In the 14th Chapter of the Old Testament Book of Zechariah we find unquestionable proof that on the day the Lord returns at the close of the age, He physically touches His feet upon the earth. Verses 3-4 read, Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east
Verses 9 & 16 likewise confirm that on the same day He returns to the earth He establishes His residency at Jerusalem, And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be The Lord is one, and His name one And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
Any doubts that the Lord who is being spoken of is the same crucified and risen Savior Jesus Christ are dispelled in verse 10 of Zech. 12 where we read of this coming King, And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a first born.
Taking a closer look at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth in Ch. 19 of the Book of Revelation we read in verses 8, 11, 14 & 19 that Christ comes riding upon a white horse, is accompanied by the armies of the saints of Heaven and His enemies are to be witnesses of His return. And to her [the Church] it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses...And I saw the beast [the Anti-Christ] the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
This dramatic picture of Christs return to the earth is repeatedly shown in the Scriptures as can be verified by reading such passages as Matt. 24:30, Zech. 14:5, Jude 14 & 15 & Joel 3:15-17.
We now return to the Scriptures we originally cited in the outset of this message. It is here that we will uncover the error of those who insist that the Rapture (that is the immortal glorification and catching up of the Church to the Lord) takes place at the same time when Christ returns to the earth at the close of the age.
Quoting verses 9-11 of Ch. 1 from the Book of Acts we read, Now when He [that is Jesus] had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.
The focus of this passage of Scripture is repeatedly emphasized. The apostles were witnesses to Jesus departure into heaven. Their eyes were fixed on heaven. The two heavenly witnesses testified that Jesus would return from heaven the same way that they saw Him go up into heaven.
The use of the Greek word tropos, which is used in the English phrase in like manner, instructs believers to expect at Christs return for them parallels of what had been witnessed at His departure.
Three distinctions were evident at that breathtaking event. 1. Jesus Christs physical ascension into a cloud was solitary. 2. Christ used no conveyance of any kind. 3. Only believers were present to view His departure.
In contrast it can readily be shown that the return of Jesus to the earth at Armageddon fails to harmonize with the term in like manner.
Far from being alone without a conveyance, Jesus will be accompanied by the armies of heaven while riding a flying, white horse. An additional discrepancy is that non-believers around the earth will witness His return.
If this were the only appearing of Christ to men before the close of the age spoken of in Scripture then we would have to accept what had been told to us about Him appearing in like manner as a mystery yet to be revealed.
The Word of God did not remain silent though and we are told with much clarity about His glorious appearing in like manner to believers at the Rapture.
It must be kept in mind that the two heavenly witnesses who were present when Christ ascended into Heaven did not just say that Jesus would return from Heaven, but that He would return In like manner.
In our evaluation of this text it is of great significance that the in like manner statement was made to the disciples while the Scriptures emphasize, They looked steadfastly toward heaven
Reviewing verses 16 & 17 of Ch. 4 of I Thess. We find that the Rapture of the Church perfectly duplicates the particulars of Christs departure that believers are instructed to anticipate. 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.
What we find at the Rapture is exactly what is to be expected by the church. In like manner all three points are met: Jesus Christ is described as returning alone to believers and using no conveyance, while non-believers are not included in any fashion in this exclusive appearance of Christ.
In addition, the Church, (in like manner), will have her eyes fixed on Heaven as she goes to meet her Lord, (just as when He left), while in contrast at her return with Christ at Armageddon she will be looking towards the earth.
Some take issue with what has been shown from the Bible so far. They maintain, (without scriptural support), that believers are swiftly saddled upon their horses at the Rapture and return immediately with Christ to the earth to partake in the Battle of Armageddon.
According to this belief there is no time permitted for intimacy between Jesus Christ and His Bride that He died for, nor any time for reunions between Raptured and resurrected believers.
Here is where we will find that our other opening Scripture reference from Jn. 14:1-4 puts this faulty notion to rest. As we have shown from the Word of God, after the Lord returns to the earth at the Battle of Armageddon, Jesus Christ immediately sets up residency in Israel where He is worshipped at Jerusalem.
Quoting from Jn. 14:1-3 we find, in contrast, that when Christ comes for His Church He will take them to Heaven not Israel. We quote, Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Fathers house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
The unfolding of truthful logic is simple. Jesus told us in Jn. 15:26 & 16:7 that He Himself would send the Holy Spirit to believers after He would ascend to His Father. Repeatedly, Jesus revealed that His destination was to go and be with His Father (see Jn. 14:28, 16:5 & 17 & 20:17).
Jesus Father is God and Gods abode is in Heaven. Jesus told His disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them in His Fathers house. Jesus told them that because He was going to do this for them in Heaven, He would come and take them to Heaven so that they could be with Him.
An obvious contradiction arises when one attempts to defend the errant teaching that Jesus intends to come for His Church while enroute to Israel at the close of the age. Jesus plainly taught He would come first to receive the Church into Heaven while He still resided there!
The Rapture of the Church to Heaven is sound, biblical teaching. It will happen exactly as prophesied in Gods Word and it will happen prior to the bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth at Armageddon with His called and chosen ones (Rev. 17:14). Those who had once been mortals will put on immortality and those who were corruptible will inherit incorruption (I Cor. 15:49-58).
The Scriptures reveal to us that this unimaginable transformation will take place at least 7 years before that great day when Christ establishes His throne in Jerusalem as Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Rev. 19:16).
In Jn. 17:20 & 24 the Lord gave assurance to every person who has trusted in Him for the forgiveness of their sins that His promises of salvation and heavens glory are not limited only to His disciples that heard His voice almost 2,000 years ago.
Jesus said, I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word Father I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for you loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Jesus desires to save you and to share the wonders of Heaven with you for time without end. Dont miss out on this glorious opportunity.
A simple childlike faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness can assure you of the eternal joy and peace He has secured for all who choose to have their sins forever washed clean by His blood. He gave Himself as a sacrifice on the cross so that wherever He resides you shall be there also.
While most of the world missed Jesus ascension and many more will miss His return when He comes for His Church in the clouds, you will only have yourself to blame if you are one of the many broken hearted who are left behind.
Hes coming again, and He is coming soon in like manner as when He left. This you can be sure of.