1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
These verses speak of the rapture of the church. The Lord Himself is coming to get us, Himself personally! He has chosen us and we shall be with Him forevermore, and I look forward to this day, because should it happen in our lifetime we shall be transformed and all my headaches and pains will be gone – and we shall be in His presence forevermore.
However, it is prophesied within the Bible that when Jesus returns and the church is removed that this world will enter a period of darkness, darker than any before it. All those remaining on this Earth will have to live through it, including any unsaved loved ones – should this happen very soon!
In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter tells us “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light”
Ephesians 5:8 Paul says “For you were once darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord.” Thanks to Jesus Christ our Lord, we have become the lamp that Jesus has lit – the church is the lamp and a marvelous Light.
Also, Ephesian 5 says “Walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and Truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Christians need to be seeking God, for Godly Wisdom and Knowledge and Understanding – to shine in what is acceptable to the Lord and expose what is not acceptable.
So I begin to ask myself “Have I made a mistake in the past by praying for the Lord to rapture me now?” – YES that is a selfish request and not spoken from the heart of a good servant. It is denying others their salvation whilst also condemning them. By asking for the rapture of the church we are effectively removing the Light out of the world, and plunging it into darkness, and sin will reign. It is Good to want to be with Christ but instead let us praise God for His salvation and be content to Trust in God’s timing and offer ourselves for His good service to bring the Gospel to all those who are still lost. Because ….
For those who are left behind at the rapture, Amos 5:18-20 can give us a glimpse of how the Day of the Lord might look. “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!, For what good is the day of the Lord to you?, It will be darkness, and not Light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him! Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not Light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?” This is how it might look when the church is removed. It will be very dark on earth, because the church that is the Light through Jesus – is gone. The Light which Christians are blessed to be apart of, will be no more, on earth. The world is given up to darkness and sin, and to the wrath of God- at least Until Jesus returns.
So I ask myself “What am I doing with the marvelous Light that God has given me? – and this question is applicable to all of us. Is our faith unknown to others? do we hide the Glory of God in a secret place?”
In Luke 8:16 Jesus told us “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the Light.” Jesus intended the church to be a Light that is seen – by everyone in every nation – and to Glorify Him. We need to stand out from the crowd and not blend in or be hidden.
In Mark 16:15 Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” the Gospel is like the oil that keeps the Light shining and it is by Grace and Mercy from God, that we should be entrusted with His gospel. But to keep the Lamp shining the gospel needs to reach the ears of everyone, especially the younger generations. But God cannot achieve this through me, if I chose to remain silent about our Faith and keep it in a secret place where no one can hear me or see me. I ask myself “Is that not the same as hiding in the darkness?”
Today we are often told our faith is a personal thing and we are discouraged to speak about it with others. It has become a crime to offend others, it is something that we are told not to do… but we mustn’t let this discourage us. Usually when someone is offended it is because we have spoken the Truth, and it causes a spark within them, they might feel convicted – and even though they might retaliate, it is in fact an act of kindness to have spoken the Truth. If we follow the worldly rule ‘and remain silent’ then we are denying access to God’s Truth to the very people whom we are called to to be a Light for.
Ephesians 5 continues to say “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the Light, for whatever makes manifest is Light.”
Brothers and Sisters, (I need to say that more often) Brothers and Sisters, if we deny people the knowledge of God, if this behaviour of not wanting to offend continues, then gradually we compromise, and the whole church becomes a conformer of this world – and we can already see this happening in some churches today – instead of being a Light the church enters into an unfruitful fellowship with darkness! – the very thing the verse I just read warns us not to do.
As Brothers and Sisters we have made our choice and received the Light, we are saved and we shall be transformed to be with Christ. Therefore as 1 Thessalonians 4:18 tells us “comfort one another with these words.” But may we also remember the unsaved, many will face the Great Tribulation and even go to Hell.
I pray that each of us will seek God’s wisdom and identify our gifts and use them, and encourage each others gifts to function together as the body of Christ. To fulfil our purpose – to be a Marvelous Light calling people out of the darkness, and to turn away from sin by seeking God, our Lord Jesus Christ.