The Rapture and the Wrath of God

Part three

Like a Thief in the Night.

 

The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.  And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4).

So the day of the Lord, that is, the day of His wrath, shall come as a thief in the night, it shall come when it is not expected.  However for the Christians who are aware of coming events, and therefore watching, they shall not be overtaken by these things.

Not only is the day of the Lord coming when not expected but so also is the Son of Man coming when not expected.  Matthew 24:36-44 says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For as in the 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 know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.  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.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

What do we understand by this?  What happened in the days of Noah?  The ark represents the Lord Jesus Christ, all those “in Christ” will be saved from the coming wrath.  The same day that the door of the ark was closed the wrath fell.  Those who went in the ark were saved those who were outside the ark were left behind to be destroyed by the flood. When everyone who was to be saved was in the ark the flood came and took them all away.  Who did the flood take away?  “All”, every last one who was on earth was taken away by the flood.  Noah and his family, plus all the animals which were in the ark, were taken away on the waters of the flood while everyone else were taken away under the waters and drowned.

It was the same with Lot, on the day he went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone and destroyed all those who were left behind (see Luke 17:28-29).

The same thing will happen when the Lord returns for all those “in Christ”.  He will remove them from the earth and the wrath of God will be poured out on the earth.  It will happen immediately after the sound of the seventh trumpet.  Once again all will be affected by it, those who belong to the Lord will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air above the clouds, all the rest will suffer God’s wrath upon the earth.

So the coming of the Lord for His own is followed immediately by the day of the Lord, they happen on the same day.  He removes His own from the earth and pours out His wrath on the earth.

 The wrath of God will continue for a few years until the return of Christ at Armageddon (this is right at the end of the day of the Lord).  Once again those who are left on the earth will not be expecting the appearance of Christ with His armies to confront them, but again the warning is there, “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.” (Revelation 16:15).

Who is this warning meant for? The clue is in the verse previous to this.  It is the kings of the earth who the beast calls to join him in the battle against the kings from the east.  Not all these kings have taken the mark of the beast, some have managed to stay neutral but not for long, the beast would have forced them to take the mark and submit to him if it wasn’t for the kings of the east rising up against him.  There are certain nations that have been supportive of the Christians and Jews and it is to these that God says “Watch, and keep your garments”.  The garments are the outer robes that people can see.  These nations are righteous because of the deeds that they have done in supporting God’s brethren.  God will bless them for this.

 What happens on the earth during those last few years before the return of Christ is so terrible that unless God cut short those days no flesh would be left alive but for the elect’s sake God steps in and shortens those days (Mark 13:19-20).

When the sixth angel poured out his bowl of wrath on the great river Euphrates its water was dried up so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.  At this unclean spirits went forth from the mouth of the dragon and beast and false prophet to gather all the kings of the earth to join them in the battle against the kings from the east.  Little did they know that God was gathering all the armies together for the final battle when the Lord Jesus would appear on a white horse with the armies in heaven following Him on white horses.

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a loud voice came out of heaven saying “it is done” and there was a great earthquake and the cities of the nation’s fell and the time of God’s judgment came with great hailstones upon the people.

Then the Lord will sit on His throne and all the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats and the sheep He will set on His right hand and the goats on the left.  The sheep will be all those who cared for His brethren and He will class them as righteous and give them eternal life, but the goats on His left hand will go away into everlasting punishment (see Matthew 25:31-46).

The apostle Peter tells us of another day when Christ shall come as a thief in the night, he says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10).  This, of course, happens after the millennial reign of Christ.

However before all these things happen it is well to remember, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, because God took him” (Genesis 5:21).

Mark Greenwood

November 2018