The “Rapture” – aka “2nd Coming of Christ”

 

[Note:  as with all ‘prophecy’ in the scriptures, it is very complex & confusing, with symbols & visions; and there have been many, many interpretations of "End Times" through the ages. Prophecy is neither Cardinal nor Secondary Doctrine.   If,
in five years, or even 6 months, anyone tries to hold me to the position that I’ve given below, I’ll swear I never wrote this.   – the webmaster]

 

The ‘Rapture’

The 2nd Coming of Christ

(the Lord is Coming again,  and again?)

Acts, I & II Corinthians, I & II Thessalonians, Matthew, Daniel, Revelation

The current popular view of Jesus’ 2nd Coming is as follows: Jesus
comes again secretly for his saints ‘out of the blue’ with no warning (the imminent Rapture)


Phase I.
  Despite all the bumper stickers, no one can explain their disappearance.  Then the Anti-Christ comes to power in a 10-nation European union. He makes a 7-Year treaty with Israel which allows them to build their temple and begin sacrifices again. There is a time of increasing war, pestilence, and natural disasters. Some people who heard the gospel previously from the [missing] saints believe, and many
are martyred. At the 3 ½ year point, the Anti-Christ declares himself to be God in the Temple. Jews (and new believers) flee. There is great tribulation and persecution of the saints, and more natural disasters. All of these are the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl judgments. Sinners and [new] Saints alike are caught in this ‘Wrath of God’. At the end of the 7 years, the great Battle of Armageddon is fought in Israel. Jesus returns one more time with his previously dead and raptured saints, presumably resurrects those new saints martyred during the 7 years, ends the war, and begins his 1000 year reign

Phase 2.

But Historically, the church believed in one 2nd Coming with signs & wonders in the sky  to deliver the saints, and to begin his wrath with "the Day of the Lord".   Paul wrote that Jesus’ return was "at hand", but he didn’t imply that there were no events that had to be fulfilled first.   In fact, he said that the Anti-Christ had to be revealed first. 
See II Thess 2:1-3.   This makes it hard for a
"Pre-Tribulation Rapture".   

Through the ages, the Catholic church taught that the gospel would conquer the world and usher in the ‘Millennium’ where Jesus would come to reign.
The Reformation Church did not emphasize prophecy, but the creeds of the believing church have always declared a literal 2nd Coming of Jesus. However, many solid evangelical
churches do not believe in a literal 7 year time of tribulation (Dan 9:27), but rather that Jesus will return to establish His reign forever without a literal "Millennium". This is the Amillennial view which became popular in the middle ages. Generally this is because the Amillennialist assumes that God’s promises to the Jews will be fulfilled ‘spiritually’, and to the church.  However, that is not explicitly taught in the scriptures.  And, even Paul said that God has not cast away the Jews, but many interpret that as meaning that some Jews will join the ‘church’ as believers.  The optimistic Amillennial view was very
popular until the 20th Century when WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, genocides, and Islamic resurgence made their optimistic view less credible.

The modern idea of a separate, imminent ‘Rapture’ event originated only in the 1840’s when
a woman who attended a Plymouth Brethren Bible study had a vision
of
a secret ‘rapture’.  The pastor, Rev. Darby, popularized that interpretation, and it gradually became a mainstream belief with C.I. Scofield’s Study Bible in this century. 
Even this writer’s beloved Dallas Theological Seminary follows this interpretation despite no clear scripture verse(s) that specify a separate, secret, imminent return and that we won’t know it’s going to happen until it occurs (imminent, as a thief in the night).  The plethora of bumper stickers lean upon this interpretation.  But, the problem with the "thief in the night" interpretation that is so popular in books and
even movies is 1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.   We are told what ‘signs’ to look for.

A Pre-Trib Rapture is usually based upon 1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation {deliverance}."   This is an especially important verse because the ‘context’ of I Thess chapters 4 & 5 is the 2nd Coming of Christ.   However, it doesn’t definitively or chronologically place this "catching up" other than excluding us from "God’s
Wrath".

Many scholars however reject the "Pre-Trib" interpretation, and take a more straightforward reading
of Matt 24, I & II Thess, and Revelation, where the saints endure a time of persecution after the apostasy and the sign of the Anti-Christ’s "Abomination of Desolation"; and then they are delivered before the actual Wrath of God
comes
. The saints are rewarded for faithfulness at the "Judgment Seat of Christ" (which is distinct from "The Great White Throne Judgment" at the end of the world).   

The key problem to me is the Pre-Tribulation Rapture assumption
that "the Wrath of God" is identical to the entire 7-year "70th Week of Daniel".   1Th 5:9
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to
obtain salvation
{deliverance}." 
But rather than the entire 7 years of "Tribulation"
with the Anti-Christ’s initial wars and persecutions, the 7th
Seal begins the "Day of the Lord" where Jesus executes judgment on the unsaved world with a whole series of judgments. Following these judgments, and at the end of Daniel’s entire 7 years, Jesus establishes his reign in Jerusalem for 1000 years.  
At the end of the 1000 years, there is another rebellion and fire falls from heaven. The "Great White Throne"
judgment results in everlasting separation of the wicked in Hell. The earth is renewed, and the ‘new heavens and new earth’, in which only dwell righteousness, usher in
Eternity with the Lord. Amen.

Key Questions: What are the things that Jesus does when he comes for his saints? Is the ‘rapture’ secret? What is the sign of his coming in Scripture (or Comings)?     Is the 2nd Coming ever referred to as plural, or singular? (3rd
coming?)

Jesus Coming Again, Clouds

Acts

1:6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying,
Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9And
when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Jesus will come again ‘in clouds’.

Waiting for the 2nd Coming; Clouds, Shout, Trumpet, Resurrection

II Thessalonians

3:5And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the
patient waiting for Christ.

I Thessalonians

2:19For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are
not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

3:12And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another,
and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints
.

5:23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ
.

4:13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14For if we
believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive
and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

We are to patiently wait for the return of Jesus

who comes again with a shout, angels, trumpet, and clouds, and the saints who have died.

2nd Coming – the Believers Deliverance from God’s Wrath to come

I Thessalonians

1:10wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even
Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (see Rev 11:18)

5:9For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus will deliver us from "the wrath to come".

Times and the Seasons; Thief in the Night to Unbelievers

I Thessalonians

5:1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I
write unto you. 2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord
so cometh as a thief in the night
. 3For when they
shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them,
as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Destruction as a ‘thief in the night’

comes to unbelievers who don’t know the ‘times &
seasons’.

Times and Seasons; All the Earth Sees Him Coming; Clouds, Deliverance

I Thessalonians

5:4But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day [the Day of
the Lord] should overtake you as a thief.
5Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, [secret rapture?] and they also which pierced him:
and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was,
and which is to come, the Almighty.

But, believers anticipate ‘the Day of the Lord’, knowing the ‘times and seasons’

and when Jesus returns, ‘every eye shall see him.

WHEN – Clouds, Shout, Trumpet, Believers Deliverance, Judgement of the Wicked

II Thessalonians

1:6Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense
tribulation to them that trouble you
; 7And to you who are troubled rest
with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and
that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints,

When Jesus returns to be glorified in us and to give us rest,

He will then begin the ‘Day of the Lord’ judgment with angels
and flaming fire.

 

The Signs – Apostasy, Anti-Christ, 7 Yr. Covenant, the Abomination of Desolation

II Thessalonians

2:1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and our gathering together unto him, 2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that
the day of the Lord is at hand
.

2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and
that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. [‘Rapture’
any day now?, No, Anti-Christ revealed first]

2:8And then shall that Wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with
the brightness of his coming
:

Daniel 8,9 Chap 8 the Anti-Christ, and 9:27 he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [ 7 years]: and in the midst of the week [3 ½ years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of
abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Matthew 24:15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth,
let him understand:) flee …

The signs of the ‘our gathering together unto Him’ and of ‘Day of the Lord’ are

the 7-year Covenant, Apostasy, and the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

Anti-Christ, Tribulation, Persecution; Resurrection, Gathering to Jesus

Revelation


13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed … 6And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to
blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them:

Matthew 24

24:29Immediately after the tribulation of those days
[persecution, then deliverance]

24:30And 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. 31And
he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather
together his elect
from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Luke 21:25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in
a cloud
with power and great glory. 28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

After persecution and tribulation of the saints, Jesus will come

in clouds and with a trumpet, and the angels will gather his elect.

Then – The Day of the Lord; Reward to the Saints, and Judgment of the World

Revelation

11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven,
saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because
thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come (I Thess 1:10), and the time of the dead, that
they should be judged
, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great;
and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

I Corinthians

3:11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man’s work shall be made
manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

II Corinthians

5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath
done, whether it be good or bad

Revelation

22:12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15For without are dogs, and sorcerers,
and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that
is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. …

20 Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be
with you all. Amen
.

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