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In this article we will examine Old Testament and New Testament prophecies predicting the concurrence of the post-tribulation rapture with the second advent of Christ. The goal will be to achieve a time sequence understanding of the resurrection of the dead and events mentioned in the tribulation and wrath periods. Thirty-six different second advent passages will be examined with a focus of aligning repeated themes and elements to obtain the prize that awaits completion of this study.
First, some initial terms need to be stated for background purposes:
Second “coming” and “advent” are interchangeable event terms that define the future appearance of Christ to save the saints and wipe out the wicked.
“Rapture” and “resurrection” at the second coming are related terms in this article since the resurrection of the dead occurs at the rapture. However, rapture has a broader meaning. Rapture means to be “snatched” in salvation terms within eschatology (i.e. “grabbed” by Christ to be saved from fire or death). There is no event found in the biblical text where salvation of living saints on earth at Christ’s coming is separated in time from salvation of departed saints. Rapture will be the preferred term to include the transformation of the living (Philippians 3:20-21) and the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). Salvation occurs at the rapture. It means eternal life in a new body.
A “post-trib” rapture also means that salvation occurs at the second advent, except it associated to the end of the 3.5-year Great Tribulation Period mentioned in Daniel and Revelation. It is fulfillment of being saved today – 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, Ephesians 1:13-14.
An “end-wrath” rapture is like a post-trib rapture other than it is confined to the second advent and rapture starting at the 7th trumpet of Revelation 11. This rapture is during the 7th bowl period (Revelation 16:17-21), slightly after the 7th trumpet sounds. This does not mean that the saints living on earth realize God’s wrath directly (Romans 2:5-10, Romans 5:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9), but that they will be protected by being grabbed out of harm’s way (saved) until this wrath is completely poured out. The 144,000 of Revelation 14:1 are also spared from God’s wrath. This rapture view occurs towards the end of the wrath period, with the saints joining Christ’s advent.
A way to describe similarities between post-trib and end-wrath raptures is to coin a “wrath-avoiding” rapture. Both views could utilize the same definition where the second coming is an extended event that occurs at the end of the tribulation period, and takes a little time to complete during the end of the wrath period (vs. an “instantaneous” second coming). This will become clearer as we proceed.
A “pre-trib” rapture will not be promoted within this article. This view places a rapture before the Great Tribulation Period. It will be shown that the evidence points to a single resurrection event at Christ’s return to earth at the end of Daniel’s 70th week, at the end of the time of the Gentiles and towards the end of God’s wrath pouring out upon the earth.
Key Relationships within the Second Advent
This brings us to relational elements that will be defined in this article. We can better understand the second advent when it is linked with the rapture and other events of this period. We will have a better appreciation for the last days upon closer examination of 37 passages (36 + 1 extra) that have integrated elements as part of one major event –
Second Advent – this the primary event that drives everything else. It is explicitly mentioned in most of the 36 passages referenced in this article. It is sometimes implied if there is enough related evidence to qualify as an indirect reference.
Rapture – this previously defined term is not always mentioned in the 36 second advent passages but is included in 39% of them. The word “rapture” in English is never used since this is derived from an old Latin root word. However, we will use “rapture” when salvation passages are mentioned adjacent to the second coming (rapture = transformation of the living or resurrection of the dead when Christ appears next time).
Judgment – there are a few types of judgment that occur at the second advent. The judgment of the just and the judgment of the unjust as individuals are described in most cases, but destructive judgment upon groups is also stated.
Physical Appearance – these passages describe a bodily return of Christ to earth that will be witnessed by people’s eyes. This is a physical rendering, not spiritual or figurative eyesight. Examples of the first advent (Luke 24:34, Acts 1:3) are like the second.
Clouds – the glory of the Lord described in the Old Testament (Exodus 16:10) is magnified in the New Testament by depicting Christ’s return in glory on, in and with clouds. Literal and figurative uses of the term can be examined in 7 of the 36 passages that state “clouds” at the second advent.
Angels or Armies – there are 5 passages that describe a warlike group of angels that accompany Christ upon His return to earth.
Angels Gathering or Separating – there are 5 other passages that describe angels, not as warlike but as gathering the saints or separating the wicked. This totals 10 of 36 passages that depict angels coming with Christ in 2 distinct ways.
Voice or Command – Christ will speak audibly at His return. In all cases His voice initiates the rapture, to transform the living or resurrect the dead. This was foreshadowed by the resurrection of Lazarus where Christ spoke towards his tomb (John 11:43).
Trumpet – sometimes there is a trumpet sound mentioned at the second advent.
Tribulation – several passages state Christ’s return after a tribulation period. There is not one passage in the Bible that states any physical appearance of Christ before tribulation. He always comes at the end. Spiritual appearances of Christ into a person’s heart are not in an eschatological context so these passages are not considered as end-time related.
Destruction of the Wicked – 16 of 36 passages state that Christ (or angels with Christ) repays the unjust for their wicked deeds. Some passages state salvation for the just and punishment to the unjust during the same period of His recompense when He arrives.
Notes – you can click on any blue colored hyperlink to view an ad-free ESV® translation of each passage. One assumption in the passage groupings is that the anti-christ is associated to the tribulation period even if the text does not specifically state “tribulation” (“war with the saints” is stated in these cases so there is an assumed link between war and tribulation). Over 100 elements cited state direct language towards the term definitions. Indirect elements are marked as “implied” in the remaining 16 cases.
Click here to download a PDF file comprising an organized table of these passages, or copy this link – https://kjsoze.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/2nd-Advent-Passages.pdf
Passages of the Second Coming of Christ
All passages with a direct reference to the second coming are listed below throughout each section. Only 1 passage does not reference the second coming, Daniel 12. However, this is an important chapter that includes other elements such as the resurrection and judgment. We know from Daniel 7 that Christ comes to earth, so the book of Daniel has known references. Daniel 12 is included in our list to help show more relationships to the 3.5-year tribulation period laid out by Daniel (repeated in Revelation).
Passages of the Rapture
Job 19:25-27, Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 12, John 5:21-29, John 6:39-40, 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, 1 Corinthians 15:50-53, 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (implied), 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Philippians 3:10-21, Hebrews 9:27-28 (implied), 1 Peter 1:3-9, 1 John 2:28-3:2 (implied), Revelation 11:15-18 (implied)
Passages about Judgment For the Just
Daniel 7:9-27, Daniel 12 (implied), Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 25:31-46, John 5:21-29, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 1 Timothy 6:13-16 (implied), 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Philippians 3:10-21, Hebrews 9:27-28, 1 Peter 1:3-9, 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 11:15-18, Revelation 22:12
Passages about Judgment Against the Unjust
Daniel 7:9-27, Daniel 12 (implied), Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 25:31-46, John 5:21-29, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Jude 1:14-15, Revelation 19:11-21, Revelation 22:12
Passages of the Physical Appearance of Christ
Passages with Clouds Depicted at Christ’s Return
Passages with Angels / Armies Accompanying Christ
Passages with Angels Gathering the Righteous Saints or Separating the Unjust
Passages with Christ’s Command to Initiate the Rapture
Passages with a Trumpet at the Rapture, or a Trumpet at Judgment Day
Passages about Christ Coming after Tribulation
Passages about Destruction of the Wicked at the Second Coming
Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 2:31-45, Daniel 7:9-27, Daniel 12, Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 17:22-37, 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Philippians 3:10-21, Jude 1:14-15, Revelation 11:15-18, Revelation 14:14-20, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:11-21
Summary of Passages Related to the Second Coming
All 36 of these passages connect to each other by sharing 11 parts of the ending chapter of history. There is no passage referenced that states Christ will come again without using at least one of the other details like – He comes “with His angels” or He comes “to judge”. Related elements show up from 8% to 45% of these 36 second advent passages.
3 is the lowest number of second advent characteristics that are repeated (8%). This is Christ’s voice at His coming (mentioned 3 times out of 36 passages).
The highest numbers are the rapture at 14, destruction of the wicked at 16 and a positive judgment in favor of the just at 17 of 36 passages.
In statistics there are compounding relationship to relationship formulas that make the likelihood of a single sequence of end-time events the logical conclusion. It is nearly impossible that there are 2 separate destructions of the wicked or 2 separate reward judgments at 2 separate advents of Christ. A tough challenge for the pre-trib rapture view is to explain an initial resurrection at this rapture, then a different resurrection event at the second coming. No text supports this. One resurrection comes at Judgement Day.
This is not a math paper, so we will look at base logic. For example, in 1 Corinthians 4:5 there is the second advent depicted with judgment in favor of the saints. It is specifically stated that this reward judgment occurs after He comes.
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
Angels are not mentioned in 1 Corinthians 4:5, but it does not mean angels are not associated near the time of rewards for the righteous. In Matthew 16:27 the second advent is described with judgment and with an accompaniment of angels.
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
We also see angels again in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8, this time with more action on the angels’ part.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
There are differences of Christ coming with or without angels. We also see that sometimes the second coming is a good thing for saints but a bad thing for the unrighteous. Are they discrete events or different angels?
We can look further at the next two verses in 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 –
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
Here we see in 2 Thessalonians 1 that the wicked are punished and that there is relief for the saints at the same time of Christ’s glorification (“that day”). In these passages we notice accompanying angels and judgment in relation to each other within the entire biblical context, even if a passage such as 1 Corinthians 4:5 does not specifically state something like angels. This same grouping concept is magnified over 36 passages.
The other option we face is that there are at least 2 accompaniments of angels, 2 uses of trumpets, etc., until there is a force of multiple returns of Christ. This is a paramount question to answer – is Christ coming back once, or more than once? Let’s stick with Hebrews 9:27-28 –
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
To honor the words of Hebrews 9:28, some who believe in a pre-trib rapture feel that Christ does not physically, technically, come back to earth within this rapture view. He hangs out in the “air” so a belief in only one second coming to earth holds true. However, since the signs or elements of a pre-trib rapture may be shared between other passages, adherents need to explain 2 sets of angels, 2 different trumpets, etc. Logic (or math) does not lead us to a conclusion of 2 or more of any elements or 2 second advents.
Some of these passages identified only state 1 or 2 sub-events within the second advent. Christ coming to earth is the major thrust where something like a voice command or trumpet sound is just a small part of the overall episode. It is more revealing with passages like Daniel 7, Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4 that include several parts of the whole. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 –
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up [snatched] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Here we see the second advent, Christ’s command, an archangel, a trumpet, clouds, and the resurrection of the dead along with the salvation of living saints at the rapture. This is 6 out of 11 aspects that are associated with each other. Daniel 7 also has 6 of the 11 aspects.
Matthew 24:29-31 is another famous passage that contains several second advent elements (6 of 11).
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Once we realize that there is only one set of clouds, one trumpet and one of everything else, we can begin assembling the sequence of major events for end times. In Matthew 24 Christ states He will come after the Day of the Lord signs that are “immediately after the tribulation”. This is further corroborated by 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10. Paul explains that history’s greatest anti-christ will be revealed before Christ comes again (at the time when the saints are gathered). This future anti-christ is active during the Great Tribulation Period. Christ comes after this tribulation at the time of the destruction of the anti-christ and the rest of the wicked (another common theme with 16 out of 36 passages stating the same concept of destruction of the wicked). 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 is an example–
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers,not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Escalation of End-Time Events
Another phrase that should help provide a general outline is birth pangs. Although this concept is not used directly within second advent verses, there is a clear association of signs leading up to the second advent that intensify until culmination. This intensification conveys an increase from initial signs that result in “mild” tribulation, to the final outpouring of God’s wrath with the most terrifying depictions. Frequency and severity are increased. Birth pangs are shown from seals to trumpets to bowl judgments in Revelation. The language from the 7th seal being opened to the 7th bowl being poured out will be examined, starting with the 7th seal being opened –
Revelation 8:1 – When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
8:3-4 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
8:5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
We see intensity increase with the 7th trumpet –
Revelation 11:15-19 – Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
Finally, we see the last bowl at maximum intensity –
Revelation 16:17-21 – The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
The 7th seal does not state any mention of hail. We see heavy hail during the 7th trumpet, then the worst hail during the 7th bowl. The earthquake is also most severe during the 7th bowl of wrath period. Events are intensified from seals to wrath.
The birth pang concept is found in Isaiah 13:6-13 and Isaiah 26:16-21. Both passages are about the Day of the Lord where the Lord finally comes in full vengeance at the end. The Lord also states raising the dead in Isaiah 26, so there are identical groupings from the Old Testament carrying over to the New Testament. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 the unjust are punished and the just are rewarded at His coming like the Old Testament examples.
Matthew 24:8 – All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
What is the Timing Sequence of End-Time Events?
We can assemble an order of events now that we have examined several passages and the intensification process. The primary goal of this article is to answer the question about the sequence of events related to the second coming. Since an alignment of key phrases are prevalent, and there does not seem to be any reason to believe in a third appearing of Christ, it is reasonable that there is the following high-level order:
1. Signs of the end – the fig tree analogy from Matthew 24:32-33 is a great basis. Initial signs warn us about the beginning of the end, then they ramp up. There are many end-time signs mentioned throughout the Bible, especially in Day of the Lord passages like the 6th seal in Revelation 6:12-17. This seal renews prophecies from the Old Testament like people hiding in caves to avoid wrath (originally predicted in Isaiah 2:19-21). Tribulation escalates from the 1st seal to the 6th seal when wrath outpouring begins.
2. Anti-christ is revealed before the Day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) – the Great Tribulation Period leads to wars and troubles for the saints as shown in Daniel 7:25-26, Revelation 12:17, Revelation 17:14 and these similar passages –
Daniel 7:21-22b – As I looked, this horn [anti-christ] made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came…
Revelation 13:7-8 – Also it [beast w/ anti-christ] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
3. Armageddon – the last battle of this age assembles at the 6th trumpet and 6th bowl periods of Revelation 9:13-20 and Revelation 16:12-16. The 6th seal is opened prior to the assembly to allow the Day of the Lord events with wrath pouring out on the wicked. We see Isaiah 13:4-13 and Joel 3:11-16 referencing the same 6th seal signs and the gathering of nations against the Lord. Armageddon is associated to the Day of the Lord.
4. Christ’s Advent – there are many sub-events that occur within this same period.
b. Rapture – the righteous are saved from impending doom – 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10. There is no verse combining the rapture with the second advent in Revelation, but Revelation 17:14 points to the saints already being with Christ when destruction of the wicked occurs at the final battle. It is safe to assume that the rapture of Revelation 20:4 has already occurred in Revelation 17’s reference to the end of Armageddon. We know Revelation is non-linear in time sequencing so this is not an issue.
c. Wrath is completely poured out (7th bowl – Revelation 16:17-21 with Revelation 11:18 stating wrath just before completion) – Armageddon and destruction of the wicked is completed when Christ returns. Tribulation and wrath are finished.
Post-Tribulation Rapture or End-Wrath Rapture?
Even though we have assembled a basic outline of high-level events, we still have not concluded if a post-trib or end-wrath rapture is a better term to use. Tribulation and wrath will be defined more below before we answer.
Great tribulation is a different story from general tribulation. This is called the Great Tribulation Period we find in Matthew 24:21 –
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.
The hard part is matching the Great Tribulation Period with wrath timing because they overlap at the Day of the Lord. However, it is easier to align everything if we focus our attention on wrath. Here are some wrath passages about age-ending judgments –
Romans 2:5 – But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. The “day” of wrath does not necessarily refer to a single day of 24 hours.
Revelation 6:17a – for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand? The 6th seal points to the Day of the Lord at the beginning of the wrath period.
Revelation 11:18a – The nations raged, but your wrath came. This 7th trumpet section provides a lot of details about timing. It does not state wrath or destruction of the wicked is complete. It does state it is time for “destroying the destroyers”. Revelation 11:17-18 also states the time is at hand for judgment of the dead and Christ’s reign beginning on earth. This brief passage is another cluster of related events. Wrath begins earlier so the 7th trumpet must be during wrath, just before the last bowl when destruction is complete.
Revelation 14:19 – So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. This section repeats Old Testament winepress passages such as Isaiah 63:1-6 and Joel 3:11-16. Revelation 14 is a parallel passage to Revelation 19:19-21 when wrath is completed.
Revelation 15:1 – Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
In Revelation 16:1-2 we see the first bowl of wrath being poured out. It is poured upon those with the mark of the beast. We know this is during the Great Tribulation Period after the anti-christ has been revealed. This 1st bowl occurs well before the Revelation 14 and 19 second advent passages that we just looked at (remember that Revelation is non-linear). The 7th bowl is when wrath is complete at the end of Armageddon.
In Revelation 16:10-16 we see the 5th and 6th bowl judgments being poured out on the beast’s kingdom and the gathering at Armageddon. As a side note, the 5th trumpet mentions a 5-month period in Revelation 9:10. This leads us to believe that the Day of the Lord and wrath being poured out is a long time (but less than 3.5 years). The anti-christ needs to be revealed before the Day of the Lord and wrath begins.
We know bowl judgments follow the trumpets. If we use a likely option that the 1st bowl intensifies the 1st trumpet, we can connect bowls and trumpets to the Day of the Lord with the signs from the 6th seal and related passages such as Joel 3:11-16.
There are many reasons that the 1st bowl is unlikely to follow the 7th trumpet, but that is a lengthy study to be looked at in a future publication. For now, we can assume the 1st bowl follows the 1st trumpet, etc. Some of the evidence is stated below.
Revelation 16:17 states the completion of the wrath of God – The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
Revelation 10:5-7 is during the days of the 7th trumpet where an interesting statement is made – “the mystery of God would be fulfilled”. We will visit this statement again in the next section. This passage is evidence about the “revealing” of Christ at the last trumpet.
Revelation 15:4 states that God’s acts “have been revealed” at this same period of the 7th trumpet and 7th bowl.
We know wrath is over at the end of the 7th bowl. The winepress of Revelation 14:20 completes wrath so we can tie the 7th bowl and winepress together. This places the second coming and rapture before the bowl period is over, just after the 7th trumpet.
We know Christ comes to wipe out earth’s rebellion at Armageddon. The 7th bowl must be completed at the end of the battle described in the winepress references of Revelation 14:14-16 and Revelation 19:19-21. Wrath is completed at Armageddon.
These events described in Revelation fit perfectly with Christ’s parable of the wheat and tares of Matthew 13:36-43. The righteous and unrighteous live together until the very end of the age when Christ comes again. The just and unjust are separated at that time.
Since we also know saints are with Christ at the last battle in Revelation 17:14 we can assume that the rapture occurs towards the end of the wrath period, at the 7th trumpet, before the last bowl is completed. Bowls follow trumpets slightly and intensify their calls.
This leads us to the view that an end-wrath rapture best describes the timing of the rapture. A post-trib rapture also describes good general timing, but it is hard to nail down the relationship of the 3.5-year tribulation to the rapture. Wrath timing has more details.
Timing and Duration of the Second Coming
A related study reveals how quickly Christ appears from the initial signs to when He finally comes at the second advent. We know the tribulation period is years long but there are many passages that state Christ deals out punishment and saves the saints quickly. The duration always seems short since there are no references to drawn out battles. He speaks, the wicked fall in a short breath. See 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Revelation 14:15-16, Revelation 17:14 and Revelation 19:19-21.
There is confusion with some English translations about the quickness of Christ’s return compared to the estimated time frame that He is expected to return. We need to go back to the Old Testament to see the original concept before we can understand the New.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 And the LORD answered me:
“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
It will surely come; it will not delay.”
A similar passage is Isaiah 46:13. Another related phrase, “no more delay” shows up in Revelation 10. This is at the time salvation comes at the 7th trumpet announcement.
Revelation 10:5-7 “And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay,but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
Ezekiel has the best explanation of mysterious delays, timing and other related topics pointing back to God honoring His prophesied promises.
Ezekiel 12:23-28 And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb that you have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing’? Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’ But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision. For there shall be no more any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord GOD.”
And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord GOD.”
Notice that our modern English understanding compared to the context meaning of “no more delay” is not the same. The biblical meaning of delay in these prophetic passages is that God will certainly carry out His will where it is not farther off in the future or something to be forgotten. He already decided to act, so all prophecies will be fulfilled. Even though it may be thousands of years in advance, it will not “come to nothing”.
The naysayers of Ezekiel’s time thought the timing of God’s prophecies and promises were “growing long” or stretching out farther. God replied that they were incorrect. His prophecies were nearer or closer than they thought. He established a fixed timing of fulfillment and the clock already started to wind down.
A similar issue of timing arises in the first verse of Revelation. Here the ESV® states “soon” instead of “quickly” or “swiftly”.
Rev 1:1a – The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.
We also see this issue again in the last chapter of Revelation. Revelation 22:6-7 conveys that Christ seems to be expected at any moment according to one interpretation. However, since we can look back to the original Old Testament concept we should know that Christ will swiftly / quickly come back to earth without delay or postponement.
The original basis for the second coming began in Genesis 3:15 but this verse doesn’t provide many details. The plan from the beginning of time becomes clear with the prophetic Song of Moses. Deuteronomy 32 shows us that God will save His people even after Israel backslides. Interestingly, the Song of Moses is mentioned in Revelation 15:3.
In Deuteronomy 32:35 we learn an important verse through Moses–
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.
The concept of this prophecy is repeated by Isaiah in several passages, including Isaiah 35:4 and Isaiah 62:11 stated here–
Behold, the LORD has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
Christ repeats the final version of the prophecy in the last chapter of Revelation –
22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Christ is coming “swiftly” based upon Old Testament context.
Perhaps now we can realize a major portion of the book of Revelation is about completing God’s original promises from Eden. Judgment and salvation both occur at Christ’s return. The elements of this package are repeated hundreds of times throughout the Bible. The “restoration” of the original promises given to the early saints were passed down through many prophets. Restoration is also stated in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:6, Acts 3:21).
Luke 18:6-8 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
In Luke 18 we notice that Christ repeated the Old Testament concept without quoting it.
Summary of the Second Advent
We have examined many reasons that timing and other complexities have challenged us to understand the book of Revelation and the second advent. However, by going back to the Old Testament references we know more about Christ’s return, especially why He is coming back (even if we get sidetracked with time placements of events).
Before we can learn details about when Christ comes back to earth, we should look to answer why He is coming back again. Could He not have destroyed the wicked and saved the saints at His first advent? He did to some extent to begin the process, but the promises were not fully realized. Hebrews 11:39-40 gives an answer based on this entire chapter.
We now arrive to potential discrepancies about Christ’s first advent compared to His second. Some believe that death was destroyed once for all. 2 Timothy 1:10 states –
and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
Paul’s statement to Timothy describes the 1st advent. Christ defeated death for Himself and brought it to light for us since He now holds the “keys” to death (Revelation 1:18).
Hebrews 9:26b – But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
There are many other rabbit trails we can go down. There is no space left in this article, so we can go back to where we began with Hebrews 9:27-28. Verse 26 reported the first advent while verse 28 stated He “will appear a second time”. In three verses we see the difference between the advents. He conquered sin once for all, but not death for us, yet.
We know the writer(s) of Hebrews stated that we are living in the “last days” since the first advent (Hebrews 1:1-2). The only way we will know when we are at the end of the last days is by the signs discussed earlier.
Josephus did not write about the second advent in The Jewish War in Book 6, ch.5.3, regarding the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem. Full preterism does not consider the hundreds of passages that state destruction of all the wicked and salvation for the saints (like David, who is waiting for Christ to defeat all enemies so he can be resurrected (Acts 2:34-35)). Abraham is waiting as well (Hebrews 11:13-16). Every tribe, nation and tongue is involved at the end (Revelation 1:7, Revelation 13:7, Revelation 14:6).
One issue we face is that there are passages with dual fulfillment. How do we know what was fulfilled already and what remains open? For example, Neo-Babylonians invaded the promised land then God judged them by sending the Persians to defeat them. However, some of these components also are stated in Revelation (such as Babylon is Fallen). Christ stated similarities of the destruction of the second temple (Luke 21:20-24) while including similar language for end times in a different sermon (Matthew 24:15-21).
Christ conquered death for Himself. We will not benefit from this until He comes, and death is completely defeated for all the saints. We see this concept of Christ defeating death as a similar dual fulfillment of prophecy. Death is defeated but not yet defeated.
1 Corinthians 15:16-26 –
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Revelation 20:14 – Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
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“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” All scripture quotes in italics.
All bold-face type within Scripture quotations has been added by the author for emphasis.
© 2020 by K.J. Soze