Has God made watching for the Rapture our first priority or is there something even more important on His heart?
For years now, titles like that have been used to attract watchers, listeners and readers. Many believers, and even unbelievers still bound in counterfeit religions are focused on the Rapture; our blessed hope; the time of our release from Earth, and our departure to be with the Lord; the time when we will receive our rewards, our crowns, and enter into the joy of our Lord.
That blessed hope is what drives many people. Weighed down with the warfare, enduring physical ailments and the trials which the Lord has ordained for our growth, we grow weary; looking for release. For many, the Rapture has become the focus of their lives.
How can anybody not look forward to heaven?
The question then is this: When will the rapture occur?
The clearest answer we have comes from the Apostle Paul:
“For I don’t desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won’t be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written, “There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
27 This is my covenant to them, when I will take away their sins.”
28 Concerning the Good News, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Rom 11:25-29 WEB (Emphasis added)
Whoa! Look at that! Right in the midst of a discourse about God’s faithfulness in redeeming Israel is one of the clearest signals as to when the Rapture will occur that appears in all scripture. Israel has been partially hardened “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”. The New Living Translation makes it a little clearer: “Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.”
It is at that point when all the Gentiles that are coming to the Lord prior to the Rapture have come to the Lord that God will turn His focus to the saving of Israel. Paul is describing the completion of the Church Age and the onset of God’s work of redemption for Israel here.
Making the jump to connect the fullness of the Gentiles to the Rapture takes a little Bible math, and I’m not talking about counting days. I’m talking about connecting that shift of God’s focus from His Church to the redemption of Israel, with the Rapture. The coming Tribulation is the process of judging Israel for their sins that God has ordained to bring Israel back to Himself; The Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer 30:7).
Why is the onset of the Tribulation a signal for the Rapture of the Church? Because almighty God, ‘whose gifts and calling are irrevocable’ has promised, in the person of Jesus Christ, to spare the Church, His Bride, from His wrath:
“Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Rev 3:10 WEB (Emphasis added)
That promise appears in Jesus’ messages to the churches in the opening chapters of Revelation. Then, at the beginning of chapter 4, John sees an open door in Heaven and is commanded to “come up here.” That open door is the same one promised to the Church in the message to Philadelphia in chapter 3:
“To the angel of the assembly in Philadelphia write: “He who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says these things: 8 “I know your works (behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut),” Rev 3:7-8 WEB (Emphasis added)
Many (I included) believe that open door and the command to come up here describes the Rapture of the Church. If you read chapter 4, you will see us there in God’s throne room, represented by the 24 elders, waving to John and pointing to our harps as we sit on our thrones, arrayed in our robes and crowns; the rewards we received at the Bema seat; the judgment seat of Jesus.
The onset of the Tribulation is not the same as the time of the Rapture; not exactly. It is more of a ‘not later than’ date. It could occur anytime before that, even days, months or years sooner, but the Church must be safely out of the way before judgment begins to fall.
Fasten your seatbelt and hang on. This article isn’t about the timing of the rapture: It’s about the time of the fullness of the Gentiles. God’s focus is on salvation for His beloved people, not on our departure when the job is done. Why should our focus be different than His?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.” John 3:16 WEB
How can we not share God’s burden to rescue every soul that His Son died to save?
“The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet 3:9 WEB (Emphasis added)
Many grow weary watching the Rapture pot which will not boil when, if they focused on doing the will of God, the time would fly by and they’d be gulping down Rapture tea before they knew what was happening. The timing of the Rapture does not rely on our performance. It has not been delayed an instant by our sinful flesh. But…to grow in the Lord, and to be faithful stewards of the gifts He has given us to serve Him, we must be about our Father’s business. His business is calling humanity to repentance and redemption.
Ever notice how the disciples always wanted to talk to Jesus about when He would restore His Kingdom and He always wanted to talk about something else? It was not until after Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit that they really began to share His vision, got with the program and were empowered to go forth, preaching the Gospel of salvation. It was then that they demonstrated a diligence and a zeal that withstood all verbal slings, physical assaults and imprisonments; even death.
That same Holy Spirit indwells us and is transforming us into sons, eager to do the will of our Lord. Though we are confronted with the lies of the enemy, some of which may temporarily divert us away from His purposes, we can prevail if we will listen for His voice and resolve to follow His perfect will for our lives.
The Rapture is soon. I believe most of the living who will be taken in the Rapture have already made that decision to follow or not follow the Lord. I believe we are now gleaning the remnants of the harvest, completing the work of spreading the Gospel in the Age of Grace. If we knew just how quickly that time of the end of the Age of Grace approaches and could feel how the Lord’s heart aches to save every soul, we would have that sense of urgency to bring every soul possible into the everlasting love, joy and peace which we will share with Jesus for eternity.
Warning people about the coming Rapture is not the same thing as telling them about the love of God; that wondrous, unshakable joy and peace that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus. To the unsaved, the Rapture means nothing. They barely know what you are talking about, if at all. Most have only heard it mentioned in derisive terms. Why would they care about going anywhere with someone they don’t even know?
Have we been commissioned to preach the Gospel of the Rapture, or the Gospel of Christ? The following passage reveals the power of the Gospel of Christ. Is there even a mention of the Gospel of the Rapture anywhere in scripture?
“For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. 17 For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith.” Rom 1:16-17 WEB (Emphasis added)
We err when we mistake our Blessed Hope for the Gospel of salvation. We are tempted to take for granted the Lord’s love and sacrifice, by which He saved us, and prefer to focus on the Blessed Hope which He gives us to encourage one another. Resting in Jesus, enjoying our irrevocable salvation, we forget how precious that gift is.
Like the Ephesians in Revelation 2, we have left our first love. It was His love that drew us to Him and when we share that love with others, the Holy Spirit gushes forth, splashing them with the water of life; an irresistible attraction to those who are thirsty.
There is another important aspect of this that must be understood to fully appreciate the urgency of bringing in the lost. One very popular teaching that has circulated among believers lately is that after the Rapture, many of our friends, loved ones, and a multitude of others who have failed to make the decision to come to Christ will be shocked into consciousness and a massive awakening will occur. Christians are urged to prep their homes with supplies, or ‘Rapture boxes’ and to leave detailed messages for those left behind, warning them about the mark of the beast.
Indications are that those who consciously, deliberately rejected the calling of God prior to the Rapture will very likely not be candidates for salvation after it has occurred. For a discussion of this check out “The Urgency of the Times”.
“Yahweh, your God, is among you, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17 WEB
There is no condemnation in this for believers who have been distracted from God’s perfect will by putting their focus on the Rapture. We are all growing and learning in our walk with Jesus, and none of us is perfect…yet. Each one of us is mistaken about something. The Holy Spirit is our spell-checker, highlighting errors, then forgetting about them completely when the mistake is corrected. We are all growing in grace and our sins have been taken away.
We are not merely saved and being sanctified, but are being prepared for His service; here and through the coming ages. The service we are being called to perform is an expression of the power of God, through the Holy Spirit within us. We represent God in the Earth; we are His voice and His hands. We must keep our focus on Jesus, else we cannot walk on water:
“Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters.” 29 He said, “Come!” Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matt 14:29-31 WEB
Our blessed hope, the Rapture, will be here before we know it. In the meantime, we have work to do, and that work requires that we focus on the Lord, not daydream about the Rapture. Dedicate yourself to His service, and He will not only provide opportunities for you to share the Gospel, He will put words into your mouth that will bring another soul, maybe even another family into the fold. It may even be seed for someone in Israel who will be saved through the coming Tribulation.
If anyone feels condemnation from this article, that is the voice of Satan, the accuser of the brethren seeking to take advantage.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Rom 8:1 WEB
As we move forward, the Holy Spirit is herding us, guiding us into the path He has chosen for us. He guides us with a staff, not a whip. “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 Always remember that when you are feeling condemned. Baaaaaaa!
- Adapted from #91237724/Jankovoy-adobe stock.com
- #14645998/Benjamin Haas-adobe stock.com
- #90426689/Rex Wholster-adobe stock.com
- Adapted from #25162129/Alexey Koverznev-adobe stock.com
- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com