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It might be good to first look at what the Rapture is.  Let’s read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 which says, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  Although we don’t find the word ‘rapture’ in the KJV Bible, it is a truth that is taught clearly in Paul’s epistles.  There is a day in which the Lord Jesus will return to rapture, or take up His church to be with Himself.  At the rapture, the Lord does not return to the earth, rather He comes to the clouds where all the saints of the church will meet Him.  At the rapture of the church, all those who have trusted Christ as their savior will be changed as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”  This portion shows us that the Rapture will be instantaneous.  Some people use the term, ‘secret rapture’.  This just means that the Rapture will happen so quickly that those left behind on the earth will have no idea what happened.

Just when will the Rapture occur?  Notice Paul’s language as we just read from 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  Paul uses the word ‘we’ to show that he was living in expectation of the return of the Lord.  He realized the Lord could return any moment, even as we need to realize the same thing: Christ could return any moment to rapture out His church.  Will the Lord come before the seven year Tribulation period, where the Lord will show His wrath to the world?  Let’s consider the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”  To those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are told that we will not face God’s wrath.  The Lord Jesus spoke of the fierceness of God’s wrath during the Tribulation Period in Matthew 24:21-22 which says, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”  In speaking to the church in Revelation 3:10, concerning the Tribulation Period, the Lord said, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  It’s not that the Lord will keep up THROUGH this Tribulation Period; He will keep us FROM this Tribulation Period.

It’s interesting to notice that in the first three chapters of Revelation, we read the word ‘church’ seven times.  In Revelation 4:1 the Apostle John says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”  In this verse, John indicates that he hears a voice and a trumpet.  We just read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that, “…the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”  Revelation 4:1 indicates that this is the point that the Lord returns.  We do not read the word ‘church’ again in this book, showing that the church had been raptured out before the Tribulation Period begins.

There is much more that could be said about the imminent return of the Lord, but I trust these few verses will be enough to cause us to see clearly that the Rapture could happen at any moment, and will happen before the Tribulation Period begins.  May we be like those in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 who, “…turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”  May our prayer be as what we read in Revelation 22:20, “…Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”  (63.3)