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Is the Rapture Biblical? Part 2
The Distinctiveness of the Rapture
If we study Scripture carefully, we begin to see that there is a distinction between the return of Christ to earth to set up his Millennial Kingdom, promised long ago in the Old Testament, and the return of Christ in the air. As we noted earlier, the Rapture is part of the mystery that had never before been revealed and has to do with the Body of Christ, the Church of this age, in which we are now living. We also noted that Jesus Christ is depicted as coming all the way to earth in prophecy, while at the Rapture, he is in the air. His feet never touch the Mount of Olives when He comes for the Church (Zechariah 14:4 and Acts 1:11). Now let's look at some of the other differences.
I. The Difference Between His Return in the Air and to Earth
1. In the second coming that was prophesied there is no rapture predicted. The living saints will remain on this earth in their natural bodies to become part of the Millennial Kingdom (Acts 15:16 ; Revelation 5:10).
2. The reason Christ is to return to earth is to fulfill the promises and covenants made with the people of Israel. Romans 9-11 states that God is not finished with His people, but will fulfill all that He said He'd do for them. They are partially blinded today, but God will one day save all of Israel, as a nation (Romans 11:26,27). The coming in the air, on the other hand, is for the Body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile. They are all one in Christ.
3. There are lots of prophecies about the judgements that will come before and with the second coming of Christ to this earth. For instance, Matthew 24:27-30 states: "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
The difference with this and the Body of Christ being taken is that there is nothing but comfort and hope expressed with the coming in the air. And there is another difference as well.
4. As we saw in the verses above, the second coming of Christ to earth will be preceded by spectacular signs in the heavens and on the earth. Also look at Luke 21:25-28 and Revelation 6-19. There are no signs that will come to demonstrate the return of Christ in the air. I Thessalonians 4 indicates that it will be in a split second, in the twinkling of an eye. It doesn't seem like the ungodly will even know what happened. But if you look at Revelation 1:7, it says that every eye will see Him.
5. A final distinction that we can see between the two returns of Christ is that in the coming in the air, the living saints will have their physical bodies changed into immortal bodies, without going through death. As we stated earlier, the living saints at Christ's return to earth will enter the Millennial Kingdom in their physical bodies. Of course, the curse will be lifted from nature. Man will enjoy long life during that period.
II. The Imminency of Christ's Return for the Church
The coming of Christ in the air is clearly a distinct time in future events. Since there are no prophecies that predict it, then there do not have to be any prophecies fulfilled in order for it to occur. Theologians call this the imminency of His return. In other words, it is an event that can take place at any moment. It could happen before you finish reading this article, or it could happen a hundred years from now. The only thing that has to take place before the coming of Christ in the air is the completion of the Body of Christ. And God is the sole person that knows when that will be. But if you are Christ's, through faith in His death, burial and resurrection, it is something to look forward to, and not to dread. Every generation of Christians has had the hope that Christ will return without us having to face death. But it is also a time when we will see our saved loved ones that have gone on before. It will be a glorious time.
One of the many good things about our Lord is that He has never made a promise that He hasn't kept in the past. And so we can rely on Him to keep His promises for our future. Whether those promises be to national Israel, or to the Body of Christ, God will bring them to pass. The Rapture is a major promise given to believers of this age and it is as sure of happening as the events of yesterdays news. It is a wonderful thing to belong to a God who is a promise keeper. And I for one, am looking forward to meeting Him in the air one day. I want to spend eternity with Him and share that eternity with all who love Him and look forward to His coming. Praise God!