As the angel said to me, 'These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place."
And as Jesus promised:
"Behold, I am coming soon!"
Maranatha! It is coming soon, and it promises to be glorious.