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. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
We should live with the expectation of the catching away of the saints, the rapture. Notice that the word rapture is not found in scripture. It’s from the Latin word rapere, from the Latin translation of the Bible. Though not found in the Bible, it correctly summarizes the event of being caught away, and is used frequently today to reference this grand event.
Living in the light of Jesus coming will change the perspective on all we do, and is meant to bring comfort to us. Enoch walked with God and was not, for God took him. He was caught up! Phillip was preaching Jesus from Isaiah 53 to the Ethiopian Eunuch and was suddenly caught up! He was found in a city 20 miles away. Paul was caught up into the third heaven and received some direct revelation that he didn’t have words to share. And when Jesus returns we believers will be caught up!
The words caught up are full of meaning. Caught up is from the Greek word harpazo. According to Kenneth Wuest in his Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, this word has five shades of meaning in the Greek language.
First, harpazo means to carry off by force. When Jesus returns for the church in the rapture, Satan, the prince of the power of the air, will seek to oppose our leaving, and Jesus will overpower Him and take us away!
Secondly, harpazo means to rescue from the danger of destruction. When the tribulation (a seven year period of judgment preceding Jesus’ second coming) begins, we have the promise that we’ll be taken away! God has not appointed the believer to experience His wrath, but to obtain mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ! We’ll be rescued from it!
Thirdly, harpazo means a Divine power transferring a person marvelously and swiftly from one place to another. Enoch, Phillip, Paul, and Jesus experienced this amazing phenomenon. And we could be the generation that experiences it too.
Fourthly, harpazo means to claim for one’s self eagerly. Jesus is eagerly anticipating His coming back for us. In John 14, He told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for us, and t hat He would come back to receive us to Himself so that we would be with Him. Preparations are being made in heaven right now for our coming!
Fifthly, harpazo means to snatch out and away suddenly. There will be no time for last minute preparation. We won’t be able to say our goodbyes. We’ll be gone in time it takes to blink! One day soon, our daily challenges will be gone. Our personal weaknesses will melt away in the light of His appearing!
We are to comfort one another with these words. Many of us have friends and family members that have preceded us to heaven. This will be a great reunion day full of excitement and joy.
Let’s be ever watchful and ready for Jesus’ return for us in the rapture. Before the end of this very day, we could be caught up!