By Li Huan
Like many brothers and sisters who truly believe in the Lord, I have been longing for the return of the, holding to Paul’s words, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Thus, we have been obsessively looking to the sky, yearning that a day will come when the Lord Jesus will take us into the air to meet with Him, and then we can and gain eternal life. So many years, however, have passed, and the signs of the of the Lord have basically been fulfilled, but we never see a believer be caught up to the heavens. It makes me wonder: Can this hope be realized or not? Does this word of Paul represent ? If not, then aren’t we imaging it out of thin air? I have looked through the , yet nothing of the kind that the Lord Jesus ever said was found. Only the Lord’s word is the truth, the way. Now that the Lord Jesus never made such a statement, and man’s words cannot represent the Lord’s intentions, the Lord has His own will and plan on how to collect those who believe in Him into His kingdom when He comes back. Yet Paul was merely a man, a -preaching apostle who had ever done his utmost to hunt and persecute the Lord Jesus’ disciples, and later was conquered after being blinded by the Lord’s great light. Even though part of his words were inspired by the Holy Spirit conformed to the truth and were recorded in the Bible, they couldn’t be regarded as the words of God. What’s more, some of his words had no basis in God’s words, and were derived from his notions and imaginations. That’s why we cannot take Paul’s words as the basis for being raptured. So, we should use God’s words in the Bible as the basis, which is in accord with God’s will.
Actually, from the fact that God created and saved man we can see God’s intentions. God ordains that we human beings live, believe in and worship Him on earth. In the beginning, He made our mankind’s ancestors Adam and Eve out of clay, and then put them in the Garden of Eden and made them live there. They listened to His words and were blessed by Him, ruling over everything in the garden. Instead of in heaven, the humanity that followed still lived and had dominion over all things on the earth. When the mankind on earth were deeply corrupted by Satan, filled with violence, God decided to destroy the earth with a flood and to save Noah, a righteous man who worshiped God. At that time, He didn’t take Noah to the air to escape the flood, but let him build the ark, so that when the flood came, his family of eight could take shelter there. In the Age of Law, God issued the laws through Moses, leading man to live on earth. When God rescued the Israelites from the hunting of the Pharaoh on their way out of Egypt, He didn’t lift them into the air, but divided the Red Sea so that they could cross it and avoid being captured by the Egyptian army, allowing them to see His guidance and know His power and wisdom. Also, in the Age of Grace, man didn’t go to heaven to obtain the sin offering so as to receive the Lord’s redemption, but instead God personally became flesh on earth, and redeemed all mankind through His crucifixion. In this way, we man received the Lord’s salvation, knew His love and mercy, and enjoyed the abundant grace He had bestowed upon us. From this we can see that since God created us humans, He has always been leading us to live, believe in and worship Him on earth and bringing salvation to us on earth. So, our notion that when the Lord returns He will take us into the air to meet with Him is purely the conception and imagining of man.
Then, where can we meet with the Lord when He comes back in the last days? As for this matter, what did the Lord say? With these questions, I studied the Bible and read the words of the Lord Jesus, “After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). The Lord required us to pray for God’s kingdom to come down to the earth, so that His will may be carried out on earth. He did not say that God’s kingdom would be established in heaven, and He particularly did not have us hope and pray for the day we would be raptured up to heaven. His will is for us to worship God on earth and wait for God’s kingdom to be established on earth; God will live on earth with man, and the earth will become’s kingdom. Just as Revelation prophesied, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). So, we are completely clear. God’s kingdom is on the earth. That is, when the Lord returns we will meet with Him on the earth. This is completely in line with the Lord’s words and His will.
So, the Lord will establish His kingdom upon the earth and live with us. How then should we greet His coming so that we can be raptured into God’s kingdom? The Lord Jesus said, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). The Lord’s words clearly told us that He will speak more when He returns in the last days. And what He will say is exactly the Holy Spirit’s word to the churches. Where there are God’s utterances and words there is God’s appearance and work. So we should seek and investigate God’s words and work actively. God’s sheep hear His voice. As long as we pay attention to hearing God’s voice, we will be able to welcome the Lord’s return. This is the most important practice for the wise virgins when welcoming the Lord. As long as we practice in this way, our hope of being raptured into the kingdom of heaven will be realized!