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The Great Tribulation, The Day of the Lord and The Rapture of the Church Part 4

A summary of what we have already learned

So far, we have seen that there is a future week of seven years spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Dan. 9:27) which comes at the end of the present age (Mat 24:3). This seven-year period of time is initiated by the Antichrist confirming a covenant with the many (the people of Israel) (Dan. 9:27). In the midst (middle) of the seven years the Antichrist, or Beast as he is called by John in the book of Revelation, sits in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and demands to be worshiped as God (2 Thes 2:3-4). This revelation of the man of sin is the abomination of desolation that Jesus refers to (Matt 24:15). When this takes place, Jesus says, “then shall be great tribulation” (Matt 24:21). The great tribulation is an unparalleled time of persecution of both Israel and believers in Jesus Christ, the Church (Dan 12:1; Matt 24:21; Rev 6:9-11; 7:9-14; 12:11-17; 13:7,15). To prevent the Beast and the False Prophet from killing every last Christian the great tribulation is shortened (Matt 24:22). Jesus says that “immediately after the tribulation” the cosmic sign which announces the arrival of the Day of the LORD happens (Matt 24:29). There is a great earthquake, the sun, moon, and stars go dark, and Jesus is seen coming in all His glory in the clouds of heaven (Rev 6:12-14; Matt 24:30). The persecuted saints (the elect) who remain alive lift up their heads, look up, and are caught up by the angels to be with Jesus in the clouds (Luke 21:28, Matt 24:31). The unbelieving Beast followers hide themselves for fear of the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:15-17). The very same day there is half an hour of silence in Heaven then the Lord begins to pour out His wrath in the form of the trumpet Judgements (Rev 8).

The gathering described by Jesus is consistent with Paul's revelation of the rapture

In the past I taught, as most other pre-tribulationists do, that Matt 24:31 was a gathering of the Jews at the end of “the Tribulation Period” when Jesus fights against the Beast and the nations that follow him as described in Revelation 19.

Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Rev 19:12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

Rev 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Rev 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Rev 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

However, upon greater examination of the associated texts, the future event that Jesus describes in Matthew 24 verses 29 thru 31 bears little resemblance to what John saw and recorded in Rev 19. To the contrary, the various elements of Matt 24:30-31 are found in Paul’s description of the first resurrection and rapture in 1 Thes 4:15-17.

Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Mat 24:30 And 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.

Mat 24:31 And 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.

Mar 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Mar 13:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

1Th 4:15 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.

1Th 4:16 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:

1Th 4:17 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.


The Parousia


Notice that both Christ’s answer to the disciples on the Mount of Olives and Paul’s statement to the Thessalonians refer to the singular, future, coming (Parousia) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Parousia is the Greek word used primarily as a technical term referring to the return and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. The word is found 24 times in the NT, 17 of those signifying the event of Christ’s future return and following presence.

Although the Greek word found in Matt 24:30 translated “coming” is a different word (erchomei) which refers to the action of Christ that is seen by the world (His movement through the heavens), which is just a part of the event (Parousia), the greater context makes it clear that the Parousia is in view.

Four times the word appears in Matthew 24:

Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Mat 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Mat 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Mat 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Both Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 describe the event (the Parousia) beginning to take place. However, Revelation 19:11-16 describes the Lord and the armies that follow Him far into the Day of the LORD. Notice that His vesture is already soiled with the blood of His enemies (Rev 19:13). It is also clear from the context that He is going forth to fight with the armies of the nations arrayed at Armageddon. This is the Antichrist’s last stand. After this, all the fighting will be over until the thousand years are finished when Satan is released from the bottomless pit to go forth once again to deceive the nations (Rev 20).

Matthew 24:30-31 is not describing the same activity as Revelation 19:11-21 but instead is describing the initial appearing of Christ at His Parousia on the Day of the LORD and the associated rapture or gathering of His elect to Him.

Paul refers to this appearance calling it Christ’s second time and mentioning that salvation is associated with it.

Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Physical or spiritual salvation

The salvation in question is physical deliverance consistent with the expectation of those saints who survive the great tribulation.

Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Mat 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

The context of Mat 10:22 is right prior to the coming of the Son of man, Jesus Christ.

He comes in the clouds

Another difference between Matthew 24:30-31 and Rev 19:11-16 is the fact that upon His initial return Christ comes in the clouds of heaven. Luke tells us that the angels present at His ascension said he would return in this manner.

Act 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Act 1:10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Act 1:11 Which 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.

In His Revelation given to be recorded by John the Apostle, we read:

Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

This statement of John gives us three important points to take note of concerning Jesus’ return with clouds.

When “he cometh with clouds” every eye will see Him

This is consistent with Christ’s warning in Matt 24 not to believe the many false reports which shall come concerning His return.

Mat 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Mat 24:25 Behold, I have told you before.

Mat 24:26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

Mat 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

He says that His return will be unmistakable. It will be like the lightning which stretches from one end of the sky to the other.

When “he cometh with clouds” those who pierced Him will see Him

“Those who pierced Him” is no doubt a reference to Israel. Zechariah the Prophet prophesied of a future day when all the families of Israel that remain would mourn upon seeing Him.

Zec 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Zec 12:11 In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.

Zec 12:12 And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;

Zec 12:13 The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;

Zec 12:14 All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.


The revelation that comes to the minds of the formerly unbelieving families of Israel upon seeing Jesus in His glory causes them to mourn for Him.

When “he cometh with clouds” all kindreds of the earth shall wail

Isaiah describes the wailing of the earth dwellers upon seeing Christ in His glory.

Isa 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

Isa 13:7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:

Isa 13:8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

John describes their response to His revelation as one of fearful dread.

Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

Rev 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

There are many such statements from the Holy Scriptures. Jesus told the high priest at His trial that He would be seen coming in the clouds of heaven.

Mar 14:62 ...ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Clouds are a detail closely associated with the catching up of the saints but this is not so with the scene described by John in Rev 19:11-16.

1Th 4:17 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.


The sound of a great trumpet


There is another detail that is associated with the catching up of the saints that is not found in the Revelation 19 passage, the sound of a great trumpet.

Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Mat 24:30 And 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.

Mat 24:31 And 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.

1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1Th 4:16 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:

Throughout the Scriptures the rapture is associated with the coming of Jesus Christ or the Day of the LORD

For thirty years, I missed the obvious link between the revelation of Christ and the catching up of the saints that is found in many of the eschatological statements of Jesus, the Prophets, and the Apostles. By approaching every text with the unbiblical framework of an “any moment”, pre-seventieth week rapture, what should have been very evident from a simple and plain reading of the Scriptures was hidden to me. Now having set aside that faulty paradigm, I can see clearly from a multitude of Bible texts that the revelation and rapture take place at the same time. Also, it is clear that the rapture is hinged to the Day of the LORD. First there is the sign of the sun, moon, and stars going dark, then Jesus is seen coming in the clouds, then the angels gather the elect to Him, then the wrath of the Day of the LORD begins to fall upon the unbelieving world.

Kenneth W. Eckerty in his exceptional paper called “The Case For the Pre-Wrath Rapture” says:

“I want to quote from Dr. John Sproule, former head of the Greek Department at Grace Seminary which is a very staunch Pre-Trib school. He himself wrote a book in support of Pre-Trib Rapturism called In Defense of Pre-Tribulationalism. He writes,

“Every Old Testament passage containing this phrase (Day of the Lord) can be linked to the final portion of Daniel’s 70th week, when God’s wrath is poured out upon the Gentile nations. If this is true, then Pre-Tribs must face the critical problem of 1 Thess 5:1-11, and 2 Thess 2:1-5, which seem to link the rapture with the Day of the Lord”.

Again, I want to quote from Richard Mayhue,

“...all of the Day of the Lord passages appear to find their fulfillment sometime in the second half of the 70th week”.

And Dr. John MacAuthur, who used to believe the Day of the Lord began at the beginning of the 70th week, now says, “no way, it has to begin somewhere in the 2nd half of the 70th week.”

I applaud these men for their courage to go against traditional pre-tribulation rapturism as to the placement of the Day of the Lord, yet some of these guys desperately want to somehow say even though the Day of the Lord starts somewhere beyond the middle of the 70th week, we still think the rapture occurs 4 or 5 years earlier. It’s an impossible position based on the Lord’s teaching in Matt 24, and based on Paul’s teaching in 1 & 2 Thess that clearly link the rapture with the Day of the Lord.”

Let’s look at a few of these instances of the rapture and revelation being spoken of together.

Here we see Christ’s revelation followed by the rapture.

Mat 24:30 And 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.

Mat 24:31 And 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.

Paul places both the Parousia and the gathering of the saints unto Jesus together, identifying that time as the day of Christ.

2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

2Th 2:2 That 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 Christ is at hand.

The believer is said to rest from tribulation when Jesus is revealed.

2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.


In the next passage we see the Parousia, the rapture, the Day of the LORD, being saved from God’s wrath poured out upon the earth dwellers, and the change and resurrection of the saints. We also see that the watching believer will not be caught by surprise but the unbelieving world will; they shall not escape sudden destruction.

1Th 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.

1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

1Th 4:15 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.

1Th 4:16 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:

1Th 4:17 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.

1Th 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1Th 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

1Th 5:3 For 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.

1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

1Th 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

1Th 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

1Th 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

It is evident that the rapture/resurrection is connected to the Day of the LORD. It is also true that it must take place before His wrath is poured out upon the Earth dwellers. The believer will not experience God’s wrath.

These are a few of many statements in the Scriptures connecting the rapture/resurrection to the appearing/Parousia.

Kept from the hour

One of the strongest proof texts that I believed I had as a teacher of the pre-trib model of the rapture was the statement of Jesus to the church in Philadelphia found in Rev 3:10. The faithful church in Philadelphia was promised to be kept from the hour of temptation.

Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

I used to believe and teach that this notable day (hour of temptation) was the “Tribulation Period” or more specifically the “great tribulation,” however it is now obvious to me that the first is an erroneous name given to the seventieth week and the latter doesn’t fit the description of the hour or time given in Rev 3:10.


The hour spoken of in Rev 3:10 is said to be a time of trial upon the Earth dwellers (them that dwell upon the earth) which distinguishes it from the great tribulation which is a period of time in which Israel and the Christian saints are persecuted. Since the testing is focused upon the unbelieving world, who follow the Beast (the Earth dwellers), this can only refer to the Day of the LORD, which is the period of God’s wrath not Satan’s. True believers will not experience God’s wrath at the Day of the LORD but are saved from it.

#Eschatology #Rapture #ComingAgain #DayoftheLord #GreatTribulation





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