"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye...For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Cor 15:51-52; 1 Thess 4:16-17).
The description in these passages is the next major event that mankind is about to witness. The term commonly used is "the Rapture." Although that term never appears in Scripture, it refers to the experience of passing into God's presence, without going through death.
The meeting in the air is a "Church age" event. But is also a signal to the world that judgment is about to come upon them. After years of minor "miracles" and magical sorcery, people will be awed by the GENUINE POWER of God. (The fact that it will occur BEFORE God's judgment of the world, the Tribulation, will be the subject of Part II.) But the "pre-trib" aspect should be remembered, as some of the passages we look at will refer to the Tribulation as, "The coming of the Son of Man"..."the time of Jacob's trouble," etc. It should be understood that Jesus will come two more times to earth, once IN THE AIR, and then TO THE EARTH to judge and reign.
WHAT CONDITIONS WILL PREVAIL? "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 did not know until the flood came...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" (Matt 24:37-41). "As the days of Noah were"... There was demon worship to the extent of intermarriage between mankind and demons. The genetic structure of the human race was corrupted due to the resultant cohabitation. The "wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." And the earth was filled with violence. And their toil caused despair (Gen 6:5,11; 5:29).
This sounds about like the days WE live in! The rise of Satanism and the occult in Western cultures has risen to the proportions that sophisticated intelligentsia and government leaders boast of going to Eastern and primitive cultures for their "enlightenment." Science is attempting to create and engineer at the genetic levels of life. From abortion, to rape and incest, to brutal murders, to doctor-assisted suicides...not to mention the continual wars and acts of terrorism; violence fills our earth. Commentaries on Woodstock '94 indicate songs filled with despair, loneliness, looking for change...for things to get better.
So, what of the "great revivals" sweeping the nation? There are several movements that boast great numerical growth. Some even boast that they are eventually going to become so strong that they will take over governments and prepare a world of peace for the return of Jesus.
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies..." (1 Tim 4:1-2). Satan's primary doctrine is "I will be like God." He teaches his followers that they are good, that they are god-like, that they should feel good about themselves, that they essentially have all of God's powers, if only they will recognize that fact and USE them. They have a "form of godliness but deny its power" (2 Tim 3:5).
As you consider these points and compare them to these rapidly growing movements, also consider the words of Christ when He said "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it" (Matt 7:13). Any movement that grows rapidly by any means other than an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is highly suspect. These movements are man-made; are generated by crowd psychology and cheerleading techniques; do not include humility, beating of the breast in repentance; and are NOT turning the world upside down as people seek Christ.
WHO WILL PARTICIPATE? Often, Noah is typified as the Church. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen 6:8). The church age is the age of "Grace." Therefore, just like Noah was saved in the ark, the Lord is going to save the Church out of the Tribulation. And; "Noah, a preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5) ...So goes the logic... But let's really look at Noah's situation.
Noah was perfect "in his generations." His family had not been corrupted by intermarriage with the demon beings. God had said to reproduce "according to their kind." And God had made man in His own image. And "Noah walked with God" (Gen 6:9).
At God's bidding, Noah built the ark...that which saved his family through the flood. It was a work of his own hands. WORKS! AND... Noah went THROUGH the flood. When the tidal waves washed over the earth, even though the ark was sea-worthy, the ark most certainly pitched and rolled. And Noah and his family would have been privy to God's wrath upon the earth...they were in the middle of it; but, SAFE. However, immediately after the flood, we see sexual perversion, and the rise of idolatry at the Ziggurat of Babel. Certainly, NOT indications of a holy family!
1) "After these things I looked and behold, a great multitude which no one could number...stood before the throne..and the Lamb...These are the ones who COME OUT OF the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7:9,14) . .. 2) "Then the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there..." (Rev 12:6) through the worst of the tribulation. These two groups are different than the ones meeting the Lord "in the air."
ON THE OTHER HAND, "By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, and was not found because God had translated him...for he pleased God" (Heb 11:5). Out of the millions of the earth's population, ONLY ONE man participated in a "meeting in the air." His credentials? He "walked with God." While Enoch also was a preacher of righteousness, there was no great revival before the flood.
Those "meeting the Lord in the air" will not be there "by the millions." Or..."whole cities disappearing." They will be FEW IN NUMBER.
But when they disappear, it will be remembered that they "Walked by faith, not by sight." Their sins had been washed away by the blood of the Lamb. They were found faithful (2 Cor 5:7; Rev 1:5; 1 Cor 4:2).
"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? ...unless indeed you are disqualified" (2 Cor 13:5). The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (Rom 8:16,9).
(Scripture quotations are from the NKJV)