Anyone who has ever dabbled in the study of the last days has probably formed some opinion on the subject of the rapture. Many folks defend their stance vehemently with little or no regard for others’ beliefs, so I find the subject largely unproductive. Nonetheless, I cannot help but put in my two cents as I propose an end-times scenario that has yet to gain the momentum that other widespread beliefs enjoy.
The Day of the Lord begins with the shout of an archangel, (1 Thessalonians 4:16), like a trumpet but not the last trumpet. There is a resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6), and a rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Right after his appearance in the clouds with an army of angels, the Lord destroys the wicked (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), which in the beginning of the Day is about the destruction of those who have taken the mark of the beast.
The Middle of the day is a time of great glory: “for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” [Habakkuk 2:14]. This glory shall continue for a period of 1,000 years, with the Devil locked up and unable to tempt the nations (Revelation 20:2,3).
The end of the day of the Lord is very similar to its beginning, in some ways identical, like a giant circle coming to a close, insomuch that it could appear from most perspectives that the two points share an exact instance in time, making the Day of the Lord seem like a literal day.
With the conclusion of the 1,000th feast (please read Zechariah 14:16 and The Left-Behind of the Peri-Armageddon Scenario), the Devil will be set loose and he will waste no time tempting the nations to eat the new forbidden-fruit.
And when the nations refuse to attend the annual feast, the result will be drought (Zechariah 14:17-19). What follows that is strife as the nations grow jealous of one another and begin fighting over borders and possessions once again. A short season of this and the seven trumpets of Revelation begin to sound.
(Thank goodness we do not have to add these horrors into the great-tribulation, right? You will notice with the trumpets there is not a single direct mention of the Beast, or his armies, or of any other characters actively involved with the events around the great-tribulation. That trouble will have been over for more than 1,000 years before the seven trumpets even begin to sound.)
The nations now suffering a fallen state of existence suffer greatly under the seven trumpets. With the seventh trumpet comes the end of time as we know it, and the end of this heaven and this earth, (Revelation 10:6-7). With that comes the second resurrection, the one most often referred to throughout all of the Bible, (with the notable exception of Revelation 20:4-6). The second resurrection is Judgment Day, wherein all souls must account for their lives: the good inheriting eternal life and the wicked inheriting destruction (Revelation 11:18).
To recap, let us go through the Day of the Lord from beginning to end in a simple progression of events:
- The Lord appears in the clouds of heaven with an army of angels, (the timing being such as to prevent the annihilation of all living things Peri-Armageddon, Revelation 16:12-16)
- The first resurrection occurs (Revelation 20:4-6), specifically for those beheaded for their faith during the great-tribulation.
- Immediately following that resurrection, those faithful who are yet alive, surviving how they may, will also be caught-up (raptured) to be with Christ, (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
- Those with the mark of the beast are destroyed without exception (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). They will be so consumed that nothing but ashes are left of that society (Malachi 4:2-3).
- The planet and its people, including the founding members of a new generation for humanity, which is made of other survivors who were not raptured, thrive for 1,000 years of awesome peace as the Lord reigns with his own from Jerusalem.
- The Devil is released for one final season, whereupon the nations shall once again fall into the struggles of war and strife. Considering the levels of technological advancement possible in an era without the corruption of greed or jealousy, and where people will work together unselfishly, it is not hard to suppose that they can quickly turn those developments around at the end of the thousand years and do immense damage in a relatively short space of time.
- The seven trumpets sound off, bringing a series of punishments and warnings to the people. It would be nice if some might repent and return to the Lord, but overall the nations do not.
- With the seventh trumpet comes an end to time as we know it. Heaven and earth are consumed in flames, and it is time for Judgment Day, (2 Peter 3:7-11).
All of these points make up the Day of the Lord. It is such a narrow window for so many souls to see any of these but point 8, that it is not too hard to comprehend how the finality of the day has received most of the attention throughout the Bible, leaving points 1-7 overshadowed, and sometimes how points 1-3 can be misunderstood to coincide exactly with point 8.
Because we believe that our departed souls enter some place of rest as we await Judgment, and our level of rest is congruent with how we live our lives, I wish to point out a special place of rest for a good number of souls who see some of the great tribulation but who do not qualify for any direct involvement within the Millennial Kingdom.
It goes without saying that there are many ways to die in the great-tribulation that would not include losing one’s head for one’s faith. This group of souls, who die in the great-tribulation other than beheading, shall receive the rest found in the fifteenth chapter of Revelation. It is a short chapter and I encourage you to read it.
The Pre-Wrath advocates like to use that chapter as evidence that all believers are taken out of the world before God’s wrath is unleashed via the 7 plagues of wrath (Revelation 16). But I think it is a compensation, a reward worthy of note, belonging to those many souls who find themselves caught up in challenging events so close to Christ’s appearance and yet who do not meet the basic requirements of becoming direct participants in the Millennial Kingdom.
Besides, the seven plagues are not all that bad to the unmarked survivors. The plagues (not to be confused with the trumpets), are nothing that we could not overcome; moreover, some of the plagues, especially plague #5, could turn into a major blessing for the unmarked survivors.
In conclusion, I know how troubled a mind can become with the false-teaching that Christ can come back at any moment (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). All of this rapture stuff was kind of new to me at the same point in my life that I was facing some serious struggles as I searched diligently to know the Lord in a more personal way.
I had heard people say that Christ could come back any second now. How could I consider that even a remote possibility and not be at my wit’s end on how to help my loved ones and acquaintances come to a deeper relationship with Christ?
I was neither trained nor equipped to evangelize, and yet I felt that I owed something to those people whom I came into contact with on a daily basis. Despite the best of intentions, I was more apt to push people away from the faith than draw them to it.
Nowadays, I have learnt to let go. Any soul who is destined to know Christ shall come to know Him, with or without my help. The best thing I can do is get out of the way, and if I am to play a role in someone’s spiritual development then they will come to me.
I now believe that the forty-two month storm will coincide with what Paul writes as a notable falling away, that it is a pre-requisite to the Day of the Lord, as is the revealing of the man who considers himself God and demands worship from humanity, (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Anxiety will not help us get through the last days once they begin. The subject of the rapture should not be a source of confusion or apprehension. If it is, you may need to change who you are listening to. Thoughts on the rapture should be a relief, as Paul wrote at the end of his own description of the rapture event: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” [1 Thessalonians 4:18].