Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -4]

Chapter 16 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -4]

Jesus is going to destroy His enemies. He will trample them like grapes. “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. Isa. 63:3 For the indignation of the Lord is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter.” Isa. 34:2 Isaiah goes on to say in verses three and five, “Also their slain shall be thrown out; their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; indeed it shall come down on Edom, and on the people of My curse, for judgment.” 

The nations will be trapped in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Now also many nations have gathered against you, who say, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.” But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord, nor do they understand His counsel; for He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. Micah 4:11, 12 I mentioned that this is where Satan and the Antichrist will set a trap to try to destroy the Jews. But God actually has a better plan. He is setting the trap for the Antichrist and his forces in order to destroy them. He will use His winnowing fan. It is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor. Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem. Zech. 14:1, 2 We also read in Zechariah 14 that, The city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Zech. 14:2 

There will be a remnant of people who are still there, that are waiting expectantly for the Lord Jesus to return. They will be the ones that will finally cry out to Him. Jesus said, You shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Matt. 23:39 

This verse tells us they will finally say, Baruch haba beshem Adonai. They are finally going to acknowledge their offense. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. Hos. 5:15 

God says, “I will return again to my place until you acknowledge your offence. It will take a little bit of prodding, shall we say, but when they finally do that, and say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus,’ I will come.” 

The remnant now find themselves in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Somehow they will be forced out into this valley and they will wait for Jesus to come back. Presumably, they will be standing in front of the Mount of Olives, because they know that’s where He’s going to come back. As they are gathered together in front of the Mount of Olives, they will be surrounded by the forces of Antichrist. Jesus is in route, coming to save them. Scripture says that, 

In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem. Zech. 12:6 

I just couldn’t figure this out for such a long time. I thought; “Now wait a second. You have Jesus coming back and yet you also have these governors doing something.” But Jesus says He will do it all by Himself. Still…He will give them some kind of power. 

When I started to put all the pieces together I realized that everything will happen very quickly; but they must hold out until Jesus comes. He gives them incredible, supernatural power, and the governors of Judah are going to be like a fire pan in the wood pile and a fiery torch in the sheaves. This power will enable them to devour those on the right hand and on the left. Perhaps the scene will play out something like this: 

The remnant is down in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The forces of Antichrist are coming against them on the right and on the left. Then the governors of Judah who are on the periphery receive special power from the Lord so that they can actually shoot fire out from their sides. Scripture says, In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them. Zech. 12:8 Habakkuk 3:4 gave me an important piece of the puzzle. His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, and there His power was hidden. Jesus has rays of light flashing from His hand. 

This is far cooler than any super hero movie we’ve ever seen, or any villain, or the emperor from Star WarsTM, who can shoot out electricity. Jesus is far cooler and it appears that He will give them this power. The strong among them will be like the Angel of the Lord before them. And so the scene continues with the remnant imbued with power coming out of their hands to defend themselves until Jesus gets there. 

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. Zech. 14:3 Our scene continues: The Jewish remnant that is down in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Kidron Valley, is waiting for Jesus. They are fending off hordes of Antichrist attackers who have postured themselves to be able to get to the remnant from either the left or the right. But the remnant are fighting them off and devouring them on the both sides. Then Jesus finally comes back. 

Scene Two begins: His feet will touch the Mount of Olives. 

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Zech. 14:4 

The word used in the verse for valley is the word, gae, just like Ar-ma-gae-don. The touch of Jesus’ feet to the Mount of Olives will create a deep ravine, a canyon. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, it says in Zechariah 14:5. 

So we now have a new puzzle piece. What does it look like? I believe the Lord showed it to me as a picture of Jesus stepping down onto the Mount of Olives, which then splits. At this point the remnant realizes that they have a way of escape. They flee through that mountain valley that has opened up. The Antichrist forces pursue, following hard behind them. Does this remind us of anything? Was there another time in history when this might have happened? Well, of course there was. God parted the Red Sea so the Children of Israel could cross through it on dry ground. 

For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in. Ex. 14:3 

Pharaoh thought the Children of Israel were trapped, so he changed his mind and pursued them, intent on destroying them completely. Just when it appeared that Pharaoh had won the day, God showed that He had actually led Pharaoh and his armies into a trap in which they were destroyed. This scene plays out in much the same way as the Exodus story. After the Jews have fled through the valley opened up by the Mount of Olives splitting in two, Jesus will interpose himself between the Jews that have fled behind Him and the forces of Antichrist that are coming in like a wave with the intent of destroying them. 

Why are they so intent on destroying the Jews? We should keep in mind that the only thing Satan can do is destroy the Jewish people. If he could destroy them, then he could have a standoff with God. God says that He would give the kingdom to the saints. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’ Dan. 7:18 As long as there is at least one breathing Jew on the planet, then God can still fulfill His promise. However, if there was not a single Jew left on the planet, then God could not fulfill His promise, which makes Him a liar. This explains why Satan is working very hard to destroy the Jews. 

Scene Three: Jesus has interposed himself between the Jews and the Antichrist’s forces. He has rays of light flashing from His hands and a sword coming out of His mouth, perhaps similar to something like a laser. He will then begin to decimate the attackers that are coming. He starts to hack them in pieces with the rays of light coming from where His power is hidden. According to Habakkuk 3:5, there will be pestilence before Him and fever will follow at His feet. Jesus’ coming will confuse His enemies. They will see Jesus and realize they are in trouble. They will try to turn around, but they will not able to. 

It shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the Lord will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, and raise his hand against his neighbor’s hand. Zech. 14:13 

In their panic they will begin to kill one another with their own swords. Even every horse will be struck with confusion and blindness because of Jesus (Zech. 12:4). Why blindness? Remember that Jesus is incredibly bright, brighter even than the sun. He is the man of fire. He is a consuming fire. As Jesus stands there before them, keep in 

mind that He is a fire, He has fiery lightning clothing on Him and He will shoot out rays of light. They will not be able see. They will try to turn around, but He will begin to cut them in pieces and destroy them. 

And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. Zech. 14:12 

Some have proposed that this might be referring to a neutron bomb or a nuclear bomb of some sort; I beg to differ. I suggest that this reference is to the armies being exposed to God’s fiery lightning presence. The armies would, at this time, have come into close proximity to Jesus. They would try to get away, but they will not be able to do so. 

Why is Your apparel red, 

And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, 

And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, 

And trampled them in My fury; 

Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes. Isa. 63:2, 3 

Jesus will do this all by Himself. 

I believe we will be on horses behind Jesus. I think our job will be as a group of cheerleaders. 

Give me a “J”, give me an “E”, give me an “S”, give me a “U”, give me an “S”, 

What does that spell? “Jesus!” 

I don’t believe we will do anything except stand and see the salvation of the Lord. Jesus will advance against the Antichrist’s forces, cut them to pieces, and tread on them like grapes. The description we are given is all very literal. Soon there will be a bloody mess so great that the blood will go up to the horse’s bridle. There will be corpses everywhere and tons of carnage. 

I believe this will happen on the day of Yom Kippur. The day of Yom Kippur is when the books are opened and the wicked destroyed. 

Incidentally, it just so happens that twice a year there is a massive migration of birds in the spring and in the fall from the north to the south, from Europe and Asia, and down to Africa. Their common route is to fly over Israel. They don’t fly over anywhere else primarily, almost completely over Israel. This means there are millions and millions of birds up in the sky who are also very hungry. Everything has been destroyed at this point. All the grass has been burnt up, the trees have been destroyed, and the waters have become blood. 

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” Rev. 19:17 

Matthew 24:27 and 28 always gave me trouble. I could not understand the meaning of these two verses put together until I started putting all these puzzle pieces together. 

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. 

Now it makes sense. All of these events of Jesus’ return are happening at this time; and the judgment has come. 

Scene Four: Also at this time, Revelation 19 tells us that the Antichrist and False Prophet are cast into the lake of fire. Then will be the judgment of the sheep and the goats. This happens on Yom Kippur. 

I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. Dan. 7:11 

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. Rev. 19:20 

There is a stream of flaming fire coming out from God. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. Dan. 7:9, 10 

The Beast and False Prophet are thrown into that fire. It is true they are relegated to a geographical place, but the fire that is hitting them is the fire that is coming out from God Himself. Isaiah 30:33 says, The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, kindles it. 

Thousands, thousands ministered to Him, ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him, the court was seated in the books were opened. Dan. 7:10 

This is the day that Jesus will judge. This is the day of Yom Kippur. And also the nations will be gathered before Him. He will separate one from the other, the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left. “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” Matt. 25:41 At the same time, Satan and the demons are bound. 

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. Rev. 20:1-3 

Satan and the demons are not destroyed at this point, but they are put into a holding cell where they will remain for 1,000 years. 

We see this in Isaiah 24:21, 22; 

It shall come to pass in that day 

That the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones, And on the earth the kings of the earth. 

They will be gathered together, 

As prisoners are gathered in the pit, And will be shut up in the prison. 

After many days they will be punished. Satan and the demons will be punished after the 1,000 years. But during the 1,000 years they will remain in prison. Then as Satan descends down into Sheol, to the lowest depths of the abyss, “Those who see you (Satan) will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms?’” Isa. 14:16 That will be the end of the Antichrist, the end of Satan, at least for 1,000 years. Then Jesus will usher in the Millennium. 

In summary: 

  1. The Antichrist gathered the nations to destroy Israel, but this when Jesus comes back. He rends the veil and He comes down. 
  1. The governors of Judah fend off their attackers, briefly, until Jesus puts His feet down upon the Mount of Olives. At that point the Mount of Olives will split in two and the remnant will flee through the resulting valley. 
  1. Jesus jumps down into that canyon and fights the attackers. He gets all bloody as He squashes them like grapes in a winepress. The blood comes up to the horse’s bridle. 
  1. There are so many bodies and so much carnage that the birds come and feast themselves on the flesh of kings and mighty men. 
  1. The judging of the sheep and the goats immediately follows. 
  1. The heavens will pass away. This will literally be the unveiling which will happen the day that Jesus returns. 
  1. The Day of the Lord is a “thief in the night” event. 
  1. Armageddon fits better linguistically and logistically with the valley of the judging of the harvest of the sheaves (Valley of Jehoshaphat). 
  1. Jesus comes personally and fights for Israel. 
  1. The Biblical imagery is literal. 

Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -3]

Chapter 16 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -3]

In summary, following are some of the events of the Second Coming: 

1)  An ash cloud will blanket the earth, blocking sun and moon. 

2) The rivers, lakes and oceans will be turned to blood. 

3) The veil between the heavens will pass away. 

4) Everyone will see Jesus coming in flames of fire. 

5) The earth, every mountain and island, is shaken, moved and gone; and the elements, mountains, begin to melt. 

This now brings us to the Battle of Armageddon. Traditionally the Battle of Armageddon has been believed to come before the Day of the Lord. I put the Battle of Armageddon in the day of the Lord. That is the time when it will happen – when Jesus comes back – because He is the one who’s going to be fighting. The Battle of Armageddon is not a nation-against-nation war. Very often people have gone to a location in the northern part of Galilee called the Jezreel Valley and thought it could be an incredible place for a battle. Napoleon said, “I could see a battle being fought here.” 

Unfortunately, this is not the location of the Battle of Armageddon. Secondly, this battle will not see the tanks of the world coming together; or the world’s infantry divisions fighting one another. This battle won’t even feature the high tech weaponry that we have today against other countries. The Battle of Armageddon will be the world united against Jesus and those that He loves. It says in Revelation 16:16, And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. Then in Revelation 19 John writes; And I saw the beast, the kings of  the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Rev. 19:19 Again, it’s not nation against nation. It’s all the nations of the world united together to fight against Jesus. 

In addition to understanding who is fighting whom, we will also consider the linguistic understanding of this battle; the sheaves in a harvest motif that we find very frequently, and the idea of stomping on grapes. We will discover that these aspects can be understood very literally. It’s just a matter of putting the puzzle pieces in their right places. I have to admit that I broke my head! 

In Spanish, a jig saw puzzle is called a “rompecabezas” because it breaks your head. I feel that I have been breaking my head trying to put the pieces together. Now, though, I am very excited to share them with you because I believe that the Lord has guided me in discovering how these puzzle pieces fit together. I will let you be the judge, of course, but I think you will see that the pieces fit incredibly well; and that we can take them very literally, which always excites me because God’s Word is very literal. 

Jesus will stomp on grapes. Blood will go up to the horse’s bridle. There’s even some imagery that is a repeat of the Exodus crossing of the Red Sea. I think God likes to recycle themes. 

This theme will be recycled in a very grand way. God’s Word also tells us that a trap will be set by the Antichrist for the Jews. The trap that the Antichrist will set will actually be the trap that he will fall into. There’s a proverb that says “he who sets a snare will himself fall into it.” 

This is exactly what’s going to happen to the Antichrist. He will set the snare but he himself will fall into it. These things will happen outside the city. The traditional location of the Battle of Armageddon is in the Jezreel Valley. If one were to tour Israel today, 

he or she would be sure to visit Armageddon because most people want to see where the final battle is going to take place. The tour would visit the traditional Battle of Armageddon site in the plain of Jezreel at the Tel Megiddo. One can see Tel Megiddo, but it’s not a mountain. 

A “tel” is not a mountain. Tel is a very ancient word. It actually comes from Acadian, which tells us that the word has been around for long time. A tel is a mound where a city was and then was destroyed, and then they built on top of it, then that city was destroyed, and so on. Eventually, after many centuries, the various destruction layers build up into an artificial mountain that is called a tel. One would not find a mountain in Tel Megiddo today, only a tel. This begs the question, “Where is the mountain?” Where is the city? There is wonderful agriculture in this place, but no city or mountain. One could visit the Jezreel Valley and Tel Megiddo and think to himself, “Wow! This is where the battle is going to happen. But there’s nobody here. Why would anybody fight here? Why suddenly here, when all the other places in scripture keep talking about Jerusalem?” Well of course this is the whole point. It is not going to happen here even though we have been taught that this is the location of the battle. 

Let’s consider the linguistic implications of the Battle of Armageddon. If we read the King James82, or the New King James83, which are based on the Textus Receptus84, we will find that the word “Armageddon” is spelled with two letter “d’s.” If we look at Armageddon in the Byzantine Majority85 text, the word actually has one delta (d). If we look at the Alexandrian Vaticanas86, it’s spelled with one delta, but in the Textus Receptus, it is spelled with two. Some people prefer the Textus Receptus, and may even have strong feelings against the Alexandrian Vaticanis, which is fine. However, I would like to point out that the Textus Receptus comes out of the Byzantine family. It is a collection of manuscripts. It is really a handful of manuscripts, somewhere between six to twelve manuscripts were used. It came from a larger tradition called the Byzantine Majority text family, which were about five thousand manuscripts. I mention this because there’s only one delta in the Byzantine Majority text. This is an important clue. 

One might think it doesn’t really matter if there are one or two deltas but actually it does. The reason is that based on the Hebrew word, the word that we have is Meg-i-don, the vowels don’t fit for different readings. In the Greek, as it comes to us, we are told that this is a Hebrew word. But we have to look at it through the Greek language which spells it as Ar-ma-ge-don, not me- gi-don. Clearly the vowels do not match up between the Greek and the Hebrew words, and neither does the double “d”. Certainly the double “d” in the Textus Receptus would match, but it doesn’t match with the other textual evidence that we have. 

My assertion is that really, none of these words match the word Megiddo. Megiddo is not the word that should be used. The reason it is important that there is not a mountain in Megiddo is because it is understood that Ar means mountain and Megiddo is, of course, Megiddo; thus Ar Megiddo (the mountain of Megiddo). Not only is there no mountain in Megiddo; linguistically and phonetically, it does not match properly. Therefore, of all the possible interpretations, Ar Megiddo does not fit. 

Some people have suggested that this is “the place of the crowds” and that is what the word means. Perhaps there is an underlying secondary use of that, though I rather doubt it. Dr. Michael Hazer has eloquently posited that this could be Ar- moed, meaning “mountain of the appointed meeting time.” Moed means the appointed meeting time. I think he argued it well. I tend to disagree, though, because I believe the preferable translation is Ar- ma-ge’don, which would be “the valley of the judging of the harvested heap (or sheaves).” Here’s why. This word Arema fits really well. The only vowel that would not fit, that we have to imagine, is the “e” in Ar-e-ma. Jeremiah 50 uses this word when he says, “come to her from a far, open up her barns, pile her up like heaps of grain and completely destroy her; don’t leave any survivors.” When Ruth went to Boaz, he was sleeping on an Arema. He was sleeping on a pile of harvested grain. This is from the word Aram which means “to be heaped up.” It occurs once in the verbal form and we find it other places as a noun, “heap.” We also find it in Micah 4:12. For He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. God says that He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. He is telling us about the trap He will lay for the Antichrist. 

One might think it doesn’t really matter if there are one or two deltas but actually it does. The reason is that based on the Hebrew word, the word that we have is Meg-i-don, the vowels don’t fit for different readings. In the Greek, as it comes to us, we are told that this is a Hebrew word. But we have to look at it through the Greek language which spells it as Ar-ma-ge-don, not me- gi-don. Clearly the vowels do not match up between the Greek and the Hebrew words, and neither does the double “d”. Certainly the double “d” in the Textus Receptus would match, but it doesn’t match with the other textual evidence that we have. 

My assertion is that really, none of these words match the word Megiddo. Megiddo is not the word that should be used. The reason it is important that there is not a mountain in Megiddo is because it is understood that Ar means mountain and Megiddo is, of course, Megiddo; thus Ar Megiddo (the mountain of Megiddo). Not only is there no mountain in Megiddo; linguistically and phonetically, it does not match properly. Therefore, of all the possible interpretations, Ar Megiddo does not fit. 

Some people have suggested that this is “the place of the crowds” and that is what the word means. Perhaps there is an underlying secondary use of that, though I rather doubt it. Dr. Michael Hazer has eloquently posited that this could be Ar- moed, meaning “mountain of the appointed meeting time.” Moed means the appointed meeting time. I think he argued it well. I tend to disagree, though, because I believe the preferable translation is Ar- ma-ge’don, which would be “the valley of the judging of the harvested heap (or sheaves).” Here’s why. This word Arema fits really well. The only vowel that would not fit, that we have to imagine, is the “e” in Ar-e-ma. Jeremiah 50 uses this word when he says, “come to her from a far, open up her barns, pile her up like heaps of grain and completely destroy her; don’t leave any survivors.” When Ruth went to Boaz, he was sleeping on an Arema. He was sleeping on a pile of harvested grain. This is from the word Aram which means “to be heaped up.” It occurs once in the verbal form and we find it other places as a noun, “heap.” We also find it in Micah 4:12. For He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. God says that He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. He is telling us about the trap He will lay for the Antichrist. 

This is a bi-consonantal word; and in the infinitive absolute, it always has a long “o” sound. Yacomo, for example, becomes com. In English the word “moot” becomes “moat”. This is an example of how a bi consonantal verb actually becomes “a,” with that “o” sound in there. Therefore, dean could follow this grammatical rule to become don. This explains the don part of the word Armageddon – the Valley of the judging of the harvested heap or sheaves; and this is going to take place, again, not up north in the Jezreel Valley, but down next to Jerusalem. It’s in the Valley of Jehoshaphat between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. This is where Jesus is going to come back, near to the Temple and to the Mount of Olives, which faces the city. 

Jesus will fight on behalf of Jerusalem. He will fight those nations that are coming against Jerusalem. Now also many nations have gathered against you, who say, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.” Micah 4:11 Zechariah 12:2, 3 tells us that the battle location is Jerusalem, not the Jezreel Valley; “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat is where the action is going to be. Now that we understand linguistically that Armageddon does not mean Ar Megiddo, that it actually means “the valley of the judging of the sheaves”, we can see how the Battle of Armageddon will take place in even greater detail. 

“Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great.” Joel 3:13 

And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. Rev. 14:20 The wine press was trampled outside the city, not up in the Valley of Megiddo or the plain of Megiddo; but outside the city of Jerusalem. 

Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up. Joel 3:9 

God is basically saying, “You guys have touched the apple of my eye one too many times and now this means war. Get ready because I’m coming personally. This is no longer business as usual. This is personal. Now I am coming and I am going to decimate you because you have really made me mad this time. So watch out! Get ready for war.” Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Joel 3:9, 10 “You don’t have a weapon? Well go get one because you’re going to need it because I, God, am coming.” All the nations will go to the Valley of Jehoshaphat and Jesus will go down and harvest multitudes and multitudes with His sickle in the valley of decision “for their wickedness is great.” 

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Rev. 14:14-16 

The Mount of Olives has all these tools on it because the Jews believe that’s where the Messiah will come, so they wanted them to be there when He arrived. The Mount of Olives overlooks the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Revelation 14:20 tells us that, the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. 

Imagine blood coming up about five feet, that’s as high as a horse’s bridle, in the Valley of Megiddo, or Jezreel Valley. Liquid will always find its own level; so there would have to be blood going on for a very, very, very, very, very long way to have enough to fill that valley. But understanding that the battle location is the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is a narrow valley, causes this statement to make complete sense. We are still talking about a lot of blood, but it would be more like it was in a pool if it was in a narrow valley. This makes it easier for us to comprehend how blood could run at that height. 

Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -2]

Chapter 16 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -2]

This is the time when the veil goes away and Jesus comes back. 

Isaiah writes it this way; 

And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day: 

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isa. 25:7-9 

The Lord God will swallow up death forever and wipe away tears from all faces. The surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations, will go away when the Lord comes back. Notice that death will be swallowed up at that point. For those who are in the city, or in the temple, on the mountain of God, it will pass away. Isaiah also says it this way; Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! Isa. 64:1 He wants the heavens to be broken so that God himself would come down. 

The veil is like a curtain. When it opens, out comes Jesus – ta da! “Here I am”. Everyone will take notice. No longer will they be pretending that He does not exist. There are many atheists in the world today. There will not be any atheists on the day that the veil opens up, when the heavens pass away, because every eye will see Him. People will say, as they go running into the caves and the clefts of the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! Suddenly everyone will realize that this is the big day; For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand? Rev. 6:17 

Perhaps it will be like a one way mirror. A one way mirror enables people on one side to look through, but people on the other side cannot see through. Right now we cannot see through that one way mirror, but those on the other side can see through. Perhaps the one way mirror will break at that time. We don’t know exactly what it will look like when the veil is removed, but it will pass away. Then the two domains; the domain of mankind with planet Earth, and the domain of God and the angels – and even the demons, will not be separated. When the veil between the two domains passes away, the two shall become one again. 

The heavens are going to open and Jesus will come. His return will be a fiery return. Everyone will see Him coming in flaming fire. Every mountain will be shaken, moved and gone. Every island will be shaken, moved and gone. The elements and the mountains will begin to melt at that time. This will be unmistakable. Don’t worry – you will know when the Second Coming is! You will know when Jesus comes back. That is why He told his disciples, if someone says, ‘I am the Christ’, don’t believe it because you will know when the Christ comes (Matt. 24:5). 

Why do we believe Jesus’ second coming will be a fiery return? We read in Isaiah 66:15 and 16, For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword The Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many

In Second Thessalonians, it says, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. 1:7, 8 I plan to be riding on a horse behind Him in my new body at that point. If you are one of the rebels who are fighting against Him, it will not be a very pleasant day for you. 

Jesus says that, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only Matt. 24:35, 36. Some believe this scripture refers to the rapture. I disagree. Though I don’t know the day and the hour of the rapture, I believe this reference is to the passing away of the heavens and the earth. We see this in other scriptures. 

Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; 

Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, 

And they will be changed. Psa. 102:25, 26 

The day of the Lord, is the day that Jesus comes back. It’s not the entire seven year period. It’s not the three and half year period. The second three and a half year period is called “the time of Jacobs’s trouble”. It will be a time of great distress for the nation of Israel and also for the world at large. 

On that day the ancient hills are going to collapse. Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate. Is. 13:9 When Jeremiah said, I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. Jer. 4:23, he used the same word that is used in Genesis 1:2 (tu voo va vo). 

Jeremiah used the phrase (Tu vo vavoo) to describe this amorphous liquefaction of the mountains because they will become like Jell-OTM. They will fall down and become nothing. And every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Rev. 6:14 Also in Revelation 16:20, Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. When every island moves away and every mountain goes away, that’s what I call Epic. That is essentially the movie 2012 where the entire earth just begins to fall apart. 

But it will probably be even worse than that because it will be a day unlike any other. This is the day that Jesus comes back and that’s why it’s called “The Day of the Lord”. Some events will unfold before the Day of the Lord; but on the Day of the Lord, many things are going to happen. You might wonder how there will be enough time for so many events to take place on the day of the Lord. 

It says in Habakkuk Chapter 3:11, the sun and the moon stood still in their habitation. There was another time when the sun and the moon stood still in their habitation. It was during the long day of Joshua. This is very interesting because on that day he said he was fighting the Amorites. The Amorites were Nephilim. I describe this in detail in my book, Corrupting the Image81. So Joshua was fighting against the Nephilim. I believe Jesus will also be fighting hybrids because people that have taken the mark of the Beast would have mingled themselves with demons. The world will believe them to be aliens, but that is all a ruse to deceive the nations. The Day of the Lord will be a long day because Jesus has a lot of work to do on that day. 

We are told that the earth is violently broken. Again, if all of the islands and all of the mountains flee away, the earth is violently broken. The earth will be split open and exceedingly shaken. Isaiah says, The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again. Isa. 24:20 Please understand that at this point, because the earth is so incredibly devastated, it’s over. The earth is down for the count, crying “uncle”; or, maybe it’s just plain dead. The Earth becomes completely uninhabitable. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty. Isa. 2:12 

The day of the Lord is when the earth moves. 

And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Rev. 16:18 

Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger. Isa. 13:13 

Here we see “the day of the Lord” once again. It’s not the seven year period of the Lord. It isn’t even the three and a half year period, as bad as those will be. It is “the day” that Jesus, the Christ, the Savior, comes back to redeem His people. He will intercede on behalf of Israel who has finally cried out to Him, “Baruch haba beshem Adonai”. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Psa. 118:26 Welcome Jesus; finally, we are welcoming you. 

Paul says; But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 1 Thess. 5:1, 2 This has often been interpreted to speak about the rapture, but it isn’t speaking about the rapture. It is speaking of the day that Jesus comes back. 

You see, God has a plan. He is going to launch a surprise attack on the Antichrist. He will say, “Here I am!”; and everyone will run like cockroaches into dark places. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Pet. 3:10 Jesus says it this way, Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Rev. 3:3 He says this in Revelation 16:15; Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. 

This is sandwiched right between the place where Satan, the Antichrist and false prophet have these three spirits that look like frogs that come out of their mouths and go out to all the nations to bring them to battle at the place of Armageddon to make war against Him who sits on the horse. Jesus says, sandwiched between those events, He is warning the world – I am coming as a thief; watch out; 

you’re not going to realize when I come; you’re not going to know what is about to hit you. The day of the Lord, the thief in the night, is when the earth is destroyed in Second Peter 3:10. 

But the heavens and the earth, which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Pet. 3:7 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Pet, 3:10 Nevertheless, we according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 2 Pet. 3:13 

Notice not only that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night, but also that the heavens will pass away with a great noise. The elements melt with fervent heat. We previously discussed verses in Revelation and Isaiah that tell us the sky is going to recede, or roll up, as a scroll. This is the time when the heavens pass away. At the same time, the mountains are going to melt like wax at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner. Isa. 51:6 

Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? [Part -1]

Chapter 16 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Putting It All Together: What Happens on the Day of the Second Coming? 

When we think about the end times, we often think about the Antichrist, about the changes in the weather, about the failing economy – things that are touching our lives. This 

makes sense because we all have lives to live. But there is a day coming that we know as, “The Second Coming.” This chapter presents a graphic look at the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. This chapter will also point to scriptural proof that the second coming will occur at Armageddon. 

The reader is familiar with the second coming, and has probably heard of the battle of Armageddon; but there are actually a lot of misconceptions about Armageddon. For example, think for a moment about where you believe the battle of Armageddon is going to take place. Maybe you have taken a Bible class where you saw that it was up north. We will demonstrate that the actual location is in Jerusalem. This, and other, exciting revelations will open the reader’s eyes to a new perspective on the events of the second coming of Jesus Christ, and the battle of Armageddon. 

Questions we might have concerning this time period might include: 

  1. What are the conditions on the Earth before Jesus comes? We should consider this question because the earth is going to be quite a mess when Jesus returns. 
  1. What will it look like when the heavens pass away? What is the scriptural evidence for this dramatic event? 
  1. What happens to the earth at Jesus fiery return? This will definitely be an exciting event. We will discover that the earth is going to be destroyed beyond repair. 
  1. What will be the location of the battle of Armageddon? As was briefly stated, it will be closer to Jerusalem than one might have previously considered it to be. 
  1. How will Jesus fight when He comes back? We know He is coming on a white horse, but will He do any more than that? We will examine this in great detail. 

What are the conditions of the earth before the second coming? There will be an ash cloud that blankets the earth, blocking the sun and the moon. Billions would have been killed by the two hundred million demonic horsemen that come out of the pit (Rev. 9). All the oceans, rivers, lakes etc. are blood instead of water. The earth at this time is not a place that we would want to be. Satan and the fallen angels in actual bodily form are on the earth. 

Smoke will darken the sky before the day of the Lord (Rev. 9:2). This is about the midpoint of a seven year period which is traditionally called “The Great Tribulation”. It can be argued, however, that The Great Tribulation is technically a three and a half year period, but this argument is beyond the scope of this particular book. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Rev. 9:2 This is the same darkening of the sun referenced in Isaiah 13:10; For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. Why will it not cause its light to shine? Because ash has filled the sky. 

Some years ago we had some forest fires here in California. I remember looking up at the sky in the evening with all the ash in the sky; and I saw that the moon was actually blood red. When it is observed through a layer of ash, it looks blood red. There is also a phenomenon, known as a lunar eclipse, where the earth comes between the sun and the moon and casts a red shadow on the moon. This is called a “blood moon”. This darkening of the sun and moon will be a constant state of reality during that three and a half year period due to all that ash that is going to come out of the pit when Satan opens it up. 

Revelation 16:10 says; Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. Again, why is it dark? Is it just some mysterious kind of darkness? Or could it be from the ash that has come out of the pit? This author believes the red moon is caused by the ash. As an example, there are pictures of an ice filled sky in Iceland showing that the sun is not giving the fullness of its light because it has been blocked out by ice particles. If thick, dark ash were to cover the sun, it would look like sack cloth had covered it. 

Revelation tells us that the earth is going to be laid waste. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Rev. 16:3, 4 Imagine all of the water in the entire world has become full of blood. It says in Isaiah 26:21, The earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain. We believe this verse says that all the blood that was ever shed from the days of Abel, up until the very last person to be murdered, will come back and come out in the oceans and rivers. The angel of the waters will say, You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due. Rev. 16:5, 6 Those who shed innocent blood on the earth will have blood to drink as their just reward. 

We know that the fallen angels are going to be bodily on the earth at this time. It says in Revelation 12:9, So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. This will happen at the mid-point of the seven year period. Notice also in Revelation 12:4 that it says, His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. He is called “the great dragon”, the “serpent of old”, “the Devil” and “Satan.” The image of him as a dragon is used when depicting his tail drawing a third of the stars of heaven and throwing them to the earth. Here we see that the angels are called stars. In Revelation 8:10, 11; And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. 

One might ask, “How can it be that events in Revelation 12 and events in Revelation Eight are happening at the same time?” Revelation is a thematically organized book and not a chronological book. The Gospel of John, for example, is also laid out thematically. It groups like- kind events together. A historian documenting a certain period of history might arrange events in chronological order, or in a thematic manner. A chronological time line would begin with year one and relate events as they happened. This approach can be difficult to follow at times. 

It is often beneficial to group things together according to relationships and circles, as it were. This is essentially what John has done in Revelation. He grouped events together. Obviously he wrote according to the way he received the revelations, but really, God is the one who’s gave us these events in a thematic way. 

So rather than looking at the chapter and verse to say what comes first and what comes second, look at the events themselves and if they pair up in any way. It could be argued that if there are three points in common, one would have a very strong connection between the two events. This approach is similar to triangulation. If one has a cell phone, and if there are three towers around the cell phone location, one can triangulate his/her position. This is essentially what we are doing. I have named this principle, “Biblical Triangulation”. It is this principle that is used here in Revelation, and other passages in the Bible. 

Then the fifth angel sounded: and I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. Rev. 9:1 Here is a star that is falling. When did this star fall? He fell back in Revelation 8:10, And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch. Who is this star? We discover who this star is in Revelation 12:4, His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. As previously mentioned, this is a reference to Satan. So in Revelation 8:10, when it says, a great star fell from heaven, this seems to be a reference to Satan himself, not a meteorite. 

It is basically different camera angles. In Revelation Chapter 12, the camera is up here in heaven, now looking down. One could think of Michael with his cell phone, filming what’s going on and then he puts it up on YouTube or something. At the same time, the people on the earth have their cell phones, as it were, and they’re watching as Satan falls to the earth. What would he look like to them? He would look like a great star falling from heaven. Revelation 9:1 says that the star fallen from heaven was already on the earth. Stars are being interpreted as angels. We see this in other places as well. For example, when Jesus has the seven stars in His right hand, which are the seven angels to the seven churches (Rev. 1:20). Revelation Chapter Eight also references angels when discussing some of the host of heaven being cast down and some of the stars being cast down to the ground and trampled. 

There are symbols in scripture and there are keys to unlocking our understanding of the symbols. The Bible can be taken literally once one understands the key for unlocking the symbols. Scripture tells us that stars are, in fact, angels. Daniel Chapter Eight talks about the Antichrist rising up to the host of heaven. This is a description of the angels, and then also of the stars. We have in Revelation 6:13, And the stars of heaven (that is, fallen angels) fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. And Isaiah 34 says, All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree. 

Now think about it for a second; is this is really talking about stars? Stars are very, very far away. It would take them a long time to get here. Or, is it talking about the star closest to us, the sun? If it is talking about the sun, and then the sun falls to the earth, the earth is gone; right? Then the book of Revelation is over. There are really no more events for Revelation to convey to us if everything has just ended. So it can’t be talking about actual stars like our sun. It is talking about the angels; those are fallen angels that have fallen to the earth because they are going to pass through the veil. 

The veil between heaven and earth is a very important principle that I did not even know about until a couple years ago when I began discovering it. But there it was, in the Bible, all along. It is an exciting discovery! The book of Revelation is literally the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Greek we have the words apo kalupsi. Apo means “away from” and kalupsis means “a veil”. So apo kalupsi means: “the uncovering”, “the unveiling”, or the “revelation”. 

In First John 3:2, when He is revealed, uncovered, unveiled, we shall see Him. We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. In Isaiah 40, verse 5 tells us that the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all of humanity will see it at once. Before the fall of Adam, the terrestrial realm and the spiritual realm were really one. Today, we cannot see beyond the veil on any given day. 

But before the fall, God was in perfect harmony with man and man was in perfect harmony with God. That’s why when God came walking in the garden there was no issue, until Adam and Eve took a bite of that fruit. As a result, God had to cast them out because they could no longer be in His presence. Why couldn’t they be in His presence? 

Was God suddenly kind of snobbish? Perhaps with an attitude of,” I’m sorry I’m just too good for you guys now. You didn’t obey me, so now we can’t be friends anymore.” No. That really wasn’t, and still isn’t, the issue. The issue is, understanding what is God really like. 

As Christians we have a fair understanding of God’s characteristics, such as love. But what does He look like? Scriptures clearly tell us that He has fire from His waist up and from His waist down, and it’s mingled with electricity. The word in Hebrew is Ashman, which means “electricity.” In Greek, it’s electros, again “electricity.” We see in other places that it’s lightning. So you have this fiery, lightning, kind of God that cannot have sin or corruption in His presence, not because He doesn’t like us, but just because we’re incompatible. Daniel says His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. Imagine being in the presence of God and all of His blazing fire. Now imagine going up to God and giving Him a hug. How would that feel? That would really be the end of your day, wouldn’t it? Because you cannot do that, I cannot do that, we are incompatible with God. 

It is similar to the story of the boy in the bubble. He could not be exposed to the outside world. Now imagine you’re his mother or you are his father. How would you feel? Wouldn’t you want to just climb in there and give your son a hug because you love him so much? You would want to squeeze him and tell him how wonderful he is and that you want to be with him. But instead you must say, “Honey, I can’t come in there because if I do, if I go beyond this veil between us, you will die. So you have to stay in there until we find a solution for you.” God knew what the solution was, but He could not fulfill that until the appropriate time. 

So God put a veil between heaven and earth, until that time. Actually, God is the one who left the Garden and lets us be on planet Earth. But on occasion, that veil was opened so that people could see through. Stephen, when he was being stoned, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God. He said, Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! Acts 7:56 Now this isn’t the kind of “stoned” that can happen here in California! He was actually being stoned with real rocks and he was able to see beyond the veil. This is just one occasion when God allowed people see beyond that veil. John says in Revelation, Now I saw heaven opened. Rev. 19:11 

Ezekiel sitting by the river Chebar says, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. Ezek. 1:1 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, the heavens were opened to Him. Matt. 3:16 

There were so many places where the heavens are opened and people were able to see just through a little bit. When Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the Syrians, Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes and then he saw horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17). It was like Elisha’s servant put on his decoder glasses, could then see beyond into that other realm and he could see what was behind the veil. God’s desire has always been to dwell with men openly, without any kind of a veil, with nothing between us, and completely exposed, one to another. This is His great desire. The day is coming; and it will happen at the Second Coming. God wants to dwell with man. And he who sits on the throne will dwell among them (Rev. 7:15). The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. Rev. 21:3 

And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. Is. 34:4 This is another one of those passages that I couldn’t figure out. What would it look like for the sky to recede like a scroll? This is a reference to the veil that will eventually pass away. It doesn’t mean the sun, the moon and the stars will one day go away. Those will never depart. God promised His continued faithfulness toward Israel, based on the continued existence of the sun, moon and stars. So the heavens passing away, the heavens rolling up like a scroll, are because the veil is going to go away. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Rev. 6:14 This is a pretty major phenomenon when this happens; in fact, I see this as the end. We have come now to the end of all things. There is nothing more that’s going to happen as far as the kingdom of Antichrist. 

Christ’s Last Enemy and the Rapture 

Chapter 15 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Christ’s Last Enemy and the Rapture (Chris Steinle)

Why the Lord Tarries 

Most Christians have used the phrase, “if the Lord tarries.” The Bible tells us one of the reasons for Jesus’ delay is that God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should 

perish but that all should come to repentance. But there is another reason why Jesus is waiting. The writer of Hebrews explains; But this Man [Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. Heb. 10:12, 13. 

The fact that Christ’s position at the right hand of the Father has a finite duration, and a condition upon which His retention in heaven depends, establishes an eschatological milestone – a technical marker establishing its own witness to the onset and order of end time events. We have already shown the relationship between the resurrection/rapture and the physical realization of God’s authority on earth. The chart from a previous chapter is presented again below to 

show the subjection involved in the transformation process. 

Recall from our study of first century expectations that the Messianic epoch should begin with the last tribulation and perplexity. As any mature Christian can attest, affliction is effective to bring about humility and a heartfelt submission to God’s will. Even so, the earth will be humbled in that Day. 

They shall go into the holes of the rocks, And into the caves of the earth, 

From the terror of the Lord And the glory of His majesty, 

When He arises to shake the earth mightily. Isaiah 2:19 

The Correlation of God’s Power, the Resurrection, & the Realization of God’s Authority 
Passage Power / Working / Ability Resurrection / Transformation Subjection / Authority 
Rom. 1:4 declared to be the Son of God with power …by the resurrection from the dead  
1 Cor. 6:14 …by His power God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up  
1 Cor. 15:4-58  resurrection… He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power… till He has put all enemies under His feet… Now when all things are made subject to Him… 
Eph. 1:19-22 what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us… according to the working of His mighty power which He worked …in Christ when He raised Him from the dead… …far above all principality and power and might and dominion… He put all things under His feet 
Phil. 3:10-21 that I may know Him and the power… … according to the working by which He is able of His resurrection… I may attain to the resurrection from the dead… who will transform our lowly body… conformed to His glorious body …even to subdue all things to Himself 
Passage Power / Working / Ability Resurrection / Transformation Subjection / Authority 
Col. 2:12 through faith in the working of God …in which you also were raised with Him … who raised Him from the dead  
Rev. 11:17 You have taken Your great power  and have begun to reign 
Rev. 12:10 Now the salvation, and the power  the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come 

Based on the correlations in the table above we could logically assert: 

  • If Christ must remain in heaven until all enemies are subdued, and, 
  • If the forces of heaven must be unleashed to bring mankind into subjection, 
  • Then Jesus cannot return until after the time of great tribulation, because He must sit at the Father’s right hand till His enemies are subdued. 

First Corinthians 15:24-26 provides another witness to the timing of the rapture. Paul stated in First Corinthians Four; 

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 

The last enemy that will be abolished (katargeitai) is death. 

1 Cor. 15:26 Subduing death must be distinguished from the destruction (ἀπόλλυται, apollytai) of death. The Greek texts do not say the last enemy that will be “destroyed” is death. 

Katargeitai and apollutai do not have the same meaning. There is a difference between subduing and destroying. 

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: 

“STRONG’S NT 622: ἀπόλλυμι destroy, i.e. to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin…”74 

A form of katargeo occurs in the following verse and has also been translated as “destroyed.” But according Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, death is overcome, not destroyed. 

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might bring to naught (καταργήσῃ, katargēsē) him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Heb. 2:14 

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: 

“STRONG’S NT 2673: καταργέω 

to render idle, unemployed, inactive, inoperative: τήν γῆν, to deprive of its strength, make barren (A. V. cumber), Luke 13:7; to cause a person or a thing to have no further efficiency; to deprive of force, influence, power (A. V. bring to naught, make of none effect)”75 

In ancient times, victory over an enemy was sometimes dramatized by placing the defeated authority’s head or neck under the foot of the conquering king. The conquered king’s personal plight was in the hands of the victor. The defeated king may, or may not, be executed (destroyed) subsequent to his subjection. 

The death which Paul was referring to as the last enemy is the “state of being dead,” which is holding the dead in their graves. It is the power of death that is being overcome; and God will bring to naught the power of death in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus will have mastered death when, at His command, the dead hear His voice and rise to life. At that time, the enemy of death will become the footstool of Christ. After the millennial reign, when every soul is emptied from Hades, Hades will have no more purpose. At that time, death will be destroyed. But Christ’s technical victory over death will have already been realized at the resurrection of the dead. 

Then Comes the End 

Then comes the endThe end of what? Paul tells us this end comes at the time when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. That would be the time when all of Christ’s enemies have been subdued, because, He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. Therefore, “Then comes the end” refers to the end of Jesus’ station at the Father’s right hand. Then comes the end of waiting for the subjection of Christ’s enemies. 

“Then” Jesus will be released to descend from heaven and return to earth. Hebrews 2:8 says, But now we do not yet see all things put under him. “Then comes the end,” announces the time when we DO SEE all things put under Him. And most particularly according to Paul, we see His last enemy, death, put under Him. Paul makes a direct connection between the completion of Jesus’ time at the Father’s right hand and the subduing of death. 

The subjection of the last enemy, death, will be realized on earth as the resurrection of the dead, in much the same way as Christ’s government on earth will be realized during Christ’s Millennial Reign. Jesus will return immediately upon the resurrection of the dead to transform the living and those raised in the resurrection. 

It is reasonable to assume that Paul shared this same resurrection discourse in-person while he was with the Thessalonians that he had written to the church at Corinth. Because of the association between the resurrection and the subduing of Christ’s last enemy, Paul’s comfort to the bereaved Thessalonians took the form of the following syllogism: 

  • The subjection of death will be realized on earth by the resurrection of the dead. 
  • Christ will reside in heaven until His last enemy (death) is overcome. 
  • Therefore, Christ’s coming/descending from the Father’s right hand cannot precede the resurrection of those who have fallen asleep. 
  • And, those left alive will not be changed until they see Him as He is, when Christ descends from heaven. 

So now with all of the information available we can articulate the resurrection/rapture/gathering in detail. Jesus will call forth the dead from their graves while seated at the Father’s right hand or during His descent from heaven, but at least simultaneously with the subduing of death. According to Paul, the dead must rise first, so the living will remain unchanged until after the resurrection. Then, the resurrected dead, together with the living, will be transformed in the redemption of the body. Then the glorified saints will meet Jesus in the air and participate in the Gathering. 

We have already reviewed Paul’s quotation from Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13 that death will be swallowed up in victory. But where is the witness in Scripture to the fact that death will be Christ’s last enemy? Does the Bible disclose any of Christ’s other enemies? The twelfth chapter of Daniel could have provided the basis for the order of end time events mentioned by Paul in his Corinthian and Thessalonian letters. 

Daniel and the Thessalonians Connection 

The table below compares events found in Daniel Chapter 12 with similar events used by Paul to teach the order of end time events. The Last Enemy, labeled “Z,” was established in First Corinthians 15. Suggested enemies “X” and “Y” must obviously be encountered before the last enemy – death. We also have corroborating passages from Revelation 19 and 20 that Satan is only overcome and bound (subdued) at the Second Coming. Satan will survive as the last enemy, after the Beast and False Prophet have been thrown into the lake of fire. 

Christ’s Enemies Based on the Chronology of Daniel Chapter 12 
Daniel 12 Passage Messianic Age Event 2nd Thessalonians Reference Enemies of Christ 
Vs 1. Michael and the Time of Distress Last Tribulation   
Vs 7. when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered Perplexity Vs 3b. the falling away comes first Enemy (X) Forces of Wickedness? The Fourth Beast? 
Vs 11. daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation Hostile Powers? Vs 3c, 4. man of sin is revealed, opposes & exalts, sits as God in the temple of God Enemy (Y) Son of Perdition Lawless One False Prophet 
Vs 13. go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days Resurrection of the Just Gathering of the Dispersed Vs 1. coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him Vs 2. as though the day of the Lord (Christ) had come Last Enemy (Z) Death Satan (the Power of Death) The Dragon 

If, in fact, the False Prophet is also the Lawless One, Paul states that he will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming – which could be a reference to God as a consuming fire. But in this case also, Satan would be allowed to survive the Lawless One. We’ll discuss the identity of the Beast in relation to the time of Perplexity near the end of this chapter. 

Because death is the last enemy to be subdued, all other enemies would have to be subdued first. These other enemies might be thought of as the next-to-the-last enemies. The associations shown in the table may have been precisely what Paul had taught the Thessalonians when he was with them. He may have simply been teaching the Thessalonians from the Book of Daniel – a book dear to the heart of the Pharisees because of its witness to the resurrection. 

Paul stated in First Thessalonians Four that the resurrection would be the last prophetic event before, or at the time of, Christ’s return. We have already demonstrated logically that, if the resurrection is last, then Christ’s victory over death would likewise be last. But the resurrection is also the last event, in the last verse, of the last chapter of Daniel. Could Paul’s chronology of end time events have been based on this placement of the resurrection in the prophetic Book of Daniel? We find strong evidence for such a conclusion in the second chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. In order to establish this connection to Daniel, it will be necessary to review the opening verses of Second Thessalonians Chapter Two. 

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 

5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. .

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess. 2:1-12 

We are not told in the verses above what kind of report had been circulated. Jesus warned His disciples that deceivers would come, saying; “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.” What we do know is Paul described the Second Coming in several ways to make it perfectly clear which day he was talking about: The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; our gathering together to Him; the day of Christ. 

An important observation to note for the purpose of linking this passage to Daniel Chapter 12 is that Paul started from endpoint, Christ’s coming – the final event in the table above. Then Paul submitted two end times signs that must occur before the Second Coming. Both of these signs can be found in Daniel Chapter 12. 

The first sign, the falling away, refers to the condition of God’s people, but will likely be the result of sinister forces. The second sign, the revealing of the man of sin, refers specifically to the Son of Perdition. Both of these signs take place in Daniel during a season – “At that time” – which is a time of great distress. 

Some explanation of the layout of the Book of Daniel is necessary in order to understand why the Thessalonians would have recognized these two signs by their brief descriptions in Paul’s letter. Daniel Chapter 12 comes at the end of a vision that began in Daniel Chapter 10. Chapter 12 could be compared to Revelation Chapter Six in that they both contain an overview of each book. But rather than being symbolized by the seals at the opening of Revelation, the Book of Daniel places the overview of Daniel’s dreams and visions at the end of the book. 

Daniel Chapter 12 contains two condensed summaries of the time of the end. Verses 1-3 present a poetic version of the summary; then verses 7-13 give a final explanation of the time of the end. 

We will look at the time of tribulation in the opening summary of Daniel 12 first, because it provides several links between Daniel and Second Thessalonians Chapter Two. These associations require a little digging to discover; but once the background for these associations is developed, the connections become so obvious that they can’t be ignored. 

  1. At that time Michael shall stand up, 

The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, 

Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. 

And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 

  1. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, 

Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine 

Like the brightness of the firmament, 

And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. 

The first verse attributes the time of trouble to the archangel Michael. Revelation Chapter 12 explains the how this struggle in the spiritual realm results in woe to the inhabitants of the earth. 

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. Rev. 12:7-12 

Michael’s victory over Satan would certainly be counted as a measure of Christ’s enemies being subdued. But this victory is not the end of Satan. Angels are often depicted by artists as wrestlers. So in modern terms we might think of this wrestling bout as Satan getting thrown into the stands. Gabriel and Michael could be described as two members of a heavenly wrestling a team. Daniel’s vision in chapters 10-12 contains the following references supporting the imagery of angelic wrestlers. 

“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty- one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” – Daniel 10:13 

“No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.” 

Dan. 10:21b 

“Hold” is a wrestling term still used today. Wrestling holds are used to restrain one’s opponent. The reader may be familiar with this line of reasoning and be completely convinced that the restrainer of Second Thessalonians is the Holy Spirit or the Church. But there is nothing in the Greek text to support this conclusion. And there is far more support for connecting the restrainer to Michael. The authors are both well aware of, and have been fully trained in, the arguments from the Dispensational and Pre-Tribulational points of view. 

But let’s take a look at the facts that we do know. Some Bible publishers have capitalized (deified) the personal pronoun, “he,” in Second Thessalonians 2:7 in order to support the Dispensational doctrine. No such capitalization exists in the original manuscripts and there is no mention of the Holy Spirit in this passage. Paul expected the Thessalonians to understand what was restraining based on a prior conversation. 

Because the ancient manuscripts do not identify the pronouns in verses five and six, the Protestant Reformers believed the one restraining to be the Roman Empire, and the one being restrained to be the Roman Papacy. Consider a few short quotes that will demonstrate the ambiguity of the pronouns in question. 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

  • “And now what withholdeth. . . Let my readers now consider which of the two is the probable – either that Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of Antichrist…”76 Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians by John Calvin. 
  • “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. What hinders and stops…He foretells that when the empire of Rome is taken away, the seat that falls away from God will succeed and hold its place, as the old writers, Tertullian, Chrysostom, and Jerome explain and interpret it. He who is now in authority and rules all, that is, the Roman Empire.”77 The Geneva Bible 
  • “Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman Empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time.”78 The Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • “And now ye know – By what I told you when I was with you. That which restraineth – The power of the Roman emperors. When this is taken away, the wicked one will be revealed.”79 John Wesley 

Hopefully the Christian reader would place as much confidence in the scholarship of these sources as in the opinion of a modern commercial Bible publisher. These quotes are presented solely for the purpose of showing that the pronoun, “he” is non- specific based on the text; not for the purpose of endorsing antagonism toward the politics or religion of Rome. So now, hopefully, the reader can investigate the identity of the restrainer somewhat objectively. 

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, 

What restrains? What situation or predicament? In the original Greek text, the word for “restrainsis κατέχον (katechon)80, from the Greek word, echo, “to hold.” This is also the word used in the Greek Septuagint to express restraint in Daniel’s vision. “No one holds with me against these, except Michael your prince.” But would the assumption that Michael is the one holding make sense within the context of Paul’s letter? The answer is; “Absolutely!” 

The mystery of lawlessness was already working in the world at the time of Paul’s letter. But the full manifestation of Satan’s power will not be realized in the physical realm until Satan has been fully restricted from the spiritual realm. Satan’s presence in heaven is restraining the fullness of his power on earth. The wrestling has been ongoing at least since the time of Daniel. Please consider the following interpretation of the pronouns. He (Michael) will continue holding (restraining) until he (Satan) is taken down (out of the way from heaven’s perspective). Then the full force of Satan, according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders will cause the time of woe to the inhabitants of the earth known as the Great Tribulation. 

As expected from the time of the Second Temple, the last tribulation will be a time of perplexity. Because Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies, a spirit of deception will encompass the world. The books of Daniel and Revelation attribute the consternation of humanity to the boastful and blasphemous words being disseminated by the one given eyes and a mouth to speak pompous words. Those who do not love the truth of God will be given over to strong delusion to believe the lie. 

During this period of perplexity two discrete entities will appear. One is a re-emergence of Daniel’s Fourth Beast who “shall devour the whole earth.” And the second entity is the Little Horn, who would seem from his profile to be the False Prophet of Revelation; and, according to Second Thessalonians, also the man of sin, the Lawless One, or the Son of Perdition. 

Because the falling away is a condition apparently brought about during the time of delusion, and because the Beast is a kingdom, it is the Son of Perdition who will be the human incarnation of Satan once he is cast out of heaven. Thus, we have come full circle in showing the relationship between Daniel 12:1 and Second Thessalonians Chapter Two. 

Paul doesn’t mention the Beast, but clearly alludes to the time of deceit and the manifestation of Satan (the dragon) in human form. 

Verses 7, 11, and 13 listed in the table above are from the last section of Daniel 12. We have now demonstrated how each of these verses could have been the source for Paul’s chronology for both of his letters to the Thessalonians. The remote probability of finding such a tight correlation within the span of a few verses supports the conclusions drawn in this chapter. But there are still two more points of interest in these last chapters of Daniel. 

Gabriel told Daniel that the information he was sent to share was “noted in the Scripture of Truth” Daniel 10:21. Could this have been the truth that those perishing had no love for? In addition, the prophecy imparted at the end of the Book of Daniel in verses 7-13 was given by a “man clothed in linen.” In Daniel Chapter 10, at the beginning of the vision, Daniel described this man clothed in linen by the attributes of the Son of God in His glory. This would imply that this final summary of the events of the end were spoken “By the word of the Lord.” Could this also be why the angel told John near the end of the Apocalypse, For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10 

The fact that Paul used the falling away and the man of sin as precursors to the Lord’s coming indicates that he did not anticipate the onset of the time of distress to be a recognizable sign in itself. If Paul thought there would be an obvious beginning to the Tribulation, he could have merely stated the absence of tribulation as proof that the Lord had not already come. The implications of this observation call for a revision in the church’s expectation regarding the onset of the Great Tribulation. What if, as Jesus stated, the time of tribulation begins gradually – like the birth pangs of labor? 

Daniel Chapter Twelve begins with the words, “At that time.” To understand the things that will happen when we enter that time we must look back to the previous chapters of Daniel. Indeed, verses 7, 11, and 13 of Daniel Twelve also look back to the details of the prior chapters. It is beyond the scope of this study to comment on the entire Book of Daniel, so we will only make a few general observations. 

  1. Wicked rulers are raised up by vicarious powers. 
  1. Pomp, blasphemy, cunning, and deceit characterize their reigns. 
  1. Various rulers and nations war against one another. 
  1. The saints are persecuted and slain. 
  1. The Fourth Beast will devour the whole earth. 
  1. The King of the North will take away sacrifices and set up the abomination in the sanctuary. 

The first four of these circumstances have been fulfilled during multiple waves throughout history. But the last two are yet to be fulfilled; although, some might argue that one or more Beasts (heathen nations) have already devoured the earth. 

So based on Paul’s writings, what will be the signs indicating the time of the Great Tribulation has begun? First of all, deceit and delusion will swell to the point that even the elect will be tempted to doubt what is true. This time of strong delusion will be a sign that the end has begun. Paul had apparently already told the Thessalonian Church to expect this sign because he was reminding them of the details of their former conversation. 

In the midst of this time of perplexity, the King of the North (or a type of the King of the North) will rise up after the fashion of Antiochus Epiphanies. Jesus and Paul both told believers to watch for a final occurrence of this event. 

In conclusion, the sign of the falling away will be recognized by a level of perplexity and deception unequaled in human history. The disinformation broadcast by evil leaders will very likely be responsible for the state of lawlessness and the abounding of sin. Such a state of delusion, accompanied by the setting up of an actual abomination in the sanctuary, would fulfill the prerequisites of Paul based on the Book of Daniel. These signs will precede the rapture. The rapture is not the sign. 

Tree of Life – New Body Transformation Vignette 

Chapter 14 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Tree of Life – New Body Transformation Vignette 

In this vignette Ben and Kristiana, part of the remnant of Israel, come to understand the true meaning of the Tree of Life from the time of Adam through to the moment they stood before it. 

To enter the city,” Yeshua said, “you still need to be transformed from your bodies of flesh and blood to bodies like the Angels, glorious and not comprised of 

dust; yours must be conformed to my own glorious body and become partakers of my divine nature, free of corruption. You must be born again by taking of the Tree of Life and be transformed like Antipas and all of your clan that came before them.” Pointing to the Tree of Life, which lined the river, each individual tree connected at the roots, he said with a big smile, “Now, both of you, stretch out your hands and take and eat leaves from the Tree of Life which are for your healing, and live forever!” 

Kristiana’s heart leapt with joy as she stretched out her hand and plucked off a leaf from the same Tree of Life which had been in Eden with Adam and Eve! 

Ben stared intently at the leaf; his thoughts drifted back to the original Tree and amazingly it was as if he and Kristiana were holding the AEFOD again, back in the Chronicles: “Adam, where are you?” He felt the weight of Adonai’s sadness on that day so long ago when he looked longingly for the last time at his dear children, from whom he was obligated to remove himself, and from the earth lest his splendor and radiance destroy it. Ben understood: his desire had been to walk with Adam and his sons as an expression of love. He wanted to make his home with them and share his heart; he wanted them to be where he was because he had always desired to live and walk among them, to be their King and Father, and they his people. He thought of how Adonai was forced to abandon the earth, putting up a veil of separation lest his own glory, like a stream of brimstone, destroy that which he had created. Because of Adonai’s great mercy and love for his creation he had to go into a self-imposed exile rather than let everything become a lake of fire. 

All of a sudden, they both saw and felt Michael and Gabriel standing next to the Tree of Life, surrounded by the four cherubim, which appeared like blazing torches. They passed from one to another the fiery whirling sword with such speed that it looked like lightning and became an impenetrable wall of fiery-lightning. 

“Lucifer’s strategy worked, despite his humiliation,” Michael said in shock. “Death is now permanent and irreversible according to Lucifer’s scheme. Will Adonai ever be able to undo it? I can only wonder what hope there is for Adam and Eve and their race now that the way to the Tree of Life is blocked. So long as Adam and his sons are separated through degeneration, Adonai can never reassert his presence on the earth because of his unequaled power, fire, and lightning.” 

Kristiana looked again at the leaf in her hand. It was so powerful it could transform a person from a constitution of dirt, adamáh, to one of spirit – like an Angel. The transformation could not be undone, however, and whatever state a person was in when they partook of the fruit, such would be their permanent state forever and ever. It was for that reason that Adonai had placed the cherubim around the tree to guard it at all costs. Therefore, the mortals could not eat from the Tree of Life until they had washed their garments, had bathed in the water of life, and had drunk from it. Once they had washed their robes, however, they had the right to the Tree of Life, and could enter through the gates into the City of Adonai because they possessed a body made of spirit, like the Angels. 

For the first time, Ben understood why Adonai so quickly guarded Adam and Eve from eating from the tree. Had Adam taken of its fruit, he would have forever been in a state of death. Ben understood that adding the state of life from the Tree of Life to the state of death incurred by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, would have equaled an infinite state of incompatibility, like opposite forces. Had Adam eaten from the tree, he would have been transformed into the likeness of an Angel, though rebellious and accursed like Lucifer and the rebellious Angels. 

He would have lingered in the gloom of shades and shadows, constantly in death, yearning to be free of its grip, yet with no hope of remedy from his dire existence. 

Ben looked back at the river of life clearly understanding the predicament which Lucifer had created and which Yeshua had overcome through his sacrifice and his restoration of hope to the hopeless. Only now was there a way for an Adamite to transition from dirt body to sprit body, allowing entrance into the presence of Adonai. First, by bathing and drinking of the water of life which only Adonai could provide for the cleansing and healing of their bodies. And, then by eating of the Tree of Life completing the transformation and making them compatible with life in Adonai’s kingdom. 

Ben and Kristiana ate the leaves; in a mere moment they felt their entire composition change from the inside out. Every cell in their bodies, which was made of carbon, was transformed. The adamáh, planet, soil, dirt, which was their base composition was transformed into spirit, immortal, and resplendent bodies. They both looked at each other and then at their own new glorious body which death would never inhabit, which no weakness would ever plague. They were radiating light – the light coming from Adonai. They were new creations; no longer comprised of the adamáh but of the immaterial, created directly by Adonai. Their bodies at last conformed to his because they would always be in the light of his presence with no veil between them anymore. They at last had their wedding garment – their garment of Yeshuáh

Ben looked over at Kristiana, whose body looked like a dazzling gem and who had rays of light emanating from her face, creating a glorious crown of life, sparkling like crystal with the color of emeralds shining brightly, with topazes, gems, and yellow pearls. Her feet and arms were shining like gleaming metal and her clothing was shining whiter than any snow; a shine like that of the stars of heaven, sparkling like the rays of the sun. Truly, she had been conformed to the image of the glorious body of Adonai and had become a partaker of the divine nature; she would never die and was truly a daughter of Adonai. 

Ben sensed the same thing in his own body. The newness of his body stunned him so much that he grabbed one hand with the other to see how his new hands felt. The sensation of touch was just as real. 

His body was tangible and “physical” but no longer made of dust. It was an altogether new mode of existence. But there was more, he seemed to have this special connection to all around him. Not only could he see Kristiana’s beautiful new body but he could actually look into her heart. He knew her as she also knew him to the very depths of their souls. They each knew the history of the other. Instantly, Ben understood that this is the way it would be with all in Yeshua’s kingdom, knowing and being known by all. 

Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [ Part- 2]

Chapter 13 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative (Chris Steinle)

Translating the Rapture Verse 

First let’s examine the common Greek-to-English equivalent of each word or phrase so that we can start with the literal Greek meaning expressed by the original language. Commentary is inserted where English words are added, or where English translations depart from the literal Greek equivalent. (Greek words and phrases from Verse 17 are in bold) 

Verse 17: ἔπειτα ἡμεῖς (epeita haemeis); Then we. 

Verse 17: οἱ ζῶντες (hoi zontes); the ones alive. 

Verse 17: οἱ περιλειπόμενοι (hoi perileipomenoi); the ones left behind 

These “ones” are typically translated into English as; “the living survivors,” or “those alive and remaining.” 

The word commonly used in the New Testament for “remain” is the Greek word μένω (meno); to remain, abide. Therefore Paul’s choice to use a different word reflects a peculiar aspect about these living ones. 

Strong’s NT 4035: περιλείπω (peri-leipo

From peri and leipo; to leave all around, i.e. (passively) survive – remain. 

Greek; peri; about, around 

Greek; leipo; to be destitute, lack.60 

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: 

περιλείπω: present passive participle περιλειπόμενος (cf. περί, III. 2); to leave over; passive, to remain over, to survive: 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17. (Aristophanes, Plato, Euripides, Polybius, Herodian; 2 

Macc. 1:31.)61 

The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates begins its definition of perileipo by noting the Classical Greek meaning as; “those who survived, and therefore remained, or were left behind.”62 Specifically referring to First Thessalonians 4:17, Zodhiates translates οἱ περιλειπόμενοι (hoi perileipomenoi) as; the surviving ones. 

St. Paul described these ones remaining as a remnant of survivors who will not merely be alive and abiding, but they will be literally leftover or left about. 

Paul was echoing the ideas expressed in the fourth chapter of Isaiah. The Greek Septuagint uses the same root words as Paul used in First Thessalonians 4:17: 

και εσται το υπολειφθεν εν σιων και το καταλειφθεν εν ιερουσαλημ αγιοι κληθησονται παντες οι γραφεντες εις ζωην εν ιερουσαλημ (Isa. 4:2)63 

In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped [death]. And it shall come to pass that he who is left (LXX; hupo-leiph-then) in Zion and remains (LXX; kata-leiph-then) in Jerusalem will be called holy – everyone who is recorded among the living [those left alive] in Jerusalem. Isa. 4:2, 3 

Verse 17: ἅμα (hama); together / at the same time, or simultaneously. 

Verse 17: σὺν αὐτοῖς (sun autois); with them. – The Spirit testifying that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Heb. 11:40 may apply here as to why we must be glorified together. The dead, together with the living, at the same time, will both experience the change described by the following verb. 

Harpagēsometha 

Verse 17: ἁρπαγησόμεθα (harpagēsometha) 

Paul used a word for rapture that is so unique in form that this exact word doesn’t occur anywhere else in the Greek New Testament or in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Yet the Pre- Tribulation rapture theory has pinned its hopes and built a media empire upon this one word. The internet is replete with images of being “caught up” – the English translation of the word “harpázō.” But there is a Greek word even closer to harpagēsometha than harpázō. The Greek word “harpagē” is so close to the word Paul used for “rapture” that it is actually part of the word, harpagēsometha. 

Harpázō, and harpagē are closely related; but do they mean the same thing? And more importantly, which one of these words expresses the meaning intended by Paul? 

The Greek stems of these words are; harpas (Gr. ἁρπασ), and harpag (Gr. ἁρπαγ). Using Latin characters, the only difference is the last letter of each stem – sigma (sometimes taking the phonetic forms z or dz). And gamma (g). These two words have slightly different definitions and are designated by Strong’s as; GS724 and GS726. 

GS724 harpagē har-pag-ay’ from 726; pillage (properly abstract):– extortion, ravening, spoiling.64 

GS726 726 harpázō har-pad’-zo from a derivative of 138; to seize (in various applications):–catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by forces).65 

Strong’s indicates that harpagē is derived from harpázō. And the origin of harpagēsometha has been attributed to both of these lexical entries. But, as can be seen above, the words do not mean the same thing. Nevertheless each of these two words can be shown to support the authors’ conclusions about the rapture and its timing. 

As stated by Strong’s above, harpázō is translated into English in a variety of ways. But whether the Greek word means; take away, carry off, catch up, tear up, rend, ravish, or seize, harpázō usually signifies the use of force. There are other Greek words commonly used to convey that someone or something has been taken, lifted up, or carried away. But harpázō implies that the object which is being taken will be, or has been, seized or violated by force. 

Force is precisely what we would expect to be present at the Lord’s second coming. The exceeding great power of God will forcefully subdue death, including the mortality of our lowly bodies, at the time of the resurrection/rapture. 

The rapture will occur at the time of Christ’s plundering of the devil’s power, which he continues to hold over death. When Jesus was accused of relying on the power of Beelzebub, He used the occasion to talk about the triumph of His kingdom (house) over the household of Satan. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder ἁρπάσαι (harpasai) his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder διαρπάσει (di-arpasei) his house. Matt. 12:29 (See also Mark 3:27.) 

Harpagē means; pillage, plunder, or spoil. Above in Matthew’s gospel, some English translators have rendered harpasai as “plunder.” Could there be any greater indicator that Christ has overcome His last enemy (death), than at the resurrection of the dead where death is swallowed up in victory? 

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Heb. 2:14 (emphasis added) 

Harpagē conveys the same forceful aspect of harpázō, but actually fits the First Thessalonians rapture narrative better than harpázō. Based on the assumption that the purpose of the rapture is to remove the church from the planet, popular theologians have asserted that harpagēsometha is the first person plural future passive indicative of the word harpázō. [We] (first person plural) shall (future) be seized/caught/snatched (passive indicative). 

But if harpagēsometha is formed from harpázō, why does the stem contain the gamma ending? Why does it contain the very word, harpagē? This obvious harpagē connection has been conveniently explained away by asserting that the passive voice of “seized” somehow becomes equivalent to the word “plundered.” But changing “to seize” into “to be seized” does not make “seize” an interchangeable equivalent of the word “plunder.” The passive form of “to plunder” would be “to be plundered.” 

Dr. Spiros Zodhiates recognized that harpagēsometha is formed from the root word, harpagē. It is not merely the future passive indicative of harpázō. It is, in fact, the future indicative of harpagē

“724. ἁρπαγή harpagē; gen. harpagēs, from harpázō (726), to seize upon with force. Robbery, plundering. Zodhiates provides synonyms such as; skulon (4661), in the plural meaning spoils, arms stripped from an enemy; akrothinion (205), the top of a heap [of plunder], the choicest spoils of war.”66 (emphasis added) 

“To seize upon,” does not mean “seized.” Likewise, a person being robbed or plundered of their possessions is not an equivalent expression for taking the whole person away; whether they be caught up, taken away, or carried off. 

The authors agree with Zodhiates that Paul intended harpagēsometha to be the first person plural future indicative of harpagē rather than a derivative form of harpázō. As a verb, harpagē denotes the act of plundering, a forceful change of ownership. But unlike harpázō, harpagē does not involve the abduction of the person himself. The contrast between taking someone away, and taking something away from its owner, is paramount if you happen to be the person involved. That is why our analysis of harpagē must go so much deeper than the casual observance that harpagēsometha would seem to come from the word “harpázō.” 

The future passive indicative of harpázō would indeed be “shall be seized.” But the future passive indicative of harpagē is “shall be plundered.” English translators have bypassed the literal meaning of harpagēsometha simply because they have not understood how “plundered” fits into the rapture scenario. The pre-tribbers have missed the point that Paul was trying to communicate because it doesn’t fit into their own narrative. Paul used the word “plunder” because he was describing the transformation that will occur when mortality is overpowered at Christ’s appearing. Great force will be present at the time of the resurrection/rapture. 

Furthermore, if Paul had used a form of harpázō to mean “seized;” he would have been implying that the force of God will be released for the purpose of gathering the saints against their will. The notion that God’s people would resist drawing near to their Savior is reminiscent of the words of the Psalmist; 

Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you. Psa. 32:9 

Rather, Paul was acknowledging the power of God to transform our lowly bodies. Immediately after this forceful rapture the saints will peacefully, joyfully, meet the Lord in the air. 

The chart on the following pages shows the overall consistency with which harpázō and harpagē are used in the biblical texts. Because harpázō has almost become a household word among students of eschatology, examples of its use are presented first. Included are some exceptions where the words have been used interchangeably. 

There are dozens more examples of harpázō and diarpázō in the Greek Septuagint that could have been listed in the chart. But the chart is representative of the results of the larger study. 

An online article at PreceptAustin.org sites 34 uses of harpázō in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) (Gen. 37:33; Lev. 6:4; 19:13; Deut. 28:31; Jdg. 21:21, 23; 2 Sam. 23:21; Job 20:19; 24:2, 9, 

19; Ps. 7:2; 10:9; 22:13; 50:22; 69:4; 104:21; Isa. 10:2; Ezek 18:7, 

12, 16, 18; 19:3, 6; 22:25, 27; Hos. 5:14;6:1; Amos 1:11; 3:4; Mic. 

3:2; 5:8; Nah. 2:12) 

The article continues; “A number of the uses of harpázō in the LXX translate the Hebrew word meaning to tear (taraph; 2963) (as of beasts of prey, tear to pieces – Gen. 37:33, Ps. 7:2, 50:22, Hos. 5:14, 6:1) which brings out the violent aspect of harpázō .” The article concludes; “None of the LXX uses of harpázō convey the same sense of rapture as found here in 1 Thessalonians.”67 

Uses of Harpázō and Harpagē in the Bible and Apocrypha
English Translation
Verse Verses including the Gr. stem harpag snatch, take away, seize rob, spoil, plunder 
Leviticus 19:13 You shall not cheat your neighbor nor rob ἁρπάσεις (harpaseis) him.  
Deuteronomy 28:31 your donkey shall be violently taken away ἡρπασμένος 
(haerpasmenos) 
X
Judges 21:21 and every man catch ἁρπάσετε (harpasete) a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh.  X
Judith 16:9 Her sandal caught (fig. captured) ἥρπασεν (haerpasen) his eye  X
Matthew 13:19 the evil one comes and snatches ἁρπάζει (harpasei) away what was sown  X
Nahum 2:12a The lion caught ἥρπασεν (haerpasen) enough for his whelps X  
John 10:12 and the wolf snatches ἁρπάζει (harpasei) them  X
John 10:28 no one will snatch ἁρπάσει (harpasei) them out of My hand.  X
Acts 8:39,40 the Spirit of the Lord caught ἥρπασεν (haerpasen) Philip away  X 
Revelation 12:5 and her child was caught up ἡρπάσθη (hērpasthē) to God  X
Verse Verses including the Gr. stem harpag snatch, take away, seize rob, spoil, plunder 
Leviticus 6:2 If anyone lies … about a robbery ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs 
Isaiah 3:14 the plunder ἁρπαγὴ (harpagē) of the poor is in your houses.  
Isaiah 42:22 This is a people despoiled and plundered διηρπασμένος (di- haerpasmenos)… For plunder ἅρπαγμα (harpagma), and no one says, “Restore!”  X X 
Isaiah 61:8 I hate robbery ἁρπάγματα (harpagmata) for burnt offering.  
Nahum 2:12b and his den with rapine ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs).  
2 Corinthians 12:2-4 such a man was caught up ἁρπαγέντα (harpagenta) to the third … was caught up ἡρπάγη (hērpagē) into Paradise X X  
Matthew 23:25 outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of robbery ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs) and self-indulgence  
Luke 11:39 but your inward part is full of robbery ἁρπαγῆς (harpagēs) and wickedness.  
Philippians 2:5,6 being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery ἁρπαγμὸν (harpagmon)  
Hebrews 10:34 and joyfully accepted the plundering ἁρπαγὴν (harpagēn) of your goods  

After reviewing the table above we can see that nearly without exception, harpázō is translated into English as “snatch”, “take away”, “seize”, etc.; and harpagē is translated as; “rob”, “spoil”, “plunder”, etc. Such consistent usage of the two words and their translations adds further support that harpagēsometha should be translated as “shall be robbed, spoiled or plundered.” 

John Jeffrey Dodson’s lexicon which harmonizes the work of Abbott-Smith, Berry, Souter, and Strong, gives the concise meaning of harpagē as; “the act of plundering, plunder, spoil.”68 

Based on the assumption that harpagēsometha is the future indicative of harpagē, what has, since the King James era, been translated as “caught up,” could justifiably be translated “plundered.” But would this translation make sense within the context of the verse? Yes! Using “plundered” in verse 17 of First Thessalonians Chapter Four brings out more detail and adds even more weight to Paul’s argument for the timing of the resurrection. 

The next thing to consider is why two of the exceptions in the table above were made when translating Paul’s use of harpagē into English. Paul may have used harpagē with the specific purpose of magnifying the ambiguity of whether, in fact, he had been taken in bodily form, or just caught away in a vision. 

A bolder position as to why harpagē has been translated as “caught up,” (as if it were the Greek word harpázō used in Revelation Chapter 12) is based on the possibility that the English translation has missed Paul’s intent; and that he meant “plundered” in all instances of harpagē. Paul, knowing that flesh and blood cannot enter into the real presence of God, may have used harpagē in recognition that his mortality would have needed to be transformed into a spiritual body; if indeed, Paul had actually been translated into a spiritual body. 

But to say that the English interpretation should vary from its typical meaning in First Thessalonians 4:17 simply because English interpreters have interpreted a previous verse as an anomaly, would base the translation of harpagē in First Thessalonians on circular reasoning. On the other hand, if “plunder” can be shown to work within the context of verse 17, then there is no need to rationalize why an atypical rendering of the word would yield a more accurate interpretation of the verse. 

As a technicality, we will find when we implement harpagē to First Thessalonians Four that “up” may be implied, but is not expressed in texts of either Second Corinthians 12:2-4 or First Thessalonians 4:17. More on this in a moment. 

Then we who are alive and remain shall be shall be plundered/robbed/spoiled. Our goods (our natural body, our mortality) will be plundered. The purchased possession spoken of Paul in Ephesians 1:14 will be redeemed. Instead of being snatched away, God will rob us of our soma psuchikon (the natural body) and further clothe us with our soma pneumatikon (spiritual body). This glorification process requires   the destruction, the plundering, of the old body. The saints are not being carried off at the instant of the “rapture.” The resurrected dead and those who are Christ’s at His coming will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. 

The plundering is not the removal of the body, but the redemption of the body. Paul’s employment of this single Greek word does not establish, by itself, the foundation for an eschatological system. But there are enough examples of the customary Greek usage of harpadzo and harpagē to support the conclusion that harpagē, found in First Thessalonians 4:17, depicts the moment of change promised in First Corinthians 15:23, 50-58. Harpagēsometha supports the idea that those who are Christ’s at His coming will be transformed. This change will occur before both the living survivors and the resurrected saints are gathered to be with the Lord. 

The main purpose of First Thessalonians 4:13-18 is to present such a precise order of events at the time of the Lord’s return so as to comfort to the living. If Paul had used harpázō, he would have been skipping over the moment of the change. This would have blurred the precision of the discrete realities which he was hoping would comfort the bereaved. 

Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [Part-1]

Chapter 13 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [Part-1]

Paul stated in First Corinthians 15; Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Cor. 15:51, 52 This passage on the resurrection and “change” is the big sister to the rapture narrative found in First Thessalonians Chapter Four. 

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess. 4:13-18. 

This passage is proof of the rapture. But the details of these verses have, unfortunately, been overlooked by Pre-Tribulation rapture theologians, authors, and movie-makers. 

In accordance with basic (inductive) Bible interpretation guidelines, the very first step in determining the meaning of this passage is to establish its single main theme. If these verses above were to be bound as a stand-alone booklet, what would it be called? What was Paul’s primary motive for conveying these thoughts? 

The first and last verses are focused on giving comfort to those who had lost their loved ones. The first verse also implies that the bereaved would be less grieved and more hopeful if they were more informed about the things that Paul is about to share with them. Paul didn’t want those who had lost their loved ones to think that they had perished and would miss out on the Lord’s return. It also brings to mind the remorse of Mary and Martha; “Lord, if you had been here, our brother Lazarus would not have died.” The overall objective of the Thessalonians citation is comfort. Comfort through education. An appropriate title might be something like, “Paul’s Words of Comfort to the Bereaved.” 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thess. 4:13 

This verse takes the form of an “if – then” statement. “If” we believe that Jesus died and rose again; then (even so), or (thus) – “God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” The independent conditional statement is that “one believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus.” If we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, even so we should also believe what Jesus has promised to His followers; “because I live, you will live also.” John 5:25 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” The dead will hear the voice of Jesus and rise. First Thessalonians 4:14 ties these two resurrections together. We believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus; and even so, we believe that God will raise those who have fallen asleep. 

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will  by no means precede those who are asleep. 1 Thess. 4:15 

“by the word of the Lord.” 

We have already demonstrated by citing numerous Scriptures (the word of the Lord) that the resurrection will precede the gathering. According to Paul’s statement, the resurrection of the dead must occur before the rapture of the living. Stated from the other perspective, the rapture cannot occur before the resurrection. 

“By no means” is formed by two negative Greek words. In English this would be a double negative. But in the Greek it has the meaning, “It absolutely won’t happen.” This fact, expressed in the Greek’s most emphatic negative expression, implies that the living cannot possibly experience the rapture at the Lord’s return in advance of the resurrection of the dead. 

The Coming of the Lord 

“Until the coming of the Lord.” 

Notice that it does not say, “Until a calling from the Lord.” This distinction will be amplified further in the next verse. 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thess. 4:16 

This verse contains so many important elements that we need to examine each phrase individually. The first phrase identifies three different arguments which would persuade the Thessalonians that Paul was describing the second coming of Christ. 

“For the Lord Himself” 

There is an additional Greek word in the original texts. The Greek word – hoti51 (that) appears before “Himself.” The Online Interlinear translation of this verse captures the meaning of this phrase as, “For that same Lord.”52 Another good translation would be, “For that self-same Lord.” By using these words, anyone familiar with the Book of Acts would tend to associate them with “that same Jesus” from Luke’s record of the ascension in Acts 1:9-11. 

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” 

Because Paul has just mentioned “the coming of the Lord,” it would appear that Paul is deliberately calling to mind the mental image of the Lord’s bodily return. Although this may not provide conclusive evidence that this “coming” is the bodily second coming of Christ; please consider the next two phrases as further supporting evidence. 

“Will descend” 

The Lord – that same Lord, will descend; katabesetai53 (will descend). This exact word is used in Romans 10:7 asking the question, “Who will descend into the abyss?” Katabas54 is usually translated “come down,” as in the Gospel of John where Jesus referred to Himself as the one who “comes down from heaven,” and, “the bread that came down from heaven.” Paul first referred to this event as “the coming of the Lord” in verse 15. Verse 16 reinforces the fact that Jesus is “coming,” and that He’s “coming down” – “descending.” 

“From heaven” 

Here the operative word is “from.” This is a common word in the Greek pronounced “apa.”55 The point in examining this word is to differentiate what this preposition is not saying. It does not mean “in,” or “near,” or “around.” The Greek has other words that mean those things. Apa (from), conveys a separation between two positions. Just like its use in English, “from” generally implies departure and distance. An object was there, and now is here; the object came from its former position. 

This study seems mundane except that it is necessary in order to express the precision of the original Greek text. “From heaven” means that Jesus has distanced Himself from heaven. He was in heaven, and now he has separated Himself from heaven. He’s not merely coming in heaven, or descending in heaven. He’s going to descend from heaven. He’s not going to get up from His throne and walk a few steps – and call to the church. No. He is, once again, going to depart from His place in heaven and descend

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven.” 

What Paul has written affirms that the same Jesus who has ascended will also come down from heaven – “in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” “In like manner” means that the same processes will recur; except that they will occur in a reverse manner. When Jesus was taken up to heaven he ascended from the earth. When Jesus returns from heaven, he will descend to earth. When Jesus ascended into heaven he disappeared from sight. When Jesus descends He will reappear; and this is the blessed hope. Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 

Let’s put this all together now. From verse 15: “the coming of the Lord.” From verse 16: “the self-same Lord,” “will come down,” “from heaven.” Let’s take a closer look at these observations about the station of Lord Jesus: 

  1. He is coming / will come down. 
  1. He is the same Lord. (Himself, or self-same) 
  1. He is descending. 

He is coming. He is no longer seated in heaven – He is not merely calling or commanding the saints to rise and join Him in heaven. He is coming. 

For the Lord Himself. Paul is not being redundant. Jesus is, “the self-same Lord.” Once again this points to a physical second coming, as foretold by the angels in the Book of Acts. As He ascended, He will descend. In what manner? In bodily form. 

He is Descending. Jesus cannot be sitting and descending at the same time. He is either sitting at the Father’s right hand or He is descending. Paul says He is descending. 

“With a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” 

The Bible describes a truly glorious appearing at Christ’s return – which every eye will witness. This celebration, once again, lends itself to the conclusion that Paul is describing the bodily return of Jesus. 

These verses are primarily given as counsel to the living regarding their dead. They’re going to burst forth from their graves. They’re not going to miss out on anything. So you don’t have to sorrow as those who have no hope. Isn’t it interesting that verse 17 (the part about the rapture) is presented in books and movies without a depiction of the resurrection of the dead? Images portray the saints as though they were ascending straight into heaven with no appearing of the Lord. In most cases there are no voices, no trumpets, and no descending Christ; and certainly no graphic imagery of the resurrection of the dead. The authors and screenwriters have studied these verses. They know exactly what they’re doing. But they don’t want the audience to think about the fact that the resurrection of the dead occurs first – even though that information is presented in the text three times. 

This concealment is most certainly made because the Bible places the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age, after the time of the Great Tribulation. People who are trying to force the idea of the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the church either can’t use this verse (which is the only verse in the English Bible that actually refers to this meeting in the air as the rapture); or, they must strip it of its context and show the rapture scene by itself. If they present the rapture verse in its context, it becomes obvious that it’s not a Pre- Tribulation rapture at all. It’s a rapture following the resurrection of the dead. 

And the dead in Christ will rise first 

The dead in Christ will include all who have died in faith. There is only one faith. Whether these who died in Christ were baptized in the name of the Trinity, baptized in the sea, or baptized into that Rock which was Christ; there is only one baptism. As stated earlier, and based on Paul’s qualification here, this resurrection immediately preceding the rapture appears to be what is called the resurrection of the righteous, also known as the resurrection of the just. 

Now we come to verse 17 of First  Thessalonians Four – the rapture verse. Here we will slow down and take a word-by-word approach based on our hypothesis that the rapture is comprised of three distinct events; the resurrection, the rapture, and the gathering. 

The precision of the Greek words used by Paul will allow us to examine the rapture sequence on the microscopic level. This will also provide the opportunity to apply all of the ontological concepts employed by Paul in his other epistles. 

There are no textual variants in verse 17 in any of the Greek texts from which major English Bible versions are translated. Each Greek letter of each word is consistent throughout the sea of ancient Greek manuscripts. The words are identical in the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Western, and majority text-types. The Greek words presented below are used as the base text in the King James56, New King James57, New International58, American Standard(s)59, and other modern paraphrased versions. The reader may be completely unfamiliar with the Greek language. Nevertheless, it is beneficial to view the 2,000 year-old Greek with one’s own eyes.