Do you believe that Jesus is coming to call believers up to heaven some time before the world falls apart? Do you think this is separate from the second coming of Christ to earth? Will He appear in the sky and call us up to meet Him before the Anti-Christ appears and before the mark of the beast is a “thing?” In the vernacular, do you believe in the Rapture?
I was raised in a church that provided a simplified version of the End Times: Jesus comes back. We all go to Heaven—or hell. Done.
It was a surprise to me to learn about the New Heaven and the New Earth, the Millennial Reign and, basically, the entire book of Revelation. Only recently did I get wind of the idea that God’s plan includes letting Satan out for one last hurray before it is all totally finished (Revelation 20:7).
My head is still spinning about it all. As a member of the church cradle roll, I learned most of what I know about Jesus along with my ABC’s, colors, and numbers. Finding out there’s so much more to the end of days is like being told that 2+2 equals 7.
I’m figuring it out.
It seems especially urgent now as there is a feeling in the air that the tumblers of the lock are falling into place and the skies will soon open…for what? The Rapture? The Second Coming? What can we expect?
I don’t feel certain of my answer to that question just yet, and I think it’s okay to be unsure. I am confident that Jesus is my Savior and that I have placed my hope and trust in Him and His death, burial, and resurrection. I am fully persuaded that He is God and Lord.
One message that has become clear to me in the middle of the murky mess that is 2022: Be ready!
Jesus told a story of Ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13) who were awaiting the arrival of the Bride Groom. They waited and waited and waited some more. Some were clearly prepared to sit tight no matter how long the Groom tarried. Those ladies had plenty of oil for their lamps—probably food and water, too. But the foolish virgins weren’t nearly as committed to sticking it out. When it was obvious that they were going to run out of provisions, they begged the others to share what they had. When the wise virgins refused and the women were forced to make a supply run, they missed the big event all together. By the time they got back, the doors were closed and no one else could enter.
This has always been a puzzling story. Why couldn’t the women share? Why absolutely no late comers?
If the Bride Groom and the Wise Virgins were on the side of good, was their behavior even “Christian?”
One of the things I’ve been drawn to is the series of books, “Left Behind,” by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, written in the 90’s. (For prophecy books, it’s been humorous to notice that they had no clue that “home phones” would be a thing of the past! Seems that one is being employed in every other scene in the book!) One I read was called, “The Rapture.” This book gave me more insight in to the wise and foolish virgins. Throughout the time leading up to the disappearance of believers from the world, the Christians were engaged in urging family and friends to “stock up,” as it were. The “foolish virgins” refused to take heed, even if they casually assented to church and the teaching of the Bible. When they were left behind, they were painfully aware of what had happened. They had no oil in their lamps.
In the Bible, oil is often identified with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit in us is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until Jesus comes again (Ephesians 1:13). Each of us must choose Christ for ourselves and when we do, we receive this gift. Though we can offer it to another, we cannot share our own. It comes directly from God. So, the wise virgins had purchased all the oil they needed to be allowed into the Wedding Supper by their true allegiance to the Groom, but the others hanging around the periphery–interested bystanders, curious seekers–never really had oil of their own. They were simply basking in the light of the believers’ lamps. Once they saw the need for Oil, it was too late. They were shut out.
No matter when time ends for me—with the Rapture, or in death—I believe that God has appointed a time for the end and for the judgement. I want to be ready–this earthen lamp filled to the brim with the Oil of the Holy Spirit, ablaze for Jesus and lighting the way for His return! How about you?