I was checking the mailbox after returning home from work late in the evening. The air was steadily releasing the heat it had been holding onto all day and the sky was clear and dark with a handful of stars just beginning to shine. There was a sense of anticipation in the air. All was quiet and still around me. Off in the distance there was the faint sound of a trumpet. A sudden gust of wind surged past me. I looked up into the sky to see millions of new stars appear. It was a truly spectacular sight to behold! They lingered in the air for but a moment and then they were gone.
The rapture is the future hope promised to believers. There will come a day when God will send forth His angels to gather His people from the Earth, rescuing them from tribulation and judgment. Perhaps the most notable prophecy for this event is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
Two things disturbed me about this dream. The first was that I was left behind. I do not want to be left out of the rapture. To be left behind would mean that I am not the believer that I profess and believe myself to be and there are some crazy things that take place on Earth after the rapture that I do not want to be here for.
The second disturbing thought which arose dealt with the timing of the rapture. Some things you just instinctively know in dreams, like how to fly an x-wing. You don't dream your flight lessons before you hop into that cockpit you just jump in and start blowing up tie fighters. In this dream I knew instinctively that the anti-christ had not yet been revealed. There are a few theories about when the rapture will take place, mainly before, during or after the seven year end times period spoken of by Daniel. For reasons I will go into at a later date, I believe it will occur during the 7 years, a position known as the mid-tribulation or pre-wrath rapture, but the timing in my dream is a pre-trib rapture.
This dream has brought me to wonder about the mindset of the church. When Jesus was first on the Earth His arrival was announced and yet it went unnoticed. Hundreds of prophecies about His birth, life, and death were readily available and endlessly examined by the scholars and religious leaders of His day, there is even a countdown given by Daniel predicting the exact date of Jesus’s triumphant entry on Palm Sunday but still they missed it. How is that even possible?
They had an idea of what the messiah would be like. After reviewing the scriptures they developed an image of the messiah, one where their hero overthrows Rome and establishes Israel as a dominant nation, a world superpower politically and militarily. Jesus did not conform to their theology and they rejected Him for it.
I wonder if the church will be guilty of a similar oversight.
We study Revelation, Daniel, and hundreds of other end times passages. We write books and chart calendars and give seminars of how the world will end. In our fascination with the day of the Lord have we forgotten the Lord? In the midst of our complex timetables and theological concepts we need to remember that He is God and we are not. We need to remember that His plan does not need to conform to our limited understanding.
I believe the rapture will occur in the midst of the final seven years of this age but I need to be open to the possibility that it will happen before the seven years begin. Likewise I would ask someone who holds to the pre-trib rapture position to be open to the possibility the rapture is actually a mid-trib event.
There are end times events prophesied in the Bible that will occur at a time only described as “soon”. The rapture, the rise and fall of the anti-christ, the return of Jesus and a new heaven and earth will all be fulfilled. But the when and how of these events will be debated until after all has been fulfilled. If things do not occur as you expect don't let that keep you from missing out on God's program. Be open to the possibility that your ideas on how God will fulfill prophecy could be wrong, or you just might become blinded to what God's really doing just like the religious leaders of Jesus's day.
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a story of 10 women waiting for a bridegroom and the wedding feast. Five were wise enough to bring extra oil for their lanterns, five were not. Those who were prepared entered into the wedding feast but those who were not prepared, though they had waited for the bridegroom’s arrival, did not enter into the feast. God could come at any time. Are you ready or will you be caught by surprise? Are you ready for any sign of His coming, like the disciples or are you only looking for certain conditions like the religious leaders of old?
Matthew 24:36However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.1 Corinthians 13:12Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.