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Today, I am continuing a series about the end times. Although many of you may have been avoiding this subject, you are going to find this series to bring you great comfort.

And I encourage you to get excited about this series because God promises a special blessing for those who engage in this message. Take a look:

Revelation 1:3 NLT – God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near. 

This means that I am going to be blessed for bringing you this series, and you are going to be blessed if you listen to these messages and obey what the Word of God says.

So, who’s ready to be blessed today? Let’s talk about the rapture of the church. I got on my boxing gloves and I’m ready to tackle one of the most controversial topics in the church: the rapture.

Rapture Explained

Have you noticed that Christians aren’t the only one’s who talk about the end of the world? The entire world knows that the end is coming.

To prove my point, I am going to show you a few of the popular end-times movies. And if it is one that you enjoyed, give it your cheer of approval.

  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Armageddon
  • WALL E
  • Independence Day
  • War of the Worlds

The entire world knows that the end is coming. It’s why politicians can manipulate people with the fear of climate change.

Some expect the world to die by famine, or pollution, or during an alien invasion. Others are expecting nuclear war or biological weapons to take us out.

But a Christian who believes the Bible is concerned with none of that. Why? Because we are anticipating what Paul revealed in 1 Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NLT – For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

This is what is referred to as the rapture. I’m here to encourage you today. Jesus is coming back for His church. And when He does, we will be rescued from this place and live with the Lord forever.

Those left behind

On the day of the rapture, the world will go crazy. Empty cars will come crashing to a stop. Dinner will be set on the table with no one around to eat it.

Those left behind will be frantically looking for their loved ones. The news will be inundated with airplane crashes, missing-person reports, and closed highways from all the accidents.

The fake news will bring on experts to explain how it was the unvaccinated who suddenly combusted because of their failure to comply with Dr. Fauci’s orders.

Politicians will post how the world is better off without the right-wing, Bible-believing, politically incorrect hatemongers.

Other religions will explain how the rapture is how their god dealt with Christians, erasing them from the planet for good.

Churches will be packed with casual churchgoers who bought into the woke ideology. They’ll finally realize that although they like the idea of believing in Jesus, they had been deceived into believing a counterfeit.

So, when will the rapture occur?

3 Opposing Rapture Timelines

Not everyone agrees on when the rapture will occur. 

There are three main opposing views regarding the timeline of the rapture. I am going to briefly explain each and take you through scripture to determine which is the most accurate.

But first, let me re-establish our ground rule from last week:

It’s okay if we disagree on some of the details of the end times, as long as we all agree that Jesus is coming for His church. We need to be ready, and we need to help others get ready.

So, if you disagree with my stance on the timeline of the rapture, we don’t need to argue about it. We can simply agree that Jesus is coming back. And when He does, we will find out who was right about the timeline.

Purpose of the Tribulation

Before I get into the three viewpoints about the rapture, it is going to be helpful for you to understand the purpose of the tribulation.

Most have heard about the seven-year tribulation that leads to the end of the age. We are going to get into the details of it next week. But a question I want to answer right now is why.

Why is the tribulation part of God’s plan to begin with?

In Deuteronomy chapter four, Moses is dealing with Israel and urging the people to obey God. He warns them that if they don’t obey, they will be scattered among the nations.

And well, you know how that turned out. They didn’t obey and they were scattered, brought back together by the grace of God, and then scattered again because they disobeyed again.

Then, in 1948, Israel once again was regathered. This is the supersign of the end times. It’s how we know that we are the generation that will see all the end times prophesies fulfilled.

But back to Deuteronomy chapter four. Moses urged them to obey and let them know they would be scattered if they didn’t. And then he said this about the end times:

Deuteronomy 4:30-31 NLT – In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.

The suffering of the tribulation has a few purposes.

One is to punish all those who continue to reject God.

But one you’ve likely yet to consider is the one revealed in this scripture. The tribulation will cause the people of Israel to return to God.

They’ve been in rebellion for a long time. And God wants them back. The prophet Jeremiah confirms:

Jeremiah 30:7 NLT – In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel. Yet in the end they will be saved!

The tribulation is going to be a time of great terror. But in the end, Israel will be saved.

Why is this so important to God? Because He made a covenant with Israel. He promised Abraham land and descendants. And God doesn’t go back on His promises.

3 Groups of People

This is a good time to explain that there are three groups of people that scripture refers to: Jews, Gentiles, and the Church.

Before Jesus, there were only Jews and Gentiles. And the Old Testament actually refers to the Gentiles as the nations. So the Gentiles and the nations are the same thing.

But now, when someone believes in Jesus, they become a new creation. They become part of the Church. They are no longer Jew. They are no longer Gentile. They are now part of the Church.

You need to know this because all scripture is written for the church. But not all scripture is written about the church.

For example, the scriptures we just read were written about Israel, not the church. The tribulation is kind of like the last call for Israel to repent. It is God giving them one last chance to return to Him.

God wants the Jews to believe in Jesus and receive salvation.

For the past 2,000 years, we’ve been in the age of grace. God has given us lots of time to turn to Jesus without all the terror of the tribulation. But His wrath is coming.

It reminds me of parenting. Beth and I have five kids, all ages six and under. When we put them to bed at night, we say, “Do not get out of your bed for any reason.”

Ten minutes later, our three-year-old comes out explaining how bad she needs to potty even though she just went ten minutes ago.

Five minutes after that our four-year-old comes out because she forgot to fill her water cup. Then the three-year-old follows because she already drank her water and needs a refill.

Then our one-year-old is crying in his crib because he threw his blanky, pacifier, and cup out of his crib. Now he wants it back so he can go to sleep.

All the parents in the room know exactly what I’m talking about. You extend grace for a while, but there comes a point when you find out the grace strategy isn’t working on some of them. It’s time for some consequences.

Age of Grace

This is what God has been up to. He’s been giving us lots and lots of grace. But there comes a point where the wrath of God is going to be poured out for all who don’t believe in Jesus Christ.

And as His wrath is poured out during the tribulation, He is giving people seven more years to turn to Jesus. And lots of people will. It’s believed that millions will turn to Jesus during the tribulation.

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself because we are talking about the tribulation next week. But I just need you to understand the purpose of the tribulation because it will help you understand the rapture.

The tribulation is God giving people, especially the nation of Israel, one last chance to believe in Jesus and receive salvation.

With that in mind, let’s now go through the three viewpoints regarding the timing of the rapture.

#1 Mid-Tribulation Rapture

The mid-tribulation view suggests that the Church will have to endure the first half of the tribulation, but will be raptured before the second half when things get much worse.

Some with this viewpoint believe we will be raptured three-and-a-half years into the tribulation. Others believe it is five and a half years in.

There are several scriptures that seem to lean towards a mid-tribulation rapture, but the viewpoint begins to struggle when you take into account the history and nature of God.

Scripture tells us that God will begin pouring out His wrath on the earth at the beginning of the tribulation. Then, His wrath will intensify three-and-a-half years in.

Get this. Not once has God poured out His wrath on the righteous.

Abraham and Lot

In Genesis 18, Abraham was negotiating with God over the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was done with the evil going on there and decided to destroy the city.

Abraham said, “Wait, wait, wait. Are you going to destroy the righteous with the wicked? What if I find fifty righteous people there. Will you destroy the city?”

God replied, “I will spare the entire city if there are fifty righteous in the city.”

Unfortunately, there were not fifty righteous. So Abraham kept negotiating all the way down to ten. And God said He would spare the entire city if there were ten righteous.

Well, there weren’t ten righteous. There was only one, and his name was Lot. So the Lord had Lot and his family leave the city. As soon as they were gone, the city was destroyed.

But notice, God did not pour out His wrath on the righteous. He waited until the righteous were moved out of harm’s way before pouring out his wrath on the evil city.

Noah’s Ark

Same thing with Noah and the ark. God did not send the flood to destroy the earth until the righteous were safely tucked away in the ark.

Not once has God poured out His wrath on the righteous. And although the last half of the tribulation will be worse than the first half, the entire tribulation is the wrath of God.

This is the fatal flaw with the mid-tribulation viewpoint. You have to accept that the righteous would have to endure God’s wrath alongside the unrighteous.

To me, the mid-tribulation viewpoint is kind of like if I told my wife, “Hey babe. There’s this terrible guy coming to live in our house. He’s known for rape and all kinds of evil. I’ll allow him to do his thing for a few years. But, I will rescue you before it gets too bad.”

That’s not the God I know. The God of the Bible holds back His wrath. He gives us chance after chance because His desire is for us to be saved.

I Thessalonians 5:9 NKJV – For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Has God’s wrath already been poured out?

You might be thinking, “Well, I’ve gone through quite a bit of suffering. So it sure seems God is pouring out His wrath on the righteous already.”

The suffering you’ve experienced is not God’s wrath. We are in the age of grace. God is not pouring out His wrath. He’s holding it back until the tribulation.

What you are experiencing today is the same thing Lot experienced before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. When you are surrounded by people consumed with evil, you’re going to have some challenges to deal with!

The suffering we’ve experienced leading up to the tribulation will look like child’s play in comparison to God’s wrath being poured out during the tribulation.

A mid-tribulation rapture just doesn’t line up with the character of God. So, I believe the mid-tribulation viewpoint falls flat.

#2 Post-Tribulation Rapture

The post-tribulation viewpoint suggests that we will go through the entire seven-year tribulation. And then at the end, we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and immediately return back to earth for the millennial reign.

Pretty much everything I just explained about the mid-tribulation rapture applies to this one as well. Not once has God poured out his wrath on the righteous.

Some will argue that we are going to be shielded from God’s wrath as we go through the tribulation, much like the Israelites were shielded from the plagues of Egypt.

The difference is, the Israelites weren’t living among the Egyptians. They were separated into their own area, which enabled God to pour out His wrath on Egypt, but not the Israelites.

The Church all lives among the world. We are not camping out in our own community. We are in the world, but not of it.

On top of this, Jesus does not refer back to Egypt when talking about the end times. He refers back to Lot and Noah. Take a look:

Luke 17:26-30 – When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Considering the timing

There’s no way this can be referring to the mid-tribulation or the end of the tribulation. How could it be ‘business as usual’ when the world economy has failed and a quarter of the population has been wiped out?

As I was studying all of this, there were times when I would be considering a mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture. But this explanation of the end times from Jesus always messed it up.

It will be like the days right up until Noah entered the boat. It will be like the days leading up to the morning when Lot left Sodom and Gomorrah. Business as usual right up until the day of the Lord.

And when that day comes, everything changes. Here’s how Jesus said it will go down:

Luke 17:34-35 NLT – That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

Just like it was with Lot. The tribulation cannot commence until the righteous are taken away, which leads me to the third viewpoint.

#3 Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The pre-tribulation viewpoint suggests that the Church will not go through any part of the tribulation. As I’m sure you’ve guessed already, I believe this is the correct viewpoint for many reasons.

The tribulation is a horrendous time when the age of grace ends and the wrath of God is poured out. Yet, here’s what the Apostle Paul said about the Church:

Romans 8:1 NLT – So now there is no condemnation [judgment] for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Those who have repented of their sins and believed in Jesus have been forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness. There’s no judgment for us. Jesus already took care of that.

Another reason is, the Apostle Paul gave us a clear explanation of the pre-tribulation rapture in 2 Thessalonians.

The believers in Thessalonica were experiencing great persecution because of their faith in Christ. And they wanted to know if it was all part of the tribulation. I bet they were questioning first Thessalonians where Paul said they were not appointed to wrath. 

He starts off by assuring them they are not in the tribulation. Then he explains that the tribulation cannot begin until the antichrist is revealed.

Evil’s Reveal

So how do we know we are not in the tribulation? The antichrist has not been revealed. Paul then goes on to explain further:

2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 NLT – And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.

So, the antichrist cannot be revealed until his appointed time. And God is the only one who can decide that time. The Holy Spirit is holding back the antichrist until God says to move out of the way.

And for God to move the Holy Spirit out of the way, He is going to have to remove His church because the Holy Spirit resides in us.

1 Corinthians 3:16 NLT – Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

When the Church is raptured, the earth will once again become void of the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit out of the way, the antichrist can now be revealed.

Glorious Days

The rapture will be a glorious day for the Church as we go to be with the Lord. It will also be a glorious day for Satan because his restraint is finally removed and he can accomplish his aim of dominating the world through the antichrist.

God provided Lot with a way of escape before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. God also planned Noah’s escape before destroying the world.

These are the two accounts Jesus referenced when teaching about the end times. And I believe this is the strongest place in Scripture that proves the same is true for the Church.

God will rescue His church before the tribulation begins. And when that day comes, here’s what it is going to be like:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NLT – For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

What a glorious day that will be. And I love the last part where Paul says to encourage each other with these words.

It’s not very encouraging if I tell you we will endure the tribulation or even half of it. But it is quite encouraging to know that God has planned a way of escape for the Church prior to the tribulation.

So, be encouraged. Jesus is coming for His Church and it is going to be very soon.

Be Encouraged

Like I explained to you last week, we are at the end of the end times. We are the generation Jesus spoke about that would see all the end times prophecies fulfilled.

The rapture could happen this year and trigger the beginning of the tribulation. Or it could be seven years from now.

We don’t know the day or hour, but we know the generation. And we are now 74 years into that generation. In Psalms, we find that a generation is 70-80 years. Y’all, He’s coming very soon.

I told you this story last week, but I want to tell you again because it is so encouraging.

Jesus is coming soon

A few months ago, on a Sunday morning, I was preaching on miracles. Spiritual gifts were moving at the end of the message. It was a great service.

When it was over, I walked off the stage and went to my kids in the back of the room. As soon as I got back there, my six-year-old daughter stunned me with what she said.

She said, “Hey Dad, I just found out that we are all going to go to heaven together. You and mom aren’t going to go before us. We are all going at the same time.”

When she said this, I knew she was speaking about something she had seen in the spirit. Immediately, the Holy Spirit revealed she was talking about the rapture of the church.

This isn’t something we talk about at home. Leading up to my preparation for this series, I rarely even thought about end times.

At the point when Leanna said this, the Holy Spirit had already been dropping some hints that the End Times would be our next series. And He spoke through my daughter to confirm it.

I’ll tell you what Jesus told me the morning of April 9. I hear from the Lord often during my morning quiet time, but this was the first time He had ever said this to me. Here’s what He said.

“I’m coming soon.” And in my thoughts, I pretty much dismissed what He said. “Yeah, yeah, I know. The Bible told us 2,000 years ago that you are coming soon. If it was soon back then, it must really be soon now.”

And then He said it again, “I’m coming soon. Kade! I’m coming soon.” At this point, I began to weep because I realized that I will see His coming in my lifetime.

Just like first Thessalonians explains, I will be one of those who are still alive at His coming. And we will meet Jesus in the air. Me and my entire family, just like my daughter saw in the spirit.

So, I have to ask, are you going to join us?

The rapture is only for those who have repented of their sins and turned to Jesus Christ. It’s only for those who have left their old life behind and embraced new life with Jesus.

The rapture is not for the woke church. I’m talking about those who say they believe in Jesus but choose a life of sin. When it comes down to it, the woke church sides with sin over God’s Word every time.

We can say we believe in Jesus all day long. But what really tells the tale is how we live our lives. If you truly believe Jesus is who He says He is, you’ll follow Him by following His Word.

I’m not saying you have to live a perfect life. But what I am saying is that when you believe in Jesus and something is revealed in your life that is contrary to the Bible, you abandon your way and embrace God’s way.

I believe in Jesus. I believe He gave me new life. I believe His power resides inside of me and enables me to live life the way He wants me to. He doesn’t expect me to do it on my own.

I believe He loves me. So when He asks me to do something that I don’t particularly like at the time, I do it anyway because He always has my best interest at heart.

I believe in Jesus, so I follow Jesus.

And I want to ask you, do you believe in Jesus? Because now’s the time. He’s coming back for His church very soon. And trust me, you want to go with us.

It all starts with repentance. You must refuse to live the way that you want to and commit to following Jesus. And once you’ve made that decision, you open your mouth and declare, “Jesus is my Lord.”

If this applies to you, if you truly believe Jesus is who He says He is, repeat after me, “Jesus is my Lord. It’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. Since Jesus says I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven. Since Jesus says I’m free from sin, then I’m free from sin.”

Is there anyone who just gave your life to Jesus for the first time? Raise your hand. How about anyone who just rededicated your life? Raise your hand.

If you are watching online, drop it in the comments to let us know that you just gave your life to Jesus so we can celebrate with you.


About the Author

Kade Young

Kade Young is the lead pastor of NoLimits Church.