Ascension: (New Testament) the rising of the body of Jesus into heaven on the 40th day after his Resurrection. ascension, ascending (noun) the act of changing location in an upward direction. (Definition.net)
The taking up of Elijah by the LORD prefigures the ascension of the Lord Jesus, and anticipates our own meeting with Jesus in the air.
- Elijah’s ascension was attended by horses and chariots. As Elisha and the sons of the prophets looked on, Elijah was taken up “in a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11).
- The ascension of Jesus was attended by angels. As the disciples looked on “a cloud received (Jesus) out of their sight” (Acts 1:9-11). The angel reminded them; “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come backin the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
- Our own meeting with the Lord in the air will be “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” Believers will be “caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This event is called the Rapture and is part of the Second Coming.
Second Coming of Christ
The second coming of Christ is in two parts: the Rapture which occurs sometime around the beginning of the last seven years and the Revelation which concludes at the end of the seven years.
Note the following verses that reveal a Biblical paradox concerning Christ’s second coming. In each case, the first verse describes the Rapture while the second verse describes the Revelation.
1 Thessalonians 4:17: “…we will meet the Lord in the air.”
Zechariah 14:4-5: “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Revelation 16:15: “He will come like a ‘thief in the night.’”
Revelation 1:7: “Every eye will behold Him.”
Titus 2:13: “The return of Christ is a time of blessing and hope.”
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: “The return of Christ is a time of punishment and judgment.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 14:2-3: “He will come ‘for’ His saints.’”
Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Revelation 19:11-16: “He will come ‘with’ His saints.”
The only way to reconcile these verses is to understand that Christ’s second coming is in two stages:
The first stage occurs when Christ comes in the air, like a thief in the night, in great blessing and hope, for His saints to remove them to Heaven. This is called the Rapture. Rapture comes from a Latin word, Rapturo which means to catch away.
The Rapture is not without precedent (Both Enoch (Genesis 5:24: Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1 and 11) were raptured.
The second stage occurs at the end of the last seven-year period called the Great Tribulation when Christ comes to the ground, with every eye on Him, with His saints, to bring judgment and punishment. This is called the Revelation.
Will Christians be here? That depends upon which scenario you choose.
There are three major choices with a number of variation to consider as we attempt to pinpoint when rapture will occur during the end times:
- Pre-Tribulation is the view that the rapture will occur sometime before, or at the beginning, of the final seven years of the Great Tribulation. This is the view I hold.
God has rescued His people from great trouble in the past:
- He closed the door of the ark and Noah and his family were saved from the flood.
- He opened the Red Sea to make a way of escape for Israel when the Egyptians were on them.
- In Daniel 3, Daniel is absent from the fiery furnace. Some believe that by missing the fire he is a pre-figure of the deliverance of Christians by the rapture.
Of course, there are numerous pictures in Revelation of Christians who are undergoing suffering. Many suppose that these are people who missed the rapture but received Christ afterwards.
- Mid-Tribulationis the view that the rapture will occur in the middle of the seven years when the Antichrist sets up the Abomination Of Desolation on the altar in the Temple. Like Pre-Tribulationists, Mid-Tribulationists will not experience the horrors of the last 3½ years described in Revelation.
- Post-Tribulationis the view that the rapture occurs after the seven-years, and that, therefore, Christians will go through the horrors described in the book of Revelation. There are verses that may support this interpretation, but I hope not. I don’t want to be anywhere around that horrible time.
How to Prepare for the End Times
- Be Ready. Live for Jesus now. Prophecy is a call to live right.
- Be certain that you know Jesus: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
- Be Prepared: Plan as though He weren’t coming for 1000 years; but live as if He were coming in the next 10 minutes.