In studying eschatology, one must keep in mind very important distinctions, to rightly divide the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15). I hear all sorts of Scriptures being misquoted as relating to the rapture, when they relate to the second coming, and I hear people reference second coming scriptures, but they try to make them fit the rapture.
If we put precept upon precept (Isa. 28:10) then we can clearly distinguish between the passages about the rapture, and those about the second coming.
A Thief in the Night
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." -1 Thess. 5:2
The day of the Lord NEVER refers to the rapture, in either the Old or New Testaments. It is always in reference to Christ's second coming on the earth, with Armageddon. In a few places, the day of the Lord references the great war after the millennium of peace, but most references are for Armageddon, and that is when Christ comes back to the earth.
The day of Jesus, and the day of Christ, on the other hand, are a reference to the mid-tribulation rapture. As you see, the above 1 Thess. 5:2 does not say that the rapture will come as a thief in the night. No, it says that the day of the Lord - Christ's second coming, will be as a thief in the night. However, if you keep reading, it will only take those by surprise who are not ready, during that time.
The next time someone tells you that we can't know when the rapture is, because it will come "like a thief in the night," don't forget to point out to them that the thief in the night passages are not referring to the rapture. The passage in 1 Thess. 5:2 is referring to Christ's second coming and Armageddon, and the passage in 1 Peter 3:10 is referring to the final war and the earth's destruction and renovation after the millennium of peace.
A lot of people will say that we can't know when the rapture is going to be, because the Scriptures say that "no one knoweth the day nor the hour." Friends, the day and hour Scriptures are also not referring to the rapture, but also refer to Armageddon and the second coming. Take a look:
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." -Matthew 24:36-37
Notice the above says "the coming of the Son of man" thus, the second coming of Christ is being discussed here, not the rapture. The key to understanding and rightly dividing Matthew 24 and Mark 13 lies in using Luke 21 and Luke 17 as the key. I wrote it all down, and paralleled these for you, here.
While Matthew 24 does give us a bit of information about the days of Noah, Luke 17 gives us great detail, and leaves no question what the days of Noah is an example of - Armageddon, and Christ's second coming:
"And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." -Luke 17:24-37
The ones taken are destroyed, like those in the Noah and Lot references. We know this is referring to Armageddon, and their deaths in the great battle, because of the last part I underlined above. Compare that to the below:
"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army." -Revelation 19:17-19
|Key to rightly dividing many eschatological passages - Christ coming the clouds = mid-trib rapture. Christ coming to the earth with lightening, or with a sword and army - Christ's second coming to Armageddon.|
When is the Rapture?
"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." -Luke 21:27-36
To reconcile this with the parallel in Matthew 24, and see how this is most certainly the seventh trumpet mid-tribulation rapture, click here.
Daniel chapter 12 tells us when the rapture is, and MORE. Take a look below:
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." -Daniel 12:1-2
The Bible refers to the first half of the seven year tribulation as the tribulation, which may include just the first three and a half years, or the whole seven. However, when the second half of the tribulation is singled out, the Bible refers to it as the "time of trouble," "Jacob's trouble," or "the great tribulation."
The above passage tells us that when the time of trouble comes, the rapture happens. Those who are "written in the book" are those who's names are in the Lamb's book of life (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15; 21:27; and 22:19).
"Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." -Daniel 12:5-7
Daniel is the KEY to understanding Revelation, just as Luke 21 and 17 are the KEY to understanding Matthew 24 and Mark 13! Revelation also refers to the time, times, and a half. That is three and a half years - time = 1 year; times = 2 years; and a half = half year. We know the tribulation is seven years total, because of such passages as Daniel 9:24-27 and parallel passages that you can find in any good reference Bible.
Thus, we see that after the rapture, there will be another 3.5 years before the tribulation is over. When will the rapture be? It will be in the middle of the seven year tribulation.
No one Knows the Day or Hour of Christ's Second Coming
As you saw in the earlier Scriptures I quoted, no one knows the DAY nor the HOUR when Christ comes back, and Armageddon happens - the day of the Lord. Notice it says no one knows the day or the hour. Keep that in mind...
Continuing with our Daniel 12 passage, we see the question was posed as to when the "end of these wonders" would be. "These wonders" refers to the seven year tribulation, as we see that the passage told us that after the mid trib rapture, the tribulation will go on for another 3.5 years.
The wonder question is asked in verse six, the answer is given in verse seven, and then in verse eight, another question is posed - "what shall be the end of these things?" "These things" are different from "these wonders," as we are given a different time frame. We are given two frames that extend beyond the seven year tribulation. Pay close attention to these two new time frames given, because they will tell us when the Son of Man comes again - the second coming - and more, but not the day or hour. Before the answer is given, however, it says the following:
"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." -Daniel 12:10
Those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life are those who have been purified and made white, because these are saved, born again Christians who have had their sins washed away, via the blood of the Lamb. The wise are those born again Christians who seek out God and His Truth in the Holy Bible. As the end draws closer, we are seeing and understanding more and more eschatalogically from the Bible, and that is also how this article and many others like it has come about.
Now, the answer to "what shall be the end of these things?" ...
"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days." -Daniel 12:11-12
Earlier in the same chapter, we were told that from the time of the abomination of desolation until the end of the wonders (end of the tribulation) would be three and a half years. Now, we are told that from the abomination until the end of these things is different. It is a longer time period.
Here's what I think it means, and I'm fairly confident on this:
1) From the abomination of desolation to 1290 days. That is 30 days more then the three and a half years.
2) Blessed are those who wait from the abomination of desolation to 1335 days - that's another 45 days after the 1290 days.
3) There is a total of an extra 75 days after the seven year tribulation (wonders) is over, to bring the end of "these things." These 75 days are divided into 30 days, and then 45 days.
4) The seven year tribulation ends after the completion of God's seventh vial of wrath, in Revelation 16:17-21. Chapters 17 and 18 describe Mystery Babylon (Roman Catholicism) and the fall of Babylon (destruction of Vatican City). These are the 30 extra days. Mystery Babylon receives her judgement.
5) After the thirty days with Mystery Babylon's judgement is completed, then we step into the great battle at Armageddon. The battle of Armageddon, and the time for the fowls of the air to eat the dead, and for the land to be cleansed will be 45 days. Blessed is he who makes it to the 1335th day after the Abomination of Desolation, because that means he is a tribulation Christian who withstood the mark of the beast, and didn't get killed in Armageddon or via the many other dangers of being a Great Tribulation Christian. Then, the antichrist and false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, and Satan will be locked in the bottomless pit until after the millennium of peace is over, and thus begins the thousand years with Satan bound.
Even though we may be able to discern when the rapture will be (since it will be in the middle of the tribulation), we cannot tell the day of when Christ's second coming happens, because the 30 days from points 1 and 4 above have to happen first, and people will not be sure of when exactly the seventh vial completely ends, to begin the time clock for 30 days.
We cannot know the hour when Christ comes back, because we are not told. We only know it will be 30 days after whenever the completion of the seventh vial is.
Christians who are saved before the rapture will not be here on the earth awaiting Christ's second coming. We will already be with the Lord, via the mid-tribulation rapture. However, there will be those who will decline the mark of the beast, and who will become Christians after the rapture. They will be the Christians who are to watch, wait, and be ready for when the Son of Man cometh. May they be as the wise virgins of Matthew 25, and have extra oil for their lamps, so that their lights continue to shine, and they continue earnestly watching and waiting for the Lord.
In the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25, the five wise ones were prepared and had faith, and waited. Even when the bridegroom didn't show up when they expected, they didn't lose faith, and kept a vigilant watch. Meanwhile, the five foolish virgins stopped being diligent and faithful when the bridegroom tarried. They became slothful and unprepared, and then when the bridegroom did show up, they were left behind, for not being faithful (not having oil in their lamps. Their oil ran out, and they didn't bring extra, like the 5 wise virgins did.)
The second coming of Christ is as a thief in the night, because He does not come exactly at the end of the tribulation. There is a thirty day period first, and it will not be clear exactly when those thirty days begin, but we know they will begin at the full completion of the seventh vial of wrath.
In conclusion, we can know when the rapture is, but no one knows the exact day or hour of the second coming of Christ.