First, the word "Rapture" isn't in the Bible, but it's a generally accepted term for the gathering of the saints. There are dozens of references to this event. Here is one:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17The Rapture is a day when the saints of God are gathered up to meet Christ when he returns at His second coming. The Bible makes it clear that while we won't know the exact day or hour, the Rapture does coincide with His coming and that arrival won't be a secret. The sound of a trumpet announces His arrival in both the reference noted above and the one noted below. Trumpets aren't quiet.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Matthew 24:29-31This is a great scripture because you see so many elements of the second coming addressed in it. You see the rapture itself described: "gather his elect from the four winds." You see the timing of the rapture, "immediately after the tribulation". You see that the rapture coincides with the second coming. We also learn here that there is a great shaking of the earth at this time, in other places called the second, or final shaking of the earth (the first was the flood of Noah).
The Coming of the Son of Man
29 “ 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. 30 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. 31 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.
Further, trumpets are a tool of war, much like the battlefield radio is today - they were used to coordinate troop movements over long distances. The trumpet announcement is almost like a "charge". Christ is coming to do battle. The saints are being prevailed against in the Great Tribulation and it is time to end it. His second coming does so:
Daniel 7:21-22 "As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom."
Daniel 12:1-3 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.An important component of the rapture is the resurrection of the dead. In 1 Thes 4, quoted earlier, we see this phrase, "the dead in Christ shall rise first." Pre-millennialists use this scripture to say that the rapture only includes the saved. While only the saved are gathered to meet Christ in the air, everyone is resurrected simultaneously.
The clauses: "we will by no means proceed those who have fallen asleep" (1 Thes 4:15) and "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thes 4:16) are immediately explained by 1 Thes 4:17 that says, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." The phrase "rise first" and "after that" are a discussion about the saved who have passed away and the saved who are still living.
The Bible makes a clear statement via many scriptures that there is one resurrection of the dead. All the dead. The dead who are saved and the dead who are lost. I just showed you one of those in Daniel 12:2 above (multitudes will awake, some to everlasting life, some to everlasting contempt).
Here is another scripture that shows one resurrection of both the saved and the lost:
John 5:28-29The parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matt 13:24-30) also makes it plain, especially when Jesus interprets the parable for the disciples. In the parable, an enemy planted weeds among a man's field which was freshly planted with wheat. When the servants asked if they should pull the weeds, the man said that to protect the wheat they should instead wait and harvest both the wheat and the weeds together and separate them at that time, bundling the weeds to be burned and bringing the wheat into the barn. Jesus interprets this parable for His disciples starting in Matt 13:37
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
37 He said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.This is another clear reference to the rapture (harvest at the end of the age) where all are gathered and then separated. You see the same concept in the separation of the sheep and the goats at the Great White Throne Judgement discussed in Matt 25:31-33
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.Again, the same elements are given: first you see the arrival of Jesus Christ ("When the Son of Man comes"), then there is the gathering of all nations (the resurrection of everyone), then a separation.
So to lay out what I believe will be the timing of these major events that immediately surround the second coming:
1) The saints are enduring the Great Tribulation and are being prevailed against by satan and the beast (this will be discussed in detail in a future blog post)
2) Christ cuts short the Great Tribulation for the sake of the saints with his coming which will be very public and obvious
3) All who have ever lived will be resurrected.
4) The saved, those who were living, and those who were just raised from the dead, will be gathered to meet Christ in the air.
5) Jesus does battle against satan and those who reject his offer of salvation and destroys them.
6) The earth is destroyed
7) All humanity kneels before God at the Great White Throne Judgement where the saved are welcomed into heaven (a new heavens and a new earth) and the lost are thrown into hell.
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