Eero L (24 Mar 2024)
"Timing of the Rapture According to the Bible"


 
Shalom!

Dear John & The Doves,

Please accept my study on the timing of the Rapture to you Letters. 

I wanted to keep it brief and as Bible centered as possible. But as it happens, it became much longer than I expected. So I tried to keep the first part with the main points short, based around Bible verses and my own longer commentary as the latter part.

May the LORD be with you all and have a Blessed Passover!

Maranatha Lord Jesus!

E.L.

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Timing of the Rapture According to the Bible

In Matthew 24 Olivet Discourse Jesus depicts the Rapture as follows:

24:29 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:
24:30 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.

Matt. KJV

This description is in accordance with the events following the opening of the Sixth Seal as described in the Book of Revelation chapter 6:

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;
6:13 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.
6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
6:15 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;
6:16 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:
6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Rev. KJV

The darkening of the sun and the moon and the shaking of the heavens and the earth are one-time events in the Bible taking place just before the great and terrible Day of the LORD as told us by the Prophet Joel (Joel 2:31).

Jesus continues in Matthew 24 verse 31:

24:31 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.

Matt. KJV

This matches with the events of Revelation 7 where angels hold the four winds of the earth to seal the 144 000 Israelites from all the twelve tribes of Israel, twelve thousand from each tribe:

7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
...
7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Rev. KJV

After this, an unnumbered great multitude from all the people and tongues of the world appear in Heaven. These people are coming out of the Great Tribulation as we are told in the following verse:

7:14 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.

Rev. KJV

The great sound of a trumpet mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:31 fits with the Rapture trumpet depicted by Apostle Paul. It is an assembly Trumpet of God not to be mixed up with the seventh trumpet of judgement sounded by an angel in Revelation 11:15. Paul describes the Rapture events as follows:

15:52 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 Cor. KJV

4:16 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.
4:17 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 Thess.

The Return of Jesus to the earth with all His Saints (1 Thess. 3:13) so that His feet touch the ground (Zech 14:4) is described by Jesus in Matthew 25:

25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.

Matt.

Jesus does not mention His Thousand-Year Reign on earth in the Olivet Discourse since it is not announced until the Book of Revelation. Both Matthew 24 to 25 and the Book of Revelation are prophecies regarding future events from the point of time onwards when they were given (Rev. 1:1). Jesus also does not mention distinctive timings or duration of events at the Olivet Discourse. This detailed information is given to John by the very same but already resurrected Jesus in the Book of Revelation, hence the name. The remaining passages of the Olivet Discourse are a clear parallel to the so called Great White Throne Judgement (Rev. 20) after the Thousand-Year Reign and before the creation of eternal New Heavens and Earth.

The Return of Christ to the earth or commonly known as the Second Coming is depicted at the end of Book of Revelation as follows:

19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
...
19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Rev. KJV

According to the above Bible passages the Rapture most probably happens just before the opening of the Sixth Seal and the beginning of the Day of the LORD (Rev. 6:17). In turn the Second Coming takes place at the end of the Day of the LORD. The Day of the LORD is a synonym for the seven final years of the End Times also known as Daniel's Seventieth Week (Dan. 9:24-27) or Jacob's Trouble (Jer. 30:7).

In Matthew 24 Jesus compares the times leading up to His Second Coming to the times of Noah. At the time of Noah God purged the sinful world with water, but at the Second Coming He will purge it with fire. Just as Noah was lifted up over the flood waters of the earth, so will the faithful Congregation be lifted up to Heaven out of harms way. And just as Noah was rightful in the sight of God, so are the True Believers. They are washed clean by the Blood of their Saviour and need no purging again. This is the reason for the Rapture.

What is clear is that Jesus is already the sovereign ruler of the Universe. However, as it is with earthly kings, a rebellion might occur in their kingdom especially whilst the king is away for a long time. In Matthew 24 and 25 Jesus tells us two parables where He compares His Kingdom to a master that goes away on journey and leaves his servants to take care of his belongings. Some of the servants engage in illegal activities and mistreat the of possessions their master and other servants. These bad servants are punished and removed by their master when he unexpectedly arrives, while to good servants are awarded for their loyalty and good deeds. These parables reveal the reason for the final seven years: Jesus comes back to earth to judge it and to bring everlasting peace. Most importantly God planned this period of time to bring His People Israel back to Him by recognising Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, the Messiah they once rejected.

This study does not take a stand on the identities of the groups of people presented in the above Bible verses: the Elect (Matt. 24:31), the 144 000 Sealed (Rev. 7:4) and the Great Multitude appearing in Heaven between seals six and seven (Rev. 7:9). There are also other possibilities for the timing of the Rapture in the Book of Revelation, namely John's calling up to Heaven by a loud trumpet sound (Rev. 4:10) and the resurrection of the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11 for example. Most favourably these might also be implications of several Raptures of different groups of people with the Rapture at the Sixth Seal being the most prominent one. The fact that people show up in Heaven at Revelation 7 proves that a Rapture, Resurrection has taken place and the uncountable number of people suggests that this is the Main Harvest.

Jesus mentions in His Olivet Discourse that the sign of Son of Man and the coming of Him in the clouds are preceded by the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24:15-20) and the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21) with the Abomination of Desolation probably being a kickoff event in Judea. In the Olivet Discourse Jesus mentions the words "those days" four times in connection with the Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation. Therefore the duration of these events might not be very long, counted in mere days instead of years. This is in contrast with the conventional view that the Great Tribulation is either three and a half or seven years long at the maximum. What is suggested that the Great Tribulation is actually a relatively short period of time of intense tribulation spreading worldwide just before the beginning of the Day of the LORD. This does not mean that remaining final years would be in anyway easy for Israel or the other left behind people. On the contrary, the whole Daniel's Seventieth Week is a time of immense tribulation and judgements altogether.

If the Hour of Temptation mentioned by Jesus in Revelation 3:10 "which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" is the same as the Great Tribulation, then the True Believers in Christ might be on earth just to see an attack of fierce force unfolding on Israel, possibly with nuclear arms, but not much longer. According to Ezekiel 38 an attack by Gog on Israel is the trigger which causes God to unleash His Wrath on the earth. In the Book of Revelation this Wrath and the Day of the LORD begins at Seal Six (Rev. 6:17) and according 1 Thess. 1:10 and 5:9 we are not appointed to the coming Wrath of God but to be delivered from it by Jesus Christ.

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