How near are we at this very moment to seeing our Lord and Savior face to Face? This is a matter that, I believe, each and every Christian should be asking, based on very good Evidence that this great Event can happen literally at any moment. It will be that twinkling of an eye Moment we should long for. We are promised a crown of Righteousness for loving His appearing. This great Promise from our God includes the first phase of His Second coming –the Rapture, and the second phase, the Second Advent.
Exactly how should the Christian conduct his or her life in view of coming face to face with Jesus –whether through death, or through rapture? The Apostle Peter had something profound to say about the matter:
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:11-14).
The Day of the Lord
Peter, the great apostle, and earliest disciple of Jesus, tells Christians that they should first look for the coming of the “day of the Lord.” The “day of the Lord” will begin with that terrible time –that seven-year era of tribulation also known as “Daniel’s seventieth week” and “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” It will be the worst time in human history, according to Jesus and Jeremiah the prophet. Why should Christians be looking for such a horrendous time?
That time will see a series of three terrible manifestations of God’s righteous wrath, each of the three including seven judgments, for a total of 21 specific judgments. Each judgment that falls upon incorrigibly wicked, rebellious Earth-dwellers of that time will grow progressively more punishing. Things will get so bad that people will try to hide themselves in the caves and crevices of mountains to get away from God’s Wrath. They will come to the point they will beg the mountains to fall on them.
Why Look for Trouble?
Why would Peter tell Christians to look for these things to hurry and come? Actually, the apostle Peter is telling us to consider these things in the most serious terms and to heed God’s prophetic words on that coming era of horror. The key part of this prophetic passage God wants us to understand is: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…?” Christians are to think upon these coming judgments, and in thinking upon them with all prayerful seriousness, our lives will be changed into lives of godliness.
Concern for the Doomed
We, as God’s children, you see, can understand –if we apply ourselves to knowing prophecy—the things people of the tribulation will have to endure because of their rebellion, or their sin. We are expected, as Christians, to know, through Bible prophecy, these things to come.
We aren’t expected to know about those coming judgments because God wants us to fear going through them ourselves. We are to understand them out of love for those who will have to go through that time of horrors, if they do not repent and come to a saving knowledge of Christ, this side of the rapture.
Not Destined for God’s Wrath
Knowledge of Bible prophecy –of future events—will make us more holy and godly in our conduct of our own lives. It will make us more dedicated witnesses for the cause of Christ. Christians are not appointed to God’s wrath, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:9. We are to comfort each other with that knowledge according to 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Our future is secure in Jesus. Our concern should be for others who don’t know Him in an intimate, saving way. We are also to be looking for that “day of the Lord” because before it starts, Jesus will come for us and say, “Come up hither” (John 4:1).
Jesus is No Thief
Jesus himself compared His coming to the coming of a “thief in the night.” Why would the sinless Creator-God of all the universes compare himself to a thief in the night? Jesus’ return to Earth will be in two phases. First will come the Rapture, then, at least seven years later, His glorious appearance. This description of the first phase of Christ’s Second Coming is found in Peter’s prophecy: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10).
A thief comes unannounced. He breaks into a tranquil setting, such as one’s home, and takes something. Jesus was forewarning that He will intervene in the affairs of mankind with a sudden, silent taking away of something. That “something” is His saints –all who were saved throughout the Age of Grace.
From Rapture to Re-Creation of Earth
The entire “day of the Lord” then will run its course until the end of Christ’s Millennial Reign, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the remaking of the heavens and the earth.
His coming “as a thief in the night” can’t be the Second Coming or Second Advent of Christ to set up His rule and reign in Jerusalem at the end of the great war called Armageddon. Every eye will see Him returning at that time.
The King Cometh!
The prophetic Word foretells the second phase of Christ’s Second Coming – His return to Planet Earth in power and glory, as follows:
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:11-16).
Be assured: Absolutely no one will miss that glorious appearance!
Jesus Keeps His Promises
At least seven years before that return in the clouds of glory, the Rapture will occur. Jesus, in His “thief in the night” coming, will fulfill his own words:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).
We Christians are to be looking toward the “day of the Lord” and desiring its soon coming, because Jesus, before that day begins, will come to take us home to Heaven with Him, to live eternally in magnificent dwelling places He has prepared for us.
Christians Must Watch
About looking for His coming for His saints in the Rapture, the Lord instructed all whom would be saved during the Church Age:” And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:37). Until that exhilarating moment of Rapture, Christians are to be power-filled sentries! What, exactly, does this duty entail?
The Power-Filled Sentry
No other generation in history has been privileged to see end-time things developing as has the present generation. Notice the word “developing.” These last-days signals are not prophecy being fulfilled. The signals consist of issues and events that are setting the stage for fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
It is proper to liken these stage-setting issues and events to a dark, ominous storm that is boiling on the distant horizon. We can see the apocalyptic tempest coming, with jagged flashes of lightning fracturing the black, rolling clouds. But we aren’t yet in the storm. We know it’s approaching with great swiftness, and it is our job to warn others before it’s too late!
Watch God’s Radar Screen
Just as a person couldn’t issue an accurate tornado warning if he couldn’t read the radar signals on the monitors of his weather computers, the Christian can’t warn of prophetic things to come without knowledge of the signals provided in God’s Word.
We must become good students by studying prophecy, as well as the other parts of the Bible. We are instructed:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Note that the Apostle Paul didn’t tell us –under inspiration of the Holy Spirit—to study “part” of God’s Word. He said to “study…rightly dividing the word of truth.” That’s a direct order to study the whole Bible, not just parts. This is where God’s people are failing today. Let us resolve to take this command seriously while watching all the tremendous stage-setting for fulfillment of prophecy we are witnessing in every direction we look.
Our book soon to be released, TRAJECTORY: Tracking the Approaching Tribulation Storm, is devoted to acting as Sentries in forewarning that Apocalyptic devastation to come. The Day of the Lord is rapidly approaching. Be aware and warn others to beware.
Here is what to tell the lost to do in order to be kept from that time.
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. (Romans 10: 9–10)