J. B. Hixson
One Minute After the Rapture
Boy, this weather is beautiful, I don’t remember weather like this when I lived in Houston, this is something. We live in Colorado now and we call weather like this a harsh summer. We live down in Southern San Juan wilderness where we got nine inches of snow this week so that’s kind of our world but it’s awesome to be with you. I love that last song we sang; my favorite line is “when our traveling days are over” because my family and I travel a lot; we travel about 200-250 days a year for the last eight years and you get to meet some awesome folks like you; many of you we’ve met before but many of you we’re meeting for the first time. There’s a lot more I could say but I’ve got a message that’s kind of heavy on my heart and one that I’m really looking forward to kind of working through with you here over the remaining time together. This was originally presented at the Pre-trib research group this past December, a few months ago, and I had a little bit longer there so I won’t be able to get all of the slides in but if you’re interested or if you feel like this is something that could be used in an evangelistic endeavor and maybe give to someone after the service you can pick up the full DVD of the whole message and the DVD also includes a Q&A at the end that’s on the DVD when I first gave this message.
But One Minute After the Rapture. The Genesis for this was… you know, as someone who loves eschatology and many of you are like that, it’s one of your favorite subjects, it’s one of my favorite subjects, I’ve studied it for years. I first fell in love with it because my grandfather, who was a Bible preacher, was really into eschatology so I can remember just as a young teenager sitting in his house in Austin, Texas and talking about the rapture and the tribulation and the second coming, the millennium and all types of end-times related topics. I’ve studied it for many years but sometimes when we study end times theology, especially those of us from a traditional dispensational pre-tribulational perspective it can become more theoretical, more scientific, more focused on the details and we sort of distance ourselves, in advertently, from the reality of it.
And the reality is that indeed the rapture could happen at any moment. How many of you would be okay if the rapture happened today, right now? Good, praise God for that. It’s something that every day we ought to wake up and think it could be today and it really ought to impact the way that we live. If we believe what we say we believe then it ought to be a reality. So I started asking myself, what are some things that will be true, according to Scripture, one minute after the rapture. And I came up with seven things that will be true one minute after the rapture for those of us who are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, but then there are ten things from the Scripture that will be true for those who are left behind. So it’s kind of a heavy message on the backend because we’re going to talk about what will be true one minute after the rapture for those who don’t know the Lord but we want to start with seven things that will be true for those who do know the Lord.
So let’s dive in and let me kind of set the stage by just a general introduction to the topic of the rapture. The verse that we read as our Scripture reading this morning is the key passage on the doctrine of the rapture. [1 Thessalonians 4:16] “For the LORD Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and 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.”]
Now sometimes those who don’t believe in the biblical doctrine of the rapture will say to me when I’m at Bible prophecy conferences and places like that, speaking, they’ll say you know, the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible. Well, that is patently untrue! It is found in the Bible. First of all we need to recognize the Bible was not written originally in English. How many of you know the Bible was not written in English? Okay, good, just wanted to make sure, I thought so with Dr. Woods, my good friend, I love Dr. Woods by the way, many of you weren’t here for Sunday School or Wednesday night but he and I go way back, we speak at conferences together all the time, in fact, we were just together in February and he’s number one on my speed dial list. He’s who I call first when I have a theological question. So I sure appreciate Andy and Ann.
But absolutely the word rapture is used in the Bible, not the English word because as it happens knowing this word that was used in the original text of Scripture because it wasn’t written in English, but the word “rapture” is an English translation of this word that I’ve highlighted in red there, “caught up.” It’s actually the Greek word, harpazo, which in its broadest sense simply means to snatch or take away. And harpazo, the original Greek word, when the Bible was translated into Latin was translated using the Latin word rapiere, which is where we get the English word rapture. So there you go; the word “rapture” is found in the Bible. But harpazo in the original New Testament is used thirteen times and the New King James variously translates it “caught up” or “caught away” or “snatched away” or “pulled out” or “take by force.” One of the other occurrences of it, for example, is in Acts 8, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch; when they came up out of the water the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away; that’s the word harpazo.
Now when it comes to the doctrine of the rapture and words are always defined in context, not by a lexicon, we have to look at the context to determine the specific meaning in that context but I thought it was interesting that one of the standard Greek dictionaries in academia today, the standard lexicon id BDAG, and this was one of the possible range of meanings for harpazo: to rescue from threatening danger, and I want to submit to you that I think that’s the best translation for harpazo as it relates to the rapture. We know for sure that harpazo is used this way one of the other thirteen times that it’s used, in Jude 23, where it says, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire….” but as it relates to our primary text on the rapture, this idea of being caught up, I think refers to the sudden, quick, urgent rescue of the body of Christ, believers, from this present evil age, as Paul calls it in Galatians 1:4. [Galatians 1:4, “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father”]
Now the best word picture I can think of is to imagine a young child playing in the street, or maybe playing in the front yard and wanders out into the street and nobody notices and there this child is, maybe two, three years old, just sitting in the middle of the busy street playing with a ball and all of a sudden a big, say Ford F350 is barreling around the corner heading straight for this child and disaster looms, and fortunately maybe a good Samaritan, a jogger or somebody passing by notices it and just in the split second, in the nick of time, reaches out and grabs that child by the back of the collar and yanks it out of harm’s way as the truck goes speeding by. And that’s the idea of harpazo and I submit that’s the idea of the rapture, that before the great and terrible day of the Lord, what the Bible calls Daniel’s 70th week, we’ll talk more about this in a moment, that final seven year tribulation period called the time of Jacob’s trouble or the overflowing scourge or the tribulation period, before the outpouring of God’s wrath on earth in perfect justice God is going to rescue the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, from this present evil age.
It’s going to happen in the twinkling of an eye, literally the blink of an eye Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. And when it does happen the world as we know it will change forever. When it happens the dispensation of the present church age comes to an end and God begins to work out His plan of the ages, as we move into the end time. You see, the Bible comes full circle from Genesis to Revelation; from the pre-fall Edenic state of sinless perfection in the Garden to once again a sinless perfection in the new heavens and the new earth.
What I’d like to do this morning is to look at one minute after the rapture from the perspective of those who are caught up and from the perspective of those who are left behind. Let’s look at those who are caught up first. Those who are caught up one minute after the rapture will experience first of all a long awaited return… a long awaited return. For 2,000 years Christians have been waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promise to come back and to take us to be where He is. If you look at human history the first ever reference on planet earth to this mystery of the rapture, the first time it’s ever referenced, was on Thursday night of Passion Week when our Lord Jesus was in the Upper Room with His disciples and He said these words: “If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to Myself.” 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. [John 14:3, “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.”] That was in 33 A.D.
And it’s important to know here that Jesus does not say that the purpose of this future coming that He’s talking about here was to receive believers so that He can be where they are on the earth. If you read it carefully He says so that we can be where He is in heaven. And then, of course, it wasn’t until after the crucifixion which happened the next day, the resurrection which happened on Sunday, forty days of post-resurrection appearances, the birthday of the church ten days later and then into the church age when the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit begins to unveil for us the biblical doctrine of the rapture in many of his epistles, most notably 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians and Titus. But this long awaited return, Jesus promised it then and here we are waiting for it 2,000 years later, looking for this blessed hope, this glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Now let’s look at the end times chart, one of our charts from our chart book and you’re familiar with this, obviously a well taught congregation here at Sugar Land Bible Church but here on this chart you’ve got the church age on the far left, followed by the rapture and then there’s some unspecified link of time between the rapture and the official start of the tribulation. We know that simply by logical deduction because the tribulation begins when the antichrist signs the peace treaty with Israel according to Daniel 9:27, the rapture is a separate event. So you have two separate events in time, they must necessarily be separated by some length of time. We don’t know how long that is, I tend to think it was a matter of months, some scholars, like Arnold Fruchtenbaum thinks it could be years. We don’t know, I don’t know whether Dr. Woods would agree more with Arnie Fruchtenbaum or whether he would agree with me and Jesus on this point [laughter] but one way or the other I’m sure it’s some length of time in there.
Then this peace treaty is signed which marks out for us who the antichrist is and that will be the completion of Daniel’s 490 year plan, the first 483 years have already occurred in the past and we’re now living in that gap of time that Daniel himself talked about in Daniel 9:24-27.
[Daniel 9:24-27, American Standard Version. “Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.  Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times.  And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined.  And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations’ shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate.”]
The first three and a half years of that tribulation period, which both Daniel and Jesus talk about, Jesus actually quotes Daniel by name in the Olivet Discourse, will be relative protection for Israel though the wrath of God will be being poured out over the whole earth during that time as well as the wrath of Satan. Then at the midpoint the antichrist sets himself up as god, demands worship in an event called the abomination of desolation and then he sets his sights on Israel and the last three and a half years of the tribulation are an intense persecution for Israel. Then of course the tribulation climaxes with the battle of Armageddon and the return of Christ to establish His long awaited Messianic kingdom; we read about that in Revelation 19.
Then Daniel 12 tells us there is a seventy-five day interval between the return of Christ to earth… by the way, we’ll be coming back with Him riding on white horses to help Him rule and reign in the kingdom, between the second coming of Christ and the official commencement of the Messianic kingdom. The first 1,000 years of the Messianic kingdom will be on the old earth, we call that the Millennium, of course Dr. Woods has just written an outstanding book, many of you have read it, I recommended it or blurbed it at the beginning, I sell it, we actually normally sell it everywhere we go. I didn’t sell it here because I didn’t think there was a market for it here, you guys already have it, I think you get it free actually.
But it’s an outstanding book about the kingdom and the kingdom is not just a thousand years, it goes on in perpetuity throughout the new heavens and the new earth. So if we look at this chart the return of Christ, His long awaited return is right here; it puts an end to the tribulation period. Now I want you to go back in your mind’s eye to that first century time of Christ, as if you were one of the disciples and you were traveling with Christ, listening to Him talk, walking with Him, and Christ’s ministry, as Dr. Woods has so excellently taught in His book, was all about the kingdom.
He starts it by “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and He ends it with the Olivet Discourse, by talking about signs that will relate to His second coming and everywhere in between. So it’s understandable that the disciples would be fixated on the kingdom. Throughout three and a half years Jesus taught things like the disciples would rule and sit on twelve thrones with Him in the kingdom. The disciples often asked who’s going to be greatest in the kingdom, that was one of Peter’s questions… remember that? One of the disciple’s moms asked if her sons could sit on either side of Christ in the kingdom. You see the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13, all references to a literal earthly kingdom; you get no hints whatsoever anywhere in Scripture that the kingdom is anything other than literal physical brick and mortar kingdom with boundaries and a throne and a temple. And so it’s understandable then, even though Jesus also taught, also in fulfillment of the Old Testament, in the suffering servant aspect the fact that the cross must come before the crown, that he’s got to go pay… be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, that was all part of it.
The disciples were clearly fixated on the kingdom aspect and you see this most vividly in Luke 19 on the day before the triumphal entry. So here there are, nearing the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, they’re on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Luke tells us something fascinating in Luke 19. He says,
“Now as they heard these things” that’s the disciples, “He spoke another parable because He was near Jerusalem” and watch this, “they thought,” the disciples thought “the kingdom of God would appear immediately.” [Luke 19:11, “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was immediately to appear.”]
Fascinating; not often do we get a glimpse inside the minds of the listeners when Jesus tells a parable but here we do. Under the inspiration of the Spirit Luke tells us precisely why Jesus told the parable that follows, which, of course, is the parable of the minas, in which Jesus explains that He’s going to go away for a while to receive the kingdom, while He’s gone the disciples need to be busy about the work of spreading the gospel and then He’s going to come back and they’re going to give an account for what they did while He was gone and then He’ll inaugurate the kingdom. So it’s a real… definitely applicable to the church and a real hint of the coming interadvent age.
But Luke tells us that the disciples essentially thought Jesus Christ was going to ride into Jerusalem the next morning on the back of a donkey, throw off the shackles of Rome and usher in the Millennial kingdom right then. That’s what they wanted and that’s what they expected. So here they were living in the church age, as it were, or the time of Christ I guess for the disciples at this time but their minds were over here on the kingdom. They did not understand, even though they should have, that there were a lot of things that needed to happen between the time of Christ and the coming of the kingdom, things that up to this point have lasted 2,000 years, but even other things prophetically related to the end times that will take place after the present church age.
But anyway, they soon found out, of course, what was going to unfold in the days to come. Jesus goes into Jerusalem, of course He curses the fig tree, He overturned the tables of the moneychangers, He rejects the Jewish national leaders of Israel, He responds to the disciples question about what will be the sign of Your coming, remember that was kind of an interesting little interchange there, Matthew 23 and then into the Olivet Discourse in 24 and 25. Again, the disciples still… this is only three days later, from Sunday to Wednesday, four days maybe, and they’re still fixated on the kingdom and here Jesus has just said not one stone will be left upon another.
Actually it’s even better than that if we go back one conversation earlier, at the end of chapter 23 Jesus says to the nation of Israel, “You will not see me again until you cry, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,”’ the fulfillment of Psalm 118. [Matthew 23:39, “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”’ Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.’”]
And the disciples were thinking well, what’s that about? We just tried that? Well, no, a few, a remnant tried it but the vast majority would soon cry out “crucify Him, crucify Him,” within a couple of days. So the disciples are a little puzzled, they’re starting to say hmmm, this isn’t going the way we planned. So the Bible tells us they began to point out to Jesus the beauty of the temple, and it was kind of one of those nervous conversations that I think they were having, like Lord, isn’t this temple beautiful as if to say isn’t it going to be awesome when you take the throne here momentarily. And then Jesus, wanting to make it as blunt as He can, that’s when He says listen, I tell you not one stone will be left upon another. Now He’s got their attention. So then they ask, rather excitedly, well Lord, what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of this age and the coming kingdom, tell us, tell us!
And then the Olivet Discourse is the single greatest blow by blow outline of the end times found anywhere in one spot in the Bible as Jesus begins to explain the signs of the second coming. The Olivet Discourse, of course, is all about Israel, it’s not anything to do with the church. As we said the first reference historically ever in humankind of the rapture is the next day in the Upper Room. This is Wednesday, the Olivet Discourse is Wednesday, it wasn’t until Thursday night in the Upper Room that He mentions the rapture. So this is totally about Israel and Jesus begins to outline for them things about His Second Coming.
So then, of course, that’s Wednesday; Thursday He’s betrayed by Judas, arrested, tried, crucified, rises again Sunday and then he appears to hundreds for forty days. I want you to fast forward forty days to the Mount of Ascension. Now you would think at this point the disciples would be more sensitive, they would begin to understand the whole notion of Christ’s coming both as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world and the victorious warrior to strike the nations with the sword and so forth. You’d think they’d begin to connect the dots by now, surely. But no, here they are on the Mount of Ascension and what do they do? Once again they return to their favorite subject, the kingdom. I can’t prove this but it’s kind of like they’re saying something like this: Lord, boy, we’re so sorry we didn’t understand the whole part about the Via Delarosa, Golgotha and that cross thing and thank You for that Lord, by the way, thank You for saving us from our sins Lord, but Lord do You mind now if we get on to more pressing matters; what about this kingdom. And they say Lord, are you at this time going to restore Your kingdom to Israel.
This would have been the perfect opportunity for Jesus to dispel the notion of a literal kingdom if indeed, as so many teach today, it was nothing but a figure of His spiritualized kingdom in our hearts. But He didn’t do that! He did not rebuke them for their question, in fact, He affirmed the literalness of the kingdom in His answer when He says look, “it is not for you to know the times,” times there his chronos, He’s talking about length or duration, “or the seasons,” the word “seasons” is chairos, meaning the exact date which the Father has put in His own authority.
In other words, He says the same thing that He said in parabolic form a few days earlier, or a few weeks earlier at this point, on the outskirts of Jerusalem before the triumphal entry when He said look, the King is going to go away for a while, take your mina and be busy. And He says the same thing here. Well, He ascends up, out of their sight, at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven, they stand their looking up, these men in white raiment come and say to them look, “this same Jesus,” “this same Jesus will come again in like manner,” a long-awaited return. [Acts 1:11, “who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.”]
You almost get the idea that the disciples thought He was going to run up, grab the keys to the kingdom and come right back down and unlock the kingdom. And so the men in white raiment said no, go back to Jerusalem and be busy. And then of course they go back to Jerusalem, later in Acts 1 the first order of business when they get there is what? To replace Judas; they cast lots for Matthias. Again I think this is because they thought about the imminency of the return of the Lord, they thought about the urgency of the kingdom and they knew Jesus had said that they would sit on twelve thrones when He comes back and they didn’t want that twelfth throne to be empty, we’ve got to have someone to sit there. So they were fixated on the kingdom.
And here we are, 2,000 years later, and I can’t be too hard on the disciples because it shows that they understood the teaching of God’s Word about the kingdom. They expected it. Would we have stood there looking up, waiting for Him to come right back? We’re certainly not doing that 2,000 years later, at least with any degree of consistency. But one minute after the rapture we will finally experience the long awaited return of our Lord. And you know, critics of the doctrine of the rapture, who don’t interpret Scripture the way we do, in its literal grammatical historical perspective, they often like to point out you know people have been talking about the rapture for millennia, for 2,000 years they’ve been talking about it and it’s never happened. To which I say that’s right but one time it will and why not us. Someday it’s got to happen and why not us? Why not us! And one minute after it happens we will experience that long-awaited return.
Number two, one minute after the rapture those that are caught up will experience a timely rescue… a timely rescue. Again, going back to that idea of harpazo, again Galatians 1:4 says, He will deliver us or rescue us from this present evil age. [Galatians 1:4, “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father”]. So the rapture rescues us from this world. And it’s an ever worsening world; it’s an ever worsening world!
And one of the things that is often mistakenly taught is people will characterize those of us who believe what the Bible teaches about the rapture as teaching that Christians will escape this old world before things get too bad. Ever heard that? Whenever I hear someone say this I just want to punch them… but I don’t, just to be clear, but I want to, because I don’t know of any reputable dispensational scholars who teach that, and the idea certainly doesn’t come from the Bible that somehow those that believe in the rapture teach that we’re just going to be going along, everything is going to be great and then the rapture will rescue us before it gets too bad. And it shows utter ignorance of history too, by the way.
And even of the world as we know it today, I mean stop and think about it, for millions of Christians right now, today, at this very moment, the world is a very bad place. Ask the Coptic Christians if they think the rapture is going to happen before it gets too bad. I wonder if believers that were slaughtered by Stalin or Hitler thought the rapture would happen before it got too bad? History tells the tragic tale of the persecution and torture of Christians century after century. The rapture rescues us from this ever worsening world but we are not promised that we’re going to be unscathed.
If we go back to our chart, here’s the last days, here’s the present church age, the Bible makes that clear, and these are the end times, and what God’s Word says is that we’re going to be rescued before the great and terrible day of the Lord. Things are getting worse and worse and they’re going to reach unprecedented evil during that tribulation period, deception. We’ll talk about that in a second.
But the last days is the present church age, you can see this clearly if you just look at God’s plan of the ages. You’ve got this transitional period between the church and the kingdom, but here we are living in the present church age and as you see on the chart there it really is the last days before the kingdom age. It really is the last days. The only major age to come is the fruition, the inauguration of the kingdom. And so the rapture rescues us from this present evil age as things are getting worse and worse. And it’s a timely rescue. Sometimes our optimistic though misguided reconstructionist brothers, those who think that things are getting better and better and better and if we can just elect enough Christians and be good enough then we will hurtle the world into this Messianic Kingdom and Christ will come back when things get good enough.
We totally reject that because the Bible doesn’t teach us that but what they forget is one very important principle and that is that depravity is a degenerative disease. Depravity does not self-correct, it doesn’t get better over time. Sure, there are always seasons of blessing everywhere you go on planet earth, revivals here and there, and praise God for it. The Spirit of God is alive and well and moving and we should always be working to win the lost and spread the gospel and make a difference in this fallen world. But overall, taken as a whole, the world is getting worse and worse and worse. And it will not get better until the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, until the Prince of Peace Himself comes back and takes the throne.
That’s what the Bible teaches; it doesn’t teach that everything is going to be great and we’re going to be rescued before it gets bad. It just teaches that we’re going to be rescued before the great and terrible day of the Lord. See, the Bible says that evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse and worse. Paul said that in 67 A.D. If it was true then imagine how much more true it is today. [2 Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” ASV] We are more deceived today than we were yesterday, we will be more deceived tomorrow than we are today; deception is getting worse and worse and worse.
If you go back to our plan of the ages, when sin entered the world in the garden, from that point on things began getting worse and worse and worse and worse and worse! And it’s getting worse during the present church age and will reach unprecedented heights after the rapture, during the great and terrible day of the Lord, the tribulation period. We know that this world is getting worse because this whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one; this is truly the devil’s playground. Remember the conversation the Lord had with Satan in Job, chapter 1. The Lord said where do you come from? And Satan says from going to and fro on the earth, from walking back and forth on it. [Job 1:7, “And Jehovah said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”]
This earth is the devil’s playground, and the rapture will rescue us before this cosmic struggle. How many of you believe the devil is trying to take over the world. Do you believe that? Absolutely, he’s been trying to do that since he was kicked out of heaven. He started when he approached Eve and he hasn’t given up yet. And this is a spiritual battle against the principalities, and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age. [Ephesians 6:12, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” ASV] And that cosmic struggle will reach its pinnacle after the rapture, during this tribulation period.
Has it ever occurred to you that there are only two times in human history, according to the biblical record, only two times in human history when Satan himself, the prince of demons, Satan is a fallen angel, a demon, and demons can indwell unbelievers, and according to the Scripture there are two times when Satan himself indwells a human being and both of them relate to the coming of Christ. At the first advent Satan indwells Judas according to Luke 1:22. [Luke 1:22, “And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.”] And in conjunction with the second advent he’s going to indwell the antichrist, according to Daniel 8 and 2 Thessalonians 2.
In other words, think about it; from Satan’s perspective he’s trying to take over the world, he’s engaged in this battle, he thinks he’s going to win even though we know the rest of the story and we know he isn’t, and God, the eternal Creator of the universe, God the Son leaves the realm of eternity, comes to the realm of time, space and matter, puts on human flesh (too redeem mankind by the way) comes to the earth and Satan says aha, He’s in my territory now, He’s in my playground now, now’s my chance; He’s made Himself vulnerable. And Satan says there’s no way I’m going to delegate this to one of my demons, I’m going to handle this one myself. So he indwells Judas, Judas betrays Christ, Christ is crucified, Satan thinks he’s won. Of course, three days later he found out at Christ’s resurrection that he had not won.
But then I think according to Daniel 8, 2 Thessalonians 2 that he’s also going to indwell the future man of sin, the antichrist. Once again in conjunction with a time when he knows Christ is coming back. He’s read the Scripture, he understands end times prophecy better than many Christians do so he knows God’s timetable as it relates to the tribulation. And so when he sees the rapture happen, he’s going to (I think) indwell the antichrist and then the antichrist is going to, hopefully from Satan’s perspective try to win this cosmic struggle. But it is a spiritual battle and it’s going to get worse and worse during the tribulation.
So the rapture rescues us from this ever worsening role, but it also rescues us from the wrath to come. As bad as things are now and as bad as they may get prior to the rapture they will be much worse during the tribulation. This is called the great day of the Lord’s wrath, that seven year period. Paul reminds us sin 1 Thessalonians twice that we will not as the church have to endure the wrath. We will be delivered from the wrath to come, we will be rescued before the great and terrible day of the Lord. He says it again in chapter 5, verse 9, and he says God has not appointed us for wrath but to obtain salvation. [1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God appointed us not into wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”]
It’s not just the wrath of God but the wrath of Satan will be poured out during that final seven year climactic event of the tribulation. We see the wrath of Satan in passages like Revelation 12:12, when he says, he’s coming down to you in “great wrath.” [Revelation 12:12, “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the devil is gone down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.”] The word “wrath” there is the Greek word thumos, it’s the same word that’s used of the wrath of God seven times in the book of Revelation. He talks about how the dragon, at the end of the tribulation will concentrate his evil on the Israelites. The dragon was enraged with the woman, that’s the Greek word orgiso and he’s going to focus it on the Israelites during the tribulation. [Revelation 12:17, “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”]
So you’d better believe that one minute after the rapture we will be thanking the Lord for this timely, timely rescue.
And then thirdly, our physical renewal… our physical renewal. Remember Paul said that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. [1 Corinthians 15:50, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”] We all have to be changed, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” [1 Corinthians 15:52]
Why? Because “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” [1 Corinthians 15:53]
In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul talks about how we groan earnestly in our current tent, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation, which is from heaven. He says it again in Romans chapter 8, He says that “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” [Romans 8:23] The older I get, I just turned 49, I know that’s shocking, you say man, he doesn’t look a day over 29… well thank you, thank you for that. But I just turned 49 and the older I get the harder it gets to even do simple things, like bend over and tie my shoes. My four younger kids, and our kids were so spread out I feel bad, my younger 9 year old, I can’t do any of the things that I used to do with my older ones, like throw her up to touch the ceiling and do all those fun things. And she comes to me and says daddy, can you throw me up to touch the ceiling, and… go get one of your brothers, you know, I’m just too old for this anymore. I feel bad for her, she’s getting the raw end of the deal. Now her older siblings would say she’s spoiled so she’s getting the good end of the deal. I don’t know, we’ll find out in heaven who was right.
But if you don’t think your bodies are deteriorating then try this little experiment. I want you to go home and get your wedding picture and then I want you to pull out your driver’s license and I want you to compare them; you’ll notice right away how your bodies are deteriorating. So we’ll experience that physical renewal and hallelujah for that.
Then there will be also a corresponding resurrection body one minute after the rapture. At the same time that living believers are receiving our glorified bodies those believers who have gone before us, who “absent from the body but present with the Lord” Paul says, will be resurrected to receive their glorified body because remember, in our text in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 it’s “the dead in Christ” who will arise first. Everyone who’s died from the time of the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 to the present, up to the time of the rapture, as far as the church, and it doesn’t matter whether they were burned up or buried or lost at sea, the very atoms of those physical bodies will be reconstituted, glorified and given their glorified body to go into heaven.
We have a chart in our chart book on when will our bodies be resurrected, I won’t take the time to go through all of it, but it takes people from every different era of believers and unbelievers and it shows you biblically when they will receive their glorified or resurrected body in the case of unbelievers.
Number five, those who are caught up one minute after the rapture will experience that joyful reunion. Earlier in 1 Thessalonians 4 the whole context of this teaching was that these Thessalonians had some loved ones that were believers who had died and he says concerning “those who have fallen asleep,” a euphemism for death, he says I don’t want you to sorrow as others “who have no hope.” When we lose a loved one who knows the Lord we sorrow but it’s not like that sorrow of unbelief; we sorrow maybe over the separation or maybe those other loved ones that are left behind in the case of if a parent dies and you sorrow for the child, that kind of thing. But we know that we will see them again in that great reunion in the sky. Why? Because Paul says God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
And what a joyous reunion that will be to see my grandfather again, see my grandmother. And not only our loved ones who have gone before us but with the ONE who took our place on the cross, the one who paid my debt, saved me from the penalty of sin. What an awesome thing it will be to see Jesus face to face as we meet Him in the clouds. And by the way, as much as we long to see Him and I hope you long to see Him, Paul says there’s a special crown for those who long for His appearance, but as much as we long to see Him do you know He longs to see you as well? Go back to the Upper Room and his high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus says I desire that they also who You gave Me may be with Me where I am. [John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” ASV] He wants us to be with Him; He can’t wait either.
And then there will be a personal reward, one of the last things Scripture records is Jesus, “Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me to give to everyone according to His work.” [Revelation 22:12] That can’t be salvation because salvation is not by works… not by works! So He’s talking there about reward; we know we are going to be rewarded some day when He comes back. That’s why, when John tells us “abide in Him,” stay in close fellowship with Him, walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, [Gal5:16] walk in fellowship with Him so you’ll have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. Whatever we do we should do it heartily as unto the Lord, [Colossians 3:23] Paul says, knowing that from the Lord we will receive the reward, [Colossians 3:24] because “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” [2 Corinthians 5:10]
And finally, a glorious rejoicing… a glorious rejoicing. Remember Paul says it’s a blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, [looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;”] and he says “Comfort one another with these words.” [1 Thessalonians 4:18]
I like what my friend, Dave Regan says, we speak at different conferences together, I pick up a lot of good doctrine and good statements from these great speakers, like Dr. Woods, for example, but Dave Regan said you know, every time the rapture, or I pointed out that every time the rapture is taught there’s always this message of comfort and exhortation at the end, and encouragement. But this is really a strong implicit proof for the pretrib rapture, isn’t it, because what kind of a statement would it be to say something like this: now listen, church, you’re going to have to go through the tribulation, there’s going to be seals, trumpets, bowl judgments, there’s going to be locusts and boils and there’s going to be a third of the earth dying, a quarter of the earth dying, it’s going to be utter devastation, the two witnesses are going to be killed, there’s going to be earthquakes like never before seen on planet earth. It’s going to be devastating and terrible and overflowing scourge, therefore “comfort one another with these words.” It doesn’t make any sense. The comfort of the rapture is that we are going to be rescued before the great and terrible day of the Lord.
All right, now I’ve got to get through the ten things that will be true for those that are left behind. And I hope if you’re here this morning and you don’t know the Lord, or if you don’t know if you don’t know the Lord, there’s never been a time in your life when you trusted in Jesus Christ and Him alone as the only one that can give you the gift of eternal life; He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me.” [John 14:6] Either He’s telling the truth of He’s lying; I choose to believe He’s telling the truth, He’s the Son of God. And the only way to heaven is through faith alone in Him. And there are ten things in Scripture, we’ll go through quickly here, that will be true one minute after the rapture for those who are left behind.
The first thing that we’ll notice on earth is a global confusion… a global confusion. The sudden disappearance of millions of people will certainly create a global sense of bewilderment. It will be one of those end of the world as we know it type scenarios for those that are left behind. They’ll be thinking what in the world is going on? I tried to think of an illustration of what would come closes to that type of feeling that will not doubt be pervasive across the globe one minute after the rapture and millions of people have disappeared, and I’m not even sure it’s the best illustration but it’s the only one I can think of that really might begin to approximate what it might be like in that day. And it’s the illustration of 9-11, we all remember that, everybody can remember where it was.
Everybody has their 9-11 story, I’m sure you all got yours, but ours was a pretty harrowing story because my cousin live in Battery Park, he’s an attorney in New York city and we’ve been in their home, and so when all of this began to happen I’m wondering, I’ll never forget it, I was teaching at the College of Biblical Studies, got up, headed into class, turned on the TV and then stayed glued there the rest of the day as we all did, most of us, watching things unfold. And remember we didn’t know what was going on, we didn’t know how many planes there were, we didn’t know what the next target was going to be. People in Houston, a major city with oil refineries, we thought maybe this is a target.
And it was total and utter chaos and confusion but for us it was very personal because we wanted to reach them and see… I mean, you know, they live literally in Battery Park, we’d been in their home, their high rise condo, you look out one window of their living room and you would see the twin towers, right there; and you look out the other window and you could see the Statue of Liberty in the harbor. And we didn’t know, we couldn’t reach them, all the phone lines were tied up and you couldn’t get through and we didn’t know, and it wasn’t until late that evening that we were finally able to connect with them and hear their harrowing story. It was subsequently written up in a couple of magazines but these pictures I’m going to show you are from Jeff, he took these pictures as he kind of tells his story.
But think about what it will be like one minute after the rapture when something similarly only exponentially worse happens in terms of the confusion. These are his pictures, there’s the north tower and the south tower; there’s another picture there. This is Jeff and Paula’s building, right there, these are pictures. So as they tell the story they had just dropped the kids off at PS whatever the number was, one of the public schools right down the road , and was headed to his office, they walk everywhere down there, and he and Paula were walking together and they heard the first plane hit and he said the first comment I made to my wife was hmm, I wonder what movie they’re filming today. That’s what he thought, because that happens all the time down there, from his perspective as a resident in Lower Manhattan. But then of course when the second plane hit they knew something very wrong was happening. So they turned and went back to get their kids, they got their kids. No sooner had they gotten their kids out than the first tower exploded and you’ve seen this on TV, and that debris was coming down the alley right behind them, they looked over their shoulder and people were running and screaming everywhere, he said we ducked behind a car and we knew we were going to die. We just huddled up with the kids, we thought we’re going to die.
Well, they didn’t, they managed to escape to the edge, the railing there, if you’ve been to the Statue of Liberty and the harbor there in Battery Park you kind of know where I’m talking about, and this is from the other side after they’d caught a ferry, this is their building, right there in the middle of the screen, the debris went over them and they all became covered with dust but as it passed they were able to get up and make their way to the harbor. They caught one of the tourist ferries that was turned into a makeshift rescue ferry on that day, but here’s just some pictures of them; you can see the looks in their eyes. Here’s some more pictures that we took. You can see the stuff over the concrete, there on the ground. This is on the ferry itself. This is looking back at that area with both towers having collapsed. And then they didn’t get back to their building until December 1st, and even then they were only allowed to go back in for a few hours to collect a few things and they had to leave again, and this is a picture he took on December 1st from the top of his building of Ground Zero, utter and total confusion…. One minute after the rapture!
Number two, there will be a false explanation… a false explanation. Soon on the heels of this they have to give some explanation, they’re certainly not going to say hey, listen, the Bible is true, God just rescued millions of Christians from this present evil world. NO, they’re going to come up with a deceptive explanation, remember the devil is a liar and the father of lies. There’s no shortage of things that we could concede that they might use to explain this terrible disappearance, mysterious disappearance of millions of people. But there will be a false explanation no doubt.
One possible scenario, who knows if it will play out, but project Blue Beam is a project developed by NASA in coordination with the CIA, there’s been a lot of misinformation and stuff out there on the internet about it but there’s no doubt that it exists; we can see the declassified documents, but basically the project Blue Beam was created… it was created for the military, really, as a means of war where they could create holographic images in warfare to use as weapons to be able to say, for example, say they were at war with a Muslim nation, they could create a holographic image of Mohammed and have him say “lay down your weapons” and things like that. So that was the idea behind it and perhaps they will do something similar with that to explain in some bizarre fashion, maybe aliens or something. Hollywood certainly, the propaganda out of Hollywood is setting people’s minds for this type of scenario to happen.
But there’s going to be some type of false explanation one minute after the rapture. And then an unprecedented deception… an unprecedented deception. Remember the devil is alive and the father of lies and Paul says the deception is getting worse and worse, people are more easily deceived today than ever before, and this false explanation is going to have to rely on people’s willingness to buy the story to be deceived. Remember, John said that someday the antichrist is coming but even now many antichrists have come. And this deception will reach an all-time high after the rapture. It’s getting worse and worse but if you read Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, and by the way, we have a free eight part video series, we have about sixty to seventy videos on our website of different biblical teachings, but we have an eight part series, each one of them is 30-45 minutes, totally free on our website, it makes a great small group study or just watch them on your own, or our Youtube channel all about the Olivet Discourse, verse by verse through the Olivet Discourse. But when you read the Olivet Discourse the very first thing Jesus says in answer to the disciple’s questions, remember we talked about this, what will be the signs of Your coming? The first thing He says is take heed that no one deceives you.
See, that future Tribulational generation that will be alive in the nation of Israel is going to be even more susceptible to deception than they were the first time around. Throughout the Olivet Discourse He constantly says don’t be deceived, watch out, many false Christs are going to come and deceive many, many false prophets will deceive many. In fact, there’s going to be such great signs and wonders that even the elect would be deceived if it were possible. And we are already seeing the runoff to this massive global deception today, in the present age, with various huge lies that are almost universally believed. And in our book, The Great Last Days Deception we have a chapter in there, chapter 8, listing the top ten lies that people believe today. And we have a DVD on that as well. But it’s unbelievable how easy it is to deceive people. Hitler famously said the principle, which is quite true in itself, is that in the big light there’s always a certain force of credibility. You see this again and again sort of paraphrased or misquoted as “the bigger the lie the more it will be believed.” That’s comes from this quote but this is actually what he said, but that’s essentially true, “the bigger the lie the more it will be believed.”
I mean, just imagine the very simple fact that right now 7.5 billion people on the earth, the vast majority of them believe that you and you and I evolved over 65 million years from a wet rock when nothing exploded 65 million years ago and our ancestors are gorillas and monkeys. People believe that. Just imagine if you were in… say the 1400’s, and you were having coffee at Starbucks with one of your friends, and you said hey, you know, I just had a weird thought, do you think someday that everyone on earth will believe that we all evolved over 65 million years and that our ancestors are monkeys? The guy would have spit his coffee and said you’re nuts, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard, no one would ever believe that. And yet here it is.
Of course we’ve been aided and abetted by the compulsory government schooling program, which by the way was designed just a little over a hundred years ago, at least in our own country for the express of promoting Darwinian theory. That’s the reason it started, if you don’t believe that just read Charlotte Iserbyt’s The Deliberate Drumming Down of America, she was Ronald Reagan’s Under Secretary of Education in the Department of Education and was fired for blowing the whistle on the real agenda behind the compulsory government schooling system. Lenin put it this way: A lie told often enough becomes the truth. And then that great theologian, Mark Twain, put it this way: “It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.” And that’s the age we’re living in right now. It is much, much easier to deceive people than to convince them they’ve been fooled. And the antichrist, in that future tribulation period after the rapture, is going to use all kinds of powers and signs and lying wonders to deceive with unrighteous deception.
And then there will be an intense lamentation. For many of those left behind there will be a moment of intense regret or panic and horror as they realize in that split second after the rapture that what they had previously heard from a Bible believing gospel preaching friend or preacher was true. Everything they had heard from their Christian friends or their pastors or a book they read or maybe on the radio or TV, everything they heard while channel surfing perhaps, they will realize one minute after the rapture that the gospel is true, the return of Christ is real and they’ve been left behind. And there’ll be this intense lamentation; it will be similar to the lamentation that we read about in Scripture that Israel will experience at the second coming if they haven’t believed in the gospel. They will say Lord, Lord, let us in. Remember the parable of the ten virgins? Jesus talks about that in the Olivet Discourse? “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
Then we’ll see the beginnings of a new dispensation, one minute after the rapture the transition will begin. To go back to our plan of the ages chart, remember we’re living right here in the church age and the rapture puts an end to the church age; it closes the parenthesis as it were. And then the tribulation is a transition between the church and the kingdom age. And one minute after the rapture that dispensation begins to shift. Of course “dispensation” is a biblical term, Paul uses it in Ephesians twice, it’s the word oikonomia, it means a stewardship order, plan or program. It’s used seven times in the Greek New Testament; four times by Paul and three times by the Lord in His parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16. But we’re going to see this new dispensation. Paul has already said that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. [Romans 11:25, “For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”]
And when it does we’ll see the beginning of this shift from the church age into the kingdom age. One minute after the rapture the world begins this shift into a new paradigm, a new stewardship, a new economy on earth. And then we’re going to see a withdrawn protection… a withdrawn protection one minute after the rapture. You know, right now the Holy Spirit is working in and through the church. However bad the church may be, and we’ve certainly, in fulfillment of end times prophecy we’re seeing a falling away in terms of spiritual falling away, not that the apostasy hasn’t affected us too, I agree with Andy on that, or Andy agrees with me and Jesus I should say. But there’s going to be a departure from the faith in the latter times, Paul says. 1 Timothy 4:1, [“But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,”] But as bad as things are one minute after the rapture, think about it, for a short time not one believer will be present on the earth. In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul says that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. “But he who now restrains will do so until he’s taken out of the way.” “…taken out of the way.”
You know, for roughly 2,000 years Satan has been trying to take over this planet and claim it as his own. And it’s pretty easy for us to see in through the annals of history how much evil has been orchestrated. That’s pretty self-evident; we can go back to ancient times and we can talk about pagan nations, we can talk about things like Nebuchadnezzar or even Ahab and we can talk about Herod in the first century. In more modern times we can talk about Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, on and on, there’s no shortage of evil but when you stop and think about it what the pages of history do not reveal, what the pages of history DO NOT record are the number of times that God’s people, the church, under the influence of God’s Spirit, have preempted some dastardly deed or plan. I mean, maybe it was firm ethical word like “Christian” in a corporate meeting behind closed doors. Or perhaps it was a private counsel to a world dictator by a Christian man or woman. Or maybe it was a selfless sacrifice of godly men and women who stood up to evil and prevailed in unsung ways.
But without question, the Holy Spirit’s work in and through the church has been a restraining, protective influence on the earth. And one minute after the rapture that protection will be gone; evil will be virtually unchecked. And then there will be an evil revelation as the man of sin is unveiled, going back to 2 Thessalonians 2, “Let no one deceive you by any means,” he says “that day won’t come for us until the falling away” literally “the departure comes first and the man of sin is revealed.” As you know, Satan is not omniscient so he can’t see everything, he doesn’t know everything, so he has to have his man of the hour ready at a moment’s notice so that when the rapture happens he can indwell that person and begin to put in place his plan.
We won’t know the identity of the antichrist until he confirms the covenant in Daniel chapter 9 but one thing for sure is he’s ready, he’s on standby. People always ask me, do you think the antichrist is alive today. I say yes, if the rapture were to happen today the antichrist is alive today. Now I don’t know when the rapture is going to happen but… actually I do, it’s amazing, just last night in a bowl of spaghetti it was revealed to me so… talk to me at the table and for a special fee we will reveal that to you. NO! Nobody knows when the rapture is going to happen and that includes Satan so he has to be ready at a moment’s notice and one minute after the rapture we will begin to see the beginnings of lead-up to that evil revelation.
But on a positive note, really the only positive we can say in this segment is there will be also a worldwide conversion… a worldwide conversion. You see, since there will be no believers on earth after the rapture God has to supernaturally set aside a team of missionaries and He’s marked 144,000 Jewish missionaries. Remember, the tribulation is all about Israel, the church has exited stage left and Israel becomes center stage again in God’s plan of the ages. So 12,000 from each of twelve tribes of Israel, we read about this in Revelation 4, 144,000 witnesses and we don’t know how they’re going to get saved, the Bible is silent on that but somehow they get saved. We know they get saved the same way everybody gets saved, by grace through faith, from Adam forward anybody who wants to go to heaven has to trust in Christ and Him alone for salvation. And so they’re saved somehow, I don’t know if God’s going to drop a plane load of tracts out over them and they’re going to say what’s this and they’re going to get saved, or He’s going to write on the wall or I don’t know. But somehow they believe the gospel and then they’re sealed and protected from death during the tribulation period and they become the initial missionary force. And they’re going to be quite effective.
And we also know that as people begin to respond to the message then they’re going to begin sharing Christ so it’s kind of like that old shampoo commercial, they sold two people and they sold two people and so on and so on. So by the end of the tribulation the Bible tells us there’s a great multitude, which no one can number, of every nation, tribe, tongue and language that gets saved. And who are they? These are those that have come out of the great tribulation. Jesus promised in the Olivet Discourse that the gospel would be preached to the uttermost parts of the earth and then the end will come. Again it’s talking about the tribulation and the second coming.
Sometimes people say to me well, I know the rapture can’t happen today because there’s still unreached people groups and Jesus promised everybody would hear the gospel before he comes back. Yes He did, but He never promised that would be true before the rapture. We hope it’s true and if we’re doing our job it’ll be true, we’re supposed to go into all the world and preach the gospel; we’re supposed to fulfill the great commission, but we have no promise in Scripture that that will be true before the rapture because the rapture is imminent; it’s the next great prophetic event to which the world looks forward. Nothing has to happen before the rapture can happen, it can happen at any moment. That’s what imminency means. It could have happened yesterday, it could have happened a hundred years ago, it could have happened five hundred years ago, it might happen today, it might happen tomorrow, it might not happen for fifty years. We don’t know! But it could happen at any moment.
But we do have a promise in Scripture that everyone on planet earth will have heard the gospel by the time Christ comes back. And unfortunately many will reject the gospel and they will be part of the goats that when Christ comes back He separates everybody on earth into one or two categories, the sheep, to whom He will says, “Come ye, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom.” [Matthew 25:34, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”] Those are those in their physical bodies who survived the tribulation and they’re the ones that populate the kingdom.
And to the goats He will say “Depart from me into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” [“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” Matthew 25:41] I can’t think of anything worse someone could ever hear. But one minute after the rapture there will be worldwide conversion.
And then there’s going to be a geopolitical reorganization, a geopolitical [can’t understand word]. From the chaos and confusion created by the rapture will come a new world order, a one-world government, ultimately headed by Satan himself in the form of the antichrist. And by the way, there’s nothing that precludes us from already being in a one world government, officially, before the rapture happens. The Bible never says the one world government starts with the antichrist, it just says the antichrist takes the helm of the one world government. And a lot of people think we’re De facto in a one world government already with all of the globalist principles and policies that are in place. But there’ll be a geopolitical reorganization. Many things will begin to take shape.
In our DVD Signs of the Times, ten unmistakable signs that we may be in the last of the last days I talk more about the stage setting, Gog and Magog and some of the other things, a ten nation confederacy and so on and so forth. But it’s kind of like what John Lenin dreamt up. Well, he’s going to get his wish someday for a seven year period, when he said “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do … and no religion too, imagine all the people living life in peace… imagine all the people sharing all the world and the world will live as one.”
And we get into this whole subject in our series Globalism, Luciferianism and A New World Order, if you’re interested. But there is going to be a geopolitical reorganization. Biblically we’re headed toward a one world government one way or the other. Satan’s going to rule it for seven years for the antichrist but ultimately the King of Kings is going to come back, we’re going to come back with Him and He’s going to rule it for eternity. Eternity is a long time; have you ever thought about that? Have you ever tried to calculate how long eternity is? I think that’s part of the new common core, to figure out… by the way, we’re running a special today only, I thought you might be interested in this, for every purchase at the [can’t understand word] research table we’re offering an extra thousand years in heaven. [Laughter] And not only that, we’ll even make it better, we’ll let you pick whether you want that to be on the front end or the back end of eternity. Your choice.
And then I’ll close with this, a fearful expectation one minute after the rapture, because you see, one minute after the rapture the countdown begins to the culmination of the wrath of God, one minute after the rapture. Here’s the great day of the Lord’s wrath again, and we’ve already said that we don’t… as dispensationalist we certainly don’t teach, nor does the Bible teach, that life’s going to be a bed of roses for us and then God’s going to rescue us before it gets (quote) “too bad.” But it does say He’s going to rescue us before the great day of the Lord’s wrath. And you know, when the wrath of God is poured out during that time, you know, as bad as things have been now and as bad as things may get and as bad as things are right now in certain parts of the world for God’s people, when the wrath of God is poured out, to borrow the words of that 1970’s rock group, Bachman Turner Overdrive, from their 1974 number one billboard hit, “you ain’t seen nnnnothin’ yet” because “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” [Hebrews 10:31]
The Bible tells us that when He comes back He’s not going to be coming as a Lamb to take the sins of the world; He’s going to be coming with a sword with which He will strike the nations and He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron and He Himself will tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. [Revelation 19:15, “And out of his mouth proceedeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty.”]
And Paul talks about, in Romans chapter 2, speaking unbelievers, that they’re treasuring up for themselves wrath in the day of wrath, talking about this end times wrath. And whenever I read this verse I think of the famous Jonathan Edwards sermon. On July 8:1741 the Great Awakening came to the little New England town of Enfield and the pastor of a congregational church in North Hampton, Massachusetts accepted an invitation to travel 30 miles south along the Connecticut River to be the guest speaker at the Congregational church in Enfield. And [can’t understand word] did the traveling preacher know as he arrived in Enfield and [can’t understand word] the pulpit to addressed the assembled townspeople that the sermon he was about to deliver would become one of the most famous sermons in the history of Christianity. The preacher, as I said, was Jonathan Edwards, he later became the third President of Princeton University. His subject was the imminent danger of remaining unconverted, of rejecting the gospel, of not believing the good news that Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead. And the sermon was about how they would face God’s furious wrath someday if they don’t receive the free gift.
See, if someone ends up in hell they have no one to blame but themselves because in the first place God warned us, before sin ever even entered the world He said look, I love you so much I want you to watch out, there’s one tree that’s kind of bad for you, if you eat it you’ll die, so stay away from it. And what did we do? We marched right over and took a great big bite. And God tried to warn us, right, because He loves us. And then, even though because God is just, and I’m so glad, by the way, that in that moment that God didn’t say to Adam and Eve, oh, you took a bite, oh well, that’s all right, never mind, don’t worry about it, it’s not big deal, everybody makes mistakes, just forget what I said. I’m glad because if He had said the He would have proved Himself to be a fickle, unfaithful, untrustworthy God and you could never believe another word He said. But he’s a just and holy and righteous God and so when we sinned death entered the world. And it was because He loved so much that He then set in motion the plan to rescue us from our own predicament. And that is by sending His Son, His eternal Son, to earth to die in your place and my place on the cross, to pay a penalty He didn’t owe because we owed a penalty we couldn’t pay.
See, as much as I might love your or love my wife or love my children I could never pay your penalty for sin. Why? Because my shoulders are already full of my own sins; there’s no room there. So it had to be a perfect man, the God-man, Jesus Christ, who could pay the sins, not only for you and me but for the whole world. And He rose again defeating death, hell and the grave, and then He offers freely to all the gift of eternal life. God says you messed up, you got yourself in this predicament, but I’m here to rescue you.
But He’s not going to force it on you because forced love is no love at all. God doesn’t force Himself on anyone. He says, “Whosoever will may come.” Come freely and drink of the water of life. So if anybody faces this wrath that Johnathan Edwards talks about someday, God’s done everything He possibly can to keep them.
Let me read just a short segment and then we’ll close. Jonathan Edwards says, “The wrath of God is like great waters that are damned for the present; they increase more and more and rise higher and higher until an outlet is given and the longer the stream is stopped the more rapid and mighty its course when once it is let loose. It is true that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto.” Did you ever worry, you know, think about that as believers, about how so much evil goes unchecked in this world? How unfair an inequitable this world is? That’s what the Tribulation is all about.
It is true that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto. The floods of God’s vengeance has been withheld but your guilt in the meantime is constantly increasing and you’re every day treasuring up more wrath. The waters are continually rising and waxing more mighty and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God that holds the waters back that are unwilling to be stopped and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw His hand from the flood gate it would immediately fly open and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury and would come upon you with omnipotent power. And if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yeah, ten thousand times greater than the sturdiest devil in hell it would be nothing to withstand or endure it. Now listen, the bow of God’s wrath is bent and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow. One minute after the rapture a fearful expectation will set in for those who don’t know the Lord.
So we looked at one minute after the rapture from the perspective of those who are caught up and those who are left behind. Those who are caught up will experience this long awaited return that we’ve been waiting two thousand years so far to see, a timely rescue, a physical renewal and corresponding resurrection; a joyful reunion not only with our loved ones but with the Lord Himself, a personal reward and a glorious rejoicing.
And then those who are left behind will see global confusion and a false explanation and unprecedented reception, the intense lamentation, the beginnings of a new dispensation, the protection will be withdrawn. There will be an evil unveiling of the antichrist; a worldwide conversion will take place in the midst of a geopolitical reorganization and a fearful expectation.
And the question for us is, what will your perspective be.
I’m going to pray and then we’re going to sing a closing song. If you’re here today and you don’t know the Lord or you’ve heard this, maybe it’s the first time you’ve heard any of this and you’re just not certain about where you’ll spend eternity please don’t leave here today without placing your faith in Jesus Christ, the One who died and rose again for your sins. That’s the only way you can be saved. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, whoever believes in Me has” present tense, “everlasting life.” And if you’d like more information I’m sure you can talk to one of the elders and the pastor here, I’d love to talk with you as well. Let’s pray together.
Father, thank You so much for Your Word and for this reminder about the great truth of the rapture that’s so neglected today and yet so meaningful and so important in our lives. It gives us hope, it gives us meaning, it allows us to get out of bed because we know if in this life only we have hope we of all men be most pitiful but we look up and are watchful for Your return, looking for that blessed hope. Father, I do pray if there’s one here within the sound of my voice or listening on the internet that does not know you that today, in simple faith, they would trust in You and You alone as the only one who can give them the gift of eternal life. And it’s in Your precious Son’s name we pray.