As I said in a previous blog Jesus said that neither he nor anyone else at the time he said it knew the exact day and hour of the Second Coming. Some years later it was revealed to Paul by this same Jesus that the Church would not be taken unaware concerning the Second Coming. In another place Paul gives us a big clue concerning the relative time of the Rapture. Now, I want to point out that there is a correlation between the Second Coming and the Rapture. At the Rapture the Lord comes from heaven and gathers up his church body. This is more or less the same Coming as the Second Coming. There is a slight difference, but I will go into that later. For now let us just assume that the Second Coming and the Rapture occur at the same time.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. (NIV)
Now, we can see in this passage that Paul is talking about the Rapture. We are told this directly right off the bat. The Thessalonian Church at the time had been experiencing severe persecution and they (evidently) had been told by someone that the persecution that they were experiencing was the time of the Beast-man, that is, the Day of the Lord. They knew, and rightly so, that the Church would be raptured before the Day of the Lord and so, therefore, they were of the mind that they had somehow missed the Rapture. This would be very alarming news indeed if it were true. No one, and I mean no one, would not be concerned if they believed that they were in the Time of Wrath. Jesus speaking of that time said, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” (Matthew 24:21) My friend, if you understood what it meant to be in that Time of Wrath when you believed that you should have been taken before, you would surely be very very concerned. They were very very concerned. But Paul goes on to say …
2 Thessalonians 2:3-5
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? (NIV)
Now listen very carefully to what Paul is telling them. He is saying that the Rapture will not happen before two events. The first event Paul calls the rebellion, and I have mentioned this at least a couple of times in previous posts that the rebellion is the event whereby the many in Israel sign a seven-year treaty with the Antichrist as seen in Daniel 9:27. The Church will see that sign! Remember that! The second thing that Paul said the Church would see it the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ also found in Daniel 9:27. The Church will see the rebellion of the many in Israel. The Church will see the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Church will see the man that signs the treaty, the Antichrist, enter the new Temple in Jerusalem and then appear to be ‘killed’ but then ‘miraculously’ be ‘resurrected’ into the person of the Beast-man, or as Paul says here, the Man of Lawlessness. The man of lawlessness is revealed for what he is by his having done these things.
So, the Church will see these events, and that means that the Church will see the first half of the Tribulation period. It is important to understand this because most Christians today are taught that they will miss the entire time of judgment as revealed in the book of Revelation. This would be very good news if it were true, but Paul in 2 Thessalonians above very clearly says that that is not true! Wishful thinking is nice, but I want to know what is true. The truth is, is that the Church will see the Rebellion and the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ sign both. Accept it, it is true.
So, we can definitely conclude that the Second Coming of the Lord does not occur before the Rebellion or before the revelation of the Beast-man. This is simple logic and must be accepted. No wishful thinking.
Now, the question is, does the Lord come at the mid-point of the seven-year period or at some later point? That is what we have to determine.
I want to talk a bit about some background stuff. There are several schools of thought concerning the Second Coming of the Lord. They have some pretty standard names. I want to point them out so that you will recognize them.
The first is the pre-tribulation rapture. This school of thought is the most popular and says that the Lord comes and gathers up his body before the seven-year period of tribulation. We have clearly seen in 2 Thessalonians that this is not possible.
The second school of thought is the mid-tribulation rapture. This is possibly true. We will examine the Scriptures more to see it they all fit.
The third idea is that the Lord comes after the entire seven-year period and is called the post-tribulation rapture. Again we will examine things carefully to see if all of the Scriptures reveal this to be the true understanding.