The Rapture Study

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The rapture is the great “catching away” of all those who have trusted Christ – living and dead. The word “rapture” is not found in scripture. It is from the Latin Vulgate (ancient Latin translation of the Bible) “rapere” which means to “catch up.” In 1 Thess 4:17 the Bible states that we will be “caught up” and this is the phrase where the Vulgate used the word “rapere.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 is the definitive passage that describes the event we call the rapture.

1 Thess 4:15-18 (NIV) According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. {16} For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. {18} Therefore encourage each other with these words. (emphasis added)

The fact that the saints will be raptured is clear in scripture and there has not been much debate on that fact.  However, the timing of the rapture has been hotly debated for centuries.

So, the question is, when will the rapture occur?

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There are three major views as to when the rapture will occur. They are depicted below

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The Pre-Tribulation position is that the rapture will occur at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week. In fact, those that hold to this view see the rapture as initiating the 70th Week.

The Mid-Tribulation position is that the rapture will occur at the mid-point of the 70th Week when Antichrist demands the world worship him.

The Post-Tribulation position is that the rapture will occur at the end of the 70th Week. This position is that the second coming is exactly that – the second coming, that Jesus will return at the battle of Armageddon and rapture his saints.

Let us look at each of these views in greater detail in reverse order.

Post-Tribulation Rapture

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There are some scriptural problems with this view. The first problem is that according to this view, God’s people endure His wrath. There are many scriptures that teach the opposite…

Romans 5:9 (NIV) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (emphasis added)

1 Thess 1:10 (NIV) and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (emphasis added)

1 Thess 5:9 (NIV) For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (emphasis added)

Rev 3:10 (NIV) Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. (emphasis added)

Luke 21:36 NIV) Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (emphasis added)

There is also a problem about the timing of the rapture. According to the scripture, no one knows the day or the hour when the rapture will occur – not even Jesus – only the Father. Now if the rapture occurs at the battle of Armageddon, then the day is predictable. Once the 70th Week begins one must only wait 7 years plus 30 days.

Mark 13:32 (NIV) No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

A third problem is the mere fact that there is not one scripture that clearly specifies this timing for the rapture.

A fourth problem is that there is a conflict in the timing of the Bema Judgment and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb that will follow the judgment. If God’s saints are still on earth – how can they participate in the Bema Judgment or the Marriage Supper?

A fifth problem is also a conflict in timing and is indicated in 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

1 Thess 3:13 (NIV) May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.  (emphasis added)

If God’s people are in His presence WHEN Jesus returns with His holy ones, then it is impossible for His people to be on the earth when Jesus returns!

According to the Post-Tribulation view, the rapture will happen at the battle of Armageddon. All during the 70th Week, God’s wrath will be poured out upon this world.

Mid-Tribulation Rapture

The Mid-Tribulation rapture position was actually a response to the problems created in the Post-Tribulation view. Because the scripture is so clear about God’s people not enduring His wrath, some chose to see the rapture happening at the mid-point of the 70th Week.

And this position DID solve some of the problems. If the rapture occurred at the mid-point, then God’s people would not suffer God’s wrath and the conflict in timing of the Bema Judgment and Marriage Supper of the Lamb are solved – as well as the conflict in 1 Thess 3:13.

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However, this position still did not solve the predictability problem.

One must still only count 1,260 days after the beginning of the 70th Week.

Also, again there is no scriptural basis for the rapture occurring at the mid-point of the 70th Week.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

By far, the most popular view is the Pre-Tribulation position. This is what has been called the “left-behind” view. According to the Pre-Tribulation view, Jesus will rapture His people at the beginning of the 70th Week.

God’s people are completely absent from the earth during the 7 years (except those who are saved during the 7 years) while they are going through the Bema Judgment and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Meanwhile, on earth God’s wrath is being poured out upon mankind.

Many see God’s people returning with Jesus at the battle of Armageddon.

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During the 70th Week or what is more commonly called “the tribulation period,” this view teaches that some very specific things are happening on the earth.

There are three significant events that are specific to this view.

First, this view sees the seals, trumpets and bowls as all signifying God’s wrath and that they are poured out upon mankind during the entire 7 years.

Second, the 144,000 Jews spoken of in Revelation chapter seven are seen as Jewish evangelists who will usher in the greatest revival in history – which is the third significant event.

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Revelation 7:3 (NIV) “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” {4} Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. {5} From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, {6} from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, {7} from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, {8} from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. {9} After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

These evangelists and the revival explain the multitude that follow in verse 9.

Now the Pre-Tribulation view is the only view that has the proper scriptural balance between the deliverance of God’s people and the punishment of the ungodly through the pouring out of the wrath of God.

There are three views that are the most prominent and we looked at each in detail. After analyzing each position, it became obvious that each view has its problems and none seem to fit all of scripture in a natural way.

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None of the three views seemed to work. So, we asked the question…

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The whole purpose of  this study is because I believe the answer is “YES!

But, to understand the rapture and the issues surrounding the timing, we must first understand what the Bible teaches about the Day of the Lord.

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To understand the Day of the Lord, we must look at what the scripture teaches and discover what the Day of the Lord really is.

The Day of the Lord in the OT

 A day of wrath and judgment on the unrighteous.

Isaiah 13:6-9 (NIV) Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. {7} Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man’s heart will melt. {8} Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. {9} See, the day of the LORD is coming –a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger– to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

Isaiah continues…

Isaiah 13:11,13 (NIV) I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. {13} Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.

Dividing of the religious vs. those who “truly rely on the Lord”

Amos 8:3-5 (NIV) “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, ” the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies–flung everywhere! Silence!” {4} Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, {5} saying, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”– skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales

This verse described people who are religious – they are singing in the temple and they observe the Sabbath, but their heart is in their pocketbooks. Although they are religious they have no problem cheating to make a few extra bucks.

Day of Judgment on Israel

Jeremiah 30:11 (NIV)  I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’

The next verse describes those of Israel who have become complacent and tired of waiting on God – they feel God will do nothing about their sinful condition.

Zephaniah 1:11-12 (NIV) Wail, you who live in the market district ; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined. {12} At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’

Israel will trust the Holy One and be joined by aliens as God’s people

Isaiah 10:20 (NIV) In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 14:1 (NIV) The LORD will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Aliens will join them and unite with the house of Jacob.

God Judges Israel

Zephaniah 1:17-18 (NIV) I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. {18} Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.”

Amos 5:18-19 (NIV) Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. {19} It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.

Jeremiah 4:10 (NIV) Then I said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, how completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats.”

God purifies His people

Zep 2:1-3 (NIV) Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation, {2} before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you. {3} Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Zep 3:8-9 (NIV) Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD, “for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out my wrath on them– all my fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. {9} “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.”

A day when He comes to live among His people

Zechariah 2:10-12 (NIV) “Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the LORD. {11} “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.

Day of wrath like never before or ever again

Joel 2:1-2 (NIV) Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand– {2} a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come.

Last call to return to the Lord

Joel 2:10-13 (NIV) Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. {11} The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? {12} ‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ {13} Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Day of deliverance for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord”

Joel 2:31-32 (NIV) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. {32} And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance…

Sign of the Day of the Lord: sun ,stars & moon darkened/to blood

Joel 2:10 (NIV) Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.

Joel 2:31 (NIV) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

Joel 3:14-15 (NIV) Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. {15} The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.

Amos 8:9 (NIV) “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.

We can divide these Old Testament verses into three major themes that surround the prophecies regarding the Day of the Lord. First, there is a sign of the Day of the Lord. The sun is darkened and the moon turns to blood (red) and the stars no longer shine. Second, God is coming to judge Israel and the world for their sin. And, third, there is a theme of deliverance. “Rend your hearts and not your garments,” “return to the Lord your God,” “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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Matt 24:29-31 (NIV) Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ {30} At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. {31} And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Mark 13:24-27 (NIV) But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; {25} the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ {26} At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. {27} And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

Luke 21:25-28 (NIV) There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. {26} Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. {27} At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. {28} When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads,because your redemption is drawing near.

Acts 2:20-21 (NIV) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. {21} And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Three Themes in the New Testament

There are three themes that are present in the scriptures from the New Testament concerning the Day of the Lord. They are:

  1. Sign of Sun, Moon, and Stars just before…
  2. Jesus comes in power and great glory
  3. Salvation/Deliverance: “gather His elect,” “Redemption is drawing near,” “everyone who calls… will be saved.”

Based on these observations, is the Day of the Lord mentioned in the book of Revelation?

Rev 6:12-14 (NIV) I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, {13} and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. {14} The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. {15} Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. {16} They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! {17} For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Rev 7:3-4 (NIV) “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” {4} Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

Rev 7:9 (NIV) After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. {10} And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Rev 7:13-14 (NIV) Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?” {14} I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

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So, we see that the themes surrounding the Day of the Lord are throughout the Bible,  but what does this have to do with the rapture?

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In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul writes about the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “our being gathered to Him.”

Now what is the event at the coming of the Lord Jesus AND our being gathered to Him?

This is so specific that it points directly to the rapture of the saints. Then in verse 2, he names the event that is described as the “coming” and “gathering” and calls it “the Day of the Lord.”…

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In this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, everyone agrees that this passage IS giving the details about the rapture of the saints. It is important to remember, though, that in the original language there were no chapter divisions. So, the Apostle Paul writes about the rapture and then continues in chapter 5 verse 1 immediately…

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Paul has just been telling them what it will be like when Jesus returns to rapture the church and immediately he begins to address when this will happen – and it is blatantly obvious that what he has been talking about, HE calls “the day of the Lord.”

The realization that the Bible DOES talk about the rapture, but the Biblical term for the rapture IS “the day of the Lord” is a stark revelation.

And now we must ask…

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If that is true then we will find the following validations:

  • All Prophecies will naturally fit
  • All Prophecies will harmonize
  • All Problems with other views will be answered
  • There will be no scriptural contradictions

We will examine these further.

All Prophecies Naturally Fit

There are 6 major passages in the New Testament that deal with the second coming of Christ. These are:

Matthew 24 ,Mark 13, Luke 17, Luke 21, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Revelation

Let us look at each of these passages and find out if they support the teaching of the Day of the Lord.

Mat 24:29-31 (NIV) Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ {30} At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. {31} And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (emphasis added)

Here we see the sign of the Day of the Lord, Jesus returning and His elect being gathered (rapture!?!).

Mark 13:24-27 (NIV) “But in those days, following that distress, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; {25} the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ {26} “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. {27} And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (emphasis added)

Again, the Day of the Lord appears in Mark. Luke 17 does not mention the sign but does include some very important information that we will look at closely, but Luke 21 does follow the same pattern.

Luke 21:25-28 (NIV) “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. {26} Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. {27} At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. {28} When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (emphasis added)

Again, the three themes – including the sign of the Day of the Lord – appear together. Although Acts is not one of the major passages, the three themes also appear there.

Acts 2:20-21 NIV) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. {21} And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (emphasis added)

The book of Revelation also follows this same pattern of the teaching of the Day of the Lord.

Rev 6:12-17 (NIV) I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, {13} and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. {14} The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. {15} Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. {16} They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! {17} For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (emphasis added)

Rev 7:9 (NIV) After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. {10} And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (emphasis added)

We have already seen how in 1st and 2nd Thessalonians the teaching supports the Day of the Lord, in fact, the Apostle Paul actually calls the rapture – the Day of the Lord.

We have seen how all prophecies harmonize including the themes of the Day of the Lord.

Now let’s look at Luke 17.

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Luke 17:26-27 (NIV) Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. {27} People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. (emphasis added)

This same thought is repeated in Matthew…

Matt 24:37-39 (NIV) As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. {38} For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; {39} and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (emphasis added)

I have heard many sermons on Noah and Lot, but the idea that was always conveyed was that the world was going on just as it always had until judgment came – people were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. The thought I have heard preached is the unexpected nature of Christ’s return.

But this is not what this passage is teaching.

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The idea this passage is teaching is that judgment and deliverance came on a single day. This becomes even more apparent when we look back at the Genesis story.

Gen 7:1-4 (NIV) The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. {2} Take with you seven… {4} Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” (emphasis added)

In Genesis God begins by telling Noah that in seven days the judgment flood will come. Many have used this verse to support a Pre-Tribulation view that just as God warned Noah that the flood would come in seven days, the rapture will happen at the beginning of the seven years. The problem is that the story does not unfold that way

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For, we are told a few verses later in the story…

Gen 7:12-13 (NIV) And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. {13} On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. (emphasis added)

Again the lesson is that on the same day deliverance for God’s people and judgment for the wicked come. Now back to Luke 17…

Luke 17:29-35 (NIV) But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. {30}It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. {31}On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. {32} Remember Lot’s wife! {33} Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. {34} I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. {35} Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

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On a single day, in both cases, God delivered His people while pouring judgment out on the wicked. Luke 17 makes an amazing statement comparing this to Jesus’ return…

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So, when Jesus is revealed at His return, on a single day God’s people will be delivered and judgment will be poured out on the wicked. This describes the Day of the Lord. God will rapture His people and that will initiate the Day of the Lord when God will pour out His wrath upon this world.

And this is called…

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2 Pet 2:5-7,9 (NIV) if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; {6} if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; {7} and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men {9} if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

Does the book of Revelation support the Pre-Wrath view of the end-times?

Rev 6:12-17 (NIV) I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earth-quake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, {13} and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. {14} The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. {15} Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. {16} They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! {17} For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (emphasis added)

Rev 7:9-10 (NIV) After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. {10} And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (emphasis added)

In the book of Revelation we are explicitly told that this sign of the sun, moon and stars signals the day of the wrath of the Lamb. Immediately after the day of wrath begins, we find this multitude in heaven that no one can count from every tribe and nation. It is interesting that they are wearing robes and have palm branches in their hands, therefore they must have resurrected bodies. Who else could this multitude be except the raptured saints from all the ages!

Now there is one other point to consider as we look at Noah…

Mat 24:39-41 (NIV) and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. {40} Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. {41} Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

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I have heard many discussions and speculations on the verb “take” in this passage. Some question has been raised at the connection between those “taken” in the flood and those “taken” at the coming of the Son of man. Some have speculated that since those in the flood were taken to destruction, it is those “left” who will meet the Lord. However, what we don’t see is that these are two different verbs in the original language. For those taken in the flood the verb is “airo,” which means “to take away” or “remove.”

The second verb is different. It is the word “paralambano” which means “to take along,” “receive,” or “accept.” Therefore this verse is saying that those “taken” in the flood were “removed” while those “taken” at the coming of the Son of man were “received.”

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Matt 24:36-39 (NIV) No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. {37} As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. {39}and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (emphasis added)

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2 Thess 1:4-10 (NIV) Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. {5} All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. {6} God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you {7} and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. {8} He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. {9} They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power {10} on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (emphasis added)

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So, in order to determine the timing, we must look for these events in prophecy and discern if there is harmony as to the time when these things will occur.

The book of Revelation locates the sign of the Day of the Lord after the sixth seal is broken.

Rev 6:12-13 (NIV) I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, {13} and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. (emphasis added)

Now we must determine what are these seals and what do they signify. In the prior chapter of Revelation, we are told of a scroll sealed with seven seals. These seals were common in the Apostle John’s day. A scroll could be sealed with multiple seals, but it could not be opened until all the seals had been broken.

Rev 5:1-2 (NIV) Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. {2} And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (emphasis added)

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The scroll is sealed with seven seals and as the sixth seal is broken the sign of the Day of the Lord takes place.

When the seventh seal is broken the scroll is opened and the Day of the Lord’s wrath begins. Therefore we can surmise that the scroll sealed with seven seals IS the scroll of the Day of the Lord.

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Then follows Jesus return…

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And then the rapture of the saints..

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So, based on the scripture in the book of Revelation, we can deduce that the rapture will follow the breaking of the sixth seal before the Day of the Lord begins.

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NEXT IN THE SERIES: SEVEN SEALS AND THE TIMING OF RAPTURE


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