Walking home from school one afternoon many, many years ago, the day was quite hazy and, somewhat 'eerie' in nature. As I walked up the alley to my house, there seemed to be an unsettling silence: no dogs barking or birds chirping; no kids yelling or neighbors talking. Suddenly I began to panic. What if the Rapture had taken place! What if I hadn't been taken? Running into the house, I yelled for both my mother and grandmother. Both were born-again Christians, so I knew that if they were there I hadn't been left behind. Obviously to this day I vividly remember that experience and the extreme fright I felt. (At that stage of my life I wasn't secure in my salvation, and although I had heard of the Rapture and bits of what would follow, I was ignorant of the facts.)
So what are the biblical facts dealing with the Rapture and the scriptural truths concerning what follows? And why should we be fearful of the Rapture and petrified of what awaits if we are not born-again believers in Jesus Christ?
In I Thessalonians, Chapter 4, we are told that "?the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (v.16-17). With both a shout and sound of the trump, all born-again Christians will "in the twinkling of an eye" (I Corinthians 15:52) exit this vile world, and begin eternity in the presence of Almighty God. Briefly, then, the Rapture is the 'catching up' in the clouds of every individual who has ever trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
But what happens to those who will not hear the beckoning shout and welcoming trump? They (the unbelievers) will be left behind to face raging devastation. As the believers are lifted from this world, car wrecks will abound, planes will plummet from the sky, trains will derail, children will vanish, shoppers will disappear, and families will be forever separated. Unlike my confused adolescent notion, silence will not accompany the Rapture. Cries of confusion and screams of panic will reverberate around the globe as God confounds peoples' thinking. (II Thessalonians 2:11)
This chaos is called the Tribulation Period. Seven years of vast destruction (Matthew 24:21-22: Daniel 12:1) as God's divine wrath is leveled on all humanity. Death will claim one-fourth of earth's population; hail and fire will wipe out one-third of earth's vegetation; a great star will fall to earth, poisoning fresh water; light provided by the sun, moon and stars will be lessened by one-third; fresh water will become blood. (The Bible's Book of Revelation -chapters 6, 8, 9, 11,15, 16 - describes these and other devastations.) Furthermore, mankind will suffer the dictatorial reign of the Antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:3-4; I John 2:18; Revelation 13:16-17) who will rule over every aspect of the planet with a chilling cruelty fueled by a mighty hatred of God. No wonder as a youth, naive to scriptural truths, I was scared.
But no one needs to be frightened or alarmed. No one has to fear being left behind. The biblical truth is each of us can be among those caught-up to meet the Lord by simply calling upon His name! "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins?" (I John 1:9)
Once we have cried out to the Lord with genuine faith and belief, we never again need to fear the Rapture or death. Even if death visits us before the Rapture occurs, if we have accepted Jesus the grave will be defeated for " the dead in Christ (believers) shall rise first". (I Corinthians 15:51:55; I Thessalonians 4:16) "?I (Jesus) give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28) (Those, however, who deny Christ will face everlasting torment as they are ultimately cast into the Lake of Fire - Revelation 20:12-15.)
Now, after many decades of being staunchly secure in God's mercy and grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7), I eagerly await the Rapture daily. So can you! Just trust in Jesus! "?but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe." (Proverbs 29:25b)
Nancy Hamilton is an author of Christian books and a member of Souls Harbor Baptist Church. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or email@example.com. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.