I am always intrigued when people term an event 'apocalyptic'. We are all wired to acknowledge God, we're made in His image after all, and we're living on His creation. We all understand that there are events, and there are disasters, and then there are disastrous events that defy normal comprehension. (Joplin MO F-5 tornado, Japan 9.0 quake, Indonesian tsunami...). And yet, for all that, the Tribulation will be so far beyond that, we can't even really manage a comprehensible envisioning of that event, really.
And yet, when an unprecedented or unexpected or especially disastrous event happens, they say it is an apocalypse.
Tehran, Iran engulfed by massive dust storm
A massive dust storm engulfed Tehran late Monday afternoon, killing up to five people and creating an apocalyptic scene in the Iranian capital. “The skies over Tehran suddenly turned black as a wall of sand hit the city from the west, my wife called me to come home 'now',” tweeted Thomas Erdbrink, Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times. Fars News Agency, an independent news organization in Iran, called the event "unexpected and rather unprecedented."
The Washington Post reported the reason that the storm freaked everyone out so much:
Tehran, Iran swallowed by massive dust storm, walloped by 70 mph winds
Weather observations in Tehran show a stunning transformation in conditions as the storm struck. A 5 p.m. local time, it was 91 degrees with a moderate breeze. At 5:30 p.m., the temperature dropped to 73 degrees with a raging sustained wind at 55 mph gusting to 69 mph in a reported thunderstorm with heavy rain. By 6 p.m., the temperature was down to 66 degrees, with a sustained wind of 35 mph.
I am reminded of the bible's warnings of the day when judgment shall come. Not that this particular storm is judgment, I don't know that one way or another. But conditions were calm one moment, and half an hour later people thought the apocalypse was happening. When it actually happens, it will be just like that, rapid, sudden, unprecedented, and surprising.
"In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened." (Genesis 7:11)
Just like that, one day it had never rained, and the next, at a precise hour, all the fountains of the earth burst open.
"For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:38-39)
The point is, are you ready? Jesus will render judgment one day. It will be sudden and surprising- to those who were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage, that is. To those of us who pray, worship, and watch, it will not be surprising. We eagerly await the Groom, and we will be removed at a sudden second before the judgment comes again. Some who are left behind will see that sign and know that when the rapture occurs, the fountains of the deep are opening again metaphorically speaking, and they will repent. The penalty for not claiming Jesus as King during the Age of Grace is that they will live during a time of horrific judgment, and die during that period, or be martyred. Some will live to the end and populate the Millennial Kingdom, but oh, what sorrow they will endure.
Others will deny the rapture event as a sign and continue planting and building and buying and selling ... but they will be destroyed.
"Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17:28-30).
Therefore friend, the question of this age, is Are You Ready?
"How can I be ready to be caught up in the Rapture?"
It is much simpler than you may think. The short answer is that you must receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. Now for the long answer. When you ask this question, we assume that you have heard that not all Christians will be taken when the Rapture occurs. You probably have been told that only "super Christians" who are living a holy life will be raptured, and all the other Christians will have to suffer through the Tribulation. This is not true, and we will show you why this is not true from Scripture.
The first thing that you must understand is the purpose for the Tribulation. The Tribulation is a time of judgment on the earth and punishment for Israel. Please note that Israel and the Church are not the same group of people. The Church is a spiritual organism. People in the Church are related because of their spiritual birth (by being born again - John 3:3). The people of Israel (Jews) are related by blood. This is a race of people to whom God made special promises in the Old Testament. God declared a time of judgment upon Israel for their unfaithfulness. This time of judgment is clearly declared to be only for Israel (Daniel 9:24-27).
Gabriel brought a message from God to Daniel (9:20-21). Daniel 9:24 says, "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place." In this message Gabriel specifies to Daniel that the time is "for your people." Daniel's people were Jews, the nation of Israel. God declared 70 weeks against the nation of Israel. This “70 weeks” is literally in the Hebrew “70 sevens.” In other words, 70 times 7 years, or 490 years. Of those years, 483 (69 times 7) of them were fulfilled from the end of the Israel's captivity in Babylon to the cutting off of Messiah (the crucifixion of Christ). This leaves 7 years of judgment yet to be fulfilled. Those 7 years are the years of the Tribulation. The point is that this prophecy concerns Israel primarily, and the purpose of the judgment is "to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place."
Now, we can also demonstrate from Scripture that Christians will not be in the Tribulation. A study of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 through 5:9 shows this. In this passage Paul writes about the Rapture and the Day of the Lord. First Thessalonians 5:9 gives Christians this promise: "God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Pay close attention to this verse. Paul says God has not destined us for wrath, specifically the wrath of the Day of the Lord (5:2).
Further evidence that Christians will not go through the Tribulation comes from 1 Corinthians. In that letter Paul sharply rebukes the believers for being carnal Christians. But in chapter 15, Paul writes of the Rapture, and he never indicates that any of the Corinthian believers, carnal though they were, would be left behind. True believers in Jesus Christ will not have to endure the Tribulation.
The only way you will be left behind in the Rapture is if you have not received Christ as your Savior.
Jesus could call His bride home at any moment. I am looking forward to that. Words don't do my anticipation justice. I hope to see you there.