What happens to those left behind when Jesus comes to take God's true children home? This is the question attempted to be answered by the book, Left Behind and the seven sequels to it. I will attempt to do the same, not as thoroughly, but hopefully more briefly than eight volumes.

Following is the clearest statement in the Bible on what will happen when Jesus comes to take Christians out of this world.

      "But i do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, (believer's bodies who "sleep" in physical death), lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. (unbelievers). For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep [physically died] 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, will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ will 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." 1st Thessalonians 4:13-17.

What Happens At The Coming of Jesus for Believers.

Jesus will come to take believers to heaven.
     For nearly 2000 years Jesus has primarily been seated at the right hand of God as Great High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14). The sacrifice He offered was Himself on the cross of Calvary. The worst of sinners have claimed that sacrifice by faith and have come to God through Jesus Christ. They have been lovingly accepted. Believers have come to God through Christ with their burdens, problems and needs and have received the help they need. Yet, the day is coming when Jesus will rise from the right hand of His Father's throne. He will call together the spirits of all believers gone to Heaven and lead them faster than the speed of light across the vast universe.

     As Jesus and His returning saints reach a point somewhere above the earth He will shout out a command. I think I know what that command is. I believe John told us in Revelation 4:1, "Come up here…!" The Archangel (probably Michael, from Jude 9) joins in with a loud voice and the trumpet of God sounds in a way that no human ear has ever heard.

The dead bodies of believers are raised back to life.
     From the lands and the seas of planet earth, the "dead in Christ" rise from their resting places in a glorified condition. They are caught up into the presence of the Lord and rejoined with their spirit.

Living believers will be caught up without dying.
     In the brief time-span of "the twinkling of an eye" (1st Corinthians 15:52) living believers on earth will be changed from perishable to imperishable and from mortal to immortal. They too will be caught up to join the throng of believers who have been resurrected from the dead. From that point they will always be with the Lord.

What Happens To Those Who Are Left Behind?

     On Some things we must speculate.

     Hundreds of millions of believers will have vanished from the earth. The impact on those left behind challenges our imagination. Some will vanish before the eyes of unbelievers in the course of daily activities.

     In their homes they will be eating meals; preparing to leave for work or shopping; doing chores or relaxing with family. In a flash of time the true believers in every family will suddenly disappear, most likely leaving their clothes crumpled on the floor or in their chair. In those areas of the earth where it is night, believers will be caught up from their beds. Family members left behind will wake to find them gone. As we imagine ourselves "in their shoes" we realize how startled, upset, and confused they will feel. As they begin to grasp the fact that their loved ones are gone forever, we sense their pain and anguish will seem unbearable.

     Others will be involved in travel by auto, bus, truck, grain, or airplane. How shocking their disappearance will be to those who are traveling with them…especially if they were the driver of the vehicle. There will surely be massive pileups on the highways, crashes of trains and airplanes.

     In the business world executives will vanish from board meetings; sales staff will suddenly be missing, telephone conversations will cease and confusion will reign.

     Government officials will be harassed by citizens wanting an answer. Emergency meetings at all levels will be called. Perhaps some will have knowledge of the Bible teaching on the subject, and it is interesting to speculate what answers they will give.

     The media will be in a frenzy, hard pressed to decide which of the thousands of astonishing events to report. For a period of time there will be mass confusion and upheaval, with the possibility of even martial law.

Some things are revealed clearly in scripture.

To give a detailed account would require many books. We must, therefore, limit ourselves to the broad sweep.

  1. Moral restraint will be virtually removed. Moral restraint comes from the laws and mores (social acceptance) of man practiced by self discipline. Unknown by many is the restraint by God through the lives of believers. They body of each believer has provided the temple for God's Holy Spirit throughout the church age. When believers are taken from the earth we read that "the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way." Those left behind will find themselves living in a society characterized by a spirit of lawlessness.
  2. The rise of a world political leader and a world religious leader empowered by Satan. The Old Testament book of Daniel tells us in chapter 11:16 that "this leader will do as he pleases." In the book of Revelation 13:2b, John tells us "the dragon (Satan) gave him his power and his throne and great authority." The religious leader will be empowered to perform sensational miracles through the power of Satan. He will lead the world to worship the political leader and Satan. (Revelation 13:11-14).
  3. Population control by a world economic system. All mankind will be required to receive a mark in their forehead or right hand in order to buy or sell. (Revelation 13:16-18). This will be the final form of a cash-less society. The world is already well on its way with credit cards, debit cards, electronic transfers, etc. This "mark" must also require total allegiance to the political leader and to Satan who empowers him. One of the messages from an angel is "If anyone worships the beast (political leader) and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God." (Revelation 14:9, 10a).
  4. A false peace. Like the calm before many storms, the rising political leader will compassionately persuade nations that in order to have world peace there must be world government. Many world leaders are already zealously committed to this concept. It would be wise to inquire of leaders what they envision when they speak of this world as a "global village" and "the new world order". The flash point for potential world war for more than fifty years now has been the city of Jerusalem, which lies at the core of the Arab/Israeli conflict. Although there have been great efforts to secure peace, none have succeeded. The rising world political leader will succeed with a peace covenant of seven years duration. (Daniel 9:26, 27). This will provide him with great credibility to bring peace to the rest of the nations.
  5. Increasing use of warfare to force reluctant nations to submit to world government control. John pictures the rising world leader as appearing at first as riding on a white horse with a bow (but no arrows). Shortly afterward, he is pictured as riding a red horse, and "it was granted to him to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him." (Revelation 6:2-4). John goes on to point out that in the wake of massive warfare there will follow famine, airborne diseases, and a great increase of flesh eating animals.
  6. Catastrophic upheaval in natural creation. John describes the beginning of this upheaval thusly: "…and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black…and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth…and the sky was split apart…and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." (Revelation 6:12-14) From that point everything gets worse. Why? "for the great day of their (God, and His Christ) wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"

What Should Unbelievers Do ?

It means they will be left behind.
     Unbelievers can reject the revelation God has given, as many have. They do so at their peril. Paul revealed that the coming world political leader will come "with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12.

     From the bottom of my heart I encourage every person who has not yet received Christ as your Savior to do so. You can receive Him by sincerely calling out to Him "Dear Lord Jesus, I admit I am a sinner and I need to be saved. I believe you died for my sin on the cross and rose again. I ask you to forgive my sins and come to live in my heart and make me a child of God. I believe You to do it right now."

What Should Believers Do

     If we truly believe that those left behind at the coming of Jesus, will suffer eternal damnation, then we need to consider:

We should be much more serious about being an authentic Christian.
     Paul indicated that true believers "are ambassadors for Christ…" 2nd Corinthians 5:20. That means we are the personal representatives of Christ at the highest level. We provide the only glimpse of Christ that many people will ever see. We ought to be asking God daily to help us be the best representatives we can.

We ought to be learning more about our God and His ways.
     We have the word of God and the insight of those who have walked further down the Christian journey than we have.

 learning how to be more effective in moving the hands of God in our prayers.
      Isaiah 45:11 tells us God waits for our commands.

We ought to write our personal book "How To Win Friends and Influence People…For Christ".
     We need to be building friendship bridges to the unsaved and introduce them to the One Who wants to be their Savior as well as ours.

     In short, we need to remember that in Matthew 5:14, Jesus said we are the light of the world. Let's turn up the amperage and the watts in lighting our world for Christ.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.