Tag Archive: THE RAPTURE


Greetings brothers and sisters in the faith. None of us has been “left behind” by the rapture-yet-so we still have time to read up on it!

Did you ever wonder if what people say about the rapture is true? My new book is the result of years of soul-searching and scripture study on the subject. Posts on this blog published over the past few years formed the foundation of the book, which contains far more insight and detailed commentary than all the posts put together. I believe I’ve also made the whole subject much more understandable than I did before.

Available in paperback or e-book. Take a look:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1730805078/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1541373020&sr=1-13&keywords=when+will+the+rapture+be

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Greetings, truth-seekers! Here’s part six of my up-dated, re-written, re-edited study on the rapture of the Church: the result of years of soul-searching and truth-seeking of my own.

(Please note that I do not have an a-millennial view of prophecy…)

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DO THE “GATES OF HELL” PROVE A PRE-TRIB RAPTURE?

I’ve heard one popular minister draw attention to the fact that according to Jesus, the “gates of hell” would not prevail against the Church, and then claim that as Antichrist will prevail against the saints during the tribulation (Daniel 8:12; Revelation 13:7) the saints of Revelation cannot be the Church: the Church will be gone before the Tribulation.

What will happen to the saints in Revelation? They will be persecuted and killed. So what’s new? Thousands or even millions of Christians have been persecuted and killed for their faith over the centuries since the time of Jesus, and are being killed today. So either Jesus was wrong to make this statement that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, or the martyrdom of saints is not the gates of hell prevailing against the Church! The Church will remain no matter how successful Antichrist will appear to be for a time.

REMAINING TRUE TO THE END

We see in the “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew 24 that Jesus spoke to his disciples as though they would witness the events of the Tribulation (see verses 15-27). He warned that at that time the love of most would grow cold, “but he that remains true to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Why would they have to remain true to the end if they were already in heaven?

FIRSTFRUITS

In Revelation 14, in the midst of talk of the beast and his mark (chapters 13 and 14), we read about 144,000 people standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb (14:1). Why are they called ‘first-fruits’ (verse 4), if they had already been beaten into heaven and the presence of the Lamb, by the rapture of the Church?

NOAH AND LOT

Jesus’ mention of Noah’s escape from the Flood in his “Olivet Discourse” is seen by pre-Trib. teachers as type of a pre-tribulation rapture (Matthew 24: 36-39).

However, Noah by choice and purpose entered the ark which he had built at the command of God. He knew that the Flood was coming, and he knew exactly when it was coming seven days before it came (Genesis 7:4). So Jesus did not intend to use the example of Noah’s escape to be an example of a surprise rapture! It was the unbelieving world which was not ready for the Flood:

“…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the Flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (verse 39).

Similarly, the example of Lot’s escape from the destruction of Sodom in Luke chapter 17, is used to support a pre-trib. rapture. However, Lot left Sodom on foot, knowing that it was going to be judged that very day. The ungodly were living out their usual daily lives when destruction from the Lord took them by surprise (verses 28-29). They were appointed to wrath instead of salvation (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

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It’s significant that Noah entered the ark on the same day that the Flood came (Genesis 7:11-13), and not days or years before, and he was not taken into heaven. Similarly, Lot escaped from Sodom on the same day its judgment came without going to heaven. Do we really want to take these events as templates for the rapture? If so we would have to take the “mid-Tribulation” position, because Jesus said that the “time of trouble” (equivalent to the Flood and the destruction of Sodom) will begin when the antichrist enters the temple (Matthew 24:17 and 21). This will be three and a half years before Christ’s visible return, not seven or eight or ten years before it. Even in the words of pre-trib. “experts” the first half of the “seven years” will be a time of apparent peace and prosperity for the world: not the day of judgment, wrath and trouble. Antichrist’s power lasts only for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5).

Noah’s deliverance does not work as a model for a rapture years before the time of trouble. It’s intended to demonstrate that the unbelieving world will not be ready for the Day of the Lord while true believers will. Paul put it this way:

…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly…But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).

ONE TAKEN, THE OTHER LEFT

It’s a common view, as it was mine once, that when Jesus said ‘one will be taken, the other will be left’ (Matthew 24:40-41), he was speaking of a surprise rapture at some time before the Tribulation. Please refer to the above point, because Jesus had given the example of Noah and the Flood to show that it was necessary for his followers to be ready for his coming (verses 38-42).

Jesus linked his “one will be taken” phrases to the example of the Flood taking unbelievers away, when he said “one will be taken, the other left”. This is the time of judgment-not a years before the event rapture.

Noah knew which day the Flood was coming, (Genesis 7:4) and he purposely entered the ark on his own two legs, on the very day that judgment fell (Genesis 7:11-13; Matthew 24:38). Interestingly, Jesus said that believers in Jerusalem and Judea (called the ‘West Bank’ today) are to look for Antichrist to make his move, then get away from the area as quickly as possible (Matthew 24:15-21). If anything, we could take this passage as an evidence for the mid-Tribulation position. The warning that ‘one will be taken and the other left’, can still speak of imminence. Though believers will know that the signs Jesus foretold are being fulfilled, they will literally not know ‘the day or the hour’ that these events will begin, or when the rapture will come.

Here’s the fifth installment of my up-dated study on the rapture of the Church, intended to help you decide where you should stand on the issue…

I was once a “pre-trib.” believer for many years: I see things rather differently now. Please note that I am not an Amillennialist…

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ARE PRE-TRIBULATION SAINTS THE “HOLY ONES” WHO RETURN TO THE EARTH WITH CHRIST?

Pre-Tribulation believers say that those who come from heaven with Christ at the end of the Tribulation, described in Revelation chapter 19:11-16, are the Church. They’re dressed in fine linen, just as the Bride of Christ is given to wear earlier in the chapter, and so the assumption is made that the Church must have been in heaven during the entire Tribulation. Chapter 17 verse 14 says that when Christ overcomes the Beast, ‘with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers’. It may seem to be a reasonable assumption that this is the Church riding from heaven to the earth with Christ. However, there are a few “wait a minute” observations to be made.

First, when the text says that the Lamb’s followers will be “with him” (17:14) it doesn’t have to mean that they will be a part of the Armageddon attack force: it may just mean that his victory is their victory; they’re going to be “with him” for eternity as his bride; his followers are faithful to him in the world. They’re living in the same earthly world as the ten kings who side with the beast (verses 12 and 13).

Secondly, even if the Church is to be part of the Armageddon attack force the time at which Jesus’ called, chosen and faithful followers are seen to be with him (17:14) the attack happens  when the beast and the ten kings are making war against him. This  event is not pre-trib., and it’s not even before the mid-point of the “seven year tribulation”: it’s during or at the end of the last three and a half years. That’s the maximum time the beast will have to mount his rebellion (Revelation 13:5). There is therefore no clear reason to assume that the Church has already been in heaven for seven years.

Third, angels also wear clean linen:

“Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen” (15:6).

Fourth, when Christ leaves heaven with ‘the armies of heaven’, the words “Church” and “Bride” are not used to describe them (19:14). Paul describes Christ’s coming in vengeance, not ‘with us’, but ‘with his powerful angels’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7), or ‘mighty angels’ (KJV). In fact, Paul said that those who were being persecuted in his time would be given relief, not “before the tribulation”, but:

“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (2 Thessalonians 1:7).

Jesus said that when He comes in power and great glory, it is the ‘angels’ who will come with him (Matthew 25: 31). He did not say “you” or “the Church”, coming with him to make war. He will send angels to gather His elect (Matthew 24:30-31; 13:40-43). Perhaps the Bride has made herself ready for the Wedding of the Lamb, (Revelation 19:7-9), but not to fight the battle of Armageddon!

The KJV speaks of the ‘saints’ coming with Christ (Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Jude 5:8). The word translated ‘saints’ can also be translated ‘holy’ ones, or ‘morally blameless’, so they are not necessarily humans: they could be angels who did not fall with Lucifer. Even with the word ‘saints’ translated as “believers” the Pre-Trib. position gains nothing, because ’saints’ are seen to be persecuted throughout the Tribulation (Revelation 13:7-10).

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PAUL’S STATEMENT DEMANDS TWO DIFFERENT SETS OF FOLLOWERS, THE FIGHTERS AND THE RESCUED:

Paul seems to have made pretty clear that the “Holy ones” who would come with Christ to bring the vengence of God are not Church age believers, because he speaks of believers as being separate from the holy ones who come with him to wage war-they are two different groups:

“…so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father… when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thessalonians 3: 13).

There is no statement or indication that the Bride has been in heaven for the entire Tribulation. We do find believers in heaven, in chapter 7, who “came out of great tribulation”, in other words, they were martyred (verses 9-17), but this is between the 6th and 7th seals (6:12; 8:1). It is after a great earthquake (6:9-11), after the sun turning black, after the moon turning red, and after stars ‘falling from the sky’ (6:12-14). In the previous chapter, with the 5th seal we see the souls of some who had been martyred. They are given white robes to wear (6:9-11). Are they martyred saints from the “Church age” and before, or are they those “out of great Tribulation” (7:14)? There is another reference to the souls of believers in Jesus who have been martyred, in chapter 20, who are raised to life after the return of Christ (verse 4). There was a promise given to those who were to be martyred, at the time of the Antichrist’s ascendancy to power, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…” (14:13), and warning in verse 12 tells believers not to take the mark of the beast:

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus”.

A LATE SUPPER

Fifth, it seems that the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, which some claim happens in heaven at the beginning of the Tribulation or before, actually happens in chapter 19 (see verses 7 to 9), just before the visible return of Christ, and at some time after the destruction of the ‘great prostitute’, or false religion (verse 2). Since it is the Antichrist and his ten henchmen who destroy the prostitute (17:16), then logically the Wedding supper will be after the mid-Tribulation point which is when they gain power (13:5 with 17:12).

THE RAPTURE OF THE LIVING WILL BE AFTER THE RESURRECTION

Paul said that, “the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds…” (1 Thessalonians 14:16-17). If the Pre-Tribulational view is correct the resurrection would have to be before the Tribulation. Daniel seems to indicate that the resurrection will come after the events of the Tribulation, or possibly during them. He describes key events, including actions of the Antichrist, then the involvement of the archangel Michael to defend Israel, and then the resurrection (Daniel 11:40 to 12:4). In Revelation 20, after the return of Christ to the earth, we read about those believers who had been martyred by the Antichrist being raised to life. This is called the ‘first resurrection’ (20:4-6). Pre Trib. adherents must make the claim that the ‘first resurrection’ is in stages, otherwise there would be several ‘first’ resurrections.

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WHICH LAST TRUMP IS THE LAST LAST TRUMP?

Paul, when telling the Corinthians that ‘we will all be changed’(1 Corinthians 15:51), said that ‘the trumpet will sound’ (verse 52). When writing to the Thessalonians he mentioned the trumpet again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-19, esp. verse 16). Jesus, when speaking of his physical and visible return to the earth, said that he would send his angels ‘with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds’ (Matthew 24:30-31), but pre-Tribulationists claim that this is a different set of trumpet blasts entirely. Do they know that to be so, or do they impose that idea in order to preserve their own theory? Most interestingly, Paul said that the rapture would happen at “the last trumpet’ (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Questions need to be asked here. If, as Paul said, the ‘last trumpet’ is to announce the rapture, and the Rapture is before the Tribulation, when did the other trumpets come, and what events did they announce? If the rapture is ‘imminent’, and there is nothing to occur before it in terms of last days events, then what were the previous trumpets for?

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET AND THE MYSTERY OF GOD

It may not be just coincidence that there is a series of seven trumpet blasts in the book of Revelation. These trumpets herald some of the final devastating judgments upon the earth. In chapter 10 verse 7 we read that when the seventh trumpet sounds, ‘the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets’. It may or may not also be a coincidence that the word used here which is translated ‘mystery’ is the same word used by Paul when he wrote about the rapture:

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51).

This is not to say that Revelation 10:7 is entirely concerning the rapture, but it is worth considering the rapture to be a part of that ‘mystery of God’. When the seventh trumpet is sounded, (11:15), there is no devastating plague hurled to the earth. Instead a declaration is made that ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ’. Other relevant declarations are made, such as, ‘The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints, and those who reverence your name’ (verse 18). Does this not sound like a resurrection – something which occurs before the Rapture of the living?

FALL AWAY FROM WHAT?

Paul said that there will be a “falling away”, or a “rebellion” from the true faith as a preliminary sign that the Day of the Lord had come (2 Thessalonians 2:3). It seems to me that if the true Church and the Holy Spirit is already gone, there’s nothing to fall away from. Surley there has to be a Church – a faith – to fall away from?

THANKS FOR READING!

 

Welcome to part three of my up-dated study on the rapture. Herein read more challenges to the politically-correct position…

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IS THE CHURCH MISSING FROM REVELATION CHAPTER 4 ONWARD?

Update November 2018: You can get my new book on the rapture, from Amazon-paperback or e-book. The link is at the bottom of this post.

Pre-Tribulation believers say that while the Church is spoken of in the early chapters of Revelation, which they believe represent the Church age, the word “Church” is nowhere mentioned in the rest of Revelation, which covers the Tribulation. This is taken to be evidence that it will no longer be on the earth during that time. However, what they don’t consider is that all the prophesies of Revelation are given to the churches-not just the first four chapters. After the prophesies are all given, we read:

“I Jesus have sent my angel to give you this testimony FOR THE CHURCHES” (Revelation 22:16).

THE  ENTIRE BOOK OF REVELATION IS A TESTIMONY TO THE CHURCHES

Jesus said that the entire book of Revelation is a testimony for the churches. We first hear of this “testimony” at the beginning of chapter 1, where we’re told that Jesus Christ’s revelation was concerning “what must soon take place”. This includes not just the prophesies but the letters to the churches: the entire thing is:

“the testimony of Jesus Christ” (verse 2).

The churches-supposedly part of the church age-are given the same “testimony” as those who are martyred during the Tribulation.

So one message is told throughout the book. There are not separate testimonies for the rapture candidates and the failures. The book is a unit – not divided in two – and is as relevant to the Church as it is to Jews or anyone converted during the Tribulation. The prophesies, says Christ himself, are for the Church, and not for others who are “left behind”.

TESTIMONY, CHURCHES, SAINTS

There are common terms and phrases used in John’s words in both Revelation and his other New Testament writings. He used the phrase “testimony of Jesus”, in Revelation seven times, as well as using the word “testimony” separately several more times. However, “Testimony” was also a common theme in his gospel (e.g. John 21:24), much more common than it was in any other gospel or the writings of Paul. He also used the concept of “the testimony of Jesus” in two of his epistles to Church age disciples (1 John 5:6-11; 3 John 13), just as he used it to describe Christians living through the Tribulation in Revelation.

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THE SAINTS WHO BORE TESTIMONY TO JESUS

If it’s true that the Church is nowhere to be found on earth in the prophesies of Revelation, who are “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus”, being persecuted by Satan and Antichrist (Revelation 12:12; 14:12; 20:4)?  Those killed by the antichrist are identified by John as “those who bore testimony to Jesus”(Revelation 12:17). However, it’s important to see that this phrase is not reserved for those being persecuted during the tribulation. The same term is also applied to the people who are known as the saints of Church history who have been killed by the Harlot…

“…those who bore testimony to Jesus” (17:6) …

It’s applied to John and his companions-who were first century Church-age Christians-by the angel relaying the revelation:

“I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus(19:10).

John, a first century, Church-age believer, also applied the term to himself at the beginning of the book, and related it to the suffering of his own persecution:

“I John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the testimony of Jesus(Revelation 1:9).

Here is evidence of an undeniable oneness between all the believers of the real Church age-including the Tribulation: between all who “hold to the testimony of Jesus”. There are no second-class believers consigned to be “left behind” for the Tribulation.

Similarly, John spoke of the Tribulation saints ‘who obey God’s commandments’ (Revelation 12:17 and 14:12). We can’t necessarily describe this as a reference to Jews as some prophecy teachers want to, because in John’s letters he used the same Greek word when he wrote to Church-age believers of the importance of obeying God’s commandments (1 John 2:3-4; 1 John 3:22-24; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:5-6).

THE WORDS “CHURCH” AND “CHURCHES”, AND INDIVIDUALS

The word “Church” is not used in a singular sense even in chapters 1 to 4 of Revelation, and is only used to speak of “churches” in a plural sense. This word “churches” speaks of organized gatherings of believers. Perhaps the word “churches” is absent from chapters 4 to 21 because there will be no churches: they will be outlawed. Instead, there will be individual “saints” struggling to survive in a hostile world where they cannot congregate.

It’s never mentioned by the prophecy “experts” today that John did not use the words “Church” or “churches” at all in his first or second epistles (or in his gospel) even though they were written to Christians of his day. When he did say “churches” he was referring to an organized gathering. This is the same definition used by Paul and others. For example, when referring to groups of believers Paul used the word “churches” sometimes:

“Paul… and all the brothers with me , to the churches in Galatia” (Galatians 1:1-2).

However, Paul used the term “saints” for individual believers, and complimented it or contrasted it with the term “churches”:

“To the church in Corinth…together with all the saints throughout Achaia” (2 Corinthians 1:1).

Paul used the term “saints” many times for individual believers, which substituted nicely for the word “church”. For example:

“To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1).

He also used the word “believers” at times, in place of “church”:

“…let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

ISRAELIS ARE NOT THE MARTYRED BELIEVERS OF REVELATION

It’s not accurate to see the saints of Revelation as the people of Israel or the 144, 000, because they are clearly seen to be separate in the dragon’s persecution of them. When he fails in his attempt to wipe out Israel in chapter 12, (and this is long after the beginning of any seven year period-verse 14) he turns his efforts to trying to wipe out Christians instead:

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12:17).

WHO ARE THE SAINTS OF REVELATION CHAPTERS 4 TO 21?

There are “saints” in the Tribulation – we read about them being persecuted by Antichrist, the dragon, and unbelievers. For an example, see Revelation 14:11-12. The question is: who are these saints? Pre-Tribulationists claim that they are not Church age believers, but some other form of saint, perhaps specially anointed Messianic Jews, or Gentile believers saved after the Rapture. I will later comment on the “end of the Church age”, so please refer to that for a complete understanding of this subject.

In truth, the same Greek word translated “saints” is used throughout the New Testament, and it doesn’t change after Revelation chapter 3 : saints are saints. Not only that, but the Tribulation saints are “faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). How can they not be Christians? Alright, they are not called “Christians” by John, but then, John did not use the term “Christians” anywhere else in Revelation, including Christ’s letters to the churches (and neither did Jesus or the angel), or in his epistles, or in his gospel. Neither did he use the word “believers” anywhere, except once in his gospel.

The word “saints” is, however, used many times throughout the New Testament for Church-age believers, for example:

Paul…to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi…” (Philippians 1:1-2);

On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints…(not the churches) ”… in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10);

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda” (notice that Luke did not say that Peter “went to visit the church in Lydda” Acts 9:32).

Antichrist will make war against the “saints”- and not the “churches” – because his design is not just to eradicate organized gatherings, but to wipe out believers completely:

He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them…This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Revelation 13: 7a and 10b).

THE BATTLING BRIDE?

When Christ returns to the earth with those dressed in fine white linen – those who most evangelicals regard as the raptured Church (Revelation chapter 19) – the words “Church” and “churches” are not used to describe them.

THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS

Famous “last days” prophecy teachers speak and write about the “Mother of Prostitutes” of Revelation chapter 17 as though she had been killing saints (and the scripture doesn’t say “churches”) over the two millennia since Jesus was on earth. The corrupt church and false religion has persecuted saints down through history, they say. Alright, if this is true (and it is), then the “saints” killed by the Harlot are regular Church-age believers, and called “saints” in Revelation, are they not? So what makes them any different from the “saints” mentioned in other places in Revelation, such as those who are called to patiently endure, in 14:12?

WAS JOHN’S TRIP TO HEAVEN A TYPE OF THE RAPTURE?

The calling of John into heaven before the prophecies of the judgments (chapter 4:1) is seen as a type of the Rapture, showing that the Church will similarly be called into heaven before the judgments take place.

In response, we can observe two things here. First, there is no statement that John’s trip into heaven represents the rapture of the Church. Secondly, John came back to earth as a mortal.

THE BLESSED HOPE

The pre-tribulation rapture is being called by some the “blessed hope”: it is not. The blessed hope is the appearing of Jesus:

“…while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13).

MY NEW BOOK on the rapture, NOVEMBER 2018! HERE’S THE LINK:

 

Welcome to part two of my up-dated study on the rapture of the Church…

1: THIEF IN THE NIGHT: WILL THE SECOND COMING BE IN TWO STAGES?

Pre-Tribulation believers see the second coming of Jesus Christ happening in two stages, separated by a time period of at least seven years. 

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The first, they say, will be in secret, like a thief in the night, in the air, to ‘catch up’ the Church into heaven (Revelation 16:15; 2 Peter 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). The second stage, they say, will be for all the world to see, to bring judgment on those who are left behind (Revelation 19:11-16; Matthew 24:30; Zechariah 12:10).

The phrase ‘thief in the night’, taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, is used by teachers to conjure up visions of the Lord snatching away his Church before any tribulation starts, taking everyone by surprise, and leaving pilot-less planes to fall from the sky. However, the “thief in the night” phrase is taken out of its proper context.

According to Paul it was the day of the Lord which would come like a thief in the night:

“…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

So what exactly is the day of the Lord? Paul described the day of the Lord not as the “snatching up of the Church”, but the time of destruction of the unsaved:

“While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly…”(verse 3).

Peter also likened the day of the Lord, not Jesus and the rapture, to a thief in the night :

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire…” (2 Peter 3:10).

Peter also said that the day of the Lord would come AFTER the sun turns to darkness and the moon turns blood red:

:“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20).

Peter was repeating the order of events described by Jesus:

“Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light…At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky…They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30).

Christ says in Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I come like a thief”. Note that this is stated between the sixth and the seventh bowls of God’s wrath, near the end of the Tribulation, just before the battle of Armageddon. This coincides with the recognition by people on the earth that the time of God’s wrath has come, which will be after the sun turns black and the moon turns red, and between the sixth and the seventh seals:

They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:16-17).

Talking of the day of the Lord, Paul went on to say, “you are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4). This means that those who know God and their Bible will not be unprepared for the events taking place around them.

2: IS IT TRUE THAT AN IN-THE-AIR GATHERING AND A GLORIOUS APPEARING OF JESUS ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE?

The idea that believers can only join Christ “in the air” if the rapture is before the Tribulation is not logical, because whether the rapture comes before the tribulation, in the middle, or at the end of it, Christ would have to come ‘in the air’ to gather his saints (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), unless he comes by road in a giant bus, or expects everyone to catch buses, planes and trains to get to wherever He is.

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3: WILL THE CHURCH GO TO HEAVEN WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?

In 2 Thessalonians 2:5-8 Paul tells us that the lawless one, or Antichrist, can only be revealed to the world when the Holy Spirit of God, who is now holding him back, is “taken out of the way”. One view drawn from this verse is that the Spirit is going to be taken back into heaven from the earth, and since He indwells all believers (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9-11), then all those believers must be taken into heaven with Him, before the Tribulation.

It seems to me that when He is ‘taken out of the way’ (verse 7) He may simply stop restraining the flood of evil, and will not necessarily leave the earth at all. There’s no scriptural statement about the Holy Spirit leaving the earth to go into heaven.

Second, the Antichrist will not be revealed to the world until the mid part of the Tribulation, at the time when he enters the temple and claims to be God (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:5-6). This, and not before, is the time when the restraining power of the Holy Spirit is removed, mid -way through the Tribulation!

Paul spoke to the believers in Thessalonica as though they would witness the revealing of the antichrist. In fact it’s given as one of the two signs to believers that the “day of the Lord” had truly come (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Jesus spoke of the same initial sign to his disciples (Matthew 24:15-21).

4: THE IMMINENCE OF CHRIST’S COMING

Pre-Tribulation believers say that Christ’s coming is ‘imminent’, so that we cannot know the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36-42). According to this view the rapture will come before anything else that’s prophesied, because in contrast there will be plenty of warning signs of His visible return to the earth. If Christians were around when the “seven year” Tribulation starts, they say, we would know that it would be exactly seven years to the coming of Christ-something we can’t know, since Jesus said we can’t know the day nor the hour. The same people will tell you that there are plenty of signs of the coming Tribulation to be seen now. Hmmm!

In response, I would first like to point out that this view assumes the beginning of the final seven years, including the time of day, will be known by all, so that the date and time of the visible return of Jesus could be marked on a calendar. I suggest that that is not the case: we may not know anything about the covenant being signed-it could be an agreement made behind closed doors. Paul said that the first-not the second-unmistakable sign that the of day of the Lord was coming would be a “falling away”, which surely can’t be fixed to a time or day, and the antichrist going into the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus said that the first unmistakable sign would be antichrist standing in the Holy Place of the temple, and didn’t mention any covenant (Matthew 24).

Secondly and more importantly, this view assumes that if we were to see the signing of the covenant, the rapture would have to occur at exactly the same time as Christ’s visible return to the earth. But there is no reason to make such an assumption. Compounding this fact are the three mysteriously different number of days given to Daniel (Daniel 12). These further confuse the issue, so that we really don’t know the day nor the hour of the rapture, even if we do see Daniel’s covenant being signed.

When Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour” in Matthew 24:36, what had He been speaking of? Was it the rapture? No, in the previous verses He had been speaking solely of the events of the Tribulation and of His physical appearing for the whole world to see (verses 15-35). He was referring to the “day of the Lord”, not the rapture.

I’ve heard one well-known prophecy teacher say that when Jesus said his disciples would see the antichrist in the temple he was not talking to Christians but to Jews. Jews, he said, would be in the Tribulation, but not Gentiles. I instantly realized that Jesus was in truth talking to his closest disciples who, although Jewish, were born-again Church age disciples. There is really no reason to assume that Jesus was speaking of “left-behind” Jewish believers, without using circular reasoning (“We know that Gentile believers will be raptured by then so Jesus must be speaking of Jewish believers”).

Of course we will not all have to flee Jerusalem and Judea, but worldwide television will show the whole world the antichrist entering the temple. Paul gave the same message to the Thessalonians, who were for the most part Gentiles (Acts 17:4; 1 Thess 1:9-10).

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