Will there be a sudden, secret Rapture?

A highly-influential interpretation of Scripture evolved in the mid 19th century teaching that believers will –without warning – be removed from the earth prior to Jesus return. But is it scriptural?
 

first published 23/08/13
Please see 'Update' note:

Ed foreword:
A recent article on the Christians Together website invited site members and visitors to look at the conflicting theological positions of Dispensationism and Covenant Theology.
In the event the discussion focussed down on the Millennium and what has become termed 'The Rapture'; and the timing of the same.
The following article takes a look at the doctrine. The author Rev. Tony Higton stresses that he avoids being dogmatic on the issue and that his writing is a 'work-in-progress'.
 

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RaptureWill there be a sudden, secret "Rapture" of believers to heaven?

by Rev. Tony Higton
 
Some Christians believe that Jesus will next return suddenly, without any signs or warnings, and will secretly "rapture" (catch up) all believers into heaven whilst there is a time of 'Great Tribulation' on earth.

They say this could happen at any moment. Nothing needs to happen before it. This return of Jesus is completely imminent. It will only be seen by the church, not by the world. It is not the same as the Second Coming which will happen later and be seen by the whole world.

I was brought up on this view and, throughout my childhood, I was excited by the thought that Jesus could return at any moment. So I understand only too well how much this view means to Christians who hold it. It is not my intention to cause unnecessary upset to them but I have to say that I have concluded that it is an incorrect understanding of the New Testament.
 
History of the "Secret Rapture" view
 
This view sees the following order of events:

1.  Secret Rapture
2.  Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21)
3.  Second Coming
4.  Millennium (1000 year reign of Christ on earth Rev 20:1-6)
 
Here is a potted history of this view:

(a)  Early church leaders and their godly descendants for 1800 years didn't hold this view.
(b)  In 1830 Margaret Macdonald had an End Times vision and began to teach the Rapture of what we would call Charismatic Christians only.
(c) Edward Irving, Scottish Presbyterian preacher, then taught this view. d.                John Nelson Darby, Anglican priest, probably heard the view from the above. He formed the Plymouth Brethren. [Part of my background is in the Brethren]
(e)  Darby influenced American lawyer Cyrus I Scofield who wrote the notes for the Scofield Bible which teach this view. [I was brought up on the Scofield Bible]. f. Recently Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye ('Left Behind' novels) have popularised this view.
 
"Dispensationalism"
 
J N Darby believed:
 
(a) That God's dealings with humanity are divided into seven ages or "dispensations."
 
(b) That God's dealings with Israel are totally separate from his dealings with the church. " 
  • Israel and the Church belong to different "Dispensations" (Ages) "      
  • God has different plans for Israel and the Church "         
  • Whatever God said to Israel should never be applied to the church and vice versa.
(c) That for the last 2000 years (the "Church Age") he has only been working with the church, not with Israel. So the current dispensation is the Church Age.
 
(d) That God won't start working with Israel again until the church is taken out of the way - in the Secret Rapture, which will end the present dispensation to an end. So Darby believed the Rapture is important in God's purposes.
 
(e) That in the Millennium (the next "Dispensation") God will work with Israel.
 
To avoid confusion let me say these are Darby's views, not mine. I disagree with him and will say why later. If you want to impress your friends with technical language ...
 Darby taught "Dispensational Pre-millennialism" i. e. that there are various 'dispensations' (different ages) before (pre-) the Millennium. It's helpful to understand that terminology.
 
(Whilst dealing with complex language let me add that there is another form of premillennialism called "historic premillennialism" which has a lot more credibility. It is called 'historic' because many of the earliest Christian leaders believed it. It does not believe in a separate secret Rapture before the Great Tribulation, nor in dispensations).
 
Be careful not to read into the Bible what you want to find in it
 
Whenever we hold a special opinion there is a danger that we shall "read into" Scripture what is not actually there in Scripture. I think that is what those who defend this Secret Rapture view are in danger of doing. But we need to stand back and try to understand what the Bible actually does say, rather than what we want it to say.
 
Those who hold that the Rapture of believers into heaven can happen at any moment tend to argue from silence.

The New Testament nowhere says that there are two returns of Christ - the Rapture and then later the Second Coming. This distinction is actually based upon the fact that references to the Lord's return don't always include all the information. Some, like Matthew 24, speak of the signs which must happen before his return. Others don't. But that does not mean they are speaking of two different returns, one with signs and the other without. The only order of events found in the NT is the appearance of signs leading up to the Antichrist - the Great Tribulation - the Second Coming.
 

Passages some say are relevant

 
The main passage referring to the saints being "raptured" ("caught up") is 1 Thess 4:16-17 "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. And so we will be with the Lord for ever." These people interpret this as Jesus suddenly catching up all the believers and taking them up into heaven. However the passage only says we will be with the Lord for ever. It doesn't say where, except we meet him in the air/clouds.
 
When Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians (1 Thess. 4:16-17) he used the Greek word apantesis. Although we can't be certain, it seems likely that he had in mind the Greek approach to an official visit to a city by some dignitary. When such an important person visited the leading people and others would go out to meet him then escort him back into the city. It seems likely therefore that 1 Thess 4:16-17 means that believers are caught up to meet the Lord and escort him back to earth (not disappear with him to heaven). Many scholars agree with this view and, as we shall see, the general teaching of the NT seems to support it.
 
"'Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3)
 
Some think this clearly indicates that Jesus will return to rapture believers to heaven and the house with many rooms seems to refer to heaven. However:
 
(a)  Two days earlier Jesus had taught his disciples on the Mt of Olives (the Olivet Discourse) that there would be many signs before his return: the "birth-pains" of the coming of the Messiah - wars, famine, earthquakes etc., persecution and false prophets, the gospel being preached to the whole world and the Gentile domination of Jerusalem ending, the great distress (tribulation) and cosmic signs followed by his return to gather the elect from the four corners of the earth.
 
(b) This teaching would be fresh in the disciples' minds and we are surely right to assume that, in the absence of any statement to the contrary, they would understand John 14:3 as not a different return of Christ without signs or warning but as the same return he was speaking of on the Mt of Olives.
 
(c) The great promise of John 14:3 is that when Jesus returns believers will always be with him and that ultimately means in heaven. But that doesn't mean he will take them to heaven immediately
 
1 Thess 1:9-10 speaks of Jesus returning to rescue us from the coming wrath.
 
Some think this means Jesus will remove all believers to heaven so they don't experience the "wrath" of the Great Tribulation. But this is an assumption, it is not what the passage says. It could equally well mean God will help believers in difficult times and come and rescue them from the wrath of his ultimate judgment.
 
"Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'Peace and safety', destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thess 5:1-9)
 
Some people say this destruction is the Great Tribulation and will only suddenly come on unbelievers because the church will have been "raptured" to heaven. However:
 
(a) This passage about destruction and wrath is continuous with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which speaks of the rapture of believers (the chapter division was not in the original).
 
(b) Paul warns BELIEVERS about the day of the Lord, which brings destruction, and says they must not be taken by surprise when it comes. "But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief" (1 Thess 4:4). Clearly, believers will not have been raptured away into heaven, they will experience this dark day.
 
(c)
'Day', as often in Scripture, means a period of time.
 
(d) This passage indicates that Paul describes that believers are caught up to meet the Lord and then escort him back to earth (not disappear with him to heaven).
 
"Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed." (1 Cor. 1:7)             
  • Some say the eager waiting may suggest an imminent rapture. But this is unconvincing.
"We wait for the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13)
  • Some say the words "blessed hope" may suggest an imminent rapture. But this is unconvincing.
 "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3)
  • Some say that an imminent "Rapture" would be a greater incentive for pure living. But the fact that we are one day going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) is quite sufficient to encourage us to purify ourselves. In fact, it is a stronger incentive. Also we should remember that death could be imminent for any of us. That too is a strong motive.
 Jesus says: "Look, I am coming soon!" (Rev. 22:7,12, 20)
  •  Some think this points to the rapture as being imminent and ready to occur "at any moment." But the context of judgment. Jesus says "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." He goes on to refer to people who "wash their robes" so they may enter heaven as opposed to those who are sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters etc., (Rev. 22:14-15). Yet the secret rapture is not meant to be related to judgment."           
It is important to remember that those who believe in a sudden secret rapture say that it is not to do with judgement (which, they say, comes later). But we shall see that many NT passages thought to refer to the rapture actually do refer to judgment.
 
In Romans Paul says: "The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here."  (Rom. 13:11-12)        
  • This clearly speaks of the approaching return of Christ but it has nothing to say in support of a sudden secret rapture.
 
The letter to the Hebrews speaks of "Encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb 10:23-25)             
  • Again, this is stressing that the return of Christ is approaching. But the context is about judgment. See Heb 10:26-31. Yet, as we have seen, the secret rapture is not meant to be related to judgment. That happens, say the proponents of this view, at the subsequent second coming.
 
James wrote: "The end of all things is near." (James 4:7-10)
  • However it has nothing to say in support of a sudden secret rapture.
James further stresses "the Lord's coming is near." ( In James 5:8-9)
  • He is even "standing at the door" but he does so as the Judge and the secret rapture is not meant to be related to judgment.
 
Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) in which the bridegroom suddenly appears at midnight."
  • This cannot be understood as referring to a sudden secret rapture, though, because the foolish virgins (nominal believers) are excluded finally. So judgment takes place but those who teach there is a sudden secret rapture say it is not associated with judgment. (Furthermore, if it referred to the rapture, the foolish virgins would have the opportunity to come to faith in the Great Tribulation and so not to be excluded finally as the parable says they were). The same can be said for the similar parable in Luke 12:35-48 where the Lord's sudden coming is associated with judgment.
Jesus speaks of "The day the Son of Man is revealed"  (Luke 17:30-35) and adds: "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding corn together; one will be taken and the other left."   
  • This is speaking about an unexpected coming of the Lord and a rapture of individuals. But, again, the context shows it is associated with judgment. See verses 26-30. So this cannot be the sudden, secret rapture.
 The writer to the Hebrews says:"In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay." (Heb 10:36-37).             
  • Yet again the context speaks of judgment (See Heb 10:24-31).
Peter says (2 Peter ch. 3) that God's ideas of imminence are not the same as ours.
  • The scoffers ask: "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (2 Pet. 3-4). The answer is: "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 8-9). However "The day of the Lord will come like a thief" (2 Pet. 3:10).

Tony HigtonRev. Tony Higton has been an Anglican clergyman for over 40 years having been brought up in the Christian Brethren and teaching. Now living in Norfolk he has previously served in Christ Church, Jerusalem where he was General Director of Church's Ministry amongst Jewish People (CMJ).  For 14 years Tony took a stand for Biblical doctrine and morality in the Church of England General Synod and was frequently on TV, radio and in the press.

Working along with his wife Patricia (who is also a theological graduate) he has recently launched a website offering hundreds of articles, training courses and several books to download for free. Of this new venture he says: "Resources on this site come from experience in developing teaching and training resources which have been shared at conferences in 15 countries and used by thousands of churches.”

As a 'work-in-progress Tony further comments: "“We shall be adding new material as time goes on, including, hopefully, audio material of our teaching courses etc."
See Christian Teaching Blog

 
Ed footnotes:
1. The Pre-tribulation Rapture
teaching was and has since been disseminated via the notes in the 'Scofield' Bible. As the article states, it has also been the subject of best-selling novels like 'The Late Great Planet Earth' and the 'Left Behind' series.

2. Questions/Responses and Answers
Tony Higton has kindly agreed to respond to questions or comments about what he has written. In the first instance these should be sent to the Editor who will append both the questions and responses to this article.                                                                            E-mail: e-mail address
adadafd


Admin Note:
  • In order to keep track of the discussion(s) a Ref. No. will be assigned to each post/question; and this no. will be used with relation to subsequent responses.
  • If using Scripture references (preferred, rather than quoting human writers) then it would be helpful to use the format ('Book then Chapter:Verse(s)' e.g. Genesis 1:1 or Gen 1:1-3 ). This will save me time in relation to providing  the 'verse pop-up' facility to function.
  • Remember please that the purpose is to 'pose questions' (rather than make statements).
With thanks for your help in producing an orderly 'Question Time' and in minimising the demands on Tony's time.

Update (06/05/14):
This article was open for a periiod for anyone to respond (i.e. to pose questions to Tony directly onto the site). However it is now only logged-on site members who can post.

Tony Higton, 27/02/2014

Feedback:
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Editor 11/10/2013 16:28
Ref 007A: Question to Tony

>>>>
With reference to Daniel's 70th week as an end-time event (see Question reply 005A above - Ed.), if an Antichrist figure is to appear half way through that 7-year period, does this not then mean that if we recognise the Antichrist we can therefore (in a manner contrary to Scripture) predict the date of the appearing of the Lord?
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Editor 22/10/2013 11:47
Tony replies to 007A (above):

>>>>
As I have previously said, there are various interpretations of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks (490 years).

There are also different views of the starting point of the 490 years.

Many people who take a dispensational view date it from the decree of the Persian emperor Artaxerxes I in 445/444BC. A good case can be made out for this. They also take the years as “prophetic years” of 360 days based upon Rev 11:2-3 where 42 months is said to be 1260 days cf. Rev 13:5 (and 360-day years were widespread in ancient calendars).

The resulting 483 years (69 weeks) of 360 days ends in 31 or 32AD around the date of the Triumphal Entry (the Anointed One comes as the “ruler” Dan 9:-25) and Crucifixion.

All this would suggest that, if we knew when the Great Tribulation began, we could be definite about the year when Jesus would return.

However I do not believe Scripture teaches a sudden, secret rapture of the church before the Great Tribulation, so the question is whether the beginning of the Tribulation will be entirely clear.

More important, Jesus says no one knows the day or the hour.
It is not unbiblical to think that Christians would at that stage have a pretty good idea when Jesus would return, but not the day or the hour.
After all, Paul does say: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thess 5:4).
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Ed footnote/reminder to site visitors/members: Keep sending in your questions to editor@christianstogether.net. You can either post a new question or one based on earlier responses from Tony.
Editor 25/10/2013 12:15
Ref: 007A(i) Question to Tony:

>>>>
Is the Great Tribulation to occur at that time spoken of in Matt 24:15-24?

And if so, at what point do you expect it to happen in terms of the 70th week?

And at what point in the 70th week do you see Matt 24:30-31 being fulfilled?

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Editor 28/10/2013 14:45
Tony replies to 007A(i) above:

>>>>>
I thought this questioned warranted a fairly thorough response which follows below.

The Great Tribulation

There are various understandings of what the Bible calls the great tribulation or great distress (Matt 24:21):

1. That it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD70 when many Jewish people were killed. This is called the Preterist View.

2. That it refers to all the recurring distress throughout the history of Christianity. This is called the Historical View.

3. That it refers to a future, perhaps 7-year, period of great distress shortly before Jesus returns. This is called the Futurist View.

I believe there can be multiple fulfilments of prophecy, often lesser fulfilments leading to a final major fulfilment so I can accept there is a certain strength in the Preterist and Historical Views.

However I note that Jesus says: “there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again. ‘If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matt 24:21-22).

Dreadful though AD70 was and terrible though some suffering in history and right up to the present time, I cannot accept that it fulfils the description “unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again.” It seems clear that it is referring to a future unprecedented time of distress – the Futurist View.

However there are different forms of the Futurist View. Here are the main ones:

(a) That Jesus “raptures” all believers up into heaven before the seven-year Tribulation then returns to earth (the Second Coming) after the tribulation to destroy the Antichrist and set up his 1000-year millennial kingdom.

This is called the Dispensationalist View.

(b) That Jesus “raptures” all believers up into heaven half way through the seven-year Tribulation. They point out that the Tribulation is divided into two halves.
After 3.5 years Antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews, stop their renewed animal sacrifices in the rebuilt temple, set up the “abomination that causes desolation” in the temple - probably by setting himself up as an object of worship (see Dan 9:27; 7:23-25; 12:1-12; Rev 11:2-3).

This will lead to the pouring out of God’s wrath (the “seven bowls of God’s wrath” Rev 15:7-16:21) and believers are not supposed to experience the wrath of God, so they are ‘raptured’ up into heaven.

The above is called the Pre-Wrath View.

(c) That believers will not be ‘raptured’ up into heaven before or during the (perhaps 7-year) Tribulation but will be ‘raptured’ to meet Christ at his Second Coming after the Tribulation and then accompany him back to earth to destroy the Antichrist and set up his kingdom on earth. (This is on the historical pattern of inhabitants of a city going out to meet the king when he visits and escorting him back into the city).

Those holding this view refer to the fact that Jesus said: “‘Immediately after the distress of those days ….. ‘Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matt 24:29-31).

They also say that the 7th trumpet blown by the angel in Rev 11, which proclaims victory for the rule of Christ with wrath and judgment on his foes, is the same as the trumpet in 1 Cor 15:51-52

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed”

and 1 Thess 4:16-17 “…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. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.”

The above is called the Post-Tribulational View.

I have written elsewhere in detail about why I do not accept the Dispensational View and it seems to me that the Pre-Wrath View is a basically a variation on the Dispensational View.

I believe that, whereas God sometimes saves us from experiencing suffering, his normal work is to protect us as we go through suffering. Although faithful Christians don’t experience the wrath of God as a punishment on their sin, history shows they can experience the effect of the wrath of God rather like collateral suffering in war.

This happened with faithful Jews in the Old Testament who experienced invasion and exile. I do not therefore accept views based on the idea that Christians totally escape the effects of the wrath of God.

Consequently, I accept the view that Jesus will return at the end of the Tribulation, rapturing believers to meet him and escort him to earth.
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Ed footnotes:
The verse which says "I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world" (Rev. 3:10) is often used to support the view that Christians will not go through the Tribulation. However the word 'keep' is a translation of the Greek word (tereos) which means 'guard/protect within' and not 'remove from' (similar to the experience of Daniel in the lion's den, and with his friends in the furnace).

Additionally, the different words used in the NT to describe Jesus' return, speak of a visible appearing of a dignitary and a welcoming committee going out to greet the person who has come to visit them.
Editor 20/11/2013 14:42
Ref. 008A: Question to Tony

>>>>
In an earlier response (006A) you said that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy regarding the coming of Elijah. Do you therefore believe that John 'restored all things' (ref. Matt 17:11).
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Editor 27/11/2013 12:00
Tony replies to Q 008A:

>>>>>
I quoted Jesus as saying John the Baptist was “the Elijah who was to come” (Matt 11:13-14). Jesus also said that John would “restore all things” (Matt 17:11).

He is referring back to the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 “I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.’

Also the angel of the Lord told Zechariah that John would “go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ So it is clear that John fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy.

However, there is controversy over Jesus’ meaning when he says Elijah would “restore all things” (Matt 17:11). After all, Peter said of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost: “Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophet” (Acts 3:21).

Some interpreters simply say John the Baptist didn’t “restore all things.” Others say that John’s ministry was faithful but unsuccessful (which implies Jesus was saying the prophecy had failed).

John Calvin comments on the passage: “This does not mean that John the Baptist restored them perfectly, but that he conveyed and handed them over to Christ, who would complete the work which he had begun.”

Others say John restored the right conception about the Messiah as God with us (compared with the contemporary inadequate concepts) so that Jesus, as Messiah, could be recognised.

What Jesus actually says is: “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but have done to him everything they wished” (Matt 17:11-12).

In my opinion, the best explanation is (if I may paraphrase) that Jesus is saying: “Yes, the ultimate ‘Elijah’ is yet to come before the final Day of the Lord and will restore all things. But, in a real sense ‘Elijah’ has already come, namely, John the Baptist.”

It would seem correct, therefore, to expect further major fulfilment of what Jesus said “Elijah” would do, i.e. to “restore all things.”

In what I wrote before I did consider the possibility of a further fulfilment.

As I have said on an earlier occasion, Some Christians believe the two witnesses (who die) in Revelation 11:3-12 are Moses and Elijah, others that they are Elijah and Enoch because they ‘raptured’ to heaven, rather than dying, that they are other unknown believers and there have been various suggestions.

But I do think there will be a final fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy about an ‘Elijah figure’ in the Last Days.
Editor 26/02/2014 17:38
Ref. 009A: Question to Tony

>>>>
Could you give chronology (as you see it) of the principal eschatological events e.g. what can we expect and the order in which we should expect to see with (for instance – the appearance of an ‘Elijah’ figure, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the great tribulation, Is ch 19, Ezek 38/39, Zech chs 12 – 14, 2 Peter 3:7-12, cosmic upheavals, the antichrist revealed, the appearing of Christ, the marriage supper of the Lamb, the Millennium, Armageddon, etc.
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Editor 26/02/2014 17:43
Tony replies to Q009A:

>>>>

God has not revealed all the details of what is going to happen in the End Times because we don’t need to know them all.

Also the Book of Revelation is not completely in chronological order but contains some ‘winding back’ in time and restatement of events.

We should bear in mind too that there is debate over whether some events are literal. But looking at Matthew 24, 2 Thess. 2:1-12 and Revelation, the following seems to be the order, in my opinion:

1. War, famine, earthquakes, etc. (Matt 24:6-7; Rev 6:1-8). These are repeating events.

2. The Jewish people regaining control of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24).

3. Worldwide Persecution (Matt 24:9-10; Rev 6:9-11; 7, 12)

4. Worldwide Apostasy - people giving up the Faith (Matt 24:12)

5. Worldwide evangelism (Matt 24:14)

6. An increase in false messiahs/prophets (Matt 24:23-24)

7. Great Tribulation (Matt 24:22) including:
• More severe pre-final judgments (Rev 8-9),
• The ‘Two Witnesses” (Rev 11), if they are a literal pair it seems appropriate to put them here.
• The Rebellion and Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3-7, 9-12; Rev 13:1-5 cf. 1 John 2:18-23).
• The False Prophet and deification of Antichrist - “the abomination which causes desolation” (Matt 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4-12; Rev 13:6, 11-15), the mark of the Beast (Rev 13:16-18), persecution of God’s people (Rev 13:7).
• Judgment on the Antichrist and his followers (Rev 16:1-15 cf 2 Thess. 2:8).
• Armageddon (Rev 16:16)
• The fall of ‘Babylon’ (the world’s corrupt and unjust economic and religious system) at the hands of Antichrist (Rev 17-18).

8. Cosmic signs – perhaps literal (Matt 24:29; Rev 6:12-17).

9. Return of Christ (seen by the whole world) (Matt 24:27, 30) including:
• Gathering of the elect (Matt 24:31)
• The Wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:1-10). Some would not see this as literal.
• Destruction of Antichrist and the False Prophet (Rev 19:11-21).

10. The Millennium, if literal – Rev 20

11. The Eternal state – Rev 21-22

<<<<<<
Editor 27/02/2014 10:01
Ref. 009A: Question to Tony

>>>>
When the priests and Levites asked John the Baptist.Are you Elijah? Why did John say I am not? John 1v21.
God bless.
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Editor 27/02/2014 10:17
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Survival Kit > Will there be a sudden, secret Rapture?