Clue Number 1 concerning where to place the rapture is found in the classic rapture passage. Let’s look at it again before I get to my commentary.
I Thessalonians 4:13 But 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For 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 prevent them which are asleep. 16 For 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: 17 Then 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.
Note that this catching up of the saints happens at the same time that the LORD Jesus comes. So wherever we find the timing of the coming of the LORD Jesus, we know that the rapture happens at that time as well. Paul is clearly talking about the coming of the LORD Jesus here. We should study the timing of the coming of the LORD in other passages of scripture so that we might know the timing of this event as well. When does the coming of the LORD Jesus happen? Again and again the answer is the same.
Matthew 24:4-31. This is quite clear. The events unfold as follows. First the abomination of desolation, followed by the great tribulation, followed by the coming of the LORD Jesus when gathers His elect. So based on this passage, we know that the coming of the LORD Jesus happens AFTER the great tribulation.
Mark 13:5-27. This is quite clear as well. Mark records that the gospel will be published in all nations during great persecution. Then after that tribulation the LORD Jesus will come and gather the elect from the uttermost parts of the earth and heaven. So the coming of the LORD Jesus happens after the intense persecution and tribulation.
Luke 21:8-28. While not quite as clear on timing, one thing is certain. Jesus told His disciples they could expect to be persecuted for their faith and delivered up to death. Jerusalem will be trodden down until the times of the Gentiles (the time of Gentile dominion over Israel) would be fulfilled. Then the LORD Jesus would come again. The time of Gentile dominion over Israel will not be over until the end of Daniel’s seventieth week. At the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week we can expect a false covenant of peace which will be broken at the midpoint. So we can clearly not expect the coming of Christ to happen until well after the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week.
2 Thessalonians 1-2. Briefly, chapter one outlines the tribulation that Thessalonians were going through. Instead of promising there would be no tribulation for this church, Paul instead promised that at the coming of the LORD when He comes from heaven with His mighty angels, that those who persecuted them would suffer vengeance at the hands of an angry God. The believer’s "rest" would not happen until that revealing of Christ. Then in chapter 2, the coming and gathering (2:1) that would happen at that time is given a further timing. That day (the day of the coming and the gathering) would not happen until after the revealing of the son of perdition, the man of sin. He would sit in the temple showing himself to be god with all power, signs, and lying wonders. It is only after the revealing of this "antichrist" that the true Christ would come and gather His people. So here the coming of the LORD Jesus is AFTER the antichrist and great tribulation.
Based on these passages, we should place the coming of Christ AFTER the great tribulation, therefore this event of the rapture should be placed after the great tribulation as well. Is there any evidence in scripture that Christ’s coming happens before this seven year period? Or is there only evidence for a coming after the revealing of the antichrist and the great tribulation? Next post, I’ll look at some frequent misquotations.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman