Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh (Matthew 24:44).
A Christian is dragged out into a dusty road by a demonic mob. His family was executed in front of his eyes, and now it’s his turn. But he shows no fear. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is giving him a peace and acceptance that he will soon be reunited with them. As his tormenters hold him down and tie his hands behind his back, he does not struggle. He solemnly looks up at the gun pointed at his face. His gaze goes into the little black hole, peering inside the bore as if it were a portal to Heaven. At the last moment, he thinks that perhaps the Lord will return. Just as the masked gunman would pull the trigger, the Rapture would take place and the bullet would pass through the empty spot where he once knelt.
God planned on destroying the earth with a flood, and only one found grace in His eyes. Genesis 6:8: But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord gave Noah very specific instructions on the dimensions of the ark, but one vital detail was left out: He never told him how long it would take, or when the flood would come. Noah was simply left with the urgency of frantically constructing an ark for the next 120 years, knowing the waters could fall at any time.
No doubt as he was building, the sinners surrounded him and mocked him while he sternly warned of their impending doom. No doubt that as time went on, his memory of the promise given by God faded. No doubt the devil tried to convince him that he should give up. But his faith remained unwavering. Hebrews 11:7: By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
And when the ark was constructed and all the animals were boarded, God shut the door but gave seven days of mercy. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth (Genesis 7:4). Even after 120 years, God was merciful enough to give one more chance, but still no one came on board.
No one was laughing as the rain began to fall and the fountains of the deep gushed forth. Their mockery was turned into screams as the flood waters came. All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died (Genesis 7:22).
Messianic prophecies were given all throughout the Old Testament. For 3,000 years, the prophets sounded forth the warning that Jesus was coming. Isaiah 11:10: And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. For centuries, the Jewish people anticipated this Redeemer to come at any moment. But when that blessed moment finally arrived, only a few wise men and some shepherds were there to see Him.
One of Jesus’ last promises before He ascended into Heaven was that He would return. John 14:3: 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. The disciples knew that Jesus might come back at any moment, and like Noah constructing the ark, they diligently began to work building the kingdom of God. Peter in his very first sermon after Pentecost preached that they were living in the end-times outpouring prophesied by Joel. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: (Acts 2:16).
The years came and went, and to the very end, the Early Church never stopped proclaiming that the Rapture was just around the corner. When he wrote the book of Revelation, John was the last surviving apostle, an old man exiled on the island of Patmos. And yet still he wrote Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. (Revelation 1:7). Like Noah, his faith was unwavering.
Almost 2,000 years have passed, and the Christian church still clings to the promise that the Lord is soon coming.
Most all of us can attest to the fact that we have heard this message our entire lives that the Lord is soon coming. Many of us never thought we would see the year 2015. Years ago, I was witnessing to a young man about the Rapture and he asked me how long I thought we had before it happened. He thought it would be maybe 15 years are so, but I warned him that we probably didn’t have that much time. This year marks 15 years since that conversation.
Every generation has claimed it’s the last generation. So what is different about ours?
I could recycle the obvious list of end time signs all around us. Wars and rumors of wars. Mass acceptance of homosexuality, even in the churches. Persecution of Christianity around the world at an all-time high, and a media that is largely ignoring it. A great increase of knowledge yet an arrival of ominous technology. The daily threat of terrorism or shootings hanging over our heads, and a nation that largely rejects the God who can protect us from it.
But what sets this generation apart is something even more disturbing. For the first time in 2,000 years, doubt is beginning to creep into the churches about the Rapture. It was one thing to preach about it when all the church was ready. It will be something else entirely when only a remnant is still expecting it. The Bible called it a great falling away. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
The Rapture will come quickly and catch people off-guard, sweeping the world in an instant. Matthew 24:27: For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. But how could it have been unexpected, if all the church was expecting it at any moment? It couldn’t have happened in days past and been without warning. But we are living in a world where the Christian church is losing interest and becoming dangerously lukewarm. And just like the rest of the world, most of us will be caught unaware.
Noah was ridiculed as he built the ark, and Jesus warned that the last days would be as the days of Noah. Verse 37: But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. While we still continue to sound the warning alarm that He is soon coming, the world is increasingly mocking us. Television shows ridicule Christians who believe in the Rapture. Late-night comedians tell jokes about us. And many Christians, wanting to be loved and accepted by the world, are starting to turn their backs on the belief that Jesus will return. Unlike Noah and John, their faith is wavering. And they will be left behind.
No matter how long it took, the ark was eventually completed and the floods came. No matter how long it took, the Jewish Messiah did come to redeem the world. And no matter how long it takes, Jesus will return. And when He does, the floods of the Tribulation Period will be poured out upon the planet earth. Matthew 24:21: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. The lukewarm church will be spewed out of the mouth of God, and the mocking laughter of the secular media will be turned into screams of unspeakable horror as Hell is unleashed upon the world.
We have not been deceived. When Jesus told the church before He ascended that He would soon return, He was not lying. They didn’t see it in their lifetimes, but God doesn’t operate by our timelines; 2,000 years is a long time to us, but not to Him. Psalm 90:4: For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
If Noah had known when the flood was coming, he would have gotten slack in constructing the ark. If we knew when He was coming, we would not have our sense of urgency in building His kingdom. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only (Matthew 24:36). Even if Jesus wasn’t returning in their day, the will of God has always been for His church to sound out the warning bells of the Rapture. Luke 21:28: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.