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The Pre-Tribulation Rapture - A Flow of End Time Events


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Millennium and Beyond

Christ's millennial rule:

During the Millennium, Jesus will rule on the earth for a thousand years before eternity begins. The following passages show that Christ will rule with a "rod of iron" over the earth:

Psalm 2:7-9 - "...The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'"
Revelation 19:15 - ...And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron....

What does it mean to rule with "a rod of iron"?

Isaiah 9:6-7 - For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

As shown in the messianic prophecy above, Christ's rule will come with "judgment and justice." To rule with a rod of iron would mean that His rule will be just, and punishment will be swift and harsh. We see an example of Christ's rule in the following passage:

Zechariah 14:16-19 - And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

During the Millennium, it will be mandatory for representatives from all the nations to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem every year. A nation that is absent during this feast will suffer from drought. So we see, just because God will lift the curse on the earth at the beginning of the Tribulation, He will still use plagues to curse and punish those nations that rebel against God. This prophecy about Egypt shows that humans will fail the test of living up to God's standard, even during the Millennium, as discussed a few sections back. We will pick this thought up again in the next section, but first note the roll of the redeemed saints (Old Testament believers and the Church) in the Millennium:

  • The saints will co-rule as kings: Job 36:7

As already discussed, the Tribulation martyrs will have a special place as servants in God's temple (Revelation 20:6), and the believers who survive the Tribulation will become the local governors and mayors of the Kingdom (Matthew 25:23, Luke 19:16-19).

Satan will deceive the nations:

As seen in the last section, it won't take long for people to fail the test of the Millennium. Even without Satan's influence and with Christ physically ruling with a "rod of iron" on the earth, man will still not be able to live up to God's standards. Before eternity begins, God will deal with the rebellious heart of man. Here is how the final moments of the Millennium play out:

Revelation 20:7-10 - Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

After the thousand years comes to an end, God will give man over to their rebellion hearts and release Satan from the bottomless pit. It won't take long for Satan to amass an army against Christ too large to count. God's patience with man's rebellious heart will end here. This army of rebels will promptly be consumed by fire. God will prove that man can never meet His standards. Only a repentant heart that accepts the covering of the blood of Jesus will make a man righteous in the sight of God.

For more on the Millennium, click here.

The "Great White Throne Judgment":

After man fails the test of meeting God's standards, God will judge those who choose to rebel and reject the righteous path through Jesus. This final judgment, before eternity begins, is known as the "Great White Throne Judgment." It is clear that this judgment is only for those who are not saved:

Revelation 20:10-15 - The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Before the "Great White Throne Judgment," those not saved are resurrected from the dead. After these unbelievers stand before God, they are "cast into the lake of fire," where they will die a second death. This second death is not annihilation, as we see that the antichrist and his false prophet are still in the lake of fire being tormented when Satan joins them a thousand years later. The second death is permanent separation from God and eternal suffering.

Now that we have covered all the resurrections and judgments, it is important to reiterate that there is not just one resurrection and judgment when Jesus comes back. Scripture is clear that these events occur for different groups of people at different times on the prophetic timeline, as depicted below:

Resurrections and Judgments:

Resurrections and Judgments

Eternity:

When the "Great White Throne Judgment" ends and all of God's enemies are cast into the lake of fire, God will turn His sights on cleansing the sin-tainted universe:

2 Peter 3:10 - But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

At first glance, it looks like God is going to destroy the current universe, but it is just the "works" that burn up. God will burn up the sinful works in the universe with the same refining fire that the Church's works go through (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). In reclaiming the universe, God will restore it to what He had intended, before sin entered it. It is not that God cannot destroy His creation and start over, but that God does not create things for destruction. In fact, we find in the following passage that He must reconcile and restore His creation to have sovereignty, or "preeminence" over all things:

Colossians 1:16-20 - For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

At the dawn of eternity, the New Jerusalem will come down from Heaven to Earth. Finally, God will live among men in peace, and Heaven and Earth will become one:

Revelation 21:1-5 - Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."

For more on eternity, click here.

Final thoughts on why the rapture must occur before the Tribulation:

This study has shown that a Pre-Tribulation rapture is the only view that makes sense, in light of the natural flow of prophetic events in Scripture. One of the biggest road blocks to coming to that conclusion, is to fail to differentiate between the rapture event and the 2nd Coming event. This was the same mistake made by the Jewish leaders back before the 1st Coming of Christ, in that they failed to separate the scriptures pointing to the 1st and 2nd Comings of the Messiah.

Because of this mistake, the Jewish leaders, and even the disciples thought that the Messiah was going to come and conquer the Romans, and set up His Kingdom when He arrived. They overlooked that Scripture not only pointed to the Messiah coming as King, but also that He would suffer as a servant. As a result, most of the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus as Messiah.

It is important to note that some Jewish leaders did see the two different aspects of the Messiah. These leaders decided there would be two messianic figures, but they still rejected Jesus based on errors introduced into the Jewish calendar, in addition to their corrupt hearts. Keep in mind that they had the exact time frame for the coming of the Messiah from Daniel's prophecies.

Jesus Himself showed us that two events are found together in one passage:

Luke 4:16-19 - So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

When you go back to the passage Jesus quoted from in Isaiah 61, you find that He deliberately stopped before reading this part: "And the day of vengeance of our God." If Christ had read this last part in Luke 4, then He would have proclaimed the "day of vengeance" at His 1st Coming. Jesus deliberately left the last part out when He spoke because the "day of vengeance" will be at His 2nd Coming.

The following are prophecies where the 1st and 2nd Comings of Christ are found together in one passage:

Psalms 118:22-27 - The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity (1st Coming). Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. (2nd Coming)
Isaiah 42:1-4 - "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench (1st Coming); He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law." (2nd Coming)
Micah 5:2-5 - "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" (1st Coming). Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace. (2nd Coming)
Zechariah 9:9-10 - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem (1st Coming); the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.'" (2nd Coming)
Zechariah 13:7-9 - "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion," Says the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones (1st Coming). And it shall come to pass in all the land," Says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" (2nd Coming)
Malachi 3:1-3 - "Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight (1st Coming - The messenger was John the Baptist). Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts. "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like launderers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness (2nd Coming).
Isaiah 40:3-5 - The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD (John the Baptist prepared the way for the 1st Coming); make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."(The 2nd Coming)

Just as the 1st and 2nd Comings of Jesus are found together, the rapture and the 2nd Coming are also found together in Scripture. Note the word "and" separating the two events in the following examples:

2 Thessalonians 2:1 - Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2nd Coming) and our gathering together to Him.... (rapture)
2 Timothy 4:1 - I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing ("Judgment Seat of Christ" after the rapture) and His kingdom. ("Sheep and Goat Judgment" before the Millennium and the "Great White Throne Judgment" after the Millennium)
Titus 2:13 - ...looking for the blessed hope (rapture) and glorious appearing (2nd Coming) of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ....

The chart below shows the scriptural differences between the rapture and the 2nd Coming:

Our Blessed Hope - Rapture EventsThe Glorious Appearing - 2nd Coming Events
Sudden and imminent1 Corinthians
15:51-52
Many signs leading up to
Second Coming
Matthew
24:15-30
The Church watches and
waits for Christ
Philippians
3:20
Tribulation saints watch
for antichrist(s)
Matthew
24:23-27
Christ comes in the
air for His own
John
14:3
Christ comes to Earth
with His own
Jude
1:14
Jesus Himself will
gather the Church
1 Thessalonians
4:16-17
Angels will gather the
Jewish Elect
Matthew
24:31
Christ comes to claim
His Bride
John
14:2-3
Christ returns with his brideRevelation
19:7-8,14
Jesus glorifies the Church
and takes her to Heaven
Philippians
3:20-21
Church will return and appear
with Christ in Glory
Colossians
3:4
Believers taken to heaven
to stand before Christ
Luke
21:36
Believers stay on Earth
to live in the Kingdom
Zechariah
14:16
Christ takes His own to
His Father's House
John
14:2-3
Resurrected saints rule
and reign on Earth
Revelation
20:4
Crowns rewarded for works
at Bema Judgment
1 Corinthians
3:12-15
Kingdom inherited at
Sheep & Goat Judgment
Matthew
25:31-46
Only believers will see HimHebrews
9:28
All humanity will see HimMatthew
24:29-30
Age of Grace before
the rapture
Ephesians 3Day of Vengeance before
the 2nd Coming
Isaiah
61:2
Before Wrath1 Thessalonians
5:9-10
After TribulationMatthew
24:29-30
Church save from WrathRomans
5:9
Israel saved through
judgment
Zechariah
13:8-9
Church prevails against evilMatthew
16:18-19
Saints overcome by the antichristRevelation
13:7
Righteous get taken and
wicked are left
1 Thessalonians
4:16-17
Wicked taken and righteous
go into the Kingdom
Matthew
13:30
Day of deception2 Thessalonians
2:3-12
Satan bound - no deception
allowed for 1000 years
Revelation
20:1-3

In conclusion, I hope that this study has brought you assurance of our "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) in the Pre-Tribulation rapture. I also hope that you better understand how the natural flow of prophetic Scripture is in harmony with the Pre-Tribulation rapture view. The more I study this topic, the more confident I become that the rapture will happen before the Tribulation, and the more blessed and excited I become, anticipating the soon return of our Lord. I pray the same for you. Maranatha!


 
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