Did it ever occur to you that the return of Christ is, in part, dependent on whether or not the church has made herself ready? There is an interesting scripture in Revelation 19:7, where it says that the Church has made herself ready for the return of Christ. Up until now the church is not ready in neither the purification of the body nor of the reality of the end-time scenario. The church has been far too interested in escaping any troubles related to the end times in a rapture they believe will occur before the actual return of Jesus Christ. Perhaps once the church fully understands what the end-time scenario will look like and still desire Christ’s return strong enough, they will have made herself ready – come what may, but come Lord Jesus.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Matthew 24:21-22 (NKJV)
There is so much in this one scripture that we Christians need to see. First off, there IS a Great Tribulation period to come. And it is just ahead of us now. It will be the worst period of time the world has ever known. It will be a time so fierce, so frightful that it has the capability to wipe out all life from the earth!
Some think that this scripture was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. That can’t be. Christ says that this Great Tribulation would be unequaled in the world’s history (unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again, NIV). There can’t be two times of great tribulation worse than any other.
World War I brought about millions more casualties than what happened in 70 AD. So, 70 AD could not have fulfilled this prophecy: end of story; even though 70 AD was a type and forerunner of what is to come.
World War I couldn’t have been the tribulation either, since the casualty count in World War II dwarfed the amount in the First World War. Only now can the stage be set for the worst time the world has ever known. Only in this hour of our existence can the nations of the world with nuclear warfare, literally, destroy all life from off the face of the earth.
But I want you to notice another important element in that prophecy. Those days are cut short! And, why are they cut short? Because if they were not, there would be no flesh saved alive on the earth. But – now get this – for the elect’s sake – the saints of God who are still living on the earth — those days will be shortened so that the world and the last remnant of humanity will not be totally obliterated.
This bears repeating, it is the elect of God still living on the earth that causes God to intervene to end the Tribulation. That’s the same Elect that Jesus Christ comes to rescue after the Great Tribulation at His return: And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other Matthew 24:31 (NKJV).
Some think that Christians will never experience any of the Great Tribulation. Some even think that they will be whisked away in a rapture before the Tribulation – in fact, they’ve been taught that. The problem with this is that most people don’t know the difference between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord and have difficulty in pinpointing the rapture. Do you know that there’s a difference between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord?
Most people simply lump these two events together as if they were the same thing. They are not! And it’s this particular misunderstanding of scripture that has caused most people to become confused about the timing of the rapture of the Saints and the return of Jesus Christ. But you can know when Christ returns for the elect! The Bible records the plan and outline of end-time events which undeniably pinpoint the timing of the rapture and the return of Christ.
Friends, time is so short now that it is imperative that we reevaluate our understanding about the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and the Church of the End Times. What exactly is the Great Tribulation? Is it the same as the Day of the Lord? And, at what point does God rapture us out of this earth?
The LEFT BEHIND movie has continued to foster an erroneous belief that God will rapture His Church before the Great Tribulation. But, as we’ve already seen, God has to cut short the Great Tribulation to preserve the Elect of God and all human life. There’s so much confusion over the End Times that we need a little clarity about these issues lest we are“carried about by every wind of doctrine.” I know that there are some that suggest that we’re not even supposed to be able to understand prophecy. But the book of Daniel says that the wise in the last days shall understand (Daniel 12:10).
So, let’s try to understand.
WHERE ARE WE NOW IN BIBLICAL PROPHECY?
We are presently living in the days just before the fulfillment of Daniel 12:1. The Prophet Daniel was given understanding about Gentile rulership of the world through the ages until the establishment of the Kingdom of God (“until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the Kingdom,” Daniel 7:22).
But before that time of Christ’s return we find Daniel describing Spiritual Warfare in the heavens. When this particular spiritual warfare occurs, we do not know — however we on the earth will feel the effects of this event immediately. “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: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book of life”Daniel 12:1
This “time of trouble” is the Great Tribulation, the same time that Jesus prophesied about in the Olivet Prophecy – because there can’t be two “times of trouble” that have no equal. Now notice, Michael, the great archangel, who is Chief Protector of God’s People, rises up before the Great Tribulation. Why?
To find out the answer we have to do just what Daniel prophesied would happen in the last days. “But you Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge,” Daniel 12:4. Yes, at the time of the end, the prophetic scriptures will be opened up and people will be going “here and there” in the Bible to increase knowledge.
So, let’s go now to Revelation and see why Michael rises up in heaven. It’s to cast Satan out of heaven – finally! “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him….Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time” Revelation 12:7-9, 12.
SO, CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THE GREAT TRIBULATION IS?
The Great Tribulation is Satan’s Wrath against God’s people, which will affect the entire world. That’s why it’s the great tribulation! Ever since the fall of Lucifer and the creation of man, there has been contention between the fallen angels and mankind. Angels were not created in God’s own image, Man was! (Genesis 1:27). Though Man was made a little lower than the angels presently they will ultimately be over the angels (Hebrews 2:5-10). Thus as Satan sees his days are numbered, he attempts to thwart God’s plan of salvation and redemption upon those who will replace his authority on the earth!
Let me repeat it again: The Great Tribulation is Satan’s Wrath against God’s people. Let’s continue in verse 13: “And when the dragon saw that he was cast out unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child (Jesus Christ).” In this verse, the “woman” depicts the Church and Body of Christ. Continuing in verse 14: “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, times and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”
The church here is protected from Satan for a “time, times and half a time” – the three and a half year period of the Great Tribulation. Psalm 91 speaks about that time when the church is protected. “He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust…Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon day. A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee….For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him” Psalm 91:4-7,11,14.
And, we mustn’t forget Jesus Christ also offered this encouraging prayer of protection: John 17:15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, (ie “Rapture”) but that You should keep them from the evil one.
So then Satan goes after the “remnant of her seed” (Revelation 12:17). What this distinction is, is not presently understood but, ultimately, it is within the sphere of God’s sovereign will that some Christians will be protected and other Christians will be martyred.
Jesus prophesied that “then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” Matthew 24:9. Revelation also speaks about a martyrdom of saints in the time of the end: Revelation 6:9-11; 7:13-14.
While Satan is the spiritual catalyst for this martyrdom, he uses physical means: The Beast of Revelation 13! It is Satan who gives this Beast Power, now rising up in the world, its power and authority (Revelation 13:2, 4). This beast power will “speak great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him (notice, Satan gives power to the Beast) to continue forty and two months” (the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation). Verse7: “And 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.”
Yes, this is frightfully serious. And it’s for a time just ahead of us now.
WHO IS WORTHY TO OPEN UP TO US THE BOOK OF REVELATION?
Before we go any further we have to make sure that we’re all on the same “page” in prophecy, in fact the page I’m referring to is the first page in the Book of Revelation. So, let’s backtrack for a bit and lay some groundwork.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass. Notice, the revelation comes from Jesus Christ, and not John the Apostle as some translators have titled the book. We think of the book now as a mysterious, “closed” book, but Jesus says He gave John this word to show his people things to come.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. Again, Jesus gives us no room to think that this book was meant to be incomprehensible and closed up! And, for those who think that 70 AD fulfilled all prophecies in the Bible, let me just state that the book of Revelation was written after the destruction of Jerusalem. It was written circa 90 AD by the Aged Patriarch John, who alone escaped martyrdom of all the Apostles.
THE MYSTERIOUS SEVEN SEALS OF REVELATION
Who is worthy to open up the book, and to loose the seals thereof? asks the angel ofRevelation 5:2. This book was a rolled up scroll, affixed firmly in place with seven seals.
Revelation 5:3-5 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders sayeth onto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Thank God for Jesus Christ!
Revelation 5:9 Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof. Yes, Jesus Christ is Worthy to tear off each seal – and define the seals in prophetic terms – and open up the book to us. This book will show chronologically what is to occur in the End Days.
Revelation 6 describes six of the seven seals. The first four seals are sometimes referred to as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first three seals seem to precede the Great Tribulation and culminate in intensity during the Great Tribulation, which the fourth seal begins to describe. Let’s go over them now, if only briefly; because these seals carry with it the timeline for us to follow if we are to understand End Time events.
THE FIRST SEAL
Revelation 6: 1-2 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw and behold, a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to conquer. Since we’re already concluded that only Jesus Christ can open the seals and reveal the book, we must then turn to Jesus Christ for His interpretation of what He’s saying.
You will find, Dear Reader — and this is important — that the seals are opened up to us in stark detail as we read through this chapter and we must compare it to the famous Olivet Prophecy of Matthew 24. There the disciples asked Jesus the same questions that are going through your mind now.
Matthew 24:3 And as Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Christ’s initial response ties in with the First Seal of Revelation 6, which defines the first seal.
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.Remember the First Seal depicted a rider on a White Horse, not unlike Jesus Christ riding a White Horse when He returns (Revelation 19:11). However, this rider is representative of all those who would falsely come in Jesus’ name – they would come in as “Christians,” or as Christ Himself – and deceive the many. It is the hallmark of the Anti-Christ spirit, the spirit that replaces Jesus Christ as Lord of All with a fraudulent substitute. Vs 24 continues this thought: 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. Thankfully, it says IF it were possible. Well, the elect knows what Christ taught them; are growing in the likeness of Christ Himself with the Holy Spirit giving them discernment, that they’re not going to be deceived.
Many read vs 4 with the idea that this specifically only means False Christs. It certainly means that, but there’s more. If you were with Jesus Christ for three and a half years and a stranger walked up to you and said, “Hi, I’m Jesus Christ,” would you not be able to tell the difference? Of course, you’d be able to discern the fraud immediately! Any Christian today would discern the fraud immediately. Rather, these deceivers come in the form of Christianity proclaiming that Jesus is Lord. Remember, Christ would have no reason to warn his own disciples about deception except it come from “within” – the wolves in sheep clothing.
II Corinthians 11:13-15 The Apostle Paul adds this: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. It is this deception, that supposedly comes from “within,” that is the far greater deception. Paul warns about those holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! II Timothy 3:5.
Therefore, keep your eyes opened, Beloved.
Granted, this first example in using the Olivet Prophecy to interpret Revelation 6 may not be as persuasive an argument as you’d like. But if you follow through with the other seals, you’ll see just how relevant and intertwined they really are.
THE SECOND SEAL
Revelation 6:3-4 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
Now when we compare this second seal to the next item in the Olivet Prophecy, we find that Jesus says, And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…Matthew 24:6-7.
The second seal therefore is War and rumors of war. But the end, says Christ, is not yet,Matthew 24:6.
THE THIRD SEAL
Revelation 6:5-6 And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say ‘A measure of wheat for a penny (a penny was a day’s wages!): and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.’
Back to the Olivet Prophecy: and there shall be famines, and pestilences Matthew 24:7. The third seal is therefore Famine. Pestilences, or disease epidemics, usually stride side by side to famine.
We’re led to believe that the first three horsemen have been with us since Christ appeared the first time: false prophets and false Christs, war, and famine. Yet these three will intensify gradually – even throughout two thousand years – and fully culminate at the time of Great Tribulation.
THE FOURTH SEAL
Revelation 6:7-8 And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked and behold, a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
A horseman called Death, with Hell following along with him, and a fourth of the human population (One billion plus) dying can only mean the time that Christ refers to as the time unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again – the Great Tribulation, Matthew 24:22. Therefore the fourth seal is the Great Tribulation, which encompasses the previous seals too.
THE FIFTH SEAL
Revelation 6:9 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. And white robes were given unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Here is the martyrdom of the saints, which continues the Great Tribulation and which Christ forewarned us about in Matthew 24:9: then shall they…kill you. This is the result of the Anti-Christ’s persecution in the previous seal.
We had to briefly review the first five seals so that we can all be on the same page when we uncover the next two seals. We have seen how the seals chronologically lead up to the Great Tribulation, but it is the next two seals – that come after the Tribulation — that are pivotal in our understanding for the timing of the Rapture.
HOW WILL GOD CUT SHORT THE GREAT TRIBULATION?
This is answering the point made at the very beginning of the article. God is going to cut short the days to preserve His Elect and the rest of the world. When God does this, every eye will see it. People will not be able to minimize or reject God’s intervention and rule over the world any longer. Because God will cut short the Tribulation with a supernatural sign from heaven, signaling to the world that He’s intervening in Man’s Affairs and putting a stop to the Anti-Christ spirit that is then ruling the world.
It all comes out in Seal number six.
THE SIXTH SEAL
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; 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.
This sixth seal is the supernatural sign involving the darkening sun, bloody moon, and related phenomenon, such as we’ve never seen before. God does this to get everyone’s attention that He is now intervening to stop the world from its Anti-God hostility and from total obliteration of its own making.
Jesus also confirms the sixth seal in His Olivet prophecy: 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, Matthew 24:29-30.
THE GREAT TRIBULATION IS NOT THE DAY OF THE LORD
The sixth seal is the separating point of two events: the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. This is an important seal to understand that the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are two separate events. The major reason why pre-tribulationists miss the timing of the rapture is because they do not understand the difference between these two events and they cannot possibly pinpoint the rapture.
They don’t know when one begins and the other ends: therefore they read scriptures meant for the Day of the Lord as if it was in the Great Tribulation, and vice versa.
Going now to Christ’s comments on the Mount of Olives, 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, Matthew 24:29.
Did you notice that Jesus says, immediately after the Tribulation shall this celestial warning occur? Once again, Jesus is carefully following the chronological pattern outlined in Revelation. And so — get this — once this sixth seal occurs, the tribulation is over – and the Day of the Lord will soon begin!
The Old Testament Prophet Joel sheds much light about the Day of the Lord: Alas for the Day of the Lord is at hand, Joel 1:15.
Joel 2:31 refers to the Signs in the Heavens, but I’d like to take a little time now with Joel here and start a few scriptures before that. It’s only a slight veering off on a tangent to bring encouragement to those of you who know that there won’t be a rapture before the Great Tribulation. Let’s start at Joel 2:28: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
You may shudder thinking about the end times, wondering how one could possibly endure such hostility, wretchedness and persecution in the world. But, remember that God will be pouring out His Spirit in an unprecedented way. How do you think that we could endure the horrible, last days, except God be in us with Might: invigorating us with Supernatural Powers, empowering us with immutable, jewel-refined Faith, enriching us with Hope and Determination that repels the satanic horrors in the world. When He says He’s going to pour out His Spirit, get ready for a blast of the Holy Ghost that’s LIFE-sustaining against the onslaught of the enemy – POWER you’ve never seen before!
Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
So, we need to be close to the Lord and He will protect us from those horrific days. Now, just after the scripture where God will pour out His Spirit, we read, The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, BEFORE the great and the terrible Day of the Lord come, Joel 2:31.
Notice our timeline, we’ve read before when Christ said that the supernatural signs in the heavens will happen immediately after the Great Tribulation, and now we read that these same signs happen before the Day of the Lord. Therefore these two events cannot be the same thing!
Now, we have understanding: these heavenly signs are a dividing line between these two events.
DEFINING THE DAY OF THE LORD
Now we can understand what the Day of the Lord is. We’ve already seen that the Great Tribulation is Satan’s wrath against God’s people. Now, let’s go back to Joel to understand what the Day of the Lord is.
Joel 1:15 Alas for the day! For the Day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
Ah, now we see that the Day of the Lord is God’s Wrath. Continue now in the chronological time sequence in Revelation 6; after the signs in the heavens have just occurred:
Revelation 6:15-17 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
But where is the Lord’s wrath directed? Isaiah continues this train of thought:
Isaiah 2:10-21 Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, From the terror of the LORD And the glory of His majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts Shall come upon everything proud and lofty, Upon everything lifted up—And it shall be brought low—Upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, And upon all the oaks of Bashan; Upon all the high mountains, And upon all the hills that are lifted up; Upon every high tower, And upon every fortified wall; Upon all the ships of Tarshish, And upon all the beautiful sloops. The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; The LORD alone will be exalted in that day, But the idols He shall utterly abolish. They shall go into the holes of the rocks, And into the caves of the earth, From the terror of the LORD And the glory of His majesty, When He arises to shake the earth mightily. In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver And his idols of gold, Which they made, each for himself to worship, To the moles and bats, To go into the clefts of the rocks, And into the crags of the rugged rocks, From the terror of the LORD And the glory of His majesty, When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
This is talking about the Lord’s Wrath against the Wicked! And wherever you see in Scripture, The Day, The Day of the Lord, The Wrath, the Day of His Wrath, The End, The End of the Age it is talking about the Day of the Lord – not the Great Tribulation.
Isaiah 13:9-11 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible…
Malachi 4:1 For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch…
So, we still haven’t pinpointed the timing of the Rapture. Hold on. Let’s first finish up with distinguishing between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, and then we’ll be able to pinpoint the time of the Rapture.
THE SEVENTH SEAL
Even though we’ve defined the Day of the Lord, we still need to go back to Revelation to show that the seventh seal is the Day of the Lord.
Once again, we read in Revelation 6:17, after the wicked on the earth see the signs in the heavens, they cry out amid the rocks of the mountains, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the Wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand. And, sure enough, the next seal describes the Judgment plagues that will be poured out on the earth.
Revelation 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Can you imagine that? Silence in heaven, when around the clock there are angelic choruses praising the magnificence of Almighty God. But now, silence! Something is going to happen that is so striking, so cataclysmic that Heaven is silenced!
Revelation 8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. If you read through this portion of scripture and subsequent chapters, you’ll find that these Angels are given Trumpet-Heralded Judgments which are poured out upon the wicked of the earth: (vs 6) hail and fire; (vs 8) a third of the sea turned into blood; etc. It finally culminates with the Seventh Trumpet.
In the same way that the Seventh Seal is comprised of the Seven Trumpet Judgments; the Seventh Trumpet Judgment is comprised of the Seven Last Plagues (Revelation 15, 16), which “completes” the Wrath of God (Revelation 15:1). The term Armageddon can be safely placed within the time frame of the Day of the Lord.
There’s more to be learned from this book. We’re sure that as the days move perilously close to the Great Tribulation, the Holy Spirit will impart greater understanding to all aspects of the Book of Revelation, and the rest of the Bible.
While it’s not within the scope of this article to discuss all particulars of the Day of the Lord, it was our desire to show a correlation between The Seven Seals of Revelation and the Olivet Prophecy – and that Christ is the revealer of the Seals. We’ve tried to show that there is a definite timeline for events in the End Days. We’ve tried to show a definite distinction between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. All this was necessary to help us understand when the Rapture occurs.
So, now that we’ve established our timeline, let’s go back to see what Christ says in the Olivet Prophecy.
THE RAPTURE PINPOINTED
Matthew 24:29-31 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
You see, from the words of Jesus Christ Himself, He says this gathering of the Elect –the Rapture – occurs after the Signs in the Heavens, which occurs after the Great Tribulation. That’s because God rescues the Saints before the great Day of the Lord – His Wrath against the Wicked.
Now, let’s go onto other scriptures to see how they come to life with this understanding.
RAPTURE & WRATH OF GOD TOGETHER IN SCRIPTURE
II Thessalonians 2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, …
Stop right there! Here the Apostle Paul equates as a united event the Coming of Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him. The only time Christ makes His appearance is in the Day of the Lord.
II Thessalonians 2:1-2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, Brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying the Day of the Lord has already come.
Again, Paul equates (1) the Coming of the Lord with (2) our being gathered to Him to (3) the Day of the Lord.
And he forewarns God’s people not to fall for any other doctrine that misrepresents the timing of His Coming. This refers also to those who think all prophecies were fulfilled already in 70 AD.
II Thessalonians 2:3-4 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the Day of the Lord and the rapture of the Saints) will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
The Anti-Christ will have demanded worship and executed those who will not worship him – some of the Saints. This period is, of course, the Great Tribulation. So, the Apostle Paul here is saying that the Day of the Lord and the Rapture of the Saints will not occur until after the reign of the Anti-Christ during Satan’s Wrath against the Church.
GOD SAVES US FROM THE COMING WRATH
Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s Wrath through Him! Here, the Apostle Paul speaks about Christ saving us from God’s wrath – or the Day of the Lord – because we are raptured up to God at that time. Two other scriptures echo that point: I Thessalonians 1:10 wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead who rescues us from the coming Wrath. I Thessalonians 5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer Wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this world, says Christ, Christians shall suffer tribulation (John 16:33), but not God’s Wrath.
In all actuality, there are numerous scriptures that confirm and add to this teaching. Do a study on those scriptures and see them with this new understanding. However, at this time, let’s move onto scriptures that speak more about the Rapture.
CHRIST’S RETURN NOT KEPT SECRET
Those who would support a secret rapture before Christ’s actual coming in Glory, must realize that Christ’s Coming (Gk, Parousía) will not be in secret.
Luke 17:24 For the Son of Man in His day (the Day of the Lord) will be like lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.
Revelation 1:7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him.
I Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Matthew 24:30-31 they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
NOT ONLY SAVED FROM WRATH, BUT GLORIFIED!
I Corinthians 15:51-53 Listen I tell you a mystery: … we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
I John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
THE SAINTS ARE GATHERED, ANTICHRIST IS REMOVED
Christ leads the way to forcibly remove the recalcitrant Anti-Christ and his minions before His Kingdom can be established.
Jude 14-15 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied …saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’
Zechariah 14:1-3 Behold, the day of the LORD is coming… For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.
Revelation 19:15 And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword that with it, He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron; and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He hath on his vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Zechariah 14:4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.
Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’
FINALLY! FINALLY! Praise God! Christ returns with all His Saints to rule the world in Righteousness for a Millennial Reign. Hallelujah! Rewards are distributed to the Saints; Rulership, Positions of authority in a new realm of Holiness. That’s our inheritance! That’s what we’ll see occurring, probably in our lifetimes, at the rate things are going. Yes, it’s quite an exciting time that we’re living in. God has a wonderful plan for us both now and in the future when He returns.
So now that we know not only the timing of the Rapture, but the timing of the days we’re living in, let’s leave off with a sobering thought:
II Peter 3:10-15 But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief (yes, to the world it’ll come like a thief, but not to Christians, see I Thessalonians 5:4-8). The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.
For more, see the Mindshift video here.