My Beloved in Christ,
I am a pastor of a small church in Tennessee. The following sermon is the second part of a sermon series on the blessed hope that I preached several months ago. My prayer is for this message to bless you with the wonderful hope that we have in Jesus Christ and His return for His bride. If your pastor is not preaching these wonderful and beautiful truths, then I encourage you to pray for Him and to lift him up before the Lord.
Every Sunday is the day I pray for pastors and their congregations. I pray for them to be anointed with the power and love of the Holy Spirit. I pray for them to be so in love with Jesus that they will long for Him, watch for Him, and have a passion in their soul to preach His return and to call the church to wake up and watch.
Pray for your pastor, and pray for your church, and may the Lord hear and answer your prayer.
May what you read in this message bring joy and hope to your soul.
Pastor Mark Hall
THE BLESSED HOPE – PART II
Let’s stand together and open our Bibles to Titus 2 as we continue with our series “God’s Watchman,” with today’s message, “The Blessed Hope Part II.”
Titus 2:11-13 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Scriptures from KJV).
THAT WHICH IS TO COME
Last week I described how in the near future, the world would experience one of the most dramatic life-changing events in history. It will be a moment of such magnitude, the world will never again be same. It will divide every person on earth between those who believe in Jesus Christ and those who reject Him.
Those who believe in Jesus will instantly be caught up from this earth, faster than the speed of light, into the glorious presence of Jesus Christ, our eternal Savior and King.
But those who reject Christ will be left behind to face a world that will be far different than anything they have ever imagined. They will face a world of great spiritual darkness, overrun with lawlessness and evil that will reap the wrath of God’s divine judgments.
Tragically, the world mocks and ridicules the idea of a heavenly rapture, but I assure you from the proof of God’s word, the rapture is very real, and it is the next world-shaking event on God’s prophetic calendar. This event is so significant that Jesus said…
Mark 13:33-37 “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
You can hear the urgency in Jesus’ words as He commands every believer to constantly be alert and watching. This is exactly why I am preaching this series. As your pastor and God’s watchman, it is my duty to alert you and warn you so that you will not be caught unaware.
WHAT IS THE TIMING OF THE RAPTURE?
Without any doubt, the rapture is a real event, but the big question is, when will the rapture happen? Jesus gives us a very clear answer in Mark 13:32 when He said…
Mark 13:32-33 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”
Jesus clearly says NO ONE knows the day or the hour of His return for the church, except God the Father, which is why it is so discouraging when people say that Jesus will return on such and such day, and then when it doesn’t happen, it looks bad on the body of Christ.
Although we do not know the day or the hour of His return, we do know from scripture that first, we must always be watching for that moment, and second, everywhere we look, there is a growing storm of prophetic signs happening all over the world. These prophetic signs are escalating in their strength and intensity like a fast-moving hurricane, and as they grow on the horizon, it should cause us to realize this awesome is drawing ever closer and could happen any day.
THE DAY AND THE HOUR
I want to make a point here that I believe is vitally important. When Jesus said that only the Father knows the day and the hour, it is important to understand that God has set a specific day and a specific hour when the rapture will happen. It will not happen by accident. It will not be because some angel accidently pushed the wrong button! Oops! It will happen exactly at the precise moment that God has already set in place. For example:
Revelation 9:13-15 “And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.”
The point I want you to see is that just as God has set these angels for a specific moment in time, even so, God has set a specific day and hour for the rapture, and it will happen at the exact moment that God has appointed for it. We don’t know that moment, but God does. And… when it does happen, it will happen unexpectedly, like a thief in the night when the world least expects it. That’s why Jesus commands us to be ready and watching at all times.
THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
One of the great rebukes in scripture is Jesus’ rebuke of those who did not recognize the signs of His first coming. The signs of our generation are so obvious and so unmistakably clear that even a child could see them. And yet, so many people miss them because they are not watching and looking for Jesus Christ. Millions of Christians are so out of touch with God, they are completely unaware that the rapture of the church is right at the door.
My beloved in Christ, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that we watch and pray. It is vital that we seek to understand that these prophetic signs are God’s supernatural warning system that the end is near and that God’s appointed day is drawing closer every day.
These signs include…
The rise of a New World Order of globalization and a 10-Kingdom Empire
The alliance of Russia, Iran, Turkey, and several other nations – Ezekiel 38
Antichrist Technology for a one-world economy and government – 10 years ago, this was not reality, but now we are watching the advancement of technology that could one day allow for the fulfillment of Revelation 13. I will preach more on that next week.
There is the push for a one-world economic system as world banks push for a new digital currency.
These signs and many more all possibly point to how close we are to the time of the tribulation.
These prophetic signs are happening in our lifetime and converging on a massive scale all over the world. That should cause us to wake up and be ever watchful for our blessed hope in Jesus Christ.
WHEN WILL THE RAPTURE HAPPEN?
What is the timing of the rapture? There are three views regarding the timing of the rapture.
There are those who believe the rapture is tied with the second coming of Christ. This view is called the post-tribulation rapture. Those who cling to this view believe the church will endure the entire seven-year tribulation.
Another view is the mid-tribulation rapture. The mid-tribulation view states the rapture will take place at the mid-point of the tribulation but before the great tribulation. This view is similar to the pre-wrath view that says we will go through most of the tribulation but that we will be raptured before the final wrath of God takes place. The main problem I see with both of these views is that God’s wrath is seen throughout the entire seven-year tribulation. I do not knock or judge anyone who holds to any of these views. If this is what they believe, that’s between them and God. I still consider them my brother and sister in Christ and praise God for their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
However, for me personally, and for the point of this teaching, I strongly believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, which I sincerely believe is the Biblical scenario that fits the whole prophetic picture. The pre–tribulation view states that the rapture will happen before the seven-year tribulation, and this is the view I want to focus on in this message.
THE PRE-TRIBULATION SCENARIO
There are several reasons why I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture.
First, this is the only view that allows for the rapture to happen at any moment in time.
Jesus said… Mark 13:32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
Also, Paul wrote… 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
Both of these scriptures reveal that no one, and that means no one, knows the specific day or the hour of the rapture, and when it does happen, it will happen suddenly like a thief in the night. The rapture is an imminent event, meaning that it can happen at any moment. It could happen today, tomorrow, or next year. We don’t know when it will happen. We only know that it will happen, which is why we are commanded to always watch and pray.
In the mid-tribulation view and the post-tribulation view, there is no sudden return of Jesus Christ. Instead, your entire focus is shifted away from Christ to look for the tribulation and the antichrist. That means instead of looking for Christ’s return, I am watching for the antichrist and his peace treaty. Since the signing of the covenant between the antichrist and the many, including Israel, starts the tribulation, and since the rapture happens exactly 3 ½ years later, that means I can know the exact timing of His return to remove the church. That completely takes away the surprise of Christ’s “coming like a thief in the night.”
Nowhere in scripture are we told to stop looking for Jesus Christ and to watch for the antichrist. Nowhere… Again… hear these words… Titus 2:13 “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ….”
What are we looking for? We are looking for the appearing of Jesus Christ, our blessed hope!
We are not looking for the antichrist and his false peace. We are not looking for the end of the world.
We are looking for our blessed hope in Jesus Christ, the King of kings, who is the Prince of Peace.
Another significant reason why I believe the rapture will happen before the tribulation is found in Revelation 4.
Revelation 4:1-2 “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.”
I believe Revelation 4 is a picture of a pretribulation rapture. Notice four things.
First, John writes, “after this I looked, and, behold, a door standing opened in heaven.”
After what things? After the church age. Immediately after the church age is completed, John hears a voice from heaven that said, “Come up here,” and he immediately found himself in heaven at the throne of God. I see this as a perfect picture of the rapture that is also described in I Thessalonians 4.
Second, the voice that John heard that sounded like a trumpet and said, “Come up here” is the voice of Jesus that John heard in Revelation 1.
Third, you will also notice in Revelation chapters 2-3 when Jesus spoke to the churches, He said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” But in Revelation 13:9, He says,” If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” Why didn’t He finish with, “what the Spirit says to the churches?” It is because the Church is already in heaven.
Also, it is interesting that the word “church” is mentioned 17 times in Revelation 1-3 but is not mentioned at all from chapters 5-18. Why? Because the church is in heaven at this time.
Fourth, another dynamic point is that Revelation 4-5 shows the saints are before the throne of God before Jesus is given the scrolls of the seven seals that start the wrath of God, which again shows that the rapture must happen before the tribulation.
EXAMPLES OF THE RAPTURE IN THE BIBLE
Now, that brings me to this question. Are there any examples of the rapture found in the Bible? I can think of four examples in the Old Testament.
First, there is Enoch. Genesis 5:23-24 “And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”
The Hebrew meaning here is that Enoch walked with God, and then suddenly, he was immediately transported to heaven without experiencing death. That is a beautiful picture of the rapture.
Second, in 2 Kings, we find another example in the life of Elijah.
2 Kings 2:11 “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
Just like Enoch, Elijah did not experience death but was instantly transported to heaven, similar to the rapture, in a chariot of fire, in what I call a heavenly taxi service.
NOAH AND LOT
A third example is found in how God protected Noah and his family when God flooded the earth. Just as God preserved Noah and his family by removing them from the threat of His wrath, even so, God will keep His promise to remove believers in Christ from this earth before His wrath is poured out on upon an unbelieving, godless, and evil generation.
I point this out because I Thessalonians 1:10, I Thessalonians 5:9, and Revelation 3:10 tell us that we who are in Christ have not been appointed to wrath.
Fourth, God also spared Lot and his family from the wrath that God poured out against Sodom and Gomorrah. If you remember, God’s wrath could not be unleashed on those two cities until Lot and his family were safely removed.
These are examples of a pretribulation rapture that demonstrate that those who are in Christ will be removed from this earth before the final days of God’s wrath. Glory to God!
Now, that brings me to this final point.
WHY HASN’T THE RAPTURE HAPPENED YET?
Knowing that God has appointed a day and hour for the rapture, and since we are seeing all of these prophetic signs, why hasn’t the rapture happened yet? We have watching and waiting for 2,000 years, so what is God waiting for? What is God waiting for… if I could point to any one reason, it would be…
In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes…
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
It is God’s great desire for the lost to be saved and to experience His wonderful love and forgiveness. God, in His awesome grace, is currently restraining the spirit of lawlessness to give people more opportunities to repent and to receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. If you are not saved, and you are the one keeping the rapture from happening, then please… please… get saved today…. I am ready to go home!
The reality is that one day, very soon, the age of grace will be over, and the days of judgment and wrath will begin. This is why I plead with you to turn to Christ now while there is time.
My limited understanding of Bible prophecy tells me we are living in the most unique time in history, the final days of the church age. Very soon, the church age that has covered two thousand-plus years will be over, and the final days of judgment and wrath will begin. That’s why Jesus said…
Revelation 3:11 “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
That’s why Jesus’ last words to the church were…
Revelation 3:22 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
This is exactly why Jesus also said…
Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Whatever you do… Whatever you do… don’t be caught sleeping when He returns.
Jesus said be on your guard; be alert for His coming because He is coming very quickly. And yet, millions of Christians are so entangled in the affairs of the world, they are unaware the rapture of the church is right at the door.
THE FINAL DAYS
In closing, I was recently asked what I would do if I knew the rapture would happen in the next year or sooner. My reply is this:
I do not know when the rapture will happen. But I do believe it is very soon. However, for me to give a date would be very presumptuous, especially in knowing that only God the Father knows the day and the hour. However, I will skate out on thin ice and say this as your pastor and watchman: I believe the odds are very great that this may be the last decade the church has to finish the work we have been called to do, which is to win souls to Christ.
I believe the hour is very late. I see it in the prophetic signs. I see the stage is being set for many things that are still to come. I can see that things are accelerating, but even as I see these things, I still do not know when the rapture will happen. I am not in management. I’m just an entry-level sales clerk. I am nothing more than a bond slave, and My Lord hasn’t told me anything except to “follow Him.”
However, I do know the signs tell me He is coming and that His return is drawing closer every day. The rapture could happen this year, but it may also be two or three years or longer before it happens. But again, as someone recently asked me, if I knew the rapture was going to happen this year (which I sincerely pray that it does) or sometime in the very near future, what would I do? How would I live? My answer is…
I would still be in church every Sunday whether I was preaching or not.
I would still pay all of my bills every month, on time, as my witness for Christ.
I would still read my Bible every day.
I would still do my best to live a godly life and fulfill my God-given purpose.
I would still plant my garden.
I would still repair my deck that very much needs repairing.
I would still make plans to go to Israel if I had the opportunity.
I would still go to the juvenile detention center and tutor students.
But most importantly… most importantly…
I would still keep watching and waiting and looking for my blessed Hope in Jesus Christ.
I would live each day knowing that it could be the day that I will hear the trumpet sound and a voice cry out, “Come up Here!” And in that fraction of a moment, faster than the speed of light, all who love Jesus Christ will be immediately transformed from this old world of sin into a brand-new glorious body and into the glorious presence of our Savior and King.
So, I humbly ask you, if Jesus Christ came in the next 60 seconds, would you be in the rapture, or would you be left behind? If you are not sure, today is the day to be sure.
If you are not sure where you will spend eternity, then please, listen to these beautiful words, and let them speak to your heart.
Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
I pray you will decide today to make Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord of your life and that you will begin now to follow Him and to open your eyes and your heart to watch and pray for His return.
It is the greatest decision you will ever make, and I pray you make that decision today.
If this message has inspired you for the glory of Jesus Christ, please let me know. You may contact me at email@example.com.