The Olivet Discourse found in Matthew chapters 24 through 25 (cf. Mark 13; Luke 21) has been such a focal point for different interpretations that have caused much divisiveness in the church. Jesus was answering His disciples’ query about His Second Coming, and the thrust of His entire discourse had two main emphases: ‘You do not know ‘when’ and ‘Be ready’. While Jesus’ objective was really practical, the objective of many believers today is merely speculative. They study prophecy to satisfy curiosity to their chagrin because when the Lord spoke these words of prophecy, He did not intend to satisfy such unworthy a desire. I believe the purpose of prophecy is to influence our conduct as believers. The prospect of the Second Coming is an impetus for godly living such that unbelievers will see a difference in the way we live, and be attracted to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel, and thus accomplish the Great Commission
Be ready. Be watchful. If you go bananas in the Second Coming, you have lost the will of God for your life. Our purpose is not to figure out “when?” and “how?” Our purpose is to be serving Jesus until one day we will see Him face to face, as the eastern skies open up, and takes us unto Himself. I personally do not believe there is a systematic eschatology in the New Testament, if it were not so, how will you answer for the multifarious interpretations of end-time events. But truth is revealed to us to “be ready” and “be active”. The “when” & “how” of Christ’s return are purposefully ambiguous, hence dogmatism is inappropriate. However, one thing is for sure; His promised Second Coming will come to pass and it will be the experience of only one generation. Those who are alive during that event will have it, and it will be a persecuted generation of believers.
The theological concept of “rapture” originates from the verb “caught up”. “Rapture” is a Latin rendering of the Greek verb (harpazo), which implies a forceful “snatching away” (cf. John 6:15; 10:12, 2829). This event is also mentioned in I Cor. 15:51-52. There has been much ado about this event and many have disagreed with each other about this end-time event. Some expect a secret rapture of believers (cf. Matt. 24:40-42) before a thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. Often a seven-year tribulation period (cf. Dan. 7:25; 9:27) is linked to this. Some theologians have the rapture before, in the middle, or after this seven year period. The order and nature of these end-time events are ambiguous at best, therefore, dogmatism is inappropriate. Believers are going to meet the Lord in the air, because in the New Testament the air was seen as the realm of Satan (cf. Eph. 2:2) and Greeks thought the lower air (atmosphere) was unclean and, therefore, the domain of unclean spirits. Believers will be reunited with their Lord in the midst of Satan’s kingdom to show its complete overthrow. Heaven is prepared for this event—it is on the calendar. The uncertainty of when and how the event will occur fades into insignificance with the knowledge of Who will be coming. Jesus is coming again to receive His own. That is what matters!