After the Rapture, What?
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we [Christians] who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words."1
Yesterday, we talked about the Rapture—the "snatching up" by God to Heaven of all true followers of Jesus Christ who are authentic members of Christ's Church. Today's Scripture confirms this climactic event. Be careful to note, however, that this will not include all church members—only those who have confessed their sinfulness to God and received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and by so doing have their names written in God's book of life.
What then will happen immediately following the Rapture? First, no doubt, as the hymn writer expressed it: "When we all get to heaven, What a time of rejoicing that will be, When we all see Jesus, We'll sing and shout the victory."2 Best of all we will see Jesus—face to face—the one who died in our place to pay the penalty for all our sins and who granted us forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. In addition we will be reunited with loved ones and friends who had already passed away. And how exciting that will be, knowing that we will be united together forever in a place where there will be no more sickness, sadness, suffering or sorrow. God himself will wipe away every tear, and forever we will be surrounded by love.
Then in Heaven will be what the Bible calls the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb." The Lamb refers to Jesus Christ—the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."3 And the Bride of Christ4 is his Church comprised of the true followers of Jesus Christ. Thus the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be the great celebration of the Church being united with Jesus Christ for all eternity.
Following this celebration will be what is called the "judgment seat of Christ." Those in Heaven will not be judged for their sins because Christ took that judgment upon himself when he died on the cross in our place. It will be a time of rewards given to all who served God faithfully with pure motives while here on earth. As God's word says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."5 And again, "Look, I [Jesus] am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds."6
While those at the judgment seat of Christ will never lose their salvation, how sorrowful it will be if we have done little here on earth to serve God faithfully and help expand his kingdom and, as a result, have nothing to offer God that will be deserving a reward other than (as God's word put it), "wood, hay or straw."7
During this exciting time in Heaven there will be a time of great tribulation here on earth where there will be a one-world government, a one-world economy, and a one-world religion headed by the person whom the Bible calls the Antichrist. For more information regarding the rule of the Antichrist read the article, "The Antichrist Is Coming" at: http://tinyurl.com/the-coming-antichrist.
During the rule of the Antichrist all hell will break loose on earth when God pours out his judgments on earth during the Great Tribulation period.8 What will end the Great Tribulation will be the battle of Armageddon.9 This will be when the nations of the world unite to come against Israel in an attempt to "wipe her off the map." At this time Jesus Christ will return to earth via the Mount of Olives10 with his true followers to step onto the stage of mankind's history and will totally destroy the Antichrist, his armies, and his followers and all who seek to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. This will be centered at the Battle of Armageddon in the Valley of Megiddo in Israel. It will be the war to end all wars.
At the end of Christ's millennial rule on earth will be the Great White Judgment Throne of God where Satan and his horde of evil demons will be cast into Hell forever. Tragically, this will also be the time of judgment where all—both great and small—who refused or failed to accept Jesus as their Savior and God's forgiveness will be judged for their sins, and have to pay the just penalty for themselves. They, too, will be cast into Hell—wherever and whatever that my happen to be. Of one thing we can be certain, Hell will be eternal separation from God, the author of all love and life, for all eternity.
As the Bible says about this final judgment: "Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire."11
The reality is that absolutely nobody escapes God's judgment. His Word says, "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment."12 Either we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be rewarded for service to him here on earth, or it will be before God at the Great White Judgment throne and there receive the just punishment for all of our sins. There could be no more terrifying happening in the entire world.
Whatever you do, be absolutely certain that you have received God's forgiveness by accepting Jesus as your Savior and thereby have your name written in God's book of life. This is so that you will NOT have to appear before the Great White Judgment Throne of God and have to pay the penalty yourself for your sins—remembering that "the wages [penalty] of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."13 Remember, too, that death here is not referring to physical death, nor the cessation of life, but a "living eternal death" which is eternal separation from God in the place the Bible calls Hell.
To see how to receive God's forgiveness and ensure that your name is written in God's book of life, be sure to read the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian. Be sure to do this today because we never know how soon it will be too late.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for giving your Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place to save me from the penalty of my sins and to offer me forgiveness and a free pardon. Please help me to know that I know that I have been forgiven of all my sins, and that my name is written your Book of Life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NLT).
2. Eliza E. Hewitt.
3. John 1:29 (NIV).
4. See Revelation 21:9 (NLT).
5. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV).
6. Revelation 22:12 (NLT)
7. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 (NIV).
8. See Revelations chapters 8 and 9.
9. See Revelation 16:16.
10. Zechariah 14:4 (NIV).
11. Revelation 20:10-16(NLT)
12. Hebrews 9:27 (NASB).
13. Romans 6:23 (KJV).