“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).
Enoch is a type of our future departure from the earth at Jesus’ appearing. Hebrews 11:5 tells us this about his sudden disappearance:
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.”
Enoch’s faith pleased God (see 11:6), but what exactly did he believe? The text does not directly answer that question; it only reveals that he pleased the Lord. Genesis 5:24 simply says that he “walked with God” before he vanished; others saw Enoch’s faith and knew the reason why no one could find him; he wasn’t killed by a wild animal, kidnapped, or lost somewhere. “God took him.”
Jude 14 adds that Enoch also “prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones.'” Isn’t it amazing that about six centuries before the Noahic flood, the Lord was already talking to Enoch about His Second Coming?
Enoch’s faith included an understanding of, as well as a belief in, future prophecy.
What does all this have to do with us?
Just as Enoch gained a reputation in the ancient world for his faith despite the rampant wickedness and lawlessness, so our belief in what Scripture says about our future sets us apart from the world.
Enoch lived 365 years before God took him away from the earth. From all that we know about the wickedness and lawlessness of the antediluvian world, that’s a long time to walk faithfully with the Lord.
Like Enoch, we must persevere amid today’s ridicule of our hope, such as the CNN article mocking the Rapture, as we eagerly await our “blessed hope.”
What can help us do that?
Know That the Rapture Is a Biblical Event
I believe it helps us to remind ourselves that the Rapture is a biblical event. Consider the following quote from the late Dr. Ed Hindson, a beloved scholar whose insights into biblical prophecy we sorely miss:
“If you disagree on the timing of the rapture, please don’t tell people, ‘There’s never going to be a rapture.’ No, there must be a rapture, or the Bible is not true. There must be a time when the archangel shouts, when the trumpet sounds, and the dead in Christ are raised, and the living are caught up (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We may differ on the timing of the rapture but not the fact of the rapture.” [i]
As Dr. Hindson alludes to in the above quote, there must be a time when the event, which Paul describes in numerous passages, happens or God’s Word is not true. Our hope in what we today call the “Rapture” rests upon what Scripture says will take place.
It’s a biblical event that cannot be combined with the Second Coming.
(Note: The Rapture will happen before the seven-year Tribulation. I have written many articles to that effect and spent many chapters in my book, The Triumph of the Redeemed, demonstrating why it must happen before this time of God’s wrath upon the earth.)
The Rapture is something we read about in passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
“For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
Our hope as New Testament saints consists of the following sequence of events that the Bible tells us will happen quickly, almost simultaneously:
- Jesus appears; He descends from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 John 3:2-3; Colossians 1:4).
- There’s a “cry of command” and the shout of the archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
- The “trumpet of God” sounds (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
- Jesus raises the dead in Christ and joins them with the souls that He brings with Him at His appearing (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16; 1 Corinthians 15:52).
- Believers living at the time of Jesus’ appearing receive their immortal bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; Philippians 3:20-21; Romans 8:23-25).
- Jesus takes His bride, the church, to the place He’s prepared for them in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3, 17:24; Colossians 3:4). We appear with Jesus in glory.
The Rapture is a biblical event. The Lord will catch us up to be with Him someday, and just like Enoch, I believe that most of us will still be alive when this happens.
Remember That the Rapture Is Our Gospel Hope
Unfortunately, many people today divorce the Rapture from the Gospel, but this was not the case in New Testament times.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 tells us that Paul’s initial proclamation of the Gospel in Thessalonica included the fact of Jesus’ appearing to take believers away from the earth before a future time of wrath, which he later described as the “Day of the Lord”:
“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
Their conversion story consisted not only of turning to God and away from idols but also that of waiting for Jesus’ appearing (AKA the Rapture).
Pay close attention to the words in Romans 8:23-24a:
“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” (Emphasis mine)
The Rapture is when we will receive our immortal bodies (hence “the redemption of our bodies”). Notice what the apostle says about our anticipation of this event, “For in this hope we were saved.” The Rapture is an essential aspect of our Gospel hope.
Jesus often promised eternal life to those who would believe in Him and talked about His return for us in the Upper Room as He prepared His disciples for life without His physical presence. The apostles, especially Paul, later added more details about our hope under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Rapture is either described or clearly alluded to in these New Testament texts: John 14:2-3; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 1:7, 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Titus 2:11-15; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7-8; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 John 3:2-3, and Revelation 3:10-11a, 22:12, 20.
The Rapture was not an afterthought in the minds of the apostles as they proclaimed the Gospel.
Hold Tightly to the Lord for Strength
It’s not easy being an Enoch in today’s world. It requires courage to hold on to our beliefs in Jesus’ imminent appearing amid ridicule from the world and from other believers.
CNN recently posted an article that mocks the Rapture by telling someone’s story about the anxiety it caused her. This woman, however, does not understand the Gospel message nor what Scripture says about our hope in Jesus’ appearing.
Of course, if people think their salvation depends on their good behavior and they never hear about the glories ahead for them in eternity, teachings about a sudden disappearance from all the things they love on earth will scare them. But that is NOT the Gospel, nor is it the Gospel hope that we find throughout the New Testament.
One more thought about the CNN hit piece on the Rapture. Perhaps it’s an indication that Satan knows Jesus’ appearing will happen very, very soon and desires to get ahead of the curve by attacking it.
All this fierce opposition to our hope means that we must continually rely on Christ for our strength as we cling to the words of Scripture. The numerous passages I cited above confirm that the Rapture is a biblical event. Don’t lose hope.
I know it’s not easy waiting for the Lord to return for us; I also struggle with the wait at times. I never thought we would remain on the earth so close to the seven-year Tribulation, but here we are.
The longer the wait, the more we need the Lord’s help in order to persevere in our hope of Jesus’ soon return.
The example of Enoch encourages us to endure amid the opposition to our hope that we encounter at every turn. And we will not have to wait until we are 365 years old for it to happen.
Furthermore, the Lord will reward our faith despite the seemingly long, long wait.
There’s a Sure Reward for Loving Jesus’ Appearing
God rewarded Enoch for his faith. He took him long before He judged the ancient world and included his name in Hebrews 11, a chapter that many regard as the hall of fame for faith. And, he has been with the Lord all these millennia.
For those of us who dare to be like Enoch in our walk of faith, there will be a special reward for maintaining our hope in Jesus’ imminent appearing. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul wrote:
“Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
When Jesus comes for His church, He will take all born-again saints to His Father’s house in heaven, just as He promises us in John 14:2-3. However, in 2 Timothy 4:8, the apostle tells us there will be a special “crown of righteousness” for those who long for or love His appearing, even if they, like Paul, die before the Rapture.
The Lord will reward those who persevere in holding on to their belief in the pre-Tribulation Rapture despite the wait.
I realize that “dare to be an Enoch” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as does “dare to be a Daniel.” I thought about “endeavor to be an Enoch” or “emulating Enoch,” but such phrases don’t convey the boldness required to be an Enoch today.
Enoch stood out in the ancient world because of his faith, which included a belief in the Second Coming of Jesus, which still hasn’t happened. We also please the Lord as we hold tightly to the Gospel message of grace and expectantly long for Jesus’ appearing to take us home.
I will close with the words of Romans 1:16-17:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”
Hold tightly to your anticipation of Jesus’ soon appearing. Jesus will come for us very, very soon. He will not disappoint us, and He will most certainly reward us for our perseverance and endurance as we eagerly await His appearance and our journey to heaven.
My book, The Triumph of the Redeemed-An eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times, is available on Amazon.
[i] Ed Hindson, Future Glory (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2021), p. 14.