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The Rapture Revelation 4a

Notes & Transcripts

Revelation 4:1-4

Stephen Caswell © 2004

Behold I Come Quickly

A minister was preaching on the imminence of Christ’s return. To make his point the preacher said very passionately, Behold I Come quickly! The congregation didn’t catch his enthusiasm, so he said it again with greater expression. Again the congregation didn’t respond much. A third time he pronounced the words Behold I Come quickly! this time thumping the pulpit for added emphasis. Unfortunately the pulpit couldn’t take this kind of force and he crashed down onto a little old lady sitting in the front row. He profusely apologized to her. However, she said to him it’s not your fault reverend, it’s mine. You warned me 3 times that you were coming. I should have been ready.    

A few months ago we began this series on the Book of Revelation. John was told to write down the things he had seen, the things which are and the things that will happen after that. This forms the outline for the entire book; the past, the present and the future. We now come to the third part of the book of Revelation; The things that will take place after this. John commences with the rapture of the Church. This morning we will see the Who, When, Where and How of the Rapture.

 

The view I hold to is the Pre Millenial View. This view of prophecy is described in the Left Behind series of books and films. Some Christians hold to other views such as the Amillenial View, the Post Millenial View and the Pan Millenial View.

Firstly, When Will It Happen?

Revelation 4:1: After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.

Down through the ages many Christians and non Christians have set dates for Christ’s return. Each time they have set a date they have been wrong. Jesus Christ said that no one knows the time of His return in Matthew 24:36. So I can’t tell you the day, the month or the year. In Revelation 4:1 it says, that after these things John was summoned to heaven. After what things? The Church Age. In chapters 2 and 3 John describes the 7 Churches and the 7 Church Ages they represent. After the Church Age is finished John is caught up to heaven. When the bride is complete, Jesus Christ will return for her. It will happen according to God’s program, unexpectedly. It will happen very suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye. There will be no time to get ready then; you will just be left behind.

Ready for the Rapture

After church, where she had been taught about the Second Coming, a little girl was quizzing her mother. Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back again? Yes. Could he come this week? Yes. Could he come today? Yes. Could he come in the next hour?  Yes.  Could he come in a few minutes? Yes, dear. Mommy, would you comb my hair? Are you ready for the rapture? You won’t have time to prepare once it happens!

Now, I will give some reasons why I am convinced that the rapture will take place before the Great Tribulation. Revelation 3:10: Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 1 Thessalonians 5:9: For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

·    After this refers to the Church Age described in Chapters 2 and 3. Ephesus – Laodicea.

·    The word Church isn’t found after ch 3 because it’s in heaven. Tribulation is on earth.

·    John, a member of the Church saw the vision of the Great Tribulation from heaven.

·    Christ promised to keep the Church from the tribulation sent upon the whole earth.

·    The Church celebrates the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven before coming back to the earth with Jesus Christ to judge and reign. Revelation 19:1-21

·    We’re told to be ready; Jesus Christ might return at any time. His return is imminent.

·    If the Church must first go through 7 years of world wide tribulation it wouldn’t apply.

·    Believers saved in the tribulation are called saints, martyrs, faithful; never the Church.

·    The events described in Revelation chapters 4 to 20 describe 7 years of tribulation.

·    This is Daniels 70th week; a time when God helps Israel to recognize the Messiah.

·    It’ called the time of Jacob’s Trouble and involves Israel & the world, not the Church.

Secondly, Who Will Be Taken?

Revelation 4:2: Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

a. Spirit’s Seal

 

The Apostle John was a believer. John says that he was in the Spirit when he was called up into heaven. The Holy Spirit resides in John and in fact in every believer. The Holy Spirit indwells us from our conversion and empowers us to live the Christian life. His presence also marks us as God’s children. Like cattle are branded. 2 Timothy 2:19: Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Electromagnet

Have you ever seen a giant electromagnet operating in a scrap metal yard. Before the power is turned on the giant magnet can’t attract anything. Yet once it is activated it picks up huge amounts of steel without any trouble whatsoever. Electro magnets are very discriminating. They pick up steel whilst rejecting everything else. Other metals aren’t attracted. So too, Christ draws believers to Himself in the clouds. Others are left behind.

God knows those who have His Spirit! Romans 8:16, 23: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. God will only take those with the Holy Spirit.

b. God’s Guarantee  Lay By Shopping

When you go shopping sometimes you can’t afford to buy an article, so you put it on lay by. You pay a deposit and then pay it off. The shop knows you want to buy it because you pay 10% as a deposit. God has shown His intention to come back and collect us by giving us His Holy Spirit! Ephesians 1:13: In Him (Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

 

c. Christ’s Bride  The Jewish Wedding Ceremony

A wedding ceremony was a big event in the life of the Jews. A time frame was set but not the exact hour. The groom would build a house for his bride on the father’s land. When it was finished the father would examine it and make sure that everything was in order. When he saw that the home was ready he sent his son to collect the bride. The bridegroom would then go to the bride’s home and bring her back for the ceremony and the celebration that followed at his home. After this they lived together as man and wife. The bride didn’t know exactly what time this would happen. However, she was expected to be ready and waiting for him to come.

The Father is preparing a bride for His Son, Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:22-27 speaks about this. The bride wears His engagement ring, the seal of the Holy Spirit. The Church is Christ’s bride and He is the Bridegroom. He has gone to prepare our home in heaven. When the Father gives the word, Christ will come back to earth to collect His bride, the church. He will take her to His heavenly home and the marriage supper of the Lamb. 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. Will you be taken when Christ comes? or left behind to go into the tribulation? Are you sealed?

 

Thirdly, How Will It Happen?

Revelation 4:1: After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.

a. Invitation

An open door usually means that you are welcome. God has opened the door and invited the Church to come in. The heavenly home has been finished. So the Father sends His Son to bring His bride home. Note how John describes the invitation; a voice that spoke like a trumpet. Other Scriptures describe this as well. 1 Thessalonians 4:16: 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.

The trumpet of the Lord: In Israel, trumpets were used to gather the army. They were used to summon a solemn assembly. They even celebrated a feast of trumpets every year. The Jews believed that trumpets would be associated with the resurrection of the dead.

 

Shout of Command: The word shout κέλευσμα, means a signal, a military command. When the Lord comes He will give a shout of command and the dead will receive new resurrected bodies. Every soldier of Christ will respond to the command of their heavenly captain. Christ summoned Lazarus from the grave with a loud voice. Christ’s voice will immediately get our attention. Like we saw in the movie, The Moment After.

The voice of the archangel: This is probably Michael since he is the only archangel that we are told about in Scripture. Michael has a special ministry to the people of Israel. He may be involved in a ministry to them here. He has a word for someone at the rapture.

 

King’s Invitation To Be Obeyed

Sir Leonard Wood once visited the King of France and the King was so pleased with him he was invited for dinner the next day. Sir Leonard went to the palace and the King meeting him in one of the halls, said, Why, Sir Leonard, I did not expect to see you. How is it that you are here? Did not your majesty invite me to dine with you? said the astonished guest. Yes, replied the King, but you did not answer my invitation. Then it was that Sir Leonard Wood uttered one of the choicest sentences of his life. He replied, A king’s invitation is never to be answered, but to be obeyed.

b. Transportation

Revelation 4:2: Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

After hearing the invitation John is suddenly carried up to the throne of God. The Lord took John from the Isle of Patmos to heaven in a moment in time. 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. Firstly, the Lord returns to the clouds with the saints from glory. Secondly, He raises up for these saints a glorified body. Thirdly, Christ catches up the living saints from the earth changing them on the way up.  

Star Trek

Perhaps some of you have seen the T. V. show Star Trek. The crew of the star ship enterprise investigate the universe to discover new civilizations. On their star ship they have a special transporter. With it they can transport people from a planet to their space ship on a beam of light. The phrase they use when ready to go is, beam me aboard Scotty! The transporter can only transport a few at a time. But when the rapture takes place Christ will transport millions of people simultaneously into the clouds to be with Him.  

This catching up of millions of people around the world simultaneously demonstrates God’s great power. The event in Revelation 4; 1 Thessalonians 4; and 1 Corinthians 15; is referred to as the Rapture. The Latin word for caught up is rapto and means to seize or carry off in estacy. The words caught up, ἁρπάζω, are used this way in the N.T.

·    To catch away speedily. This is the translation in Acts 8:39, where the Spirit caught away Philip after he had led the Ethiopian to Christ. When the Lord returns in the air, we who are alive will be caught away quickly, in the twinkling of an eye.

·    To seize by force. In John 6:15 the people wanted to make Jesus their King by force.

·    To claim for one’s own self. This views the Rapture from our Lord’s point of view as He comes to claim His bride.

·    To move to a new place. Paul used this word when he described his visit to heaven 2 Corinthians 12:1–4. Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a home for us John 14:1–6, and when He comes, He will take us to that glorious place.

·    To rescue from danger. See Acts 23:10. This suggests that the church will be taken home before the time of Tribulation that will come to the world from God.

c. Transformation

The Rapture - Transformation

The story is told of an old farmer who brought his family to the big city for the first time. They had never seen buildings so tall or sights so impressive. The farmer dropped his wife off at a department store and took his son to the bank -- the tallest of all buildings. As they walked into the lobby, they saw something else they had never seen before. Two steel doors opened. A rather large and elderly woman walked in, and the big doors closed behind her. The dial over the door swept to the right and then back to the left. The doors opened and a beautiful young lady came walking out. The farmer was amazed. He turned to his son and said, You wait right here. I'm going to get your mother and run her through that thing! At the rapture we'll be taken up and transformed along the way.

Revelation 4; and 1 Thessalonians 4; don’t describe this transformation but other Bible passages do. The bodies we presently have aren’t suitable for life in heaven. Our physical bodies are sinful, weak, and constantly decaying. The Lord has promised to give us immortality. This change is referred to by a number of words. It is called our glorification, the resurrection, and our transformation. Romans 8:18-19, 21: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

 

1 Corinthians 15:50-52: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

This transformation is described in the Bible as the resurrection of the dead. Jesus Christ is both the resurrection and the life. He has the power to transform us; to make us new creatures. Philippians 3:20-21: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Our bodies will be like Christ’s resurrection body, a body of flesh and bone, not flesh and blood. It will be a spiritual body that is glorious, powerful, and holy.

 

Illustration of a Caterpillar that Becomes a Butterfly

When we were kids we liked to collect caterpillars and keep them in a box. We would feed them a certain kind of leaves each day and watch them grow. These little grubs would grow bigger and bigger. Then one day they would start to spin a cocoon. It would take them hours and hours to make it. Then nothing would happen for a while. But then at the right time the caterpillar would come out of the cocoon. However it was no longer a caterpillar but it had become the most beautiful butterfly. Then it flew away into the heavens.

Well believers are a lot like those caterpillars. Some of us are more grub like than others. But that's not the end of the story. One day Jesus Christ will come back and change us. He will transform us into glorious new people with sinless, perfect, glorified bodies like His own. Our appearance now is only a shadow of our future appearance.       

 

Fourthly, Where Will It Happen?

Thessalonians 4:17: 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.

When Jesus Christ comes to collect His bride He will gather them from all over the world. This will happen simultaneously across the globe. There are believers in every land and nation. Christ will invite us to meet Him in the air. Then we will accompany Him back to heaven. The Bible refers to Christ’s return in 2 ways; His appearing and His revelation. He first appears to His saints in the clouds; the Rapture. 1 John 3:2: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

 

This happens suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye. Scientists have computed that it takes one-fiftieth of a second to blink an eye and that a person blinks 25 times a minute. The world won’t see this happen. Christ will gather the saints together in the clouds. At this time there will be a reunion of all the saints in the Church. The saints from glory will receive their resurrection bodies at the same time we will be changed. Then Christ will take us back to glory. Verse 3 and 4 tell how we will be taken to the throne of God. I am sure that Christ will present His bride to God the Father before the marriage supper of the Lamb. Colossians 3:4: When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. You can be sure that the rapture will cause chaos on earth!

7 Years later Christ will appear to everyone in the world. Revelation 1:7: Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Every eye will see Him come with the armies of heaven. The Lord will defeat His enemies with the sword that comes out of His mouth, His Word. Revelation 19:11 and the following verses gives greater details. This time He won’t just come to the clouds but His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives.

Finally, What Should We Do?

a. Witness

 

Christ wants us to share the Gospel with every creature. Mark 16:15: And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. We have been saved through the Gospel; others have never heard it. We must tell them?

b. Work

After sharing the good news about the resurrection Paul told the Corinthians this. 1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. God knows our service for Him. He keeps a record and will reward us all in glory! Remember what Christ promised the overcomers in the letters to the 7 churches.  We will talk about this more next week.

c. Watch

 

Paul reminds us to keep our eyes on the clouds for Christ’s return. Titus 2:13: Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. If we keep looking for the Lord we don’t get entangled with the cares of this world.

 

 

 

Benediction

 

Revelation 22:20-21: He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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