We had a special treat when our son and family were here to visit recently. We got to spend a couple days at the cabin on Crystal Lake (half-way between Libby and Kalispell) where Kathy and I spent our wedding night nearly 50 years ago! My best friend in high school, David Olson, invited me on several occasions to come out to join their family at Crystal, where I learned to water ski on that beautiful, clear lake. David’s mom was my accompanist for my French horn solos during music festivals. So I also spent many hours at their home in town practicing. Since they too were believers in Christ, we developed a very special bond, and David (“Ole”) was best man at our wedding and remains a very good friend. We found out their cabin was available while our son and family were here so were privileged to take them there for a couple days to relax and recreate on the lake.
That was special enough, but we were also blessed with a late afternoon severe thunderstorm that involved lots of lightning, thunder and an hour or more of hard rain. We had a great time playing table games while watching the storm and listening to the rain pounding on the metal roof. Just about the time the storm began to subside, the sun was setting and we got to witness the most unique sunset we have ever seen. The clouds rolled back to expose a strip of blue sky that stretched from one horizon to the other as the sun was shining through the clouds and onto the blue strip. It was exquisite with beauty and a reminder that Christ is coming one day—likely soon—when the “the sky will split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up” (Rev. 6:14). The passage, in context, speaks of the time just before Jesus returns to earth to reign, and of the period of judgment called “The Great Tribulation” which precedes His return. The passage in Revelation goes on to speak of how those living on the earth during that time who have rejected Christ as Savior, will apparently be able to see Christ sitting on the throne in heaven and will try to hide from His presence and the wrath being poured out upon the earth (vv. 15-17). These same heavenly disturbances are also predicted in Isa. 34:4; Joel 2:30,31 and Matt. 24:29.
When Jesus ascended back to heaven, 40 days after His resurrection, He had gathered his disciples together and told them not to leave Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit came to indwell and empower them (Acts 1:3-5,8). “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts. 1:9-11).
Just before Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion, as He celebrated that final Passover meal with His disciples, He had told them He would be leaving but encouraged them, saying, “I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:3). Then, the angels told the disciples at the ascension that Jesus would return “in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven,” indicating He would return (physically) in the clouds. But, according to many Scriptures there will be two parts to His return: one in the clouds to catch away His Bride, the Church to heaven, and later (seven years) to return with His Bride to the earth in judgment and to set up His earthly kingdom promised to Israel. The passage in Rev. 6:14 speaks of the disturbance of the heavens that takes place just before He returns in glory to the earth. But, in Paul’s letter to the believers at Thessalonica, to comfort those who had lost loved ones in death, we read: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep (believers who died), that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those (their spirits) who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ (their bodies) shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thes. 4:13-18).
Prior to the judgments of the Tribulation that are detailed in Revelation (also in Mt. 24,25 and Lk. 21), Jesus will return in the clouds (just as He left), will remove all believers still alive on the earth and will raise the bodies of believers who have died. We will have a great “reunion in the sky” as we meet our Lord and Savior who takes us then to be with Him in heaven during those seven years of judgment on earth before He returns with us to the earth to set up His earthly reign.
All of that came to mind—my mind, that is!—when we witnessed the very special, beautiful and unique sunset at the end of the storm on Crystal Lake.
So, are you ready for His return for His Bride? You don’t want to be left behind to face the terrible judgments prophesied in Revelation. If you have never trusted Christ for your salvation, do so now, while you have time. You don’t know how much longer you have.
P.S. Thanks, so much Olsons for the use of your cabin!