Promise of Victory #1: The Rapture
Our first promise of victory is the Rapture of the Church. This is an event that is often confused with the Second Coming, but they are not the same. A careful study of the Scriptures reveals that the return of Jesus is going to be in two stages: first the Rapture, and then the Second Coming.
The fact that these two are separate events can easily be demonstrated. For example, there are only two detailed descriptions in the New Testament of the return of Jesus. Only two! One is in 1 Thessalonians 4 and the other is in Revelation 19. If you will look at those in detail, you will find something very interesting. The two passages are as different as night and day, which raises a major theological question. The two passages describing the return of Jesus have absolutely nothing in common except that they both focus upon Jesus Christ. And, they could not be any more different.
For an example, let me show you how different they are. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears in the heavens. He does not come to earth. In Revelation 19, Jesus returns to the earth.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears in the heavens for His Church. In Revelation 19, He returns to the earth with His Church.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears as a deliverer to deliver His children from this wicked world, but in Revelation 19 He returns as a warrior to pour out the wrath of God.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears in grace. In Revelation 19, He returns in wrath.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, He appears as a Bridegroom for His Bride the Church, but in Revelation 19 He returns to earth as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
How then can these two passages be reconciled? Well, I believe that the only way that they can really be reconciled is to conclude that they are talking about two different events. Therefore, the Second Coming of Jesus is going to be in two stages: first the Rapture, and then later the Second Coming.
Incidentally, this reconciliation solves another problem, for the Bible says repeatedly that the return of Jesus is imminent, in that is it can happen at any moment. But, how can it be imminent if there is only one future coming? If you only believe in one future coming, what’s called the Second Coming, then the return of Jesus is not imminent. Imminent means it can happen at any moment. But, if you only believe in the Second Coming and don’t believe in the Rapture, the return of Jesus is not imminent. There’s no way in the world He could come back today. And why’s that? Because there are prophecies that have to be fulfilled.
Here’s the point, if there is only one future coming, then the Lord’s Return in not imminent because there are many prophecies that must be fulfilled before He can return to earth. There’s a whole passel of them, as we say in Texas. I’ll just list you a few:
- There must be seven years of Tribulation.
- There must be the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
- There must be the revelation of the Antichrist.
- There must be the killing of the Two Witnesses.
- The desecration of the Temple by the Antichrist.
- The institution of the Mark of the Beast.
- The salvation of the Jewish remnant.
All of those are things that must happen before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The point again is this the only way the Lord’s return can be imminent is for there to be a Rapture that is separate and apart from the Second Coming, and which can occur any moment without the fulfillment of any prophecies.
This reconciliation solves another problem, in that the Bible says that no one can know the date of the Lord’s return (Mat. 24:36,42). No ands, ifs, or buts about it. There are a lot of sincere people who think they do know when the Rapture will occur, but they don’t truly know.
The Bible does say that we can know the day of the Lord’s return at His Second Coming, though. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this or not, but here is the problem — the date of the Second Coming can be calculated precisely. It will be exactly 2,520 days or seven prophetic years, that is 360 days to a year, from the day the Tribulation begins. From the moment when the Antichrist signs that treaty guaranteeing the peace of Israel, you can count down 2,520 days until Jesus will return. We can know the exact date of the Second Coming.
Therefore, the statement about not knowing the date must apply to the Lord’s appearing in the Rapture and not in the Second Coming. So, when we hear talking about how you cannot know the date, we are talking here about the Rapture. We are not talking about the Second Coming.
Again, the solution is two future comings — first the appearing of the Lord for His Church at the Rapture, and then the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.
In the third segment of our study on God’s promises of victory, we’ll look at the second — the Second Coming.
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Thank you for a simple precise explanation of the two events.
I TOO AM THANKFUL FOR THIS FOR YEARS I WAS TAUGHT THERE WAS JUST ONE COMING AS I GREW OLDER THE LORD OPENED MY EYES TO HELP ME SEE THIS SO VERY CLEARER AND I AM BLESSED BY THIS TEACHING.ARE LAINTOP
Here is where I am searching for clarity (not saying Dr. Reagan you are right or wrong; as well I'm also not saying others' teachings are right/wrong). Much is open to interpretation; much also, is black/white, no questioning. As I endeavor to find the truth, I find myself eliminating more than identifying. For example the verse, about Christ being the head of the church as man is the head of the house & somewhere I or II Tim., "I do not permit women to teach…" For me, that's literal, and churches where women are allowed authority aren't for me. There goes most Protestant churches I've visited.
Paul tells the Ephesians (ch.4?)ONE God, ONE faith, ONE baptism. So if "THE Church" is raptured, which one is it? Maranatha? Church of Christ? The Cowboy Church in Blanco, TX? Joel Osteen's, World of Pentecost?
Paul continues talking about being "caught up" in I Thess 5 saying that about the timing of Jesus' return you know perfectly well that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. First, he says "the day of the Lord" which we know from the prophets is at the end of the 7 years at Armageddon. Also, concerning the "thief in the night," Paul says in verse 4 that "you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day." So, we can know because of the signs and prophecies in the Bible that are being revealed to us at this time of the end (ie 2,520 days) He again addresses this in II Thess 2:1-12 telling them not to be shaken as though the day of Christ and our gathering together with Him had come for that day will not come until that man of sin be revealed and sits as God in the temple. Also, in Rev 16:15, Jesus gives a last minute warning when the kings of the earth are gathered together "to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments…" Lastly, in Rev 20:4-5, when John sees the tribulation saints, he says "This is the FIRST resurrection"; the rest of the dead does not live again until the thousand years were finished. I was taught the rapture was imminent all my life, but that is not what these scriptures say. Of course, we have to live everyday ready to meet him; any one of us could be called home anytime due to sickness or death. I love God's word! God bless you as you study the scriptures.
Anonymous, the use of the term Church (capital C) means the Universal Church, which is all who are saved from Pentecost to the Rapture. It encompasses way beyond denominational lines and buildings.
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 1Th 5:2-3
There is no peace and safety after the 2nd seal.
See Robert Thomas' commentary on imminence in the Pauline epistles: http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj13g.pdf
Anon, Nathan or anyone,
Could the saying of "Peace and safety!" be an outcrying of WANTING peace and freedom as opposed to a statement describing conditions of peace and freedom?
Look at what war protesters always shout. "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!" They shout "peace!" even though there is a time of war.
Hi Billy. Posties have used that response but that's not a plain understanding of Paul's words. The destruction cannot be a sudden surprise if they're just hoping for peace & safety. Compare 1 Thess 5:2-3 with Matt 24:36-39.
Dr Regan, with due respect of your preaching, however I disagree on your rapture timing, read Matt 24 where Jesus tells us what must take place before His return and the rapture is at 24:40 not 24:5. Also confirmed in 2 Thess 2.
If you say Matt 24 is for the Jews then explain Matt 24:9.
Scripture does not say there will be a 7 year Tribulation, the antichrist may sign a 7 year treaty but it only lasts 3.5 years, once the antichrist is on the throne then Jesus returns, correct?
God bless the Bible discerners.
I was brought up to believe in a pre-trib rapture, however as I study the scripture more as an adult I question that view somewhat. I am not firmly in one camp or the other. I consider either a possibility. I think many want to believe the rapture as true bc they don't want to go thru the tribulation. The fact is no one really knows for sure, so I am raising my children to be prepared to go through it, meaning I am teaching them that they need to have a strong personal relationship with God and hide His word in their heart so that they can stand strong if/when persecution does come. Even if there is a pre-trib rapture, my belief is that persecution of christians may spread to america by that point . . .
I have found the following info helpful to understand the rapture views:
http://www.equip.org (post -trib view); and
"Three Views on the Rapture" (pre/mid/post trib) a Counterpoints series book published by Zondervan (1996)
God's peace be with us all, and as I pray every night, "Come quickly Lord Jesus!" Amen
The Bible gives us a lot of detail concerning the length of the Tribulation. The length of the Tribulation is seven years long, described in a variety of ways as "one seven" year block (Dan. 9:27), half called "times, time and half a time" (Rev. 12:14), consisting of two "1260 days" periods (Rev. 11:3), or two "42 month" periods (Rev. 11:2; 13:5).
The Bible also gives us a lot of clues that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation (Isa. 26:19-21; Mal. 3:17; Lk. 21:36; Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58). Those along with the following verses showing the Church is exempt from God’s wrath can encourage the believer as Paul said to know we will not have to endure those years (1 Thes. 4:13-18 and 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; Rev. 3:10).
of course Revelation 19 and I Thesselonians 4 are talking about two different events. Revelation 19 is talking about Christ returning to destroy the unrepentant city of Jerusalem who kill the prophets sent to her via the Roman army under the command of General Titus Flavius. as for the "unfulfilled prophecies" each if correct had been fulfilled. first off Revelation only mentions 1260 days or 3.5 years or 42 months not seven years. John tells us in his epistles that antichrists were at work in his day. we only find the rebuilding of the temple in Ezekiel who prophesied at the time the Babylon destroyed Solomon's temple. i guess Jesus was wrong when he prophesied the temple would be destroyed if it had not already been rebuilt in the first place. Luke tells us the Jesus on the road to Emmaus about how the law and the prophets witnessed about him. the Jews killed the Christ the embodiment of the two witness. Jesus never mentions anything about defilement of the temple for it occurred about two hundred years earlier. as for gentiles observing a Jewish feast in Jerusalem during Pentecost does not make sense. Luke tells us that 3000 believed that day in Acts 2 and they would have been Jews there observing one of the Jewish pilgrimage feast. Ezekiel tells us in chapter 9 that the inhabitants of Jerusalem were marked by the weeping and mourning for the wickedness of the city thus declaring allegiance to the Roman Emperor was the mark of the beast as Nero Caesar's name added up to six hundred sixty-six in Aramaic. all these prophecies have been fulfilled leaving nothing left except the return of Christ.
Wesley, then you haven't read the 21 judgments of Revelation, for nothing like them in history has happened, especially during 70 AD.
I'm afraid I just don't see in my years studying eschatology how anyone can come to a Preterist conclusion. The Bible is fulfilled and we are living in God's Kingdom? Jesus reigns over this mess with justice and righteousness? What about Israel being back as a nation 1900 years later and the whole world is coming together over who controls Jerusalem? Has Jesus returned as He left in the clouds?
You're welcome to your view, but it must take tremendous faith and a lot of spiritualizing Bible prophecy. It's good our salvation is not based on one's eschatological views.
For more on the fallacies of Preterism, check out this article.
nathan, i guess you have not read the Old Testament symbolism very well or that most of Revelation is quotes from the Old Testament included the symbolism comes straight from it. also Ireneaus does not clearly declare when Revelation was written. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign. Against Heresy 5:30:3 most scholars are now dating Revelation about 65AD since John declared in the introduction that he was with them in the tribulation and the fact that Nero was the sixth king of Rome starting with Julius Caesar including Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius, Nero father. even Catholic scholars are re-dating Revelation to 65AD. Jerusalem feel to the Romans by fire thus a mountain cast into the sea, the very same sea the beast rose from the nations. Josephus tells us the the Romans catapulted larges stone weighing the weight that John declares the hailstones were. the locus fit down to the very detail of the cat of nine tails the Roman soldier. Judges also described the Midianite army as locus. the recent find of small food bowls in cisterns of Jerusalem dating to the siege of the city tells us about the famine the city experienced. besides Revelation relates to the Olivet Discourse which was all about Christ declaring the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
I suppose if one utilizes symbolic meaning – like comparing hailstones with stones ejected from catapults – then one can justify anything and any biblical verse is open to interpretation. But the example cited does violation to the texts. Here's the context:
And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. Rev 16:18-21
Mark Hitchcock's dissertation argues well for a late Revelation date: http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/hitchcock-dissertation.pdf
The time of Jacob's trouble, which refers to the Great Tribulation, is supposed to be the worst time in history and result in the salvation of Israel (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Joel 2:2; Hos 5:15; Matt 24:21). That simply didn't occur in 70 AD. In fact the Holocaust could be argued to be an even greater catastrophe in terms of loss of life for the Jewish people.