"But of that day and hour no one knows, no, 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" (Matt 24:36-37).
Last month we observed the similarities between the days of Noah and today; Satan worship, genetic manipulation, evil, violence, feelings of futility and hopelessness. The world of Noah's time was destroyed by water, and Noah was saved through the flood in the ark. There are countless Scripture passages referring to God's judgment, the Tribulation. We know that there will be those who are made righteous by the cleansing blood of the Lamb. And, Israel will be protected through the tribulation.
BUT, WHAT ABOUT THE CHURCH? Paul writes, "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...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).
There is coming a time when those who have died IN CHRIST will rise. These are not Jewish believers from the period of the Law under Moses. Christ had not yet come. These are not postdiluvian believers. Again, Christ had not yet come...they did not know Him by name. Those who have died "in Christ" are those believers since the day the Holy Spirit came to indwell the believer on the Jewish Festival of Harvest (Pentecost).
The Jews had rejected Christ by asking for His crucifixion during the Feast of the Passover. They were given another chance to repent at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, but they also rejected Him (the Holy Spirit), and Jesus' curse was fulfilled by their dispersion for almost 2000 years. "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him..." (Matt 12:32).
There is one more Jewish feast to be fulfilled; the Feast of Ingathering. This will occur as a result of, and at the end of the Tribulation, a seven year period of God's judgment upon the earth, often referred to as "Jacob's trouble." Joel's prophecy (a prophecy TO THE JEWS) began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, but will be concluded at the end of the Tribulation, when again, Jewish people (possibly the 144,000) will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will prophesy and have visions as the Lord displays His awesome power upon the nations.
Because of Israel's rejection of their Messiah, a new group of believers came about. The Church. Comprised of both Jews and Gentiles; anyone who "confesses the Lord Jesus...and believes that God raised Him from the dead" (Rom 10:9). The shift was from predominantly Jews, to Gentiles. Paul exclaimed to the rejecting Jews, "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" (Acts 28:28).
This phenomenon, the "Church," was not understood by ancient students of prophecy. Paul writes repeatedly about the "mystery" of the gospel. "The mystery which has been hidden from ages...but now has been revealed to His saints...this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:26-27).
The Church is also alluded to as the "Bride of Christ." Jesus tells of the wedding feast in Heaven. Paul in Ephesians 5 compares the marriage relationship of husband and wife to the relationship between Christ and the Church. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 ..."that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
The Church also has the distinction of being a group of saints who are continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18). Jesus promised that when He left, He would send the "Helper" (John 16:7). Which occurred during the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in Acts 2. Prior to that the Holy Spirit's filling was limited to specially anointed people, for special occasions, for specific ministries.
WHEN THE "MEETING IN THE AIR" OCCURS, three things will happen.
1) The dead in Christ will be resurrected. "Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (died)...by Man (Jesus) came the resurrection of the dead...in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Cor 15:20-23).
2) "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 Thess 4:17). The believers, who "walk with God," will follow in the footsteps of Enoch, who was translated. We will just, all of a sudden disappear from the earth, and be instantaneously with the Lord...with our new glorified bodies.
3) The Holy Spirit will leave the earth..."He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way" (2 Thess 2:7). This only makes sense. The CONTINUALLY INDWELLING Holy Spirit is a Church age phenomenon. He indwells the believer IN CHRIST. If the Church leaves the earth, the Holy Spirit is also leaving....WITH the Church.
THEN COMES THE END. "THEN comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power" (1 Cor 15:24). "And THEN the lawless one will be revealed...according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess 2:8-9).
The PRECIOUS PROMISE is that the Church does not have to go through the Tribulation. "But God did not appoint us to wrath" (1 Thess 5:9). "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" (Rev 3:10).
The Tribulation is a time when Christ is pouring out His wrath upon the earth in judgment. Does it MAKE SENSE that He would subject His "Bride" to His wrath?
Then, the Feast of Ingathering (Exo 34:22) will be fulfilled. "On the cloud sat One like the Son of Man...in His hand a sharp sickle... So He...thrust in His sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped" (Rev 14:14-16).
We have already noted the similarities between the "Days of Noah" and today. The days of Noah relate to the time of God's judgment on the earth. The "Meeting in the Air" is to happen FIRST...just like Enoch was translated BEFORE the flood. If the time of judgment is so close, How close are we to that time...The Meeting in the Air!
"But of that day and hour no one knows..." (Matt 24:36). "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:7). But with what we DO KNOW..."When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:28).
"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" (Luke 21:36). "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing" (Matt 24:45-46).
(Scripture quotations are from the NKJV)