October 16

1 Thessalonians 4

Paul encourages believers to live their one short life for the Lord and according to the life He has provided for them, in purity and love. It is a life of blessing and intimate relationship with the Lord.

Paul then describes the rapture, or the catching away, of Christians when our time on earth, as we know it, is done. The word “rapture” is not in the Bible, but it’s here, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that we read about the “catching away.” The Greek word is “harpazo” meaning, “to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out of danger, to take away suddenly, to eagerly claim for one’s self.”

The rapture is also mentioned in Daniel 12:1-3, Matthew 24:29-44, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-28, 1 Corinthians 15:50-12, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10, Revelation 6:12-17, Revelation 11:11-19, and Revelation 14:14-16.

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul describes the rapture as meeting the Lord in the air (He descends and we ascend). There is a shout of an archangel (probably saying, “Come up here” as in Revelation 11:12). There is a loud trumpet blast. The dead, at least recently dead, will come out of their graves and ascend, and the living rise with them (Remember when Jesus rose from the dead, the recently dead rose as well).

The only time I really see the rapture mentioned in the Old Testament is in Daniel 12:1-3, describing the dead rising first, followed by the living.

Going to Matthew 24:29-31 from here, we see a description of the same event, as heard from Christ. He describes coming in the air, with angels, a trumpet, gathering His elect in the air, as well as signs we read about in Revelation – the darkening of the sun and moon, stars falling, and a seemingly shaking in the heavens. In Matthew 24 we also get a placement of the rapture, “immediately following the great tribulation that started 3 ½ years prior. Luke’s account gives us a little more insight, mentioning at least one earthquake, waves roaring, and people of many nations in distress. Luke says, “look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Looking, of course, to the sky, from where Jesus is coming.

In Revelation, we see similar descriptions of a shaking of the earth and sky. We also see that the people of the earth are all watching, the sky opens like a scroll, and we rise up to meet Jesus in the air, with the whole world watching. The rapture is not a quiet, hidden event. After the rapture, the wrath, or bowls, of God are poured out, while Christians are reuniting with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
After the wrath of God, Jesus returns to the earth with an army. This is the Second Coming of Christ, the Day of the Lord. A common misinterpretation of prophecy is to combine these two events; however, in the Second Coming, Jesus is coming to the earth and lands on the Mount of Olives. He is riding a horse, along with an army of saints. He defeats the nations of the world that are gathered in the valley of Megiddo, known as the Battle of Armageddon, where Jesus defeats them with a word. Clearly, this event is separate from the rapture Jesus describes as occurring “immediately after the tribulation,” the catching away.

Paul seemed to think the rapture could have happened in his lifetime, but it didn’t. Paul didn’t need to have that full revelation, but he did have the revelation he needed in his generation to help jumpstart the spreading of the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Isaiah 59-61

In chapter 59 we see that sin separated us from God, without a way to fully return to Him on our own. In verses 16-21 we see that God provides One who can cause us to return to God through purchasing us out of sin, a Redeemer, who is Christ.

Isaiah 60 is about the coming restoration to Israel, both after the 70 years of captivity and after the seventieth set of seven years. Their captivity was prophetic of the end times, as well as symbolic of the freedom Christ brings from the bondage to sin and self-sufficiency.

Jesus read from Isaiah 61 during the normal reading they would do in the synagogue. Jesus was already doing some traveling throughout the synagogues in Galilee, teaching under the anointing of the Spirit. People were talking about Him, and He was beginning to be known. In those times, the Jews would take turns reading a portion of Scripture, and then speak on it. I find it interesting that this reading was done in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, noted by Luke in chapter 4. Jesus was handed the scroll from Isaiah. Jesus found this passage, read it, and then sat down. The passage was about the coming Messiah. The Scripture was about the Spirit of God anointing this coming King to preach and heal and set free. It also included proclaiming the acceptable year, which referred to the future Day of the Lord, when the Christ would defeat and rule over the nations.

The custom was to speak on the Scripture after reading it, so the people watched Him sit down and then waited for His comments. Jesus said something astounding, especially to the people in the town where people knew Him. He said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” They all were witnesses to His claim of being the Messiah, asking themselves, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

Jesus answered their unbelief, mentioning two foreigners in Israel’s history that received miracles when the sons of Abraham did not. Jesus called Himself a prophet, mentioning that He was already being accepted in other cities, but being rejected by His own hometown. The people did not believe Jesus’ claim, and they were so filled with wrath that they physically forced Jesus out of the town and to the edge of a cliff in order to push Him off of it and murder Him. They must have thought He was deserving of death by claiming to be the Messiah, this Redeemer, that Isaiah’s prophecy promised! However, we see one of many times when God protected Jesus, causing Him to supernaturally pass through them and go His way (see also John 8:59 and John 10:39).

Let’s allow this Scripture to encourage us. Jesus was confident of who He was, and He faced rejection throughout His earthly ministry. If people rejected Him, do we think people won’t reject us, even our own brothers, sisters, and friends? Let’s know rejection will happen, and let’s keep our focus on the One who saved us. He is worth sharing. He is worth standing up for. Let’s make Him known!

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