WILL THERE BE A RAPTURE?
Imagine for a moment that you are going about your daily business and then, all of a sudden, you are gone. People no longer see you, but you have not died. You have simply vanished to enter another realm. Am I talking about science fiction or alien abduction? The answer is ‘No’. I am thinking of actual historic events, of encounters experienced by Enoch and Elijah. What’s more, I am thinking of something that is yet to happen, something that may affect you and me. Looking forward in time, the Bible predicts a third occurrence of transformations.
First, let us take a look at Enoch’s experience. This man was born into the seventh generation from Adam and had a son called Methuselah. Paradoxically, Methuselah became the longest-living man on earth – 969 years, to be exact – while Enoch had the shortest life experience among his contemporaries. He was only 365 years old when he left this world, merely one third of the average ante-diluvian age. Why am I emphasizing this fact? Because it is due to his transformation: “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis ). As simple as that – God took him home, and Enoch became the first person to be translated into the realm of God without experiencing physical death.
No further reason is given for this unusual event except for one short sentence in the book of Hebrews (11:5): “By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, and was not found because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Nothing more is said, and Enoch is never again mentioned in the Bible except for Jude 14, where he is said to have foretold the judgment of false teachers, and Luke 3:37, where he is confirmed as representing the seventh generation from Adam and as part of the earthly lineage of Christ through Mary. Could this short account of Enoch’s translation be the initiation and foreshadowing of similar occurrences? This seems very likely, because the Bible records three such events in total; two that are past and one yet to come.
The second event involved Elijah, who was also taken away from this earth without going through physical death. He had the same experience as Enoch, although the circumstances were a little more flamboyant: Elijah was whisked away by a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses, taken up into heaven by a whirlwind (2nd Kings 2). The Bible recalls another interesting fact about this particular translation: both Elijah and his successor Elisha knew about it in advance, and Elisha kept waiting for the unusual event to occur. Could this have a foreshadowing significance for the last event of this kind?
You may not have heard about these disappearances before today, but God had a purpose for recording them in the Bible. Furthermore, you may be wondering what Enoch and Elijah’s experiences have to do with you in today’s world. Well, event number three has not yet happened, and if you belong to God, you could be involved in it. How do I know? Because I believe what is written in the Bible.
The apostle Paul spoke about this exciting moment as something new, something hitherto unknown: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we [who are alive at that time] shall be changed” (1 Cor.15:51-52). He also emphasised the fact that this revelation came directly from God: ”For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians -17).
What an exciting event to look forward to! The writer of Hebrews agrees: ”Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebr.9:28). Should we ask ourselves whether WE are eagerly waiting for His appearing? >Are we expecting Him to return from heaven to whisk us away? Are we looking forward to the possibility of being transformed while still alive in order to meet Him in the air? What a wonderful expectation for those who have trusted in the Son of God for their salvation, for those who are near to the heart of God through faith.