This Same Jesus
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” -- Acts 1:10-11Sunday, April 8, 2012 is the day this year that the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Of course we are to remember that he first had to die (Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:23-26), but salvation must include faith in his resurrection (Rom. 5:10, 1 Cor. 15:3-4) for the purpose of being reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. -- Mt. 24:30
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. -- Rev. 1:7
We tell you this in the Word of the Master, that we who are alive when the Master appears will not be in line in front of those who have died. For the Master himself will descend from heaven with the loud command of the Ruling Messenger and the trumpet of God; the dead in the Anointed will rise first, and then we who are alive will be snatched away at the same time with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air. Then we will always be together with the Master. So comfort each other with these words. -- 1 Thes. 4:15-18
And while all believers know that we will see Jesus again, not as many concern themselves with prophecies about the timing of his return. While the second and third quotations above certainly refer to his final return to the earth, the first may not and last does not. All four mention his coming with the clouds, but the last one is a meeting in the air, a “snatching away” per Jesus’ analogy of a groom taking his bride away for a seven-day feast. As I’ve written before, this is an undeniable parallel with the final seven years of Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy wherein God completes the judgments on the world and the purification of Israel (Dan. 9:24).
Of course there have been many times in the past when believers saw a few of the signs of Jesus’ return (Mt. 16:3, 24:32-33, 1 Thes. 5:4), but this is the first time in history when we see practically all of them, not the least of which is the fact that the nation of Israel exists at all. And I don’t care why it’s there; people commit a logical fallacy when they think that if something seems to happen “naturally” or through intrigue or cunning that God had nothing to do with it. Yet if we know our scriptures at all, we know that God often uses natural processes or political figures to perform his will. But the point is that God predicted it, not how he carried it out. Another point is that fulfilled prophecy we see only in hindsight is the proof (e.g., John 16:4); in the Gospels alone there are several instances where the writer noted that it was only after the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that they remembered what he had predicted.
There are many and varied theories flying around today about why the world is experiencing so many bizarre events, from natural disasters to people going berserk. Even some in the scientific community are looking to metaphysics and “new age” vibrational evolution to explain many strange phenomena. In fact, people today seem eager to believe any theory, no matter how wild, as long as it isn’t from the Bible--- and especially not a pre-tribulational Rapture. They almost want to suffer through a great cosmic upheaval, as if they alone are spiritually enlightened enough above all the people of past generations. But the events of Revelation are going to be a big surprise to all who go through them (Dan. 12:1, Mk. 13:19).
All other theories would have us looking for the Antichrist, but the pre-trib view has us looking for the real Christ. If the resurrection of Jesus from the dead means anything to us, it should be that we eagerly wait for that “blessed hope” when he comes and “snatches” us up to be with him. Our joy is not only for a past event, but especially for a future event, one I am convinced will happen very soon. And no, this is not fear of suffering or a morbid wish to see the enemies of God destroyed (Ezekiel 18:23), but simply the anticipation of the Bride to see her Groom. How can we not want this more than anything else?
So as you celebrate our risen Savior, remember that this was not the end of the story; he is coming back for us! I can think of no better motivation for evangelism than this. Don’t be like the crowds in Jerusalem who waved palm branches one day and then yelled for Jesus’ crucifixion another; don’t be a “Christmas and Easter Christian”, or even an every Sunday one, but a 24/7 evangelist.