The Coming End-Time as we understand it begins with the Rapture of the Church when the dead in Christ and those who are alive ‘in Christ’ will meet Him in the air. When will this be? No one knows except the Father, at the least, and when Jesus was a man He did not know. I am not making an effort to explain the details of the End Time Prophecies, but I write this now because we do not hear nearly enough about the Second Coming from our pulpits. If we did there would be more personal evangelism and more powerful pulpit evangelism might be taking place.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-18 NASB.
The word ‘rapture’ is most often used for the end-time event that we refer to as “The Rapture.” Critics of the use of the word are prominent in denying the event itself because the Greek word in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 translated as “caught up” is from the root word (ἁρπάζω) harpzo. Rapture is defined as the experience of being ‘carried away’ or ‘snatched up.’ The English word we most often use comes from the Latin word, rapio, which means to seize or snatch in relation to the removal from one place to another. In the sense of our use, it means to be carried away in spirit or in body. The Rapture of the Church means the carrying away from earth to Heaven those who are dead in Christ and those who are alive in Christ..
The same word is also used to describe the Holy Spirit moving Philip to Caesarea in Acts 8:39 and also when Paul is caught up to the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of the removal of the dead in Christ and those who are alive in Christ from earth to heaven. However, I understand the moment in time as being before the Tribulation there will be no discussion of another time period here.
There is no reason to be uninformed
As a Southern Baptist and Believer in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there has also been an understanding of the Rapture and Second Coming of the Lord as well. It would be impossible to indicate how many times I have heard sermons in revival meetings, from various pastors in local churches, in Bible studies, camp meetings and other kinds of events concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The sermons and studies always include the Rapture of The Church as well for these events are separated by the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Reign of Christ. The time frame might appear to be something like this:
- The Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4
- The Tribulation: Revelation 6-10.
- The Judgment Seat of Christ: Matthew 25:31-41 and Joel 3:2.
- The Second Coming of Christ: Revelation 1:7-8 and 2:25-28
- The Great White Throne Judgment: Revelation 19:20-21
- The Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ: Isaiah 11 and Revelation 20:1-10.
- The New Heaven and New Earth
Introduction of the Antichrist: After the Church is taken away (raptured) as seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-8, a man of Satan will somehow gain control of a world government promising world peace found in Revelation 13:1 and Daniel 9:27. Another person known as the False Prophet will lead a world-wide religious system also of Satan which will require worship of him, Revelation 19:20.
7-year Tribulation: A period of seven years will see God’s judgment coming upon those who have rejected Him, Revelation chapters 6-16. During this time the Church will be in heaven and the Antichrist will show up. Many scholars believe the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will also take occur in Heaven during this period, 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 19:6-10.
War against Israel (First War of Gog and Magog): During the first half of the Tribulation, a great army from several powerful nations from the Middle East and Africa will attack Israel, but God will side with Israel to defeat these nations, Ezekiel chapters 38-39. There are some who believe this battle will happen before the Tribulation.
The Abomination of Desolation: Halfway through the 7 year Tribulation period the Antichrist walk away from his covenant with Israel and the Jews will be scattered and will come to Jesus as Savior and Lord. Persecution will soon follow because they now believe in Christ, Daniel 12:11; Mark 13:14 and Revelation 12:13-17.
Armageddon: This battle will mark the end of the Tribulation as Jesus returns leading His army of Heaven, Mark 14:62. The Lord Jerusalem from destruction while defeating the army of the Anti-Christ, Revelation 19:11-21. Both the Antichrist and the false prophet are now captured and cast into the Lake of Fire Revelation 19:20.
Second Coming of Christ: Revelation 1:7-8 and 2:25-28 mention this world-wide event, and every person on the planet will know and see Him come which makes the Second Coming different from the Rapture. The Rapture is only witnessed by those who are the living and dead born-again Believers in Jesus Christ.
The Great White Throne Judgment: Christ will judge those who survive the horror of the Tribulation and will separate the righteous from the wicked, Matthew 25:31-46. Some theologians understand the Old Testament will be raised from the dead. Also, Satan will be bound and put into a bottomless pit for 1,000 years, Revelation 20:1-3.
Millennial Reign of Christ: The righteous will enter the Millennial Kingdom. the wicked will be cast into hell. Revelation 20:4-6.
Revelation 20:7-10 presents another possible war also known at Gog and Magog. Much discussion takes place for and against this argument. I do not argue for or against this because I will admit that I have not studied enough about this to have drawn a conclusion. What I do know i that this argument concludes that with the completion of this war Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire, a New Heaven and New Earth will be created, and the termination of human history will take place. Time will be no more. Only time will tell…:).
Jesus is Lord…