Prophecy has made it known that the Messiah will establish the kingdom of God in Israel. "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed . . . [and] it will itself endure forever" (Da 2:44). Jesus was "questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming" (Lk 17:20). They asked as though they believed he was the Christ, however it seems that they were rather baiting him to commit himself. Jesus hadn't been advertising overtly who he was because it would have just precipitated unnecessary controversy. If we fast-forward to when Jesus was arrested and brought before the Council we see that Caiaphus, the high priest, asked him, "'Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?'" (Mk 14:61). Jesus answered, "'I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven'" (:62).
Later "the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'" (Mt 24:3). Paul cited that "Jews ask for signs" (1Co 1:22). But Jesus explained to the Pharisees, "'The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed'" (Lk 17:20). The questions were in reference to his coming. It is the Greek word parousia pertaining to a presence or a coming. It is from a root meaning to have come or being present. Jesus answered with a long discourse beginning at Matthew 24:4, Mark 13:5, and Luke 17:22. He states, "'The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky . . . and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory'" (Mt 24:30). Mark quotes he will be "'coming in clouds'" (Mk 13:26) and "coming with the clouds of heaven'" (14:62). Luke quotes "they will see the son of man coming in a cloud'" (Lk 21:27). How much of a distinction should be made regarding coming "on", "in", and "with" cloud(s)?
Jesus stated before the "whole Council" (Mk 14:55) that he was the Christ. Then "tearing his clothes, the high priest said, 'What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy'" (:63-64). Jesus had told them, "'I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Hiim who sent me'" (Jn 6:38). Consequently, everyone who "'believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day'" (:40). Then Jesus replied regarding their reaction, "'Do not grumble among yourselves'" (:43). He continued saying, "'This is the bread which came down out of heaven; . . . he who eats this bread shall live forever'" (:58). Jesus had explained that "no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man'" (3:13). Expectedly "His disciples grumbled at this" (6:61) and Jesus asked, "'Does this cause you to stumble?'" (:61). He then elevated the dialog asking, "'What then if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before?'" (:62).
Jesus had gathered his disciples together (Ac 1:4) locally proved by their return "from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem" (:12). He ascended from there accordingly as "He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (:9). He did not dematerialize as though he was beamed up. As "they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing two men in white clothing stood beside them" (:10). It's easy to conclude that they were angels, but it says men. "Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; [since] . . . God took him up" (Heb 11:5). Moses "died there in the land of Moab" (Dt 34:5) "but no man knows his burial place to this day" (:6). "There appeared a chariot of fire . . . and Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven" (2Ki 2:11). The men said, "'This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven'" (Ac 1:11). Consider that he was "lifted up" (:9) and "taken up" (:11) and did not fly up as if he was a super science-fiction character. Consider also that when he comes again "His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives [where he departed from] which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split" (Zec 14:4).
When will the Second Coming occur? Jesus explained that before it takes place '"there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall'" (Mt 24:21). Verse 27 then states "'so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.'" Then Jesus says that "'immediately after the tribulation of those days'" (:29) "'the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky'" (:30). It seems that Daniel had prophesied of the same period saying, "'There will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time'" (Da 12:1). "'For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of the part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day'" (Lk 17:24). "'His day'" (:24) is equivalent to "'the coming'" (Mt 24:27) in the identical passage in Matthew. "In that day the Lord will be the only one" (Zec 14:9) "for it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord" (:7). "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him" (Rev 1:7).
"The Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!" (Zec 14:5). It will be "at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints" (1Th 3:13). Enoch "prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones'" (Jude 14). The purpose will be "to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds" (:15). Furthermore, "the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire" (2Th 1:7). The purpose will also be "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (:8). "The Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle" (Zec 14:1). "The armies which are in heaven . . . were following Him on white horses" (Rev 19:14). "In the last days mockers will . . . [ask], 'Where is the promise of His coming?'" (2Pe 3:3-4). Consider rather "'when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'" (Lk 18:8). "Who can endure the day of His coming?" (Mal 3:2).
We know that the "sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:1) "were by nature children of wrath" (:3). "He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (Jn 3:36). However, "because of His great love with which He loved us" (Eph 2:4) he delivers us from wrath. "God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth" (2Th 2:13). "The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11). Christ has been "offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:28). He "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed" (Titus 2:14). "By grace you have been saved" (Eph 2:5). Salvation is an ongoing process. We are "those who are being saved" (2Co 2:15). We participate and "keep the commandment without stain or reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Ti 6:14). However, in the course of time he will "appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin" (:28). "For now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed" (Ro 13:11). "You are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1Pe 1:5). Therefore, he will "confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1:8). We know the day of the Lord is synonymous with his coming. Jesus directs us to "'straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near'" (Lk 21:28).
This fits into a larger perspective. If you have an "unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Rom 2:5). "It is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come" (Col 3:6). There will be "'a time of tribulation'" (Mk 13:19). "Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved'" (:20). In John's revelation he saw that "'the Root of David, has overcome to open the book and its seven seals'" (Rev 5:5). John heard a loud voice saying, "'Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God'" (16:1). They contain "'the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come'" (6:16-17). Fortunately, we are "to wait for His Son from heaven . . . who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1Th 1:10). "God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation" (5:9). Therefore, put on "as a helmet, the hope of salvation" (:9).
What kind of framework do you put this doctrine in? A world view is okay as far as it goes. It says keep your feet on the ground and stay in touch with reality. It seems to advocate a survival rationale which is what is necessary to survive. So where does the heavenly perspective apply? "Our citizenship is in heaven" (Php 3:20). Jesus said, "'My kingdom is not of this world'" (Jn 18:36). We are as "strangers in the world" (1Pe 2:11 NIV). Even "the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God" (1Co 3:19). Over the centuries religions have tried to reconcile the physical world with spiritual realities. Denominations have created doctrine to define truth for themselves. Some will even use a scripture from the Bible to customize a doctrine to use. However, "no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation" (2Pe 1:20). Therefore, we must be "handling accurately the word of truth" (2Ti 2:15). One helpful framework is the Feasts (festivals) of the Lord. Passover occurs in the first month of Israel's religious year. Pentecost transpires in the third month, and Tabernacles in the seventh. The historical events happened to Israel, and then Christ completed them, because the Old Testament experiences pointed to Christ's fulfillments. Passover and Pentecost were fulfilled in literal 24-hour days. The Day of Atonement will similarly take place because, "'On exactly the tenth day of the seventh month is the day of atonement'" (Lev 23:27). "Through His own blood, He entered the Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12). This will "cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve" God (:14).
The high priest entered the Holy of Holies "once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers" (Heb 9:7). "It is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you" (Lev 16:30). "Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22). Christological fulfillment of this day is "where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever" (Heb 6:20). Therefore we must "hold fast the confession of our hope . . . for He who promised is faithful" (10:23). Furthermore "by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement" (:18). We are "laying hold of the hope set before us" (:18) which is "an anchor of the soul" (:19) and "one which enters within the veil" (:19). God told Moses, "'I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat'" (Lev 16:2) which was in the Holy of Holies. In addition, "Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear . . . to those who eagerly await Him" (Heb 9:28). We are "looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of Christ" (Titus 2:13). "Every one who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself" (1Jn 3:3). "When He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is" (:2). It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). "This perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1Co 15:53).
What mindset is necessary to comprehend and follow these scriptures? "We have the mind of Christ" (1Co 2:16). "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Ro 12:2). "Prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:13). "Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near" (Ja 5:8). "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21). "Abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence . . . at His coming" (1Jn 2:28). Love one another "so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness . . . at the coming of our Lord Jesus" (1Th 3:13). Paul prayed "may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely . . . without blame at the coming of our Lord" (5:23).
What attitude should we have to be obedient to these instructions? "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Php 2:15). We should be "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of . . . Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13). "Wait for His Son from heaven" (1Th 1:10). Wait "eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1:7) and "be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord" (Ja 5:7). Wait "anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life" (Jude 21). "The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night" (1Th 5:2) but we "are not in darkness" (:4). "Since we are of the day, let us be sober" (:8). "To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation" (1Pe 4:13). "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory" (Col 3:4). "The proof of your faith . . . may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:7).
Peter desired that God "'may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you" (Ac 3:20). The purpose is that "'times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord'" (:19). Paul told the Thessalonians would they not be "in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?" (1Th 2:19). It would be a "period of restoration of all things" (Ac 3:21). However, those who don't "repent and return, so that [their] sins may be wiped away" (:19) "will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2Th 1:9). "The Judge is standing right at the door" (Ja 5:9) "who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom" (2Ti 4:1). He will be "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel" (2Th 1:8).
Paul's revelation was that "in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2Ti 4:8). "'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown'" (Rev 3:11). Christ's appearing is called an epiphaneia. It is bringing forth into light causing something to shine. An epiphany is a sudden, intuitive perception into the reality of something. "When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory" (1Pe 5:4) and "at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation" (4:3). "When He appears we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is" (1Jn 3:2). This is because we "abide in Him . . . and [will] not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming" (2:28). This is possible as we are "children of God" (3:1). The "Father has bestowed [this] on us . . . [and] for this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him" (:1).
Jesus told Nicodemus, "'Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life'" (Jn 3:15). Jesus told them, "'I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish'" (10:28). He offers it since he "alone has immortality" (1Ti 6:16). "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ro 6:23). Why was the offer made in this way? Was life so miserable that any possibility of escape appealed to people? Consequently, Jesus "through death . . . [did] release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb 2:14-15). "The wages of sin is death" (Ro 6:23). Jesus paid the price of redemption but you have to accept the gift to have eternal life. He told them, "'If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins'" (Jn 8:24). He said that the ones who reject the offer "'will go away to everlasting punishment, but the righteous to eternal life'" (Mt 25:46). "Those who do not obey the gospel . . . shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2Th 1:9). Spiritual death is separation from God. Jesus told them, "'It is better for you to enter into life maimed . . . [than] to go to hell into the fire that shall never be quenched'" (Mk 9:43). In verse 48 Jesus equates their condition to "'the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me, for their worm does not die'" (Isa 66:24). The "worm" refers to man's eternal spirit. Does that imply that when God creates a person it is on a permanent basis such that those who accept salvation go on to heaven and those who reject it spend eternity separated from God? In Jesus' parable both Lazarus and the rich man died. The latter "'being in torments in Hades . . . saw Abraham afar off'" (Lk 16:23) and was told "'between us and you there is a great gulf fixed'" (:26). He was warned, "'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead'" (:31).
Jesus stated, "'Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell'" (Mt 10:28). However, the spirit transcends the flesh. Jesus "being put to death in the flesh" (1Pe 3:18) "through the eternal Spirit offered Himself" (Heb 9:14). "With the heart a person believes" (Ro 10:10) which is the "inner man" (Eph 3:16). Man is composed of "spirit and soul and body" (1Th 5:23). "The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground" (Ge 2:7) which is the body. The brain is a physical organ and we make decisions with our intellect. But you "believe in your heart" (Ro 10:9) which is from another capacity. That source is from when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Ge 2:7). Job said the "'Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life'" (Job 33:4). You could limit God's creation if you only considered Solomon saying "they all have the same breath" (Ecc 3:19) or Isaiah stating, "Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils" (Isa 2:22). But a distinction is made by Solomon saying, "Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?" (Ecc 3:22). He says "man goes to his eternal home" (12:5) and "the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (:7). Zechariah states that it is the Lord who "forms the spirit of man within him" (Zec 12:1). He is the "Father of spirits" (Heb 12:9). Moses referred to the Lord as "the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Num 27:16). Jesus "became a life-giving spirit" (1Co 15:45) and "breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Jn 20:22). Therefore be careful of an "unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God" (Heb 3:12).
Paul told the Corinthians, "I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1Co 15:51-52). He told the Thessalonians, "the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord" (1Th 4:16-17). John said, "I saw the seven angels who stand before God; and seven trumpets were given to them" (Rev 8:2). Jesus said, "'He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect'" (Mt 24:31). "Blow the trumpet in Zion . . . for the day of the Lord is coming" (Joel 2:1). Everyone who "'believes in Him may have eternal life; and I myself will raise him up on the last day'" (Jn 6:40). "Every one who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself" (1Jn 3:3). He "shall appear a second time . . . to those who eagerly await Him" (Heb 9:28). "He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed" (2Th 1:10). "What will you do on the day of the appointed festival and on the day of the feast of the Lord?" (Hosea 9:5).
Paul said "we will all be changed" (1Co 1:7). But "it has not appeared as yet what we will be" (1Jn 3:2). It means that "this mortal must put on immortality" (1Co 15:53). It is a "mystery which has been hidden from the past ages" (Col 1:26) that "has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit" (Eph 3:5) and "manifested to His saints" (Col 1:26). Therefore he can "transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself" (Php 3:21). Jesus provides a logic for this translation when he says, "'If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also'" (Jn 14:3). "To be absent from the body [is] to be at home with the Lord" (2Co 5:8). Paul said he had "the desire to depart and be with Christ [which is] very much better" (Php 1:23). Jesus told the criminal "'today you shall be with Me in Paradise'" (Lk 23:43). "Enoch was taken up" (Heb 11:5) and "Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven" (2Ki 2:11). Paul was "caught up to the third heaven" (2Co 12:2) and didn't even know if it was in or out of the body (:3). "The Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away" (Ac 8:39). Snatching takes place faster than the blink of an eye. They are instantaneously "caught up together with them in the clouds" (1Th 4:17) in "our gathering together to Him" (2Th 2:1). Paul wanted to substantiate that his teaching in his first letter on "the day of the Lord" (:2) was accurate and that they shouldn't be "shaken from [their] composure" (:2).
Paul told the Ephesians he was "made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace" (Eph 3:7) "to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God" (:9). He said to the Thessalonians that "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (1Th 4:14) and that those who are alive "shall not precede those who have fallen asleep" (:15). Isaiah prophesied, "Your dead will live; their corpses will rise . . . and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits" (Isa 26:19). "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Da 12:2). Paul told the Corinthians he would "prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (2Co 5:8). God will "bring with Him" (1Th 4:14) those who have died and "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (:16). But if they are with the Lord in heaven having previously died then how could they be brought along by being raised from the grave? Peter referred to Paul "in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand" (2Pe 3:16). Then Paul said "we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds" (1Th 4:17). Jesus had told them "'In My Father's house are many dwelling places . . . [and] I go to prepare a place for you'" (Jn 14:2). We will "meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1Th 4:17). This implies that we have been transported to heaven.
Paul said "I tell you a mystery . . . [which is] we will all be changed" (1Co 15:51). He refers to "the coming of the Lord . . . [where] the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout" (1Th 4:15-16). He describes it as "the day of the Lord [which] will come just like a thief in the night" (5:2). "Whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him" (:10). Does this refer to living together before "the coming" (4:15) also? In his second letter Paul asks, "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?" (2Th 2:5). The Thessalonians had "received the word in much tribulation" (1Th 1:6) and wondered if the Great Tribulation had begun and they had missed being "caught up." Paul advised not "to be disturbed . . . to the effect that the day of the Lord has come" (2Th 2:2). He explained "let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed" (:3). Furthermore, "the Lord will slay [him] with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming" (:8). Many refer to this coming as "the rapture." The "son of destruction" (:3) is the ringleader for the Tribulation, but it is argued that "God has not destined us for wrath" (1Th 5:9), so by being "caught up" we avoid experiencing it. However, if the antichrist is destroyed at the Coming (which is when the rapture occurs) we would have had to have been present during that tribulation waiting for the Coming when Christ would bring the lawless one "to an end" (2Th 2:8). In Paul's letters "some things [are] hard to understand" (2Pe 3:16).
Paul told the Galations "that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man . . . but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal 1:11-12). It was "the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past" (Ro 16:25). A revelation is an apokalupsis (Gr.) or uncovering of something which had previously been covered being a mystery because its understanding had been hidden. But it is an apocalypse since the secret has been revealed such as when "their minds were hardened" (2Co 3:14) but then the truth is brought to light when the veil is "removed in Christ" (:14). Peter then explains "the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:13). At any time the Holy Spirit "may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph 1:18). However, Peter here is talking more about a revelation in the last days. Paul similarly discusses "awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1:7). He also tells the Thessalonians "with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Th 2:1) to not be confused "to the effect that the day of the Lord has come" (:2). He had earlier explained to them "that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night" (1Th 5:2). He equates the "day of the Lord" (2Th 2:2) to the "coming of our Lord" (:1).
The translators use the Greek word parousia to explain the Coming, and since it is synonymous with the day of the Lord, it refers to the Second Coming. The concordance describes it as "a presence" or "a coming" but with the NASB the latter is most always used. It is from "to be present" or "to have come" which carries the meaning "to exist by the side of." However, Jesus had already promised this saying to the disciples, "'I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you'" (Jn 14:18). His return would be a spiritual coming in the presence of "another Helper, that He may be with you forever'" (:16) so that "'you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you'" (:20). Jesus also supplied a longer term application advising, "'Let not your heart be troubled'" (:1). He said, "'In My Father's house . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . [so that when you die] I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also'" (:2-3). However, pretribulationists take "the coming of the Lord" (1Th 4:15) to mean that they would "be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall be always be with the Lord" (:17) in heaven. They interpret this parousia as Jesus coming down partway to snatch believers from the earth prior to the Tribulation. They distinguish it from his epiphany or appearing prior to the Millennium as being the first phase of a two-stage Second Coming. Their Rapture is necessary to piece together all the events in the last days for them.
The disciples asked Jesus what the sign would be for "'the end of the age'" (Mt 24:3). He had previously explained that "'the harvest is the end of the age'" (13:39). He answered it would be "'when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet'" (24:15). Jesus cited Daniel as a prophet which shows that God had predicted the future long ago. In fact, because it was "through Daniel" (:15) it means that Gabriel had proclaimed the message to him and Daniel had recorded it. He related "'on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate'" (Da 9:27). Peter stated "we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention" (2Pe 1:19). He said prophecy came by "men moved by the Holy Spirit" (:21). Daniel received revelations about the distant future, for example when serving Darius he prophesied, "'His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away'" (Da 7:14). He also studied and "observed in the books [Jer 25:11-12; 29:10] the number of years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem" (Da 9:2). He explained that his approach was to give "my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications" (:3). Another time he was told by God's messenger that "from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words" (10:12). During the encounter Daniel looked up (:5) and "alone saw the vision" (:7). He reported "I retained no strength but I heard the sound of the words" (:8-9). In a previous prophecy he was told "a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (9:26) which would be the Roman general Titus at Jerusalem in 70 AD. In this case he was told "'you are to know and discern'" (:25) and that "'even to the end there will be war'" (:26). "The word of God is . . . able to discern" (Heb 4:12). However, one time he replied "I heard but could not understand" (Da 12:8). Then he was told, "'Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time'" (:9).
In one prophecy Daniel was told "'those who have insight will understand'" (Da 12:10). Peter emphasized to "pay attention" (2Pe 1:19) to the prophetic word. Jesus asked his disciples, "'Have you understood all these things?' They said to Him, 'Yes'" (Mt 13:51). Daniel comprehended as when "a message was revealed to Daniel . . . and the message was true and one of great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision" (Da 10:1). Daniel paid attention. Jesus was sad to recount that, "'If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes'" (Lk 19:42). Passover and Pentecost happened in one day. He continued saying "'the days shall come upon you . . . because you did not recognize the time of your visitation'" (:44). His advice is "'be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will'" (Mt 24:44). The wise thought about it and "took oil in flasks along with their lamps" (25:4) and because they were ready "'went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut'" (25:10).
Paul confessed that "among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" (Eph 2:3). Therefore "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Ro 1:18). But God supplied a solution that "even when we were dead in our transgressions, [he] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph 2:5). "Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Ro 5:9). "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Ro 8:1). "God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation" (1Th 5:9). "Since we are of the day . . . [we put on] a helmet, the hope of salvation" (:8). Nevertheless, James observes to "consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (Jas 1:2-3). The concordance describes trials with the Greek word peirasmos meaning temptations and testing. It is derived from peirazo (Gr.) meaning "to make proof of and put to the test." Paul strengthened "the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God'" (Ac 14:22). "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2Ti 3:12). The concordance defines tribulation as affliction or distress. Jesus encouraged them saying, "'In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world'" (Jn 16:33). He said, "'Keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man'" (Lk 21:36). Tribulation sounds more severe than trials. Paul spoke proudly of the Thessalonians "for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure" (2Th 1:4). Jesus told the church in Philadelphia that since you '"have kept My word, and have not denied My name [and] you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing'" (Rev 3:8,10). The believers in Macedonia and Achaia reported that the Thessalonians had "turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1Th 1:9-10). We are being saved but will also be protected from "'that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth'" (Rev 3:10).
John cited the event saying "love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment" (1Jn 4:17). Christ "'came with thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all'" (Jude 15). It develops over time such as "because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Ro 2:5). God will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who . . . obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation" (:6,8) and they will have "tribulation and distress" (:9). Jesus warned, "'For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short'" (Mt 24:21-22). Ezekiel prophesied, "'One third of you will die by plague or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind'" (Eze 5:12). "'Thus My anger will be spent, and I will satisfy My wrath on them'" (:13). Revelation states that "a third of the" (Rev 8:7-9) "earth was burnt up" (:7), "sea became blood" (:8), "creatures in the sea died" (:9) and "ships were destroyed" (:9). Also "four angels . . . were released, so that they might kill a third of mankind" (9:15). Zephaniah prophesied, "'Near is the great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the Lord! On it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom'" (Zep 1:14-15). Jesus prayed for protection for us saying, "'I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one'" (Jn 17:15). The Greek words "tereo ek" mean to preserve out from within. The same words are used in "'I will keep you from the hour of testing'" (Rev 3:10). They were to hurt "only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads" (9:4). The dragon "persecuted the woman" (Rev 12:13) "but the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of its mouth" (:16). Pretribulationists argue that God wouldn't subject his children to his own wrath so will rapture them beforehand. The solution is "to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1Th 1:10).
Rapture advocates promulgate the imminency of the event since it is impending. They say it is signless so it can occur at any moment even though its inevitability may be postponed. Even Jesus said of that generation that "'a sign will not be given it'" (Mt 16:4). However, later his disciples asked, "'When will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'" (24:3). Much later Jesus said, "'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown'" (Rev 3:11). Paul advised "let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near" (Php 4:5). James agreed saying "be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (Jas 5:8). They anticipated his return using the word "Maranatha" (1Co 16:22) which means "our Lord, come." They were so convinced that Paul suggested they be "awaiting eagerly the revelation" (1:7). He said "we eagerly wait for a Savior" (Php 3:20). Another observed that Christ would appear "to those who eagerly await Him" (Heb 9:28). Jude advised "keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life" (Jude 21). But Christ did not come as soon as they expected. Waiting then became an attitude they had to cultivate so they wouldn't be nervous and upset.
We are to wait on God for an answer when we have a problem or decision to make. However, it is appropriate anytime as in waiting "for your God continually" (Hos 12:6). To wait means to tarry, hope for, or to expect. It doesn't mean to put yourself "on hold" or be sitting next to the telephone waiting for a call not knowing when it will come. You must be actively involved and positive. "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Ps 27:13). Waiting isn't just academic. You might be in a "time of trouble" (Ps 37:39) or in a "pit of destruction" (Ps 40:2). The psalmist exclaimed "I am weary with crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail while I wait for my God" (Ps 69:3). Another cried "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words" (Ps 119:147). A third professed "O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong" (Ps 30:7). And there are times where "the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression" (Isa 30:20). Paul told the Corinthians about "our affliction which came to us in Asia" (2Co 1:8). The rationale is that "the sufferings of Christ are ours" (:5). He said "we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so we despaired even of life" (:8). The purpose is "so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God" (:19). God said "'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness'" (2Co 12:9). Jesus said "'apart from Me you can do nothing'" (Jn 15:5). The result is that God "comforts us . . . so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction" (:4). Paul cited that God "delivered us from so great a peril of death" (:10).
God has "acted on our behalf" (Ps 68:28). He "acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him" (Isa 64:4). God "delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him" (Ps 35:10). "He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power" (Isa 40:29). "He is their strength in time of trouble . . . [and] helps them and delivers them . . . and saves them, because they take refuge in Him" (Ps 37:39-40). God is "my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken." (Ps 62:6). He is "the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God" (:7). God has said, "'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,' so that we may confidently say, 'the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'" (Heb 13:5-6). "Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength" (Isa 40:31). It applies to all ages because even "youths grow weary and tired" (:30). "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage" (Ps 27:14). "With the heart a person believes" (Ro 10:10). Therefore, without this strength you will lose heart (Ps 27:13). But remember it is "'not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit'" (Zec 4:6). Make sure you aren't trying to save your own life for you "'shall lose it'" (Mk 8:35). But whoever "loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it" (:35). You defend against being self-centered with this mindset. "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men" (Col 3:23).
We are to "wait for His Son from heaven" (1Th 1:10). This heavenly origin predicates the instruction to "'lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near'" (Lk 21:28). We are "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:14). "We shall see Him just as He is. And every one who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself: (1Jn 3:2-3). "We exult in hope of the glory of God" (Ro 5:2). To rejoice is to celebrate something rewarding, and God's glory would certainly qualify. But since it is a hope it is unseen because "hope that is seen is not hope" (Ro 8:24). "Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off" (Pr 23:18). Central to this hope is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). This is the "hope that is in you" (1Pe 3:15) because it is the "hope of salvation" (1Th 5:8). Through rejoicing you proclaim "the hope and resurrection" (Ac 23:6). You rejoice because your "faith is the assurance of things hoped for" (Heb 11:1) since you know "hope does not disappoint" (Ro 5:5).
Hope is in being "fellow heirs" (Ro 8:17) in terms of "the revealing of the sons of God" (:19) regarding "the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (:21).We rejoice knowing "we have a building from God . . . eternal in the heavens" (2Co 5:1). We don't rejoice selfishly because "a horse is a false hope for victory" (Ps 33:17). Consequently one's "hope is in the Lord his God" (Ps 146:5) and "my hope is from Him" (Ps 62:5). Therefore rejoicing means resting on "the hope of eternal life" (Tit 1:2) and "looking for the blessed hope" (2:13). Hope is the end product of tribulation because it "brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope" (Ro 5:3-4). We are to rejoice in hope and persevere in tribulation (Ro 12:12). "This hope we have as an anchor" (Heb 6:19). The expectation is for "the redemption of our body" (Ro 8:23) because "in hope we have been saved" (:24). Tribulation causes you to remember and "this I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope" (La 3:21). "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Ro 15:13).
Martha told Jesus that she knew her brother Lazarus, "'Will rise again in the resurrection on the last day'" (Jn 11:24). Jesus had earlier said, "'No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day'" (6:44). Revelation 20:5 cites this saying, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection." The crux of the matter is that if there was a preliminary resurrection called the Rapture then scripture couldn't call a second resurrection the first. Therefore to iron this out you'd have to synchronize all the many scripture references to demonstrate that there is only one Second Coming. Jesus explained when this would occur saying that the "'harvest is the end of the age'" (Mt 13:39) and "'so it shall be at the end of the age'" (:40,49). It will be "'on the day that the Son of Man is revealed'" (Lk 17:30) at "the apprarance of His coming" (2Th 2:8). Jesus related, "'They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory'" (Mt 24:30). Daniel said, "'I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him'" (Da 7:13-14). "'The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels'" (16:27) and "'then He will sit on His glorious throne'" (25:31). In this harvest "'the reapers are angels'" (13:39) and Jesus explained, "'I will say to the reapers, 'First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn'" (:30). He will "'send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness'" (:41). They will "take out the wicked from among the righteous and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth'" (:49-50). "'All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats'" (25:32). "'Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father'" (13:43). Paul summarized the event to the Thessalonians "with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him" (2Th 2:1).
"'Just as it happened in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man'" (Lk 17:26). "'They did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be'" (Mt 24:39). "'Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all'" (Lk 17:27). "'Lot went out from Sodom [and] it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all'" (:29). "'Just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be'" (Mt 24:27). "'He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other'" (:31). "'Be on the alert--for you do not know when the master is coming . . . --lest he come suddenly and find you asleep'" (Mk 13:35-36). "'There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken, and the other will be left'" (Lk 17:35). "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left'" (:36). The wicked are taken and the righteous live. "Where the [dead] body is, there also will the vultures be gathered'" (:37). "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1Co 15:52). "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1Th 4:16). "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (:17).