“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ himself, whose ascension into heaven is recorded in Acts 1:9-11, Scripture records for us three instances in which a person was either “caught up” or “caught away” by the Spirit of God for the purpose of transportation (we don’t include the apostle Paul here who was transported to the third heaven for the purpose of revelation). Let’s look at them and see if we can gain insight from them.
The first is found in Genesis 5:23-24, and concerns Enoch, who is said to have “walked with God”: “And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:23-24)
The second is found in 2 Kings 2:11 and concerns the prophet Elijah, who was a mighty prophet of God: “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11)
The third is found in Acts 8:39, and concerns Philip, who was a trusted and effective disciple of Christ: “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejocing.” (Acts 8:39)
None of these passages actually tells us why God chose to transport each of these three men in this unusual manner. However, we do gain insight into why God did this in another passage of Scripture, which references Enoch:
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5)
Enoch, then, pleased God, and that, according to this verse, is why he did not “see death”. It is not, however, that all people who do “see death”, or who are not miraculously transported like Philip was, are displeasing to God. But in some special way being transported like this was their “special treat” from God for being pleasing to him. It was a special reward, something which few people have ever experienced.
Perhaps today, you or I do not rank ourselves in the category of Enoch, or of Elijah, or of Philip. But did you know that soon, a day is coming in which all believers who are alive at the time will be “caught up” in the air to meet the Lord Jesus Christ? It is true. It will happen one day, perhaps sooner than we think. The apostle Paul, who himself had already been “caught up” to the third heaven for the purpose of revelation wrote about this, in the book of 1 Thessalonians:
“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)
In other words, Jesus Christ is coming back. Those who believe in him will go to be with him forever. We shall all meet the Lord in the air, and then make our way heavenward, “just like that!” (In the “twinkling of an eye”, according to 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. A “twinkling of an eye”, according to author Jack Van Impe, has been calculated to be about 11/100ths of a second!) It will, in fact, be a greater experience than either Enoch or Elijah experienced, for we shall be *with the Lord* when it happens! This will be an exciting time!
If the Lord Jesus Christ came back today, to claim his people, would you be among them? If not, what is keeping you back from putting your faith in Christ today? If so, rejoice! For the Lord’s return is imminent!*
* “imminent” may rightfully be declared to be any time from the time that the Lord departed to the time that he actually comes to claim his church. Although it may not happen for some time, we are commanded to be ready and to anticipate his soon coming! This is the hope that all Christians should have, and was the hope of the apostle John, when he said, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
“He which testifieth these things saith, ‘Surely I come quickly. Amen.’ Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
Revised: November 29, 2000