Biblical hope is not based on what is possible with man but on what God has promised. And when our hope is in God’s word it becomes the “full assurance of hope” (Hebrews 6:11). Hope is the confident expectation of great things from God. So the question is “What great things has God promised His children regarding the future?” Here are five promises that we can hope in God for:
- The appearing of Jesus Christ– “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
- The redemption of our bodies– “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
- The consummation of our righteousness– “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Galatians 5:5).
- Sharing the glory of God– “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
- Our inheritance– “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5)
I would like to focus on the first promise which is the appearing of Jesus Christ. Titus describes the appearing of Jesus as “our blessed hope”. Does the Bible provide us with more details about this appearing of God? Yes it does. Firstly, Jesus promised to return for His children and to take them to where He was then going, which was heaven (John 14:1-3). Secondly, He will return to earth as a conquering King to do war against His enemies (Revelation 19:11-16). This event is referred to as the second coming of Christ. Now what I see in Scripture is that the second coming of Christ is divided into two different phases. Is this plausible? I would like to suggest so. The first coming of Christ was prophesied in the OT and this event was also divided into two phases. This is most clearly seen in OT passages like Zechariah 9:9-10 and Isaiah 11:1-5. These passages seem confusing because they speak about the Messiah as a suffering servant and yet at the same time as a conquering King. How can that be? It is only possible if they are referring to both His first and second coming but are separated by a long period of time. This was a mystery to the Old Testament prophets and one of the reasons why the Jews did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He came to earth. They were expecting the Messiah to set up His kingdom and to rule the nations. Jesus clearly did not fulfil this role when He came to earth the first time.
Now I would like to suggest that the first phase of Christ’s second coming will be different to the second phase. Before I go into details showing the differences between these two phases let us see where in Scripture this first phase can be found. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
The Greek word translated “caught up” (v17) is harpazō, which means to be snatched or caught up by force. Christians refer to this first phase as the Rapture event. Perhaps you have read your Bible but you have never come across an event like this before and you are already having your doubts about where I am going with this. Can such a thing really happen? Will Jesus snatch up people from the earth and take them to heaven? Once again I would like to defend from Scripture that the harpazō or rapture is an important doctrine as well as a primary reason Christians can have hope regarding the future. This information will follow in the days to come.
God bless you.