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. [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 KJV]
The Verse of the Day for May 31, 2015 is a passage that makes reference to the return of Jesus Christ. Some refer to this event as “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” while others may somewhat irreverently call it “the Big Snatch.” The Return of Christ, nonetheless, still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”
For the past almost 50 years, the return of Christ has been a vibrant hope that continues to burn within my soul. Despite the signs of the times that have occurred and that seem to foreshadow Christ’s imminent return, we are still awaiting the blessed hope of his appearing. As time passes, countless other believers and I are still “. . . standing on tiptoe, awaiting the golden note.” As time has passed, I have had to change my position, however.
In an article written in 2009, shortly after becoming a writer for Examiner.com, I outlined three of the traditional views regarding “the rapture” or the return of Christ. Here is an excerpt from that original article:
As prophecies are fulfilled in increasing measure, the question becomes not will Christ return, but when will he return. Various beliefs regarding the Return center on the 7-year period of devastation and persecution, such as the world has never seen, known as the Great Tribulation. Three popularly held positions are represented in the prefixes pre, mid, or post attached to the term Tribulation:
Pre-tribulationists believe that the Lord will return prior to start of that 7-year ordeal.
Mid-tribulationists take the position that Christ will return 3 ½ years after the start of the Tribulation.
Post-tribulationists believe that the Return does not occur until the end of this intense period of calamity.
Over centuries, proponents of the varying positions have used the scriptures and other sources to support their positions. Volumes have been written, and the topic continues to provide material for sermons and position papers, pamphlets and tracks, and lively conversations among Christians across the globe.
Sometime ago I was asked my position with regard to the Return (Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, or Post-Trib). After considerable study of the Scriptures and examining the various positions, I concluded my position to be Pre-Trib with modifications. I concur with Marilyn Agee and others who take the position that there will be “two raptures”:
Pre-Tribulation rapture, spoken of in terms of Noah in Matthew 24:37-39
Herein lies one of the points of difference. Christ will return to gather “his bride,” but in a similar way that Eve, the first bride, was taken from the body of the “First Adam,” so the “Second Eve,” the “Bride of Christ” will be taken from the Body of Christ, the “Second Adam.”
Pre-Wrath rapture, expressed in terms of Lot in Luke 17:27-32
Those believers who remain following the extraction of the “Bride of Christ” will have to endure the Tribulation, but they will be saved from the wrath to come, just as Lot was taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah just before the fire fell.
Obviously the details of these contrasting views and their variation cannot possibly be related in a single brief article. The original article was designed to provide an overview of the rapture and three commonly held positions with regard to the Tribulation. The position that I maintained at that time I have also changed. In thinking about the matter, I recall this poem which I have previously recited numerous times and which certainly speaks to the subject at hand:
“If the Lord tarries. . .”
“If the Lord tarries” and “If the Lord will”:
May these phrases ever be my preface.
With each decision may I learn to be still
And never presume to know your desire.
Though I may read your Word and apply
It diligently to my heart to do
All you ask of me, some secrets are not
Mine to know. Once more you tell me to watch,
To prepare my heart and to look above.
Whether I understand or misconstrue,
I cannot deny I have tasted your love.
God is faithful and His word is true.
In my heart the hope continues to burn
As I yearn even more for Christ’s return.
Although views and attitudes may change in light of changing seasons, one thing remains sure: the Return of Christ is closer now that it has ever been. Even so, Maranatha!
Ron Kenoly offers an inspirational reminder that “We Shall Behold Him”