Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rapture of the Church: Fact or False Hope? PART THREE

DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way questioning the validity of the Second Coming of Christ.  Jesus is returning to Earth to set up His eternal kingdom.  I am just debating the timeline and details.

It’s been a good two full work days of reading and writing but I've finally completed the third installment of this blog series (to read parts one and two, click here, and here).  In the past Matthew 24 has been my go-to passage for Jesus’ account of the return of the Son of Man but this journey has opened my eyes to the rich account also recorded in Luke 21.  I had tears in my eyes as I read the description of the saints’ persecution.  This was before I heard about the beheadings of  21 Egyptian Christians in Libya this past week.  Tragedies like this should bring us Christians in the west to our knees in thanks for our freedom.

Many scholars attribute Jesus’ prophetic words in Matthew 24 to the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in AD 70 but there is one caveat to that theory that begins in verse 25:  “There will signs in the sun, moon and stars…At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”  Historically, none of the catastrophic events described in Matthew 24 or Luke 21 occurred after the fall of Jerusalem.  We must assume Jesus is talking about future events similar to the destruction of the Jewish temple in BC 168 (as prophesied in Daniel 11:1-35) and the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, but events that conclude with his glorious return!

Here’s a list of the Scripture I will be analyzing and as before you can click on each passage to read it on Matthew 24:4-34Luke 17:22-37 and 21:8-331 Corinthians 15:50-521 Thessalonians 4:13-5:52 Thessalonians 2:1-10; and of course
Revelation.  There are a few quotations from the Old Testament as well in Daniel 12, and Zechariah 14 for events that needed further clarification.

These tables are self-evident in and of themselves, but you may want to review the table from my last post to see what the Old Testament says about Jesus’ coming.  I’ll be the first to admit that these tables are lengthy and jam-packed but it was so important for me to tease out every detail and correspond them to the other passages written about Jesus’ coming.  For this reason, it’s completely understandable if you just want to skip ahead and read my analysis/timeline for these events.  I wrote the tables for me to sort the information and also serve as a basis for those of you who want to know why and how I developed the timeline.  I’ve numbered sections of the tables as they correspond to the timeline so you will find the Scripture in the corresponding column.  If there is something in the timeline that I didn't include in the table, I will reference it there.

The following timeline is available for PDF download here.  You'll need to have a PDF reader, available from Adobe for free.  
If you are signed into a Google account you should be able to read it from your Google Drive as well.

Timeline for Event’s Leading up to Jesus’ Return to Earth
  1. Many people making false claims  of being Christ, and false prophets.
  2. Many wars, and rumors of wars.
  3. Famines, earthquakes and pestilences, in many places; fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Note: Revelation deals extensively with the many plagues that will befall earth that seem to be summed up in that little phrase.  There will be untold death and destruction too numerous to recount here).
  4. The saints, Christians (and Jews too most likely), will be persecuted dreadfully for their faith.
  5. Many will fall away from the faith, betraying even family members.
  6. Many saints will be put to death (beheaded in many cases).
  7. At one point, the Anti-christ will receive a fatal wound to the head, and supposedly rise from the dead (Revelation 3,4).  People of the earth will be deceived and forced to worship the beast and his image and receive his mark on their right hands or foreheads by punishment of death.  Otherwise they will be unable to buy or sell.
  8. The saints are encouraged  and blessed to stand firm to the end.
  9. By this time, the Anti-christ has led his campaign against Israel and stationed himself there (see Timeline for End-time Battles).  He has somehow desecrated the Jewish Temple (if it has been rebuilt) or possibly just the Temple Mount.
  10. The whole world will hear the good news of Jesus,and of his returning for judgment.
  11. The Anti-christ will overcome and murder the Two Witnesses, but after 3 1/2 days of the “whole earth gazing on their bodies” and gloating over their deaths (tv/internet feed?) and not allowing them burial, they will arise from the dead and ascend into heaven “while their enemies look on” (Revelation 11:3-12).
  12. There will be a great distress in Israel (mass murders, kidnappings, rapes).  Jesus warns to get out of the city as fast as you can.
  13. Satan, the Anti-christ and the second-in-command will send out demons to deceive the leaders of the earth to gather and fight in Israel (Revelation 16:13).
  14. Make no doubt about it, when he comes, we will know, just as we can see lightning flash across the whole sky and hear thunder roar from miles away.
  15. In this obscure and seemingly out of place verse about vultures gathering where the dead lie, is Jesus alluding to the bodies that will fill the land when he returns in victory to defeat the enemies of Israel?
  16. Jesus shouts that he is coming! (YES!)
  17. The sun turns black.The moon turns to blood.  The sky is shaking.  Stars are falling.  The sea is roaring.  Men of the earth are shaking in their boots, fainting from fear.
  18. There is a massive earthquake, unlike any ever seen before on earth.  Islands and mountains are leveled.
  19. Hail the size of 100 pound boulders smash to the earth.
  21. Your brothers and sisters have risen from the ground—alive!  In the sky!
  23. The battle begins.
And that my friends, is my idea of  Rapture.  I wish I could say I'm done but I ain't done yet.  Please stay tuned for some further discussion about the Rapture, as well as a few details about Heaven, and what we should be doing while we're waiting for it all.
The following tables are available for download as PDF here and here to print and study more in depth if you like.  You'll need to have a PDF reader available from Adobe for free.  If you are signed into a Google account you should be able to read it from your Google Drive as well.

What to Expect Before Jesus Comes
Matthew 24 Luke 2 Thessalonians 2 Revelation Zechariah 14 and Daniel 12
1 Jesus warns us not to be deceived by many who will come declaring to be the Christ (vs 4,5).
Jesus warns us not to be deceived by many who will come declaring to be the Christ (21:8).
1 “If anyone says to you ‘Look, here is the Christ’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (vs 23). “Men will tell you, ‘There he is!” or ‘Here is he is!’. Do not go running off after them” (17:23). “The coming of the lawless one (the Anti-Christ) will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing" (vs 9, 10). The “beast from the earth”, the Anti-christ’s second-in-command, acts as a spiritual leader performing “great and miraculous signs” and deceiving people into worshipping the Anti-christ. (13:13-18).
2, 3
There will be “wars and rumors of wars… Nation will rise against nations” (vs 6, 7).
There will be “wars and revolutions” (21:9).  “Nation will rise against nation” (21:10).
The 4 horses of conquest, war, famine and death are sent out and given power to “take peace from the earth to make men slay each other”;
“There will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (vs 7).
“There will be great earthquakes,famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (21:10).
to grossly inflate the prices of wheat and barley;  “to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts” (6:1-8).
4, 5, 6, 7
“Then [the saints] will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me… Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (vs 9, 10).
“But before all this, they will…persecute (the saints).  They will deliver you to the synagogues and prisons…and all on account of my name.” (21:12).  “You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  All men will hate you because of me” (21:17).
The Anti-christ will “be given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.  And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life” (13:6-8).
His second-in-command will force everyone to worship the Anti-christ and his image and receive his mark on their forehead or right hand.  You will not be able to use currency to buy or sell if you do not have the mark (13:11-18).

“And [John] saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus, and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received the mark” (20:4).
“He who stands firm to the end will be saved” (vs. 10).
“By standing firm you will gain life” (21:19).
“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints (13:10) who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus…Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (14:12, 13).
“When you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ …” let everyone flee from Judea to the mountains (vs 15, 16).  Do not stop to grab anything.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.  Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out” (21:21).
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered to him: …That day will not come until the rebellion occurs, and the man of lawlessness” (the anti-Christ) “is revealed [and] sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (vs 1, 3, 4).
The Anti-Christ was “given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.  He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven (13:5-7). 
“I will gather all nations to Jerusalem to fight against it…” (14:2).
10, 11
“This gospel will be preached in the whole world… and then the end will come” (vs 14).
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people” (14:6).

The Lord will “give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days” (11:3).
8, 12
“For then there
will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again”  (vs 15-21).
“There will be a great distress in the land and wrath against this people.  They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.  Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (21:24).
The Gentiles will be given the outer court of the temple.  “They will trample on the holy city for 42 months” (11:2). 
“…the city will be captured, the houses ransacked… half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city” (14:2).

“There will be a time of distress such has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (12:2).  “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.  Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days” (12:11, 12).
14 “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (vs 27). We will know Jesus is coming because “The Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other” (17:24).
15 “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather” (vs 28). Jesus’ disciples asked “Where, Lord?…He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather” (17:34-37).
An angel cried “in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat…the flesh of all people…” (19:17).

Jesus’ Return
Matthew 24
Luke 17 & 21
1 Thess. 4 and
1 Cor. 15
Zech. 14, Acts 1, and
2 Thess. 2
16, 17, 18 “Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun [and moon] will be darkened…the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (vs 29). “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world for the heavenly bodies will be shaken (21:25, 26) Jesus shouts “’Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed’”.  Then they gathered the kings together to the place…that is called Armageddon”  (16:15, 16).

“There was a great earthquake.  The sun turned black…the whole moon…” turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth.  The sky receded like a scroll rolling up and every mountain and island was removed from its place”...People of the earth called out:
19, 20 “At that time the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (vs 30). At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near”  (21:27, 28).

“We who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have [died]. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with
“Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations…On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives…and [it] will be split in two…with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south…” (14:3, 4).

When Jesus first left earth and ascended into heaven over 2000 years ago, he ascended from the Mount of Olives.  Angels said to his disciples:  “This same Jesus…will come back in the same way you have seen him go…” (1:11).

“You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah…Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with him” (14:5).
 “Hide us from the face of him whose sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.  For the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?” (6:12-17).

The angels have indicated the end has come (15:1, 16:17). Lightning flashes, “rumblings, [and] peals of thunder” and an earthquake so severe that none like it has “ever occurred since man has been on the earth…Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.”  Huge hailstones about “a hundred pounds each fell upon the men” (16:18-21).

21, 22, 23 “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from one end of the heavens to the other” (vs 31). “On the day the Son of Man is revealed…on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.”  the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever (4:15-17).

“We will not all [die], but we will all bechanged—in a flash in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised…and we will be changed” (15:51, 52).
“The seventh and last trumpet is sounded and it is said in heaven “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord…The time has come for judging the dead and rewarding your servants…and for destroying those who destroy the earth’…and there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm”  (11:15-19).

Heaven is opened and there is “a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With Justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns…The armies of heaven were following him riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out
23 Paul writes “concerning
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered to him”: Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2:8).
of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” He is the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”
An angel cried “in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat…the flesh of all people’…Then I saw the beast [the Anti-Christ] and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.  But the beast was captured and with him the false prophet…The two of them were thrown alive in to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out the mouth of the rider on the horse and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh” (19:17:21).


  1. I'm intensely reading every word, not skipping over your table. First, I would like to say thank you for digging into the scripture and analyzing the books of the Bible that depict the tribulation and our King coming for his people. And hearing the beheading's this week is putting things in perspective of the things to come. I thought to myself too...we in the west don't see this, understand it - but what if we were faced with this fate - would our faith prevail? I cannot ever imagine having to - but if I did, I would have to rely on the Lord Almighty to keep me strong and remember his promise of life! Looking forward to the next blog.


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