by Kevin Burton
Remember playing hide and seek as a child?
Surely you do. Just about all of us played. It’s a game played worldwide. You don’t need any equipment, no gadgets, no batteries, no special clothing. Don’t need direct parental supervision.
“Hide-and-seek, (is an) old and popular children’s game in which one player closes his or her eyes for a brief period (often counting to 100) while the other players hide. The seeker then opens his eyes and tries to find the hiders; the first one found is the next seeker, and the last is the winner of the round,” is the definition provided by .www.britanica.com.
The one thing they left out is the part I remember best about the game. The seeker, when he or she is done counting will say, “ready or not, here I come!” and the game begins in earnest.
My post today is about the kingdom of God, not about children’s games. There isn’t a firm analogy to be had here. But the ready or not aspect is in play.
The Bible says there will be a “ready or not” day for mankind, in fact two of them: the rapture of the church and the second coming of Jesus.
Here is a description of both from our friends at http://www.gotquestions.org:
“The rapture is when Jesus Christ returns to remove the church (all believers in Christ) from the earth. The rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected and, along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. This will all occur in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye.”
“The second coming is when Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial kingdom. The second coming is described in Revelation 19:11-16.”
“The rapture and the second coming of Christ are often confused. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a scripture verse is referring to the rapture or the second coming. However, in studying end-times Bible prophecy, it is very important to differentiate between the two,” reads the gotquestions website.
The important differences between the rapture and second coming are as follows:
1) At the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (1 Thes. 4:17). At the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth (Rev. 19:14).
2) The second coming occurs after the great and terrible tribulation (Revelation chapters 6–19). The rapture occurs before the tribulation (1 Thes. 5:9; Rev. 3:10).
3) The rapture is the removal of believers from the earth as an act of deliverance (1 Thes. 4:13-17, 5:9). The second coming includes the removal of unbelievers as an act of judgment (Matt. 24:40-41).
4) The rapture will be secret and instant (1 Cor. 15:50-54). The second coming will be visible to all (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:29-30).
5) The second coming of Christ will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place (2 Thes. 2:4; Matt. 24:15-30; Rev. chapters 6–18). The rapture is imminent; it could take place at any moment (Titus 2:13; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:50-54).
Why is it important to keep the rapture and the second coming distinct?
1) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, believers will have to go through the tribulation (1 Thes. 5:9; Rev. 3:10).
2) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, the return of Christ is not imminent—there are many things which must occur before He can return (Matt. 24:4-30).
3) In describing the tribulation period, Revelation chapters 6–19 nowhere mentions the church. During the tribulation—also called “the time of trouble for Jacob” (Jer. 30:7)—God will again turn His primary attention to Israel (Romans 11:17-31).
“The rapture and second coming are similar but separate events. Both involve Jesus returning. Both are end-times events. However, it is crucially important to recognize the differences,” the website writes.
“In summary, the rapture is the return of Christ in the clouds to remove all believers from the earth before the time of God’s wrath. The second coming is the return of Christ to the earth to bring the tribulation to an end and to defeat the Antichrist and his evil world empire.”
Are you ready?