The most prominent point of disagreement about end-time eschatology among believing Christians centers around four questions:
What is the Day of the Lord? When is the Day of the Lord? When is the Rapture in relation to the Great Tribulation? Does the Day of God’s Wrath include the Great Tribulation?
Why is it important to be certain of the answer to these questions? Because many live today with no real concern about the coming end-times events because they have concluded that the church will be raptured before it all starts, and they will not be here. It’s important because if they are mistaken on this point, many pastors are at best, leading their flock down a path of total unpreparedness, or worse, a path of utter destruction.
This chart is designed to prove that the church WILL go through the Great Tribulation but will escape THE Day of God’s Wrath, just before Jesus returns to earth at the Day of the Lord to judge the Antichrist and all unbelievers of that age.
Seven things are crucial to understanding this:
1) The fourth through the sixth seal of Revelation are descriptive of a time of Satan’s wrath, not God’s wrath. This happens after Satan is thrown out of heaven to the earth (Rev 12:12), about the time Antichrist is revealed in the Abomination of Desolation, or half-way through Daniel’s 70th week. This marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation and this time of Satan’s wrath (2 Thess 2:9). Everything prior to this event in Daniel’s 70th week is “birth pains.” These days will be “cut short for the sake of the elect”, (the rapture of the church) at the end of the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:22), which precedes the day of God’s wrath.
2) The seventh seal of Revelation is very specific to the Day of God’s Wrath and includes the Trumpet and Bowl judgments. The time of Satan’s wrath, which incorporates the last 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week (The Great Tribulation), is completely distinct from the Day of God’s Wrath which follows later.
3) The Apostle Paul in 2 Thess. 2:1-4 clearly says that the Day of The Lord must follow THE Apostasy and Antichrist’s revealing at the Abomination of Desolation. In context, this Day of the Lord includes “our being gathered to him” in the rapture (Parousia or Jesus’ second coming).
4) According to 2 Thess. 2:1-4, the Rapture of the church (“our being gather to him”) cannot happen until Antichrist is “revealed”. Many will say that Antichrist is revealed when he signs a peace covenant with Israel at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. This cannot be supported by the text in 2 Thess. 2:3-10. Here, in context, the revealing of Antichrist is precisely when “he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God”, the Abomination of Desolation. This is the “proper time” of verse 2:6.
5) The rebellion or apostasy described in 2 Thess. 2:1-4 cannot be a general rebellion. It is much more of a single event than that. While we don’t know exactly what this apostasy is, we do know from the context in 2Thess 2:11,12 that “God sends it” in the form of a “power delusion”, and that people in the last days will be deceived by “the lie”.
6) Jesus’ detailing of the events In Mt. 24 best describes the events that would accompany the Rapture of the church. He was answering the disciple’s question, “what will be the signs of Christ’s “Parousia” or second coming, specifically “at the end of the age”. He describes sequentially, and in some detail, the Birth Pains, (Mt. 24: 4-8), the Abomination of Desolation (Mt 24:15), the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:9-28), the Cosmic Signs of Joel 2:31 (Mt 24:29), and the Rapture (24:30-51). He then goes on to describe the times of the rapture and what those days will be like.
7) Jesus did not describe the details regarding The Day of God’s Wrath because he was only addressing the disciple’s question, “what can we look for as events that will lead up to (i.e. the sign) his coming”. He basically takes us up to the end of the 6th seal in the Book of Revelation.
The Day of the Lord starts with the Rapture and ends with Christ’s second coming to earth in judgment. It doesn’t begin however until THE Apostasy, the Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation occur, and the Cosmic Signs announce its imminent arrival.