In the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking, such as, “I hope I get what I want for Christmas” kind of hope. In Titus 2:12-13, Paul writes to Titus, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
In Luke’s gospel in chapter 21, he relates Jesus’ account of growing end-time difficulties and tribulations, then He says, “When these things begin to happen, look up, for your redemption draws near” (verse 28). Then He tells a parable of the blossoming of the fig tree, which pictures the restoration of Israel to a nation. That occurred on May 14, 1948, and signaled the beginning of the end times of this age. Bible believers have been looking up for their redemption much more intensely in the years since.
The Blessed Hope is Jesus, and that “hope is an anchor of the soul and is both sure and steadfast, which enters into that which is within the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).
When Jesus breathed His last on the cross, major things happened in Jerusalem that day. An earth-shaking earthquake rocked the city, and while the Jews were sacrificing their Passover lamb, the Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of mankind. That gift was made ready to be received by “whosoever will.”
In the temple, the heavy veil sealing off the “Holy Place” was torn from top to bottom, and the empty “Holy Place” was open to the world. A few weeks later, the Holy Place became the hearts of mankind when they individually received Christ into their lives. This happened at the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 6:17, we are told, “those who belong to the Lord have become one spirit with Him.” That Blessed Hope became intensely personal, as Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
But what kind of hope is this Blessed Hope? As indicated above, it is the Hebrews 6:19 kind of hope, an “anchor of the soul.” Romans 8:24-25 tells us how that hope is different than wishful thinking: “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
This is when faith enters the picture. Several places in the Scriptures, it is said, “the just shall live by faith,” and Hebrews 10:38 adds this admonition: “But if any man draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” And Hebrews 11:6 brings it to a very personal thing: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him.”
So let’s talk about “that Blessed Hope.” One of the promises Jesus made in the presence of His disciples and forward to all believers when He ended the Great Commission is at the end of Matthew 28:20: “‘and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Meaning “so be it.”)
I ask the question, “What happens then; does He go away and leave us alone?” No, it is the end of the age, and all of the believers go to be with Him.
Another promise He made is in John 14:2-3: “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (Read this over several times.)
One of the false beliefs prominent now is that there is no pre-tribulation taking out of the world of the believers (the Rapture). Try to fit this promise into Revelation 19, where the prophecy of the Second Coming of Jesus is reported. It does not fit.
Lately, I have been drawn to Proverbs 3:5 for the glaring truth of how easily one can forget the foundational truths of the Word of God and turn to one’s own understanding. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Many false doctrines have risen because of that diversion.
As we consider the coming of that Blessed Hope, we must think of the timing and the conditions in the world. When Paul began to pinpoint the timing of that event in connection with events in the world, he wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”
It seems obvious that he is intending to reveal future events that are about this pre-tribulation event now called the “Rapture.”
He then announces, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
This is the “abomination of desolation” of the Daniel 9:27 prophecy and is done at the halfway point of the coming seven-year tribulation. The description of that event is precise and is not at the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70 A.D.
Back again to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, we are told of the spiritual warfare, the “falling away,” and the restraining efforts of righteousness in those coming last days. That One who restrains the evil one until it is the time for the end can only be the Spirit of God in the born-again believers who are in the world. Verses 6-7 tell us how it will happen: “And now you know what is restraining, that he [the evil one] may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”
Incidentally, some early students of the Bible, perhaps trying to prove their marvelous intelligence, have claimed that the second letter to the Thessalonians was not written by Paul. I just looked at the letter again and noted how Paul began the greetings with his name and two others with him. Then, at the end of the letter, chapter 3, verse 17, he makes a personal salutation: “The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle, so I write.”
Perhaps this is what some latch onto today to deny the fact of the Rapture detailed in that letter. As I pointed out in Proverbs 3:5, turning to one’s own understanding that is based on what the Puritans and early writers believed cannot replace the Word of God fixed in a heart that is solely trusting the Lord. This is how a denial of the Rapture gets promoted as truth and great correlated passages of the Scriptures are ignored as irrelevant and meaningless. It is an appropriate continuity from his first letter.
For many scores of years, America has been the target of evildoers with the intent to destroy the nation’s sovereignty and replace it with a New World Order. Why America, the USA? Topple that citadel of liberty and freedom, and the whole world will fall. Therefore, we are the generation seeing that happen, for the Scriptures do not show a dominating USA in the world at the end of the age. God’s plan is to allow that evil one, the Antichrist, to show himself for seven years, then his judgment of being cast alive into the lake of fire.
What will be the economic and social conditions in the world as this falling away is progressing? Luke reports on this in Luke 17:26-30: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” (Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 19 tell of those prior situations.)
The revealing of the Son of Man will be as Paul described it in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “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.” (How does this mesh with John 14:2-3 quoted earlier? It also compares exactly with John 11:25-26.)
It is clear that John Darby and the vision of a teenager named Margaret back in the early 1800s are not the sources of the Rapture of the church doctrine, but the Holy Scriptures tell it like it is!
Finally, we are “looking for that Blessed Hope” to appear in the sky with a shout and the trumpet of God sounding; then, in the “twinkling of an eye,” believers will meet Him there in transformed immortal bodies to be with Him forever and ever! (There’s more following in Part 2.)
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