When Will The "Rapture" Take Place?
It may not be when you think! What does the Bible say?
By Ken Raggio
First question: Will the dead truly live again?
You will notice a fundamental difference between Christianity and other religions. Christians believe they will be physically resurrected from the dead. They do not expect to be transmigrated or reincarnated to another form, another person, or another creature.
Jesus taught that His disciples who are born again will "never die." The spirit of a man is eternal, and his body will be resurrected at the appointed time and will be changed from mortal to immortal, and will live forever in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The Bible is very clear, and strongly teaches this doctrine.
Jesus was dead for three days, but came back to life. Thereafter, He was referred to as the "firstfruits" from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Jesus' resurrection established an eternal precedent.
If Jesus Christ can rise from the grave, walk out of the tomb, and ascend into heaven, that fact opens up infinite possibilities for other humans.
Jesus' resurrection was not meant to be exclusively for Him. He said repeatedly that He would raise up from the dead, all of those who believe in Him.
that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one
which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:
and I will raise him up at the last day."
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
and I will raise him up at the last day."
Obviously, the apostles heard that message loudly and clearly. Their actions and teachings give evidence that they also believed that the Church of Jesus Christ would be raised from the dead.
Here are some examples:
Paul testified to King Agrippa in Acts 26:8, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?"
"And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power," (1 Corinthians 6:14).
"We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence," (2 Corinthians 4:14 NIV).
Jesus had the power on earth to raise the dead, and He did so on at least three occasions.
A certain ruler asked Him to come to his home because his daughter was dead. Jesus said, "the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn," (Matthew 9:24). Jesus took the dead child by the hand and told her to arise. Luke 8:55 reveals that "her spirit came again, and she arose."
Jesus instructed His followers to raise the dead, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give," (Matthew 10:8).
But all those instances of the dead being raised are only precursors to the great, last Resurrection. Not only did Jesus Christ come back to life after three days in the grave, but He also promised to raise all the righteous dead when He returns to earth to bring divine justice in the last days.
The concept is called by many "the Rapture." That term refers to the event when all the dead in Christ will rise from the grave, and together with all the living saints will be caught up to meet Him in the air.
In other vernacular, it is the great RESURRECTION.
Actually, there will be TWO resurrections.
The FIRST Resurrection will be the resurrection of all the righteous saints.
The SECOND Resurrection will be the resurrection of the wicked, who will be judged and sent to hell.
Let's take a look at when - exactly when - each is going to take place.
When is the FIRST Resurrection?
Revelation 20:4-5 "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."
Be really careful to see what this verse tells us.
The FIRST Resurrection includes the saints who were beheaded in the Tribulation for the witness of Jesus, who had NOT worshipped THE BEAST, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads.
Those were not secular Jews who were beheaded during the Tribulation. They were CHRISTIANS, beheaded for the witness of JESUS! And these were not Christians who were "left behind." The Rapture and First Resurrection will not have taken place yet.
This is a very important fact! Contrary to very popular opinion, the Rapture/First Resurrection WILL NOT take place before the Mark of the Beast!
Nobody is going to be "left behind" for seven years, because NOBODY is going anywhere until the seven years are finished!
Several scriptures confirm this. The FIRST RESURRECTION/RAPTURE will occur after the Mark of the Beast!
This is the very same event that Paul announced in I Thessalonians 4:16-17, when "the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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."
There will be NO resurrection before the Mark of the Beast.
Verse 5 completes the thought. "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."
It is extremely critical that you see that fact! Look at it and study it if you don't see it yet.
These verses are crystal clear - the first and ONLY time there is a general resurrection (as in "dead in Christ rising") is AFTER the Mark of the Beast!!
The SECOND Resurrection will not take place until 1000 years later, NOT seven years later, as some would have you believe. This fact totally eliminates the possibility that anybody will be saved in a (non-existent) period between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus.
In the simplest terms, the Rapture and First Resurrection will occur AT the Second Coming of Jesus. There will be no "third coming" of Jesus.
I will show this clearly.
There will not be another resurrection for 1000 years, and when it occurs, it will include everyone who was not in the First Resurrection. All the sainted dead were resurrected BEFORE the 1,000-year rule of Jesus Christ.
Some people think they will be raptured BEFORE the Tribulation. They are called "pre-tribbers."
Those who think the Rapture will take place AFTER the Tribulation are called "post-tribbers."
I am showing you the "post-trib" view.
I cannot count how many times I have been told by pre-tribbers, "You post-tribbers can hang around for the Tribulation, but I'm going in the Rapture!" That would be wonderful, if it was possible. But I have searched the scriptures diligently for more than 25 years for evidence of a "pre-trib" Rapture, and I have never found any. I would be personally delighted if I did not have to face the Great Tribulation, but the scriptures tell me plainly that the Church will be on earth during the Tribulation.
According to the Bible, there will be NO RESURRECTION OR RAPTURE before the saints have refused the Mark of the Beast.
The verses above plainly say that the FIRST Resurrection includes the saints who resisted the Mark of the Beast.
These verses clearly show us only two resurrections for all of time:
1. The Resurrection of the Righteous BEFORE the 1000-Year Kingdom of Christ.
2. The Resurrection of the Wicked (the rest of the dead) AFTER that Millennium.
Some Bible commentators will tell you there are anywhere from three to eight raptures or resurrections. They count Enoch, Elijah and Jesus.
Well, here are the facts.
Enoch simply "was not, for God took him." That was an isolated incident. He did not die, so he was not resurrected.
"The chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof" came to get Elijah - another isolated instance. He, also, did not die, so he was not resurrected.
From Bethany, on Mt. Olivet, Jesus ascended into the clouds with the angels forty days after His resurrection. He became the "FIRSTFRUITS" from the dead.
But the only TRUE, GENERAL RESURRECTION of all the righteous from all the ages is the SINGLE EVENT that will occur when Jesus appears in the heavens and receives them up into the air. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord."
That resurrection will include both the living saints who are alive on earth at the time (who survived the horrors of the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast), PLUS all the saints who were recently martyred, PLUS all the righteous dead from all the ages.
This is not something you can play semantics or word-games with. It is plainly described in the scriptures.
The church will still be on earth when the Antichrist comes on the scene, and will be confronted with the Mark of the Beast, which it must refuse.
Some saints will die for refusing to take the Mark, while others will survive during these times of persecution.
Those who survive will have witnessed the Abomination of Desolation in the middle of the "seventieth week" (a 7-year period mentioned in Daniel 9), the fleeing of Israel from Judea (misnamed "West Bank"), the implementation of the Mark of the Beast, the Sixth Trumpet War (Revelation 9:13), and the 42-month-long Great Tribulation (also called "Jacob's Trouble" - Daniel 12). Finally, they will see Jesus coming in the clouds to gather them up (the "Rapture"), immediately before Armageddon.
The Abomination of Desolation (Daniel 9:27) is the event that triggers the final 42-months of tribulation:
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
The Abomination will occur 3 1/2 years into that seven-year "week."
It is a common argument, and many have said, "but God said we are not appointed to WRATH!" Another version of that objection goes like this: "I can't believe Jesus is going to beat up on His Bride before He comes to get her!"
Both of those statements are based on a misunderstanding of the DEFINITION of GOD'S WRATH versus the GREAT TRIBULATION. They are NOT the same subjects.
The saints of God are certainly are NOT appointed unto God's wrath!
The Church will NOT be the object of God's wrath when the Seven Vials of the Wrath of God (explained in Revelation 16) are poured out at the very end of the seven years.
The almost-universal misunderstanding revolves around the fact that most people use the terms "Great Tribulation" interchangeably with the "Wrath of God." These are NOT the same events.
The Great Tribulation is a forty-two month event, beginning in the MIDDLE of Daniel's seventieth week of 7 years.
The Wrath of God includes the Seven Vials and Armageddon.
The Church WILL endure the Great Tribulation, but will NOT suffer under the Wrath of God. I will explain.
The First Resurrection and Rapture WILL occur at the opening of the Seventh Seal, the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, and the wrath of the Seventh Vial of Revelation. (More on this at another time.)
The Seven SEALS, Seven TRUMPETS and Seven VIALS do not all BEGIN at the same time, but they all CONCLUDE together at Armageddon.
God will begin the separation of the wicked from the righteous as those seven years come to an end. God is planning on taking TWO SEPARATE HARVESTS from the earth. He will harvest His saints in what is called the "Wheat Harvest." He will separate the wicked for another harvest called "The Grapes of Wrath."
BOTH of these harvests occur at approximately the same time:
1. The Harvest of the Righteous is the Rapture/First Resurrection.
2. The Harvest of the Wicked is the gathering of Israel's enemies for destruction at Armageddon.
At the same time God is assembling the wicked nations of the earth for the "winepress of his wrath" at Armageddon, the Church will be assembled with Jesus Christ in heaven, and will - on the same day - descend together for the great battle of Armageddon, where the Beast and the False Prophet will be defeated.
As soon as these two harvests are complete, the Millennial reign (1,000-year kingdom) of Jesus Christ will begin.
The following material presents the scriptures that teach the above-stated conclusions. You will see the following sequence in Daniel, Matthew, Luke, 1 Thessalonians, and Revelation --
1. A Seven-Year Covenant will be confirmed concerning the status of the State of Israel (probably somehow connected to the declaration of a Palestinian State) by a European entity, and especially involving the Vatican.
2. The Antichrist will commit the Abomination of Desolation in the Third Temple in the middle of the seven years.
3. The Great Tribulation, or Jacob's Trouble begins, in the second half, lasting 42 months.
4. The Harvest of Wheat - the Rapture and First Resurrection of Saints will occur at Jesus' Second coming.
5. The Harvest of Tares - the Wicked will also be gathered together for destruction at Armageddon at that time.
6. The battle of Armageddon and the Wrath of God (occurs at the end of the seven years).
7. The earthly Kingdom of Christ begins in Jerusalem, with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Please read this carefully for understanding.
There are many fascinating revelations in the Bible that seldom, if ever, get preached. And I believe that is a travesty. All these events are going to take place, whether or not preachers preach it.
Tragically, most Christians are NOT GOING TO HAVE A CLUE why these things are happening, because they have been told that they would be RAPTURED out of the world BEFORE any of these events take place.
There is tragic ignorance among Christians about real Biblical facts pertaining to the Rapture and the Tribulation.
I was terribly ignorant for the first eighteen years of my ministry, preaching only what I had heard others preach (which was dreadfully simplistic and unfounded).
Then, one day, a minister friend challenged my thinking, and I began to dig into the scriptures for the truth of the matter. In more than twenty-five years since then, I have proven these conclusions again and again, as they appear in this article. I humbly ask you to prayerfully consider them.
Keep in mind that I have no ulterior motive for telling you that we must go through the Tribulation. It certainly is not because I enjoy the idea of going through the Tribulation. It will be a trial for me just as it will be for every other believer. But it is in the Bible, and I have been called to preach the Word.
Will the Saints go through the Tribulation?
Let us begin in the book of Revelation, chapter 6. Here, the martyrs of the Early Church are waiting in Heaven for God to avenge their blood on their enemies.
Revelation 6:9-10 - "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
God did not avenge those Early Church martyrs immediately. He put them off until the last days Church could be persecuted in the same fashion, according to verse 11: "And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
How was the Early Church persecuted?
Many were killed. Many were tortured. In the case of the first century Church at Rome, there were 2 million saints who were buried UNDERGROUND in the Catacombs. Many of them had been persecuted, tortured and killed. Countless numbers of them were thrown to the lions. History says that the Romans blamed all their calamities and woes on the Christians, and hated them for it. They believed that the Christians were the cause for curses upon them, so they set out to destroy the Christians. And that is only the story from Rome. All over the world, Christians have been persecuted and martyred.
In modern times, the United Religions of the world, with the United Nations Interfaith movement, the World Council of Churches, Tony Blair's new Faith Foundation, and many other international ecumenical groups are angrily accusing fundamentalist Christians of being the source of strife and discontent in society.
Their STATED AGENDAS include plans to purge the earth of narrow-minded, Bible-believing Christians. They prefer to have the ecumenical associations with Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Mother Earth worshipers, new-agers, occultists, native spiritualists, etc. in their fellowship than to have Bible-believing Christians.
The day will come when the persecution will crescendo into outright bans against Christians, with edicts coming down against them from the New World Order leaders. Already, biblical teachings are being categorized as hate-crimes (for example, it is already a crime to speak against homosexuality in Canada).
When the Antichrist comes on the scene, the Mark of the Beast will effectively choke Christians out of public view. Those who do not die will be forced "underground" as was the Early Church.
The modern Church will go through the Tribulation, and will be raptured at the very end to be present with Jesus Christ, their Savior, at the final battle of Armageddon.
This is called the "great day of the Lord."
Why do I say that? Immediately after the persecution of the last days Church was described in Revelation 6:11, the Great Day of the Lord came and the wicked men of the earth WERE judged (vs. 12-17). These are the final calamities which take place in the same time-frame in which the battle of Armageddon occurs.
Look at these verses from Revelation 6:
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
That phrase, "the great day of His wrath," is a direct reference to the battle of Armageddon.
Let's go back now, to the earlier premise:
The Antichrist will make war with the saints and overcome them.
Revelation 13:7 says of the beast: "It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
This is the same fate described in Daniel 7:21-22, "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom."
Who are the saints that the Antichrist will make war with?
Are they Jews? Which Jews? 144,000 Jews will be spared when they flee to a safe place. Logic alone says that THESE are NOT the saints at war with the Antichrist.
The 144,000 can't possibly be the ones that Antichrist prevails against because the scriptures plainly tell us that they are sealed by God and PROTECTED! (not prevailed against!)
Israel was the WOMAN who brought forth the MANCHILD (Jesus Christ). Those 144,000 Jews who are sealed will be protected by God and taken away to a safe place (according to Revelation 12:14)!
Are the "saints" who are "overcome" by Antichrist the 6 million secular Jews in Palestine?
No! With all due respect, they are not saints! They are sinners! They have rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah, and are unbelieving apostates!
So where are the Jewish saints that the Antichrist will prevail against! There are precious few Christian Jews. This we cannot deny!
The SAINTS whom the Beast makes war with can only be Christians! Who else could it be?
The Church WILL live to see the Antichrist, the Mark of the Beast, and the Tribulation.
They will have to reject or hide from the mark. Many will be murdered.
Revelation 13:15 - "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Some will die, some will survive.
"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."
These were NOT Jews, but CHRISTIANS - they were singing the song of the LAMB. Modern Jews do not sing the song of the Lamb (with the rare exception of the very few who have been converted to true Christianity.)
And these Christians had gotten the victory over the MARK OF THE BEAST.
Those who survive are likely to be persecuted, but will finally be raptured alive.
I Thessalonians 4:16-17
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
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."
These are they which came out of great tribulation.
John finally saw the Church in heaven.
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Many people argue that all Christians have tribulation. That is true. But Revelation 15:2 (above) plainly tells that these saints had gotten the victory over the beast, his image, the mark, and the number of his name.
That means that these are Great Tribulation saints who actually saw and resisted the Antichrist.
Revelation 14 provides further reinforcement for this view.
In verses 6 and 7, an angel appears in heaven, preaching the everlasting Gospel.
In verse 8, a SECOND angel cries, "Babylon is fallen!" Babylon will fall BEFORE the Mark of the Beast.
In verses 9-11, a THIRD angel warns "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his MARK..." (WOES to him!!).
In verses 12 and 13, the SAME ANGEL says, "HERE is the patience of the saints, HERE are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ."
HERE (at the time of the Mark of the Beast) is the patience of the saints.
HERE (at the time of the Mark of the Beast) are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ.
An astonishing coincidence of events appear here:
1. The Mark of the Beast
2. The Patience of the Saints
Verses 9-11 are warnings not to take the Mark of the Beast, and the SAME angel in verses 12 and 13 COMFORTS the SAINTS.
And then, quite appropriately, the angel offers a eulogy, "Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth."
Why? He is offering a special blessing upon the Christians who must face the Mark of the Beast and consequently DIE for it!
Then, the NEXT events in verses 14-18, are the TWO HARVESTS.
The FIRST HARVEST will be conducted by Jesus Himself, using a sickle to reap the harvest of the earth. THIS is the Rapture and the First Resurrection. HE HAS NOT PREVIOUSLY RESURRECTED ANYBODY, and HE WILL NOT BE BACK LATER FOR ANOTHER RESURRECTION. This is the FIRST and ONLY RESURRECTION of the RIGHTEOUS! This is the same FIRST Resurrection we see in Revelation 20:4-5.
Immediately thereafter, the SECOND HARVEST is conducted by an angel with a sickle to gather the GRAPES OF WRATH, grapes which will be cast into the winepress of the wrath of God. These are the evil armies who will gather against Jerusalem in the battle of Armageddon, and whose carcases the vultures will feast on after Armageddon.
SO the chronology of chapter 14 is thus:
1. The Gospel will be preached around the world
2. Babylon will fall
3. The Mark of the Beast will be enforced
4. Saints will face the Tribulation, they must have patience, keep the faith and die in the Lord
5. The Rapture will occur
6. The Wrath of God will be poured out, on the same day as the Rapture.
Chapter 16 provides descriptions of the Vials of the Wrath of God, poured out as a prelude to Armageddon.
Interestingly, the first vial of wrath will be a terrible plague on everyone who has the Mark of the Beast.
The third vial will be punishment specifically for shedding the blood of the saints! That is pretty convincing proof that the saints will be in the Tribulation.
God gives us WARNINGS, not to frighten us, but to prepare us.
God warned Joseph of seven years famine in Egypt and he prepared for it and endured it. God warned Noah of a coming flood, and he built an Ark for 100 years, enduring the mockery of his generation. God has warned us all our lives that we would see these things. We should diligently prepare for these coming events.
No one taught these things more clearly than Jesus Himself.
Jesus clearly taught the doctrine of the Rapture. You have to understand WHEN it is scheduled! Jesus said it would FOLLOW the appearance of the Antichrist, after he commits Abomination of Desolation, and after the Great Tribulation. (Matthew 24). Follow this carefully:
FIRST - the Abomination of Desolation will take place in the Middle of the Seven Years (Daniel's seventieth week).
Jesus described it in Matthew 24:15-16: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains."
Who will flee to the mountains? The Jews who live in the hills of Judea (the modern "West Bank")!
SECOND - the Great Tribulation - during the second half of the seven-year week.
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
The Church is the Elect in Jesus' "Great Tribulation" reference.
Many argue that the "elect" are Jews. However, in the New Testament, the Jews are the "cut-off" branch Paul referred to in Romans. The Jews have been rejected for their backsliding, and remain in apostasy according to New Testament teachings.
Israel was the ELECT of the OLD Testament, but the CHURCH is the ELECT under the New Testament covenant.
Peter actually DEFINED who the elect are.
1 Peter 1:2," ELECT according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:"
You have to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ to be ELECT! This would NOT include Jews who have not been born again (John 3:5, Acts 2:38).
Will the Church STILL be on earth AFTER the Abomination of Desolation, and the tribulation of those days?
Absolutely! Look what follows...
THIRD - signs in the sky, the coming of the Lord, and the Rapture!
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Do you realize what those three verses say?
JESUS Himself told us very clearly that the angels would NOT gather the elect from the four winds (the Rapture) until AFTER the tribulation of those days (verse 21), which will come AFTER the Abomination which maketh desolate (verse 15), and which logically comes AFTER the revealing of the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast in the first half of the week.
If you don't understand what I have just said, please read it again!
Paul taught that the day of the Lord and our gathering together unto him (the Rapture) WOULD NOT COME until the man of sin is revealed.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4:
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
PLEASE LEARN what these four verses teach!
Paul instructed the Thessalonians NOT TO BE TRICKED into thinking that the Lord had already come. (That teaching was circulating in their days).
He promised them that the Lord would NOT come before there was a GREAT FALLING AWAY, and the MAN OF SIN BE REVEALED, etc.
In other words, part of Paul's assurance to the Thessalonians that Jesus had not yet come, hinged upon the fact that the MAN OF SIN must be revealed before the Church will be "gathered together unto Him (Jesus)."
Have you yet seen the man of sin (the Antichrist)? No? Then the LORD has not yet come! That is exactly what Paul argued.
There is no way to get around that verse. The Church will NOT be "gathered together unto Him" (raptured - verse 1) until the ANTICHRIST is revealed (verse 3)!
Is that all? No!
Not only does Paul tell them that the Antichrist must be REVEALED, but he must also commit the Abomination that maketh desolate, in the middle of the week of seven years -- BEFORE the Rapture (verse 4)!
How can I make that deduction?
Paul said, "...so that he AS GOD, sitteth in the TEMPLE of GOD, shewing himself that he IS GOD." That is the Abomination of Desolation!
And Jesus WILL NOT COME BEFORE THAT!
By this verse alone, it is absolutely certain that the Church will be present at least 3 1/2 years into the last seven years! (Many saints will survive the entire seven years.)
What does that mean to you and me?
There will be survivors of the Church ALIVE on earth when the Antichrist commits the Abomination of Desolation - a sobering thought!
JESUS taught it in Matthew 24, so why wouldn't PAUL?
The Prophet Daniel even revealed the identical sequence.
Daniel 9:27 describes the Antichrist first making the seven year covenant with Israel:
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
In the middle of the week, the Abomination will occur.
You will be able to see the Antichrist living in the midst of the holy mountains of Jerusalem before the end comes.
Daniel 11:45 - "And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him."
Antichrist will have a palace in the holy mountains of Jerusalem, between the seas (Mediterranean and Dead Seas). In his glory, he will exalt himself against God and Israel (when he commits the abomination of desolation), and precipitate the Great Tribulation in the last half of the week.
The narrative continues in Daniel 12:1:
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time:"
In the middle of the seven-year "week," a war will develop between the [Roman] principality behind the Antichrist, and Michael the archangel over the destiny of Israel.
Sometimes called "Jacob's trouble," Israel will face its DARKEST HOUR ever!
At this time there are roughly six million Jews in Israel. Those living in the controversial West Bank (anciently called Judea) are the ones Jesus commanded to flee Judea, and given "two wings of an eagle" to escape (Revelation 12:14).
The remaining millions of Jews will experience the most awful trial in the history of their nation. Most of them will either be killed or displaced.
What happens when "Jacob's trouble" begins? Verse 11 "...and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
Who shall be delivered?
Answer: "Everyone that shall be found written in the book."
Who will that be?
Born-again believers in Jesus Christ!
Apostate Jews are certainly not written in the book!
Will unbelieving Jews be delivered? NO!
Will Jews who deny Jesus Christ as Messiah be delivered? No!
Born-again Christians! They are the ones whose names are in the book! They are the ones who have repented, been baptized in His name, and received His Holy Spirit.
Notice verse 12:
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Here again are two resurrections:
1. The Resurrection of the Righteous.
2. The Resurrection of the Wicked.
Separate and different resurrections. We have to reconcile these verses with John's teaching in Revelation.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION is the SAME as the FIRST RESURRECTION in Revelation 20:4-5.
The SECOND RESURRECTION is also mentioned in Revelation 20:4-5. It will occur 1000 years after the FIRST Resurrection.
These are the same two resurrections John saw in Revelation 20:4 and 5:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."
The First Resurrection of the dead (and simultaneous rapture of the living saints) will take place at the very end of the seven years.
No more dead will be resurrected for a thousand years.
DO NOT MISS the one and only Rapture!
The Second Resurrection will not occur until the END of the Millennium. Everyone who was not in the Rapture and First Resurrection will be raised in the Second Resurrection 1000 years later. They will face Jesus Christ at the White Throne Judgment, and will be sent to their punishment.
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
So, here is the sequence of events that lie ahead of us.
1. The Confirmation of the Covenant (Europe and Rome will install an Assyrian Antichrist over Palestine in a seven-year agreement.)
(This suggests to me that whereas Rome is now in treaties with Israel over the Catholic holy sites, that may change. Rome may enter into a treaty with the Palestinians over their holy sites as Israel loses some jurisdictions. It also suggests that Rome may decide to recognize the Palestinian jurisdiction of Jerusalem instead of Israeli jurisdiction. Rome will certainly confirm the Assyrian Antichrist is some such manner.)
2. 3 1/2 years later, Antichrist will stand in the Temple in Jerusalem committing the Abomination that will make it Desolate.
3. Jacob's trouble -- the Great, 42-month-long Tribulation
4. The Resurrection of the Righteous (the Rapture and First Resurrection)
5. The Judgment of the Wicked (the Wrath of God, Seven Vials, and Armageddon).
In a nutshell, the 3 1/2 year Tribulation leads to, and ends with, the Seven Vials of the Wrath of God and Armageddon. Still, they are separate events.
The saints of God will be resurrected and raptured at the end of the seven years, and the Vials of God's wrath will immediately be poured out in the last day as a prelude to Armageddon.
The saints will return with Jesus Christ on that same day and fight with Him at the battle of Armageddon.
Again and again, the Bible reveals or confirms this sequence.
What is the conclusion of the matter?
Friend, do not be naive and think that you are going to be raptured out of here without facing Great Tribulation.
Prepare yourself spiritually, mentally and physically!
We are NOT appointed to the wrath of God, but we ARE appointed to TRIBULATION.
Please refer next to my article, The Day of Wrath for a further explanation of the link between the Rapture and the Wrath of God.
Saints in Tribulation - So God won't allow his children to suffer? Look again!
Then consider the important implications of these truths, in Does it matter if you are Pre-Trib or Post-Trib?
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