The Rapture

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." NKJ

Last week we spoke on the last phrase of this verse. Now we want to look at the first phrase of that last sentence. "Come up here.

John has been on the island of Patmos for this entire revelation to this point. Now as the churches have been duly addressed, John is summoned to heaven.

I think that is an interesting point, and indicates that something special takes place at this point. With the exception of what John sees in chapters 4 and 5, almost everything remaining till the end of the book takes place on earth as a result of something happening in heaven. But John has been caught away to heaven as if to escape it all.

I think that John being summoned to heaven is an indication that the believers who are alive on earth at this time will be caught up to heaven.

There are just a few things we need to see in the message this morning.

  1. What period is approaching in the book of Revelation
    1. The tribulation period.
      1. Chapters 6-19 describe what is know as the tribulation period.
      2. It is a time of unprecedented destruction from the Lord. Isa 13:6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. (NKJ)
      3. It is a time of His wrath. Rev 6:17 "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (NKJ)
      4. It is a time of Jacob's trouble. Jer 30:7 Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. (NKJ)
      5. A time that will test the whole earth. Rev 3:10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (NKJ)
    2. Who are the major characters of the tribulation period.
      1. The antichrist. Rev. 13:1-10
      2. The false prophet. Rev. 13:11-18
      3. The two witnesses. Rev. 11
      4. The great harlot. Rev. 17
      5. The woman who bore the man child. Rev. 12
      6. The 144,000 Jews sealed by God. Rev. 7 & 14
    3. What are the major events of the tribulation period?
      1. The making of the covenant between the antichrist and the Jewish nation. Dan 9:27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;" (NKJ)
      2. The many wars, famines, and natural disasters that come to punish the people of earth.
        1. Through these about one half of the world's population will be destroyed.
        2. Although we have these things among us today, they are not like they will be during the great tribulation period.
        3. Jesus said that unless God will shorten the time, no one would be saved alive. Matt 24:22 "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. (NKJ)
      3. Those who are under the dominion of the antichrist will be required to worship him and receive his mark, either in their right hand or on their forehead without which no one can buy or sell. Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, (NKJ)
      4. After 3 ½ years the antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews and will proclaim himself as God in the newly built temple.
        1. Dan. 7:27b, "but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate." NKJ
        2. II Th 2:3-4 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (NKJ)
        3. This is the abomination that makes desolate that Jesus and Daniel spoke of.
        4. Dan 11:31 "And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (NKJ)
        5. Matt 24:15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), (NKJ)
      5. The end will come with the battle of Armageddon.
        1. Rev 16:16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. (NKJ)
        2. Rev 14:20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. (NKJ)
        3. Rev 19:19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
      6. At the end of this battle the beast (antichrist) and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire and Satan is bound for 1,000 years.
        1. Rev 19:20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (NKJ)
        2. Rev 20:1-2 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (NKJ)
      7. Many of the events that will take place, we do not know for sure when they will happen, but there are some things we know for sure.
        1. The beginning will start with a covenant between the antichrist and Israel. Dan 9:27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
        2. The middle is marked by the breaking of that covenant. "but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."
        3. At the end of the tribulation Jesus will return to destroy this world system and establish His own kingdom of which will be no end. Matt 24:29-31 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (NKJ)
        4. We also know that the tribulation will be a period of exactly one prophetic week as understand in Daniel or a period of seven years. Dan 9:27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
          1. Its divisions are seen in the 3 ½ years that divide it.
          2. 1260 days
          3. Time, times and half a time
          4. 42 months
        5. We also know that there will be what is termed a rapture.
  2. The Rapture
    1. The origin of the word.
      1. The word comes to us from the Latin.
      2. It means a catching up or catching away.
    2. It is described in 1 Thess. 4:15-17
      1. The first thing we see is that the rapture takes place when Jesus returns. V-16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven
      2. This even is accompanied by the shout of the voice of the archangel. V-16 with a shout, with the voice of an archangel
      3. Also there will be the trumpet of God. V-16 and with the trumpet of God
      4. The dead saints will arise from their graves. V-16 the dead in Christ will rise first
      5. The living saints will be caught away from this world, meeting the Lord in the air to be with Him forever. V-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.
    3. It is a mystery.
      1. 1 Cor. 15:51-57
      2. The idea of a mystery is something hitherto not revealed.
        1. The mystery was that not everyone is going to die. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed
        2. As Enoch escaped death before the flood, so these will escape the day of His great wrath.
        3. It will take place instantaneously. 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
          1. The word for moment is atomos which means uncutable or undividable.
          2. When they discovered the what they called the atom, they called it that because they though it could not be divided, that is they thought it was the smallest particle.
          3. This word along with the phrase twinkling of any eye indicates the shortest time.
        4. This body will be changed. V-53 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
      3. Millions living today may never die but be translated as they ascend to meet their Lord in the air.
    4. The rapture will be a surprise
      1. The return of Jesus will be in two phases.
        1. First He comes as a thief.
          1. 1Thes 5:2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
          2. 1Thes 5:3-4 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
          3. 1Thes 5:4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
          4. 2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,
          5. Rev 3:3 "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
          6. Rev 16:15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
          7. Matt 24:44 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
          8. Luke 12:40 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
        2. Secondly He comes and every eye shall see Him.
          1. Jude 14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,
          2. Rev 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. (NKJ)
      2. When He comes for His saints it will be as a thief, quietly, secretly, with no warning.
      3. When He comes with His saints, every eye shall see Him and the men of the earth shall wail because of Him and they will hide their faces from Him.
      4. It will not be a surprise to those watching and waiting.
        1. We are encouraged to watch.
          1. Matt 24:42, 43 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
          2. Matt 25:13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
          3. Mark 13:33 "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
          4. Mark 13:34-37 "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming-- in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning- "lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"
          5. Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
          6. 1 Cor 16:13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
          7. 1 Thes 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
          8. 2 Tim 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
          9. 1 Pet 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
          10. Rev 3:3 "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
        2. Those watching cannot be surprised.
        3. If you go to the train station to ride a train and it has not yet arrived even though it is past due, what do you do. Do you go shopping or out to lunch. No, you watch. Even if the train is two hours late and you could have spent that time doing other things, yet you dared not for you might have missed your train for you did not know when it might come.
  3. But when will the rapture take place?
    1. There are four major views.
      1. Pre-tribulation view.
      2. Mid-tribulation view.
      3. Post-tribulation view.
      4. Partial rapture view.
    2. Reasons why I accept the Pre-tribulation view.
      1. We are not appointed to wrath. 1Thes 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
      2. He promised to keep us from that hour.
      3. Rev. 4:1 is a perfect picture of the rapture.
        1. There is no reason for this to take place other than to indicate when the rapture would take place.
      4. The church is never referred to from chapters 6 - 19.
      5. The language of chapters 6 - 19 is Old Testament in nature.
      6. It is Daniel's 70th week and therefore relates to the Jews.
        1. Determined on your people Israel. Dan. 9:24

Since the rapture could take place at any time, the question is, are you ready?

Today it is difficult to tell God's people from those who are not God's people, but when the rapture takes place the difference will be evident immediately. Jesus once told a parable that illustrates all this. "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; "but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. "But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. "So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'" Matt 13:24-30 (NKJ)

It may difficult to tell the wheat from the tares, but the rapture will make a difference that will be immediate. You know if you are the wheat or the tares. Jesus died so that you might have forgiveness of sins. Repent and put your trust in Him today.


This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at