The word times in this Scripture speaks of the termination of ones earthly life. By the Psalmists words we are assured that the time of our deaths can never take God by surprise. He is the sole master of our fate. It is He Who grants long life and even escapes from death.
We read in Psa. 68:20, Our God is the God of salvation; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death. The plural word escapes calls for an interesting study on the varied ways God delivers men from death.
In Genesis 5:24 we are shown where a man was so beloved by God that he was taken up (or raptured) out of this world to Heaven without experiencing death. His name was Enoch and we know that he was raptured because of the confirmation found in Hebrews 11:5. We quote, By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. Enoch was raptured off of the earth before Gods great flood judgment came upon the earth.
In Gen. Chapters 6, 7 & 8 we are told of another righteous man named Noah and how he was delivered from immediate death when God poured out His judgment over the whole earth at the great flood. Noah later died a normal death.
Then in I Kings Ch. 19 a prophet named Elijah was being pursued to death by King Ahab and Jezebel due to his faithfulness to the God of Heaven. Elijah prayed for deliverance and in II Kings 2:11-12 we are shown where Elijah was raptured from out of the midst of his tribulation to Heaven when God sent a whirlwind and the fiery chariot of Israel to deliver him. The Psalmist writes in 31:20, "You shall hide them in the secret place of your presence, from the plots of man."
First Corinthians 10:11 speaks of some of these Old Testament events in this manner, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come."
The word example is from the Greek word tupos, which means form, figure, or pattern. These Old Testament patterns are referred to by Bible students as typologies and are used to illustrate precedents that are taught in Scripture.
We are, without a shadow of a doubt, those the Scriptures refer to as those on whom the ends of the ages have come. These examples were recorded with this particular generation foremost in Gods mind.
In current teachings from a large portion of the Church the idea of the endtime Rapture promised in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 & I Corinthians 15:50-54 is either overlooked, rarely taught, poorly taught or taught against.
In I Thess. 4:18 we are instructed to comfort one another in these last days with the promise of the Rapture. The former mentioned actions and inactions concerning this blessed subject cannot fulfill this Divine mandate. The joy and comfort of the promised Rapture can only be instilled in others by sound teaching on the subject.
By looking at past examples found in the Bible we are to be able to recognize admonitions about spiritual subjects that are sometimes forgotten, disregarded or ignored.
Now Noah was a righteous man who was delivered from certain death by drowning. In this great judgment God swept the wicked away and left Noah and his family to repopulate the earth in its glorious, cleansed renewal.
Likewise we are shown in the New Testament that the wicked will again be destroyed at the close of the age and once more a righteous remnant will be let behind. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left (Matthew 24:37-41.)
From out of this judgment they will, in like fashion of Noah, remain alive to inherit and repopulate the cleansed earth (Matt. 5:5 & Isa. 65:20-23). These are the elect who will come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ during the days of Gods judgment and are commonly referred to as the surviving tribulation Saints (see Matt. 24:29-31, Rev. 12:17 & Zech. 10:6-9).
There will be no Rapture at the close of the Great Tribulation for these elect ones, but instead they will be delivered through the judgment as death surrounds them on every side.
Then next we shared about Elijah, an anointed man of God who was delivered by Rapture out of the midst of great tribulation from an evil king and his evil wife. Jezebel had established the worship of Astarte at the kings court with no less than 400 false prophets and also 450 false prophets of Baal.
Many prophecy students believe that in these last days 144,000 anointed Jews will be raptured in like fashion from out of the midst of the Tribulation Period.
And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Rueben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed (Rev. 7:4-8).
Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Fathers name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. And they sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. Thee are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God (Rev. 14:1-5).
Like Elijah, these anointed Hebrews will be pursued by an evil king and the leader of a false religion, that is, the Anti-Christ and False Prophet of Rev. 13.
It is fascinating to reflect upon the fact that one of the two tribulation prophets of God in Rev. 11, who will probably be one of the 144,000s mentors, will be Elijah himself. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse (Mal. 4:5-6).
Then in conclusion we have saved our example of Enoch. Enoch was a faithful believer in God who found extraordinary favor with the Lord.
Before there was a Jewish nation founded in Jacob and before Moses brought down the law from Mt. Sinai, a Gentile believer was caught up to be with God.
It is significant in this typology that Enoch was caught up to Heaven to be with the Lord before God judged the earth with the great flood, for this typology is a perfect parallel of the present-day Church.
Because of Jesus Christs atoning blood sacrifice upon the cross, the Church is now pleasing and acceptable to God like Enoch was (Eph. 5:25-27), and in perfect like fashion is neither under the law nor bound to any national identity (Gal. 4:21-25 & Heb. 11:13-16).
It is a sound example for present-day followers of Jesus Christ, that just as Enoch was found worthy to be spared from death and Gods global judgment upon the world because of a righteousness accepted by the Lord, so too will the Church be raptured to Heaven before God judges the earth with 7 years of terrifying tribulation (Dan. 9:27, Rev. 6 & I Thess. 5:1-11).
Thomas Ice in an article titled Purpose for the Rapture made this interesting observation: Paul describes New Testament believers as ambassadors for Christ (II Cor. 5:20). An ambassador is one who represents a dignitary, often in a foreign land. Throughout the Bible, Gods representatives are occasionally presented as ambassadors of the Lord (in some English translations), whether prophets or angelic messengers In the ancient world, as in the modern world today, a king would recall his ambassador before prosecuting a war against those to whom the ambassador had been sent. Such a recall was sometimes true of Old Testament prophets. This scenario provides a possible rational for why God occasionally takes His messenger (ambassador) directly home to heaven without having to die.
Ambassadors are called home quickly. We are convinced the Lord is about to declare war. The trumpet will sound and we believers who are alive will be caught up to forever be with our Lord. Now is the time to come to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins before it is too late (I Thess. 4:15-18).