The word “Rapture” simply means to transport quickly from one place to another. When we use the term, we mean the “catching up” of Christians to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:4) – Illustrated by: Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Cor. 12:2, 4; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).
When we refer to the Rapture, we do NOT mean the Second Coming (or Revelation) of Christ, or any part, stage, or phase of it. The truth of the Rapture was a part of the revelation of the Mystery given to us by the Apostle Paul. It is a distinct and separate coming of the Lord with at least seven years between the Rapture and the Revelation of Christ.
THE DAY OF CHRIST
The Day of Christ is WHOLLY related to the blessings and rewards promised to the Body of Christ and is closely associated with the Rapture. The Rapture is one of the main features of what the Bible calls the “Day of Christ,” and care should be taken to distinguish it from what the Scriptures call the “Day of the Lord” (Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16; 1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; 2 Thess. 2:2).
SECOND COMING OR SECOND ADVENT
The First Coming (Advent) of Christ happened 2,000+ years ago when He came to pay the sinner’s sin debt. The Second Coming of Christ will occur when He literally and visibly comes again to live and reign as “King of Kings” of the whole earth (Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Mt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Jude 14-15; Rev. 5:10; 11:15; 20:1-10; Zech. 14; Ezek 38-39).
The Second Coming occurs at least seven years after the Rapture (Zech. 14:4-5; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:9-14, 18, 22, 27; Lk. 1:32-33; Mt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Eph. 1:10; 2:7; 3:11; Jude 14-15; Rev. 5:10; 20:1-10). Christ does not come to the earth at the Rapture, but He does come to the earth at the Second Advent (Zech. 14:1-21; Mt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Rev. 1:7; 19:1-21).
At Christ’s Second Coming, He will fight at Armageddon and begin His eternal rule on earth (Rev. 11:15; 16:14-21; 19:1-21; Zech. 12:8-11; 14:1-21; Mt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8-9; Jude 14-15; Ezek 38-39; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:9-14, 18, 22, 27; Lk. 1:32-33).
The Rapture can take place any moment without any of the above events taking place (Phil. 3:20-21; Titus 2:13; 1 Cor. 1:7). This is unlike the Revelation, which cannot happen until all these signs take place.
By the word “Millennium,” we mean “one-thousand years.” It identifies the duration of the last testing of mankind, during which all humanity will live under the influence of Christ’s righteous administration. It will be a time of unprecedented prosperity and blessing (Isa. 35:4-10; 65:18-25; Jer. 31:36; Ezek. 37:22-28).
Near the end of the 1,000 years, the Devil will deceive the nations and great multitudes will join in the Devil’s rebellion. This results in their destruction and the Devil being cast into the eternal Lake of Fire (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Mt. 25:31-46; Lk. 1:32-33; Rev. 11:15; 20:1-10; 22:4-5; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:9-14, 18, 22, 27; Zech. 14; Ezek. 38-39; Isa. 9:6-7).
The word “elect” simply means chosen. Any individual or group of individuals who have been chosen by God would be God’s elect.
There are three churches, which must be acknowledged when dealing with prophecy: namely, (1) the Church in the Wilderness (Old Testament Saints), (2) the Kingdom Church, and (3) the Church, which is Christ’s Body.
Both the Old Testament Church and the Kingdom Church are related to the promises God made to Abraham and his believing children: the Israelites. These are not connected to the Body of Christ or to the Rapture (Acts 7:38; Mt. 16:18).
The Body of Christ Church is the “one new man” wherein there is “neither Jew nor Gentile.” They are a “new species” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). Christ is the “Head” and they are His Body. They are the “called-out ones” resulting from the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was revealed with the revelation of the Mystery and the inauguration of the Dispensation of Grace (1 Cor. 12:12-14; Rom. 16:25-26; Eph. 2:14-22; 3:1-6; Phil. 3:20; Gal. 1:12; 2:2).
This speaks of a time of future warfare, bloodshed and great suffering—the worst trouble that has ever been, or ever will be on earth. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jeremiah, and Daniel prophesied of this time. The stage, for the fulfillment of the Tribulation, was set at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21). Shortly after Pentecost (7 to 10 years), and with the conversion and calling of the Apostle Paul, God’s dealing with the Israelites was interrupted because of their unbelief (Acts 13:47; 18:6; 18:28). A period of intense tribulation, lasting seven years, is set to begin in the future where God’s dealings with Israel left off in Acts 2.
During the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, called the “Beginning of Sorrows,” the great ”whore” (Mystery Babylon”) of Revelation 17 will murder the Tribulation Saints—people saved after the Rapture (Mt. 24:8; Rev. 17:1-7, 18).
During the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, called the “Great Tribulation,” Antichrist will murder the Tribulation Saints (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:15-31; Rev. 2:22; 7:14; 12:1-18; 14:9-13; 15:1-4; 20:2-6; Jer. 30; Isa. 66:7-8).
THE 144,000 JEWS
These are elect Jewish men who are chosen to serve God at the beginning of the Tribulation. They are saved after the Rapture of the Church. As God had reserved 7,000 Jews to be His servants in the days of Ahab, so God has sealed the 144,000 Jews with “the Father’s Name” for their protection (Rev. 7:1-8; 9:4). At the end of the Tribulation, ALL 144,000 are accounted for (cf., Rev. 14:1-5 with Num. 31:48-49).
THE END OF THE WORLD
This refers to the consummation of the age (The Dispensation of Israel) when Christ comes to earth to set up His Kingdom (Mt. 13:39-40, 49-50; 24:3, 6, 13-14, 29-31; 24:3; 28:20).
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Antichrist will break his seven-year covenant with Israel and do away with the worship, priesthood, and sacrifices in the temple and proclaim that he is ”God” (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:15-22; Rev. 11:1-2; 13:1-18; 2 Thess. 2:1-4).
JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS
This will be a judgment of the surviving nations, at the time of the Second Coming of Christ, to determine who is worthy in each nation to go into the earthly Kingdom of Christ.
Those nations who have oppressed Israel during the Tribulation will be sent to eternal Hell, and those who have not will continue to live on, as earthly subjects of Christ, in the earthly Kingdom (Mt. 25:31-46; Dan. 7:9-14, 18, 22, 27; Zech. 14:16-21; Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; Rev. 11:15; 20:4-6; 22:4-5).
DANIEL’S 70TH WEEK
Daniel prophesied concerning 70 weeks of years or 490 years concerning Israel’s future. Sixty-nine weeks (483 years) have been literally and accurately fulfilled. There is one week yet (7 years) to be fulfilled. This will unfold after the Rapture of the Body of Christ (2 Thess. 2:1-12). This is often referred to as Daniel’s 70th Week (Dan. 9:24-27).
It is between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ to the earth that the seven years of “Jacob’s Trouble” – the Tribulation—Daniel’s 70th week—are fulfilled. ALL of Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21:1-11, 25-36, Revelation 4:1, 19:21. Daniel 9:27, 11:40-45, 12:1-7, Ezekiel 38-39, and Zechariah 14 will be literally fulfilled during this time.
During this time, Antichrist will be revealed and will unite the world economically, politically and religiously. This was predicted, and is the final form of Gentile domination over Israel. This will result in a world war when Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel and seeks to annihilate Israel and the Saints (“Times of the Gentiles” – Isa. 5:5; 63:18; 66:12, 19; Dan. 2:36-43; 9:24-27; 12:7; Mal. 1:11; Rom. 11:25; Lam. 1:15; Rev. 11:2).
There have been many antichrists. It is a term that can legitimately be applied to the two beasts of Revelation 13. The beast from the sea contends for political power and is against Christ. The beast from the earth exercises religious power and as such rules instead of Christ. However, it is the beast from the sea that is generally referred to as the Antichrist. He is the one who will oppose Jesus Christ in the Tribulation (2 Thess. 2:1-12). He is also identified by such names as: The Little Horn, Gog, The Wicked One, The King of the North, The Willful King, The King of Babylon, The Prince Who is to Come, The Lawless One, The Son of Destruction.
The Beast from the earth is also identified as the False Prophet (Rev. 11:15; 19:11-21; 20:1-10; Isa. 9:6-7; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:9-14, 18, 22, 27; Zech. 14; Mt. 24-25; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:1-12; Jude 14-15).
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image revealed five Gentile-world empires that would dominate Israel. It is the fifth empire, represented by the “feet and toes—part of iron and part of clay,” that the Antichrist would ascend to world power (Dan. 2:31-49). Then, more information, concerning the Antichrist and his Kingdom, is progressively revealed in the vision of “four great beasts.” Here we are told that this last great Gentile power will come from a grouping of “ten horns” (kingdoms) with a powerful “little horn” (Antichrist) (Dan. 7:1-28). Further information comes from yet another dream concerning “a ram” and a “billy goat” that are engaged in conflict. The billy goat prevailed, but he was injured. His “notable horn” was broken; however, in its place there grew “four horns.” Eventually, only two horns remain. We are told that of the two horns, one “waxed exceeding great towards the south, and towards the east and towards the pleasant land” (Dan. 8:1-27). Finally, Michael, the Archangel, identifies the Antichrist as the “King of the North” and his kingdom as being a federation of ten nations (Dan. 11:1-45; Ezek. 38-39; cf., Dan. 7:7, 20, 24; Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 12, 16).
THE EARTHLY KINGDOM
This is the Kingdom that Christ will establish at His Second Coming (Dan. 2:44; Ps. 2:6-12, 72; Isa. 9:6-7). He will revive the ancient Davidic Empire, sit upon the throne of His father David and rule with a “rod of iron” (Rev. 19:15). Immediately following the 1000-year-reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4-6), God will create a “New Heaven and a New Earth and Christ’s Kingdom will continue eternally (Lk. 1:32-33; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 11:15).
The terms Israel and Jews refer to the natural seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is God’s desire to give them the Kingdom (Lk. 12:32). In our day, they seek permanency but are a “burdensome stone for all people” as prophesied by Zechariah and Ezekiel (Zech. 12:1-4; 21:25-27). It is true that some now (since 1948) occupy a portion of the Holy Land but do so in unbelief and blindness. During the Tribulation, they will be saved and the Kingdom restored (Rom. 11:25-26).
THE WRATH OF GOD
The “day of the Lord’s wrath” is identical with “the great day of the Lord” (Zeph. 1:14-18). This is the “wrath of the Lamb” that will fall on the ungodly at His Second Coming (Rev. 6:12-17; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 1:7-10).
This begins with the sixth seal and continues the 7 years of Tribulation, plus 1000 years of Christ’s literal reign on earth. The Book of Revelation opens with a series of visions that sets for the the events of the “Lord’s Day” or the “Day of the Lord” (Rev. 1:10; Isa. 2:11; Zech. 14:1-9). It will be His day to judge the enemies of Israel (Isa. 13:9-13; 34:8) and terminate the “times of the Gentiles.” He will both punish the living wicked (Isa. 1:24-31; 21:1-4; 4:1-6; 9:6-7; 10:20-34; 11:3-12:6) and cause Israel to acknowledge their sin of rejecting their Messiah and be saved (Jn. 1:11-12; Zech. 1:7-18; 12:10-11; Rom. 11:25-27; cf., Joel 1:15; 2:1-11, 31; 3:13-15; Amos 5:18-20; Isa. 13:6-9; Mal. 4:5-6; Mt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Acts 2:16-21; 1 Thess. 1:9; 5:3; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:7-10; Jude 14-25; Rev. 19:11-21). At this point, man’s rule of the earth will come to an end and the Millennium will begin.
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
This Day of Judgment is often called the Final Judgment (Mt. 10:15; 1 Jn. 4:17; 2 Pet. 3:7). This judgment is immediately after the Millennium and the revolt of Satan and will take place at the “Great White Throne” where the unsaved dead will be called out of the grave and sentenced to “Second Death” (Rev. 20:1-10). This is a punishment of eternal, conscious and final separation from God (Rev. 20:11-15). John saw a great white throne occupied by God, from whose face the Earth and Heaven fled away. This is, no doubt, the same throne seen throughout the Book of Revelation. However, here is the only place that a description of the throne is given (Rev. 4:2-3, 9-11; 5:1-14; 6:16; 7:7-9; 14:1-5; 19:4; 21:5; 22:1-5).
THE DAY OF GOD
This is the launching pad to eternity future (2 Pet. 3:12). All the enemies of God will be put down and death destroyed (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Then, the heavens and the earth will be purified by fire and the new heavens and the new earth will begin. Righteousness will begin. Righteousness will reign (Isa. 65:17; 66:22-24; Heb. 1:10-12; 12:25-28; Rom. 8:14-25; Rev. 21:1-22:5).
Satan has met his doom! God reigns! “The day of God” will be ushered in (2 Pet. 3:10-13). The kingdoms of this world will then truly become the kingdoms of God with all the faithful saints and angels (Rev. 11:15).
Eternity Future is much more than a state of eternal bliss, but includes the state of eternal damnation. It is difficult to make a determination concerning the eternal state of the unsaved (Rev. 20_11-15).
However, it is very difficult to treat the subject of the eternal bliss of the saved in such a way that will not give “offence to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor the church of God (1 Cor. 10:32). In other words, our concern is how do the saved come into their eternal inheritance without destroying their identity or their specific promises being compromised? Remember, there are three groups of saved men (Jews, Gentiles, and Body of Christ) that must be dealt with in making this determination and God has not chosen to tell us. For example, we do not know:
1. The location of Heaven. It is idle speculation to guess the whereabouts of Heaven, except to say that it is “up” and in the “Third Heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2-4).
2. About the fellowship of the heavenly brotherhood. We can be reasonably sure that we will recognize each other and have enjoyable fellowship. The Apostle Paul said that “then shall I know just as I also am known” (1 Cor. 13:12).
3. If our glorified bodies will need to take in nourishment. The only food of Heaven we know anything about is the Manna that God gave the children of Israel in the wilderness. Will we be refreshed with Angel’s food”? (Ps. 78.25; Ezek. 47:12; Rev. 22:2).
4. What form or order will worship take in eternity? Will there be seasons more joyous than the rest? Will there be celebrations with feast days, festivals and jubilees? What sort of music will come out of the Throne Room and fill the halls of Heaven? (Rev. 5:8-9; 15:3).
5. What do we do throughout all eternity? (2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 6:3).
Apparently, Heaven, with all its beauties and wonders, is so infinitely beyond our capacity to apprehend that God has decided not to tell us about it now but to show it to us later! He has promised that :”in the ages to come,” He will show us “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).