1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
Introduction & review
Yesterday we had listed out the following similarities between the rapture and 2nd advent of Jesus Christ:
Similarities between rapture & 2nd Advent
1. Both have the Lord l appearing in clouds. 1 Thess 4:17 vs Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27; Rev 11:19, 14:14
2. Both have Righteous people will be raised from the dead. 1 Thess 4:16-17 vs Rev 20:4
3. Both are described in the language as Jesus “coming”. John 14:3, 1 Thess 4:13 vs Matt 24:42; Lk 21:27
4. Both have an uncertainty as to when they will begin. 1 Cor 15:52, 2 Thess 2:1-3 vs Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32
5. Both will affect the entire world. 2 Thess 2:7 vs 2 Thess 2:8
6. Both mark the end of things, the rapture will conclude the church age and 2nd advent will mark the end of the tribulation.
We noted how such similarities show that both events do have a few common points, especially in the arena of Christ raising the righteous (part 1 being the church at the rapture and part 2 having to do with the Jews at His second advent. However the rapture and the second advent or coming of Jesus have obvious differences which will be the main focus of today's post. Noting such differences enables the careful Bible student to better grasp the Bible's overall teaching of where to place the rapture in relationship to the Second coming. As in the comparisons above, we will retain the same color-coded approach in what will now be the differences between the rapture and 2nd advent:
Differences between rapture & 2nd Advent
1. The rapture is right before the tribulation (Thessalonians 4:13-16 & 5:1) whereas the 2nd advent occurs at the end of the tribulation. (Revelation 19:11-21)
2. The rapture is taught in 1/2 dozen passages, in the New Testament. The 2nd advent is taught in hundreds of passages, Old and New Testaments.
3. The rapture deals exclusively with the church (1 Thess 4:16-17), the 2nd advent impacts everyone else and entails Christ's restoring and raising Israel (Daniel 12:1; Matt 24:30; Luke 21:28)
4. The rapture is aimed at comforting the church (1 Thess 4:18), whereas the main theme of the 2nd advent is Christ returning in judgment. (Revelation 19:11)
5. Christ appears in the clouds but does not come down to the earth in the rapture (1 Thess 4:13-16); whereas He comes all the way down to earth in His 2nd advent. (Revelation 19:11-21)
6. There is no major war being fought when the rapture occurs, whereas in the 2nd advent, the purpose will be for Christ to war against and defeat His enemies.
As can be seen, the above differences make holding to a post-tribulational position to be very difficult if not impossible. Mid-tribulationalist would assert all of the differences except #1 and #6. Pre-tribulationalists would assert all six.
Granted in many ways, such an issue as the timing of the rapture may not be as central or weighty for the Christian faith as the Deity of Christ, the inerrancy of scripture and the virgin birth. Certainly there can be allowances in this particular issue, with the author knowing many wonderful believers and respecting many wonderful Bible teachers who differ on this point.
Nonetheless it is important for Christians to know where they stand on any doctrinal issue. This blogger personally feels that the pre-tribulational position, though not being the "perfect" doctrinal position (for only the scriptures are inerrant), is nevertheless the most consistent in the handling of the Biblical material that bears on the rapture and Jesus' second advent.
If for anything else, the above comparisons and contrasts will serve to invite the reader to search the scriptures for themselves and to get better acquainted with that the Bible does have to teach about what God has ordained for the future, as well as the here and now.