The Rapture
 Part 1 

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Quotes by Jesus are in orange.

overview

The topic of the Rapture is a controversial subject in Christian circles.  There are five main Rapture views: Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Post-Tribulation, Pre-Wrath, and Multiple Raptures.  The Rapture involves the concepts of “changed bodies,” as well as being “caught up” in the air to be with Jesus, from that point forward.  Before you continue, you may want to read Corrie ten Boom on the Tribulation and the Rapture and Ruth B. Graham on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.  Both of them warned believers not  to expect to be exempt from tribulation and persecution.

Although there are numerous biblical passages describing or referring to the Rapture event, probably the two most descriptive passages are 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.  Those who are caught up will be “lifted up in love” to be with Jesus in the clouds.  The question is, when does this astonishing event occur?

A widely-accepted theory is that of the Pre-Tribulation or “Pre-Trib” Rapture.  This is based on the belief that the Rapture event (that is, the catching up of all those who maintain a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) will take place just prior to the final seven years of this age (also referred to as the 70th Week, and often called the “tribulation” period).  See “Pre-Trib”: My Prior View.

To help determine the point during the 70th Week at which the initial, primary Rapture event will occur, it first is helpful to determine the points at which other events are known or presumed to occur.  Then, this collection of scripturally-sound information becomes a solid foundation on which to build the Pre-Wrath theory—which, I feel, demonstrates the proper timing of the main Rapture.  My detailed chart, The 70th Week and Extensions, at the bottom of Part 2, shows my placement of the Pre-Wrath Rapture during the 70th Week.


abomination that causes desolation

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to Him and asked Him what would be the sign of His Second Coming and of the “end of the age.”  Jesus responded with a lengthy series of answers (Matthew 24:4-31) which, I feel, explain events that will take place from the beginning of the 70th Week to the point during that final seven-year period when the primary Rapture event (the first phase of His Second Coming) will occur.  This event will take place shortly after the opening of the Sixth Seal of the heavenly scroll, depicted in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 6:12-17), as viewed and described by the apostle John.  (See also my three-part commentary, The Chronology of Revelation.)

In the midst of Jesus’ response to His disciples is a very significant statement:  “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel...(Matthew 24:15).  Jesus was referring to words written by the Old Testament prophet Daniel, via a prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel.  The event to which Jesus’ statement refers will take place within the 70th Week of years.  In considering this self-evident axiom, it can be seen in Daniel 9:27bc that it is in the middle or midst  of the 70th Week when sacrifice and offering will be put to an end, and also when the abomination of desolation will be set up in the “holy place,” as Jesus called it.

Most have considered this “holy place” to be a third temple to be built in Jerusalem before Jesus returns.  In most Bible translations, a “temple” is mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and by John in Revelation 11:1.  However, in these specific verses, a more precise translation of that word, from the Greek, is “shrine.”  The Islamic Dome of the Rock is a shrine, and it very likely stands where the first two temples stood.  Although the Dome of the Rock certainly would not  be considered by the true God to be a holy building, the place where it stands on the Temple Mount still would be a holy place to God, as it has been for millennia.  Perhaps, then, the “abomination” will be set up in the Islamic Dome of the Rock, which stands on ground that is holy to God (see third temple).

There has been a great deal of speculation as to what will constitute the “abomination that causes desolation.”  Some have suggested that this abomination of desolation could be something taking place in the temple, should one be built, which is revolting to orthodox Jews, such as the setting up of an idol and/or the sacrificing of a pig.  However, in case another temple is not constructed, then this idea would seem not to be likely.

Furthermore, there is a past precedent of performing sacrifice and offering with no temple standing.  Even before the foundation of the Second Temple had been laid in Jerusalem, burnt offerings were sacrificed on an altar built for this purpose (Ezra 3:1-6).  Thus, future sacrifices and offerings, and the cessation thereof, would not necessarily require another man-made temple in which to occur.

Now, Daniel pointed out that rebellion, presumably against God and His commands, can cause desolation (Daniel 8:12,13).  Paul said that once the rebellion or apostasy occurs, the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) will be revealed 2 Thessalonians 2:3.  One of the hallmarks of this man will be that he will rebel against God’s laws and commands and will deceive and persecute others into doing the same.

So according to 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4, the “man of lawlessness” will “set himself up” in the temple (or shrine) and proclaim himself to be God.  Jesus indicated that the “abomination” would be “standing in the holy place(Matthew 24:15).

Here is Daniel 9:27 from the Orthodox Jewish Bible:

And he shall confirm brit [covenant] with rabbim [the many] for one heptad [week of seven years]; and in the midst of the heptad he shall cause the zevach [sacrifice] and the minchah [gift offering] to cease, and on the kenaf [wing or overspreading] of the abominations is one making desolate, even until the complete destruction, a destruction that is decreed, shall be poured out upon the Shomem [Desolator, Destroyer]. (Daniel 9:27—OJB).
Taken altogether, these three verses may indicate that the Antichrist, himself, is the “abomination” who will “set himself up,” who will be “standing in the holy place,” and who will be the “one making desolate.”  That is, this “man of lawlessness”—the “Desolator” or “Destroyer”—may himself  be the one who “causes desolation” or “makes desolate” and for whom complete destruction, ultimately, has been decreed (at the Battle of Armageddon).  Thus, it may be that Jesus warned those in Judea, in the middle of the 70th Week, that when they see this man standing in the “holy place,” to flee as soon as possible (Matthew 24:16).

The “abominations” (Daniel 9:27—OJB) may include the public proclamation, at the “holy place,” by the Antichrist (“the first beast”) that he is “God,” as well as his blasphemy of the true God and the heavenly host (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:5,6).  Furthermore, he might state emphatically that Jesus is not  the Son of God, a tenet expressed clearly in the Qur’an (Maryam: 35, 92) that is abominable to God.  John indicated the following about the antichrist with an antichrist spirit:

Who is the liar?  It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22,23).

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God:  Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:2,3).

Perhaps there also will be an abominable idol erected, similar to the one that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; the idol honored the king, and a command was given to worship the idol (Daniel 3:1-7).  This would seem to correspond with the “image,” set up by by the False Prophet (“the second beast”), to honor the first beast and to be worshiped (Revelation 13:14,15).  Interestingly, the dimensions (height, width, and depth) of King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol were 60 cubits x 6 cubits x 6 cubits, or “666.”

According to Luke, Jesus noted, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near(Luke 21:20).  It would seem, then, that whatever happens at that time, there may be some type of military involvement, either attempting to keep the peace or else triggering, or even causing, the ensuing desolation.


the restrainer

Paul indicated that something or someone was restraining or holding back the “secret power of lawlessness,” the latter which will empower the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) when he ultimately is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8).  Those who adhere to the “Pre-Tribulation” Rapture viewpoint commonly believe that it is the Holy Spirit working through the Church of believers, or some feel that it is a government, who is holding back the power (and man) of lawlessness until the proper time of revelation.

If the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, then the idea is that He is working through believers in the world; and after they are raptured (allegedly at the beginning of the 70th Week), the man of lawlessness will be revealed.  Yet the Holy Spirit is everywhere.  The idea that He could be “removed” from any location (for instance, the world) is an illogical, tenuous notion.  Plus, if the Holy Spirit were gone, that would mean that nobody else could receive faith—a gift of the Holy Spirit—during the 70th Week.  Therefore, no one else could be saved.

I hold a different view altogether about “the restrainer.”  Jesus indicated that, following the abomination that causes desolation (at the midpoint of the 70th Week), “there will be great distress [or great tribulation], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again(Matthew 24:21).  The Old Testament prophet Daniel indicated that just prior to this same period of distress, the archangel Michael would “arise” (Daniel 12:1).

The archangel Michael always has been the special protective “prince” of Daniel’s people, Israel (Daniel 10:13,21).  At the midpoint of the 70th Week, he is seen to “arise” or “stand up.”  The term used is the Hebrew word amad, which actually means to “stand aside,” “stand still,” “desist,” or “be inactive.”  Other examples of the usage of amad  are found in Job 32:16, Nehemiah 8:5, and 2 Samuel 18:30 (see Amad).

Michael, in the midst or middle of the 70th Week, will oust Satan and his angels from heaven (where they now have access, accusing saints before God day and night), hurling them down to the earth (Revelation 12:7-9).  This will end Satan’s access to heaven (which he was shown to have in Job 1:6 and 2:1) forever.  Immediately after this, the following will happen, in sequential order:

  1. Michael, the restrainer, will “amad” (desist from any further assistance to Israel—Daniel 12:1a) by being “taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7b).  This will lead to a period of great distress on the earth, unequaled previous to that time (Matthew 24:21), for all nations including Israel.
  2. The revealing of the true nature of the “lawless one” (Antichrist) will occur (2 Thessalonians 2:8a). 
  3. The work of Satan, through the “lawless one” who will come, will be “displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10a).
  4. Ultimately, this man of lawlessness will be overthrown by Jesus, following His return to earth (2 Thessalonians 2:8b), which will be 3½ years later.
Once Michael, Israel’s angelic protector, has been “taken out of the way” (by God), the Great Tribulation will begin.


Great Tribulation

After mentioning the abomination that causes desolation, recall that Jesus added, “For then there will be great distress [or great tribulation], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again(Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1b).  In many versions of the Bible, “great distress” is translated “great tribulation.”  The abomination that causes desolation will be set up in the “midst” or “middle” of the 70th Week, and the Great Tribulation will begin at about the same time as well.  Then it may be that the Fourth and Fifth Seal events will ensue (Revelation 6:7-11).

I leave open the possibility, however, that all seven seals will be opened after the onset of the Great Tribulation, during the the second half of the 70th Week.  It may be that John’s vision of the rider on the white horse—“a conqueror bent on conquest”—who is seen after the First Seal is opened (Revelation 6:1,2), is the revealing of the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) described by Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6).

In any case, just prior to the onset of the Great Tribulation, Satan and his angels will be expelled permanently from heaven (Revelation 12:7-9), and he will be filled with fury (12:12c).  He will pursue “the woman” and, in a rage, will make war against those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (12:13,17).  The persecution and deaths of many of these will be apparent after the Fifth Seal has been opened (6:9).

Through the Antichrist, Satan will carry out his wrath upon the earth during the Great Tribulation.  When the Antichrist is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3), he will set up the abomination that causes desolation in a “holy place” (Matthew 24:15)—not necessarily a structure holy to Jews or Christians (see third temple)—in Jerusalem.  Then he will utter blasphemies and exercise his authority—over every tribe, people, language and nation—for 42 months (Revelation 13:5-7) or 1,260 days, the duration of which those who have fled Judea into a mountainous desert wilderness will be protected by God (Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6).

During the Great Tribulation, as much as a quarter of the world will be killed, or maybe a quarter of the world’s area will be affected by death from several causes (Revelation 6:7,8).  Amazing counterfeit satanic miracles, signs and wonders, which will deceive multitudes of people, will occur (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10; Revelation 13:13,14).  It will be necessary to take the mark of the beast on one’s right hand or forehead to be able to buy or sell anything (Revelation 13:16-18)—although its acceptance by anyone, evidently, will doom that person to extreme suffering (Revelation 16:2) and even permanent damnation (14:9-11).

There is only one other place in the New Testament where the term “great tribulation” is seen, and that is in Revelation 7:14.  The label of “tribulation” is found in the annotated Bible notes of some “Pre-Tribulation” Rapture advocates, such as C. I. Scofield and Grant Jeffrey.  As such, even though I agree that the term “tribulation” (implying “distress”) is an apt description of the overall atmosphere and mood of the 70th Week, its use as a substitutionary name for that final period of seven years is not scriptural.

However, “Great Tribulation” is an applicable name for the period beginning at the onset of the final 3½ years of this age.  Jesus indicated that those days of great distress (or great tribulation) will be “cut short,” for the sake of the elect (Matthew 24:21,22).  The event that will shorten the days of the Great Tribulation, for true believers, will be the opening of the Sixth Seal.


cosmic disturbances: Sixth Seal

Jesus referred to the “great distress” or “great tribulation,” which will begin in the “midst” or “middle” of the 70th Week.  Then he described that at some point thereafter, there will be an extremely eerie time “immediately after the distress of those days” when the sun and moon will be darkened, the stars will seem to be falling from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24,25; Revelation 6:12,13).  This prophecy parallels one by the Old Testament prophet, Joel, in which he described similar cosmic disturbances as happening just before the period of time known as the “day of the Lord” (Joel 2:30,31).  In effect, God will “clothe the sky with darkness and make sackcloth its covering” (Isaiah 50:3)—I believe as a stark expression to humankind that there will be one last chance to repent before God begins to pour out His wrath upon the world.

Another Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, described these same cosmic disturbances and shaking of the earth (Isaiah 13:10,13).  They are contained in a passage in which Isaiah claimed that the “day of the Lord”—described as “a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger”—would be coming.  After describing the astonishing cosmic disturbances, he said that God would “punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins” and that the heavens would tremble and the earth would shake “at the wrath of the Lord Almighty in the day of his burning anger” (13:6-13).  The prophet Amos wrote that the “day of the Lord” would be one of “darkness, not light” (Amos 5:18,20), which is in keeping with the fact that the sun and moon will have been darkened, just prior to that time.  Furthermore, the fact that that that Sixth Seal events will be caused supernaturally and directly by God seems evident (Job 9:5-8,10).

Another self-evident axiom is that Jesus’ description of the cosmic disturbances, as well as everyone’s observation of it (Matthew 24:29,30; Mark 13:24,25), is paralleled in the Book of Revelation by John’s description of what will occur after the opening of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17).  Similarly to Joel’s prophecy, John indicated that the cosmic disturbances would occur just before the great “day of their wrath,” referring to the wrath of the Father and Son (the Lamb), which will take place at the beginning of the Day of the Lord.  Even the Apostle Peter attested to this, adding that all who would call on the name of the Lord at that time would be saved (Acts 2:19-21)—I believe, via the Pre-Wrath Rapture.

There are those (such as many who embrace the “Pre-Tribulation” and “Post-Tribulation” Rapture views) who believe that the events of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24,25; Revelation 6:12-17) will occur at the very end of the 70th Week.  Thus, those of the “Pre-Tribulation” persuasion believe that Matthew 24:30,31 must be a picture of Jesus’ return to earth, while those of the “Post-Tribulation” persuasion believe that the same passage is a picture of the Rapture concurrent with  Jesus’ return to earth.  I disagree with these views, for the following reasons:

  1. Matthew 24:30,31 says nothing about Jesus’ returning to earth, only about His appearance “on the clouds of the sky,” at which time “He will send His angels” to “gather His elect” to join Him (at the Rapture).
  2. The Sixth Seal events will not  occur at the very end of the 70th Week (see Sixth Seal and Seventh Bowl).  Following the Sixth Seal, the events of the Seventh Seal will still have yet to transpire before Jesus returns to earth, at the end of the 70th Week.  There simply is no way to wedge all of the Seventh Seal events, comprised mostly of the seven Trumpet Judgments, between Matthew 24:29 and 24:30.  (Read The Chronology of Revelation for many more details regarding the chronology of the events about which John wrote in the Book of Revelation.)
  3. Jesus stated,
    Immediately after the distress [or tribulation] of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken (Matthew 24:29).
    The word “distress,” in some versions of the Bible, is translated “tribulation.”  For many, “tribulation” is another name for the entire 70th Week (final 7-year period).  Yet, there is nothing at all in the Bible assigning or equating the term “tribulation” with the 70th Week.  The only portion of the 70th Week which aptly can be called a period of “great tribulation” is the period following the setting up of the abomination that causes desolation, which will occur at the beginning of the final 3½ years.


Rapture event

Here is Jesus’ description of what will happen simultaneous with  or immediately following the cosmic disturbances of the Sixth Seal (as described by Jesus in Matthew 24:29; cf. Revelation 6:12,13):

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other (Matthew 24:30,31).
This is a description of the Rapture event.  The spirits/souls of those who previously have left their bodies, in death, will be gathered from wherever they are in heaven to be united with their new glorified, resurrected bodies.  “The elect” who still are alive will be changed into glorified forms, joining those who have been resurrected to be caught up in the air to meet the Lord in the clouds.

The Rapture is the first phase in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and it will not  be a “silent, hushed” phenomenon, as many in the “Pre-Trib” camp suppose.  The people of the world will “see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30b).  John gives us added information, in the Book of Revelation, as to what will happen when the nations of the world see Jesus, coming in the clouds on His throne:

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.  They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Revelation 6:15,16).
People in all of the nations will see the “face of Him who sits on the throne” as He appears in the clouds.  The unsaved will be terrified; they will cry out to the elements of God’s creation (mountains and rocks), rather than to God Himself, to shield them from the glorious, radiant face of Jesus.  In essence, their “goddess” Mother Earth will not be able to protect them from the imminent wrath of the Lamb.

At about the same time, saved believers will be caught up to be with Jesus in the clouds.  This same multitude of raptured believers will be seen standing in front of Jesus, seated on the same throne, soon thereafter in heaven (Revelation 7:9).  The 144,000 Israelites, who will have witnessed the Rapture event, will become instant believers and immediately will be sealed for God’s service (7:1-8).

This is what Paul described, in quoting Hosea, about the victory associated with the Rapture:

Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55).
The first part applies to the saved dead, over whom death has had a “victory”; but this victory will be destroyed when they are resurrected at the Rapture.  The second part applies to the saved living at the Rapture, who never will experience the “sting” of death at all.

On the other hand, those who, up to that point, will have failed to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, will be “left behind” to be subjected to the wrath of God that soon will come upon the earth:

For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:17).
The “great day of their wrath” is a direct reference to the initial segment (the “day of vengeance” described in the next section) of the “Day of the Lord” period.


Day of the Lord

Commonly, but I believe inappropriately, the entire 70th Week is referred to as the Day of the Lord.  Many will equate this entire period  as a time of God’s wrath and vengeance.  On the contrary, most of this 7-year period will consist of an increase in natural disasters and cataclysms, a surge in man’s inhumanity toward man and an escalation in Satan’s wrath upon mankind, particularly upon those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17).

I have shown that, starting in the middle of the 70th Week, the following events—as a sequence of five axioms used as foundational blocks in demonstrating the timing of the Pre-Wrath Rapture event—will occur in chronological order, as follows:

  1. the cessation of sacrifices and offerings in the midst or middle of the 70th Week, then the abomination that causes desolation inside of a “holy place,” as described by Jesus, which will be standing in Jerusalem at that time (Daniel 9:27bc; Matthew 24:15);
  2. the beginning of the Great Tribulation period;
  3. the cosmic disturbances of the Sixth Seal, where the sun and moon will turn dark and the heavenlies will be shaken;
  4. the Pre-Wrath Rapture of believers, and finally
  5. the Day of the Lord, which will not be merely one day in length but will be a period of time, beginning with the opening of the Seventh Seal and the initiation of God’s righteous wrath upon an unrepentant, rebellious world.

The opening portion of the Day of the Lord—the “day of vengeance”—following the Pre-Wrath Rapture of believers, should last about a year (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4), during which the devastating wrath of God will be poured out upon the earth.  Just as the 70th Week is a “week” of seven years, I believe the final “day” of that “week” of years—the seventh year—most likely will be set apart from the rest of the week.  It will be the first segment of the Day of the Lord period.  The remainder, which will be the majority of the Day of the Lord, will be the Millennium, lasting a thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8; Revelation 20:2-7).

In ancient Israel, a man who was recently married would not be sent to war at that time; rather, he was to stay at home and bring happiness to his wife for a year (Deuteronomy 24:5).  Likewise, after Jesus the Bridegroom takes His Bride of believers to be with him at the Rapture, they all will spend a year of time together in heaven and will celebrate the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9).  After this, Jesus will mount a white horse and return to earth to judge and make war (19:11).

The apostle Peter, quoting the prophet Joel (Joel 2:31) in his reference to the Day of the Lord (Acts 2:20), changed one word in his description.  Joel said that it would be “great and dreadful,” but Peter described it as “great and glorious.”  Both were correct.  The beginning of the Day of the Lord period will be dark, cruel, fierce, and dreadful.  After that, however, that “day” will be bright, compassionate, gentle, and glorious (Isaiah 11:10).  Just as a day, in Jewish tradition, begins with darkness (after sunset) and continues into light (after dawn), so the Day of the Lord will begin with a time of gloominess and despair and will be transformed, after Jesus returns, into an era of illumination and enlightenment.

In Paul’s day, some of the Thessalonians had been given deceptive information, indicating that the “day of the Lord”—with which Paul associated “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered [raptured] to him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1,2)—already had come.  Paul told the Thessalonians that the “day of the Lord” would not come until  the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) would be “revealed” at the time that he “sets himself up in God’s temple [or shrine], proclaiming himself to be God” (2:3,4).

Antichrist

It would seem that the man who will be the Antichrist will be a primary supporter of the prophesied covenant, involving Israel, that will commence the 70th Week.  It also seems likely that, initially, his “face” to the world will be one of honesty, integrity, and sincerity.  However, it may be that this man’s traits and attributes will not be what people expect, and his outward person may be unpredictable.

Presumably, this man will be an advocate of peace, probably in favor of Israel making land-for-peace concessions to the Palestinians.  He ultimately will become a well-known and popular figure; and he evidently will rise to the zenith of power, amidst great turmoil and disorder, maybe even disasters and cataclysms, worldwide.  At some point, his “beastly” qualities will be seen by the the world.

Paul noted that this “man of lawlessness” will be “revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  This will be at the beginning of the final 3½ years, when the Antichrist will walk into the “holy place” (Matthew 24:15) in Jerusalem and set up the abomination that causes desolation.  He may be “lawless” in the sense that he will reject the Torah, the Law of God, in which is contained God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).  Perhaps he will insist that the law of the land is Sharia law and that Israel’s land should belong to those who embrace Islam.

This man will display his true character and temperament, will begin to behave as a “beast,” will utter blasphemies against God and will make war against the saints of God.  He will oppress them for “a time, times and half a time”—that is, one year plus two years plus half a year (1 + 2 + ½ = 3½).  This will be the final 3½ years (Daniel 7:25, 12:7), or 42 months, of the 70th Week.

Great Tribulation

The latter half (3½ years) of the 70th Week will begin with the Great Tribulation period, which will be “cut short,” according to Jesus, “for the sake of the elect” because, otherwise, “no one would survive(Matthew 24:22).  The tumult of the cosmic disturbances: Sixth Seal will cut short the Great Tribulation, after which the Day of the Lord period will commence and, I feel, most likely will transpire for a span of about one year.  The first segment of the Day of the Lord period will be the “day of vengeance.”

day of vengeance

The “day of vengeance” will commence with the opening of the Seventh Seal, initiating the seven Trumpet Judgments.  The prophet Isaiah wrote, “For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause” (Isaiah 34:8).  In this passage, I believe that “a day of vengeance” refers to the initial segment of the longer “day of the Lord” period; and “a year of retribution” may indicate that this period will last for about a year (see The Seventh Year)—the seventh “day” of the seventh “week” of years of the 70th Week.

Isaiah also wrote, “For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come” (Isaiah 63:4).  Here, the “day of vengeance” is equated to “the year of my redemption”—that is, the year during which God will take vengeance on unbelievers and  during which believers will be redeemed, via the Pre-wrath Rapture.

Similar to this is another passage by Isaiah: “...to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God...” (Isaiah 61:2).  In effect, this equates to a year of God’s vengeance taken upon most of the world, while the Lord’s favor will been given to believers, just prior to its beginning, at the Rapture.  The “day of vengeance” will be the initial brief period (a year) of the overall Day of the Lord, which will encompass the Millennium, lasting a thousand years.

Much of God’s vengeance and wrath, during the “day of vengeance,” will be in response to slain believers’ having cried out to God during the persecution of the Fourth and Fifth Seals.  He will avenge their blood, which will have been shed upon the earth, by judging mankind:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.  They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:9,10).

Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.  See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.  The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer (Isaiah 26:20,21).

They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the air, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth. ... Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name ... Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”  Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants (Psalm 79:2,6,10).


Second Coming

Jesus’ specific answer to His disciples’ inquiry about His future coming was that the nations would “see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory,” at which time angels will gather His elect to be with Him (Matthew 24:30,31).  It is then that believers, both dead and alive, will experience deliverance via the Rapture.  This will be Jesus’ return in the clouds, not  His return to earth to rule and reign.

Many who embrace the idea of either a “Pre-Tribulation” or a “Post-Tribulation” Rapture event feel that the incidents described in Matthew 24:30,31 will take place at the very end  of the 70th Week.  However, I maintain that they will occur soon after the removal of the Sixth Seal from the heavenly scroll, which will not  be at the end of the 70th Week but rather, most likely, about a year prior to the end (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4—see The Seventh Year).  The events of the Seventh Seal, the seven Trumpet Judgments, and the seven Bowl Judgments described by John will be yet to come (see Sixth Seal and Seventh Bowl).

In Revelation 6:16 is described how the world will see “the face of him who sits on the throne.”  I believe that this is when the Pre-Wrath Rapture will take place.  The Rapture will be the initial  event in the Second Coming of Jesus.  It will portend the imminent  beginning of the Day of the Lord period (which will commence soon after the opening of the Seventh Seal).  Jesus’ Second Coming will be completed  when He returns physically to earth, at the end of the 70th Week, in association with the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet (11:15-17).

Jesus compared the first phase of His next (second) coming to the time of Noah and the ark (Matthew 24:37-41).  At that time, Noah was saved by entering the ark, but the flood took away all those who had no idea that the flood was coming.  At the Rapture, the saved will be taken (caught up), while the lost will be left behind to be swept away by the “flood” of God’s wrath.

Jesus used the Hebrew word airo to indicate how the flood “took away” the lost people in Noah’s time; whereas, He used the word paralambano to describe how the saved people in the future will be “taken.”  While airo implies to “take up” or to “take away” (with a negative connotation), paralambano means to “take alongside” (in a positive context, occurring also in Matthew 1:24, 2:14, and 20:17).

Thus, it seems evident that the multitude comprising the elect, taken at the initial appearance or coming of the Son of Man in the clouds (Matthew 24:30,31), will be saved individuals, caught up in the Rapture to be alongside Jesus.  On the other hand, those remaining, at least up to that point, will be unbelievers and/or scorners who will be left to face the terrifying Day of the Lord judgments.


Mid-Tribulation Rapture

There are many who have embraced the idea of a “Mid-Tribulation” Rapture, believing that it will take place in the midst or middle of the 70th Week, just prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation.  The idea is that the Great Tribulation is a period of supernatural wrath upon the earth, and that Christians will be protected from it.

Although I believe that God’s wrath will not be imminent until after the opening of the Sixth Seal, and will not begin until after the opening of the Seventh Seal (probably a year prior to the end of the 70th Week), it is true that Satan’s fury, rage, and wrath (Revelation 12:12,17) will be in effect during the Great Tribulation.  Therefore, I do acknowledge the plausibility of a “Mid-Tribulation” Rapture, whereby some believers would be protected from Satan’s wrath.

In Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), it is widely accepted that all of the ten virgins are saved believers.  However, only five wise virgins, who have brought their “oil” with them, will get to go with the Bridegroom when He comes the first time.  It seems that there are parallels between this passage and Leviticus 24:2:

Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil [desire to obey] from beaten olives [tribulation] for the lamp [commandment], that a light [the law] may be kept burning regularly [go forth continually] (Leviticus 24:2—ESV).
Pertaining to the wise and foolish virgins, perhaps the following apply:
  • wise virgins: those who are obedient to God’s commandments
  • foolish virgins: those who are not obedient to God’s commandments
  • lamps: the commandments of God
  • light: the Law/Torah of God
  • oil: resulting desire to obey the Law of God due to “pressing” or tribulation
Interestingly, the Bridegroom comes at “midnight” (Matthew 25:6), which perhaps could indicate that He will come midway through the dark “tribulation” period (that is, during the middle year of the 70th Week) and supernaturally change those who have had an intimate, ongoing, obedient relationship with Jesus.  Then He will take them away to be with Him.

It may be that the five wise virgins, who have the “oil” of the Holy Spirit, are those who have recognized and acknowledged the importance of the five books of the Torah or God’s Law (Genesis through Deuteronomy)—in particular, the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 24:7), which consists of Exodus 20-23.  If so, the five foolish virgins may be familiar with Jesus and His teachings but not “know” Him intimately nor walk with Him daily.

Also, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).  So, evidently, the five wise virgins will have an appropriate and reverential fear of God that the five foolish virgins will be lacking.

Jesus said that He was the fulfillment of the Law or Torah (Matthew 5:17).  Thus, although many know of  the Torah, most have “discarded” it as irrelevant and no longer applicable, thereby unknowingly breaking fellowship with the Bridegroom, who is the physical manifestation and model of the Torah.  They will not have deemed it important to keep all of the commandments (including the observation of a seventh-day Sabbath) and the feasts, festivals, and holy days that Jesus did.

If so, when the Bridegroom comes, maybe the foolish virgins will be left behind.  They will be told to go buy their “oil”—that is, to go learn about and pay attention to the Torah, especially the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 24:7).  Then perhaps they will be caught away at the main Rapture event to come, after the opening of the Sixth Seal, at which time they also will be “known” by the Bridegroom.

Maybe the “son” in Revelation 12:5, who will “rule all the nations with an iron scepter,” will consist of overcoming believers in Jesus (2:26,27), who have been grafted into “the woman” (Israel)—the personification of the Torah and the focal point of God’s new covenant.  If so, these particular believers may be “snatched up to God and His throne” (12:5), via a Mid-Tribulation Rapture, since this would be just prior to the final 1,260 days (second half) of the 70th Week (12:6).  If so, “the rest of [the woman’s] offspring” (12:17)—presumably, the “foolish virgins” of Matthew 25:3,8,11would remain behind to face Satan’s wrath but would be caught up later at the Pre-Wrath Rapture.

The Philadelphian Church (Revelation 3:7-13) was the only church with whom no fault was found.  To them was presented an “open door” (3:8), which perhaps is analogous to the “door” into which the wise virgins will enter with the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:10).  If so, this will be a door that no one can shut until “Philadelphian-type” believers or “wise virgins” have walked through it with their Bridegroom.  Immediately after it has been shut, the remaining believers or “foolish virgins” will be unable to “open” that door (Matthew 25:11).  Presumably, though, it will be re-opened later, for their entry, at the Pre-Wrath Rapture; and they will join the wedding banquet (25:10) at that time.

If  there is a Mid-Tribulation Rapture, I would see it much like how a so-called “Pre-Tribulation” Rapture is described: as a silent event, with no signs preceding it, like a “thief in the night” (Matthew 24:43).  Perhaps, some segment or subset of believers would be changed or glorified on the Feast of Firstfruits, a barley harvest of “first grain” (Leviticus 23:9,10) during Passover week.  This would be in keeping with Jesus Christ’s “firstfruits” resurrection from the dead on this day:

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Whether the changed, glorified “firstfruits” believers would be caught up immediately, or awhile later, is unknown.  We know that Jesus remained on earth for forty days following His resurrection (Acts 1:3), to encourage believers to look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit ten days later (1:4,8, 2:1-4), on the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22) or Shavuot (Pentecost).  Perhaps, glorified believers would remain behind, for a time, to encourage those who will have to endure the dreadful Great Tribulation period.  (See more details in “Is it possible that Jesus' parable about the ten virgins could indicate that there will be a Mid-tribulation Rapture?”)

Another possibility is that some believers who have seen a “firstfruits” rapture of a group of their peers—perhaps on the Feast of Firstfruits during Passover week—will be motivated to obtain the “oil” of the Law/Torah for themselves, in particular an observance and adherence to the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20-23, 24:7).  Then maybe this second group of “virgins,” as well, would be caught up and away on the fiftieth day thereafter (following the counting of the Omer), on the Feast of Weeks = Pentecost = Shavuot, as a “firstfruits” wheat harvest of “new grain” (Leviticus 23:16,17).

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Who Is God? Was Jesus God? Good Thursday
 
The Chronology of Revelation  The Rapture 
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God’s Covenant: with Israel or the Church?    End of the Age: 2020?
 
 
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