In our studies so far looking at the end times, I have wanted to establish some foundational markers that will serve to provide us with a framework upon which we can begin to add the various pieces of the eschatological puzzle. We’ve been taking our time, because it’s important to lay a solid foundation and bed these underlying principles down, otherwise once we begin to add the weight of other events, if the foundation is not strong it will begin to crumble, and we’ll end up back at the beginning in our quest for understanding, and possibly even resign ourselves to thinking that the matter of the end times is simply too deep, too complicated, too controversial to warrant further time trying to understand, and instead opt for a more inconclusive, open-ended approach, that simply trusts things will work out in whatever way the Lord has determined. But what if there were some kingdom assignment, some prophetic mandate that has been entrusted to us specifically for the days ahead? What if there is a position to occupy which gives us a unique vantage point from where we can intercede with great assertion? Then it necessitates an alignment in our understanding and spiritual perception so that we can see more clearly and participate in the End Time Campaign. If being prepared for what lies ahead is more than a passive wait-and-see, but a pro-active equipping and training, then we must ensure that we are marching to the right rhythm, that we understand where the battle lines are drawn, and what will be the key events of how the battle will unfold. This is my objective here; to help prepare the Bride, to give the right battle plans so that she understands who she is, what she has been entrusted with and what her destiny shall be. So far in building a foundational framework we have established that the triumphant return of the Warrior King in Revelation 19 takes place after the rapture, since the Bride follows the Bridegroom out of heaven which means she is in Heaven leading up to this point. Then we examined the differences between the coming of Jesus in Revelation 19 and His appearance in Matt 24. Just to be clear this appearance in Matt 24 is also a coming of Christ, let’s read Matt 24:30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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.” So what I am saying is that there are two separate and visible comings of the Lord, the first in which He comes as the Son of Man Matt 24, and the second in Rev 19 in which He comes as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We know that the rapture doesn’t happen in Rev 19, because Jesus is returning with His Bride not for His Bride, but I won’t make the leap just yet to say that the rapture must therefore happen in Matt 24, I don’t want to make that theological jump or assumption. At this point in our journey, it is enough to establish that there are two different occasions in which Jesus is seen as returning to the earth, but the purpose for each is very different.
The key passage on the rapture is found in 1 Thess 4:13-18 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive [and] remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
We’ll cover this passage in more depth tomorrow, but the next foundational marker to be put into place and provide our framework, is that the rapture happens after the resurrection. Listen to what Paul writes: ‘The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them’. That’s pretty clear, the dead in Christ rise first. This is the resurrection and Paul said this happens first.