It will be a day just like today. In fact, it just might be today. You’ll be going through your regular routines when a trumpet blast, a shout of command from a voice you have never heard, will interrupt whatever you are doing.
What you think is unfinished–may or may not be. You can go ahead and mail that letter, go ahead and slit those wrists. But if what you are about to do involves interaction with or depends on the action of a Christian, it may never happen–
–Because the Bible makes clear that the same Jesus who lived, died, came back from the dead three days later and went up to Heaven “in the clouds,” is coming again suddenly the same way (“in the clouds”) to collect His followers, first from their graves, then those who are still alive. That trumpet blast, that shout of command–it’s possible that you, since you are not one of his flock, won’t even hear a thing or will dismiss it as thunder. Maybe all you will know is that suddenly a lot of people–millions–will vanish.
It’s called the rapture of the church. True believers in Jesus are called, collectively, the church (or the body of Christ or the Bride of Christ). God’s Holy Spirit indwells each of them. In the Bible there is one reference to the Spirit as the “restrainer” of evil. (2 Thessalonians 2:6) The passage says that at the rapture the restrainer–the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ because they are united–will be removed. That means evil will have full rein on earth in a way that has never been experienced before.
What follows, for those who remain, is called the Tribulation. It will be 7 years of hell on earth. The Bible says it will be so horrible and painful that people will be praying that mountains will fall on them to kill them.
Having all those people disappear will cause immediate dislocation. You may have to grab the wheel and steer yourself to the curb–or your plane may crash without its pilot. You may find yourself on the operating table without a surgeon. The team you were watching may lose its best players. Key people due to join the teleconference about the big merger never call in.
You may experience only aggravation: Dinner may burn. You may have to mow your own lawn or do your own taxes. Or devastation: you may have to live the rest of your life without the person or persons who gave that life meaning.
You may not notice that graves and churches are just about empty. But a lot of first responders–police, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, ER personnel, will probably be gone, too. Losses will decimate all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, all political parties, both genders, the intellectuals and mentally disabled, the beautiful and plain, married and single, from hospitals and foxholes, penthouses and homeless shelters, halfway houses and prisons.
Some mayors, governors and presidents may need to be replaced. You won’t like those who will rush in to take advantage of the vacuums–unless you’re one of them. For that matter, when our long-suffering God finally forsakes humanity, why don’t you fill in that vacuum?
Around the world there will be more widespread famines, epidemics and terrorist attacks. Humanitarian aid intended for the poor and for victims of natural disaster may not reach them.
There will be fewer “random kindnesses and senseless acts of beauty.” Fewer apologies and attempts at reconciliation. Fewer remorseful customers will bring back items they shop-lifted or give back change you overpaid them. Once the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of believers, is taken from the earth, he will take with him his fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.
On the other hand, you will be free of that annoying neighbor who kept inviting you to church and urging you to “be saved.” Strangers won’t be pushing tracts on you or saying “God bless you” when you sneeze. People won’t disapprove of your language, your morals, your lifestyle. (But those people who were self-righteous, the bigots, the hypocrites, the ones you sneered at for calling themselves “Christians”? Sorry to tell you this, but you will still have them with you.)
You may be able to get away with a lot more. You can probably run drugs and sex trafficking rings with impunity–although the victims may be gone. You will finally be rid of those pesky commandments that judge you for theft, adultery, and murder. You’ve thrown out marriage defined as “only between one man and one woman” and restrooms protecting separate genders. Go ahead and throw out “parental consent” and “adult only” if you want. Throw out laws against Biblical “abominations” like incest and pedophilia. Abortion is already legal throughout all nine months, euthanasia and infanticide are creeping into law. Why not kill at will? What’s to stop you?
The Bible says before Jesus returns with his saints to rule and reign over the earth (the Second Coming), lawlessness and anarchy will take over. Look around, it’s already beginning:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.”*
Are you ready to have your life made more difficult or even ruined by the rapture? You don’t have to. All it takes is a minute to genuinely humble yourself and confess to God that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, accept the fact that Jesus Christ is that Savior. He sacrificed his sinless life to take away your sins. Didn’t have to–he loves you. Give over your hell-bent life in exchange. Receiving Jesus, knowing him, being filled with him, gives you the right to be taken up with us when he comes. “In his presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.”