Did you know that the steamy month of July boasts not only Independence Day, but it also celebrates International Kissing Day on July 6, Global Forgiveness Day on the 7th, National Ice Cream Day on the 18th, and for all of us weary of the pandemic, a National Hammock Day on July 22nd?
We don’t need much of an excuse to celebrate, do we? We circle the date on our calendar or use the reminder app on our iphone to save the events that are important to us. We pat ourselves on the back for sending a RSVP for a wedding, birthday, or baby shower, and yet many of us aren’t anticipating the biggest event on the Christian calendar—the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to claim his bride, the church. For every prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are eight prophecies on the second coming. Because of what I read in Scripture, I believe that Christ could come back at any minute.
Jesus clearly states that no one will know the exact time and date of His return. “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7).” We may not be able to pinpoint the occurrence, but the book of Revelation, which means “unveiling,” provides a blueprint of how the events will unfold.
At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will be raised and living Christians at the time of this event will not die, but will be changed to be like Christ. Together they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever. “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever “(1 Thess 4:15-17).
While the earth incurs God’s judgment, the life of each believer will be reviewed in Heaven at the judgment seat of Christ. Even though we are secure in the knowledge that we are God’s children, He will evaluate our actions and attitudes as believers on earth and what we did with our spiritual opportunities. We can suffer loss. The tangible results of those who have faithfully served Christ in this life, and those who haven’t, will be evident for all eternity. They will be exemplified in eternal possessions (Matt 29:29) and positions (Luke 19:17) that will differ significantly from person to person.
Likewise, God will reward us for every act of faithfulness. Any rewards or honor we gain in heaven will be precious to us because they highlight the meaning of our relationship with God—and because they remind us of what He did through us on earth. The good deeds of believers are called the clothing of “fine linen, bright and clean” (Revelation 19:8) that the church, the bride of Christ wears.
As God’s final victory comes to pass and events evolve, the host of heaven jumps to its feet, rejoicing and shouting Hallelujah as they exalt Christ, His triumph over evil, the anticipation of His millennial kingdom, and the heavenly wedding. Revelation 19 is the only place in the New Testament where Hallelujah which means “praise the Lord” (Hebrew from two words; halle, which means “praise,” and Yah, short for Jehovah) is found. I can’t even imagine the thundering praise and worship that will take place as the Hallelujah Chorus of heaven erupts.
After these things, Paul writes, “Then the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). So, who are the ones invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb? It’s not the church that Jesus brings up in the Rapture, because the New Testament church is the bride of Christ. You don’t send a wedding invitation to the bride for her own wedding. The guests are all the believers of God—patriarchs, prophets, scribes, sages and the redeemed of other ages who take their place at the table and greet the Groom and the bride. And isn’t it interesting that the food for the marriage supper is never mentioned? Compared to Jesus Christ, who will celebrate with His bride in a wedding ceremony where the two will be united forever, it’s irrelevant.
To sum it up, W. W. Wiersbe said, “In the Rapture, Jesus will catch us up, in the Judgement Seat, Jesus will clean us up, and at the Marriage Supper, Jesus will cheer us up.”
Sequentially, Jesus the King will then return to earth to rule and reign . . . and He’s not alone. At the second coming, the heavens split apart and with His garment dipped in blood, the Lion of Judah appears on a white horse with the armies of heaven—the saints raptured by the Lord. They follow Him, as in righteousness He judges, makes war, and defeats Satan and the nations at the Battle of Armageddon. Satan and his false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire and the Messianic Kingdom is established. For a thousand years peace will reign on the earth. And still . . . the best is yet to come. I challenge you to read Revelation 21-22 for history’s final chapter. Billy Graham said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible, and it’s all going to turn out all right.”
Although we may not know the exact day the Lord will return, we need to be prepared. When my husband was deployed on an aircraft carrier for 13 months, our children marked off the days until he’d return; we were on the dock waiting for him when he arrived. Similarly, Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China in the 1800s, said, “Since He may come any day, it is well to be ready every day.”
It’s been over 2,000 years and Jesus still hasn’t returned, but He will. It’s exciting to realize that the rapid-fire technological and communications explosion have made the words in Matthew 24:14 a possibility, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
We’re on the threshold; all the nations of the world could hear the gospel within this generation. During the last days, God will saturate the world with the gospel message and many will understand that salvation and forgiveness of sins only comes by placing one’s faith in Christ and in His sacrifice for our sins on the cross. They will spend eternity in Heaven. Others will reject Him and spend eternity in Hell.
As the end of the age materializes, Revelation 22:7, “Look, I am coming soon,” will no longer be a prophecy, but a reality. Are you ready?
The Gospel PostScript