Prophecy Sign 3: Prophecy Hermeneutics
THE PREWRATH RAPTURE
Donnie's Teaching Notes
The first appearance of the Lord Jesus in Daniel’s 70th week will occur at the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture is the gathering together of all those who have died in the faith, and all believers who are alive at the time of Jesus’ return. Jesus will appear suddenly in the sky and resurrect all dead believers, and remove all living believers from the earth. He will be seen coming in the clouds, accompanied by angels, announced with the shouting voice of an archangel and a blasting sound of the trumpet of God. At that moment, all believers, dead and living, will be caught up into the air to be with Him. This event will be as conspicuous as lightning flashing from the East to the West.
THE PREWRATH RAPTURE
Donnie's Teaching Notes (continued)
I believe and teach that the Rapture of the Church will occur after the cosmic disturbances of the sixth seal, but prior to the breaking of the 7th seal and the Day of the Lord. This doctrine, developed by Marvin J. Rosenthal, is referred to as the "Pre-Wrath" Rapture. See The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. The essence of the Pre-wrath Rapture is that the return of Jesus Christ will occur AFTER the mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week, AFTER the revealing of the Antichrist in the temple, AFTER the persecution of the Saints in the Great Tribulation, AFTER the cosmic disturbances and the breaking of the 6th seal, and immediately BEFORE He unleashes His wrath during the Day of the Lord on the ungodly world. Until such time we are to be patient and persevere.
In contrast, my friends who subscribe to the Pre-Tribulation theory ("pre-trib") teach that the Rapture will occur at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week, before (pre) the Great Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week). They believe that Christ’s coming can occur at any moment, and is “imminent.” They define “imminent” as no prophetic event needs to be fulfilled before the Second Coming.
I believe and teach that there are several prophetic events that must occur before Jesus returns. Is the Rapture imminent? That depends. It is one thing to speak of imminence and mean that the Rapture could occur in our lifetime once we see the specific signs that will precede Jesus’ Second Coming. It is quite another to define “imminent” as meaning Christ could return at ANY moment, and there are no signs that need to happen before He returns.
The Pre-Tribulation and Pre-wrath theories also differ in another essential way concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Pre-Tribulation theorists believe in a "two-stage" return of Christ. Specifically, pre-tribbers argue that Christ will return once to rapture his Church at the beginning of Daniel's 70th week, and then a second time at the end of Daniel's 70th week for the Battle of Armageddon. Pre-Wrath believes in one Second Coming of Christ, which will occur at the end of the Great Tribulation. Once Jesus returns, he will remain on the Earth and be present during the Day of the Lord. How do we know this? Scripture frequently uses the Greek word "Parousia" to refer to Jesus’ Second Coming, which means “to come and to stay, a continuing presence.” Jesus will come to rapture His Church, and then remain on Earth throughout the Day of the Lord. We do not know all the details of where Jesus will be or what he will be doing during this time period. However, we are told that the 144,000, who will be God's witnesses during the Day of the Lord, will "stand with Him on the Mt. of Olives and follow the Lamb wherever He goes," implying that Christ will remain on Earth. (See Revelation 14:4 and Zechariah 14:3-4.)
Additionally, if the Church were to escape the entirety of Daniel's 70th week, there would be no point in God giving the Book of Revelation to John in order to prepare the Church for this period of trials.
1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18 – CLASSIC RAPTURE TEXT #1
While Paul was with the Thessalonian believers he taught them that Jesus was coming again. However, when some of their loved ones died before Christ’s return, they mistakenly thought that these believers had missed out on the Rapture and the resurrection of the dead. Paul writes to inform them that this is not the case;
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, (They were confused concerning the status of those believers who died before the Second Coming. Paul is writing to correct their thinking) or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope (Paul did not want them to needlessly grieve about any loved ones who have died in the faith because they have a great hope awaiting them).  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (Paul explains that not only believers who had recently died, but all believers of all ages who die before the Lord’s Second Coming, will be physically resurrected to meet the Lord in the air when He returns)  According to the Lord's own word (Probably referring our Lord’s words in Mt 24), we tell you that we who are still alive (Those still living at the end of the Great Tribulation), who are left till the coming of the Lord (Gk = Parousia. Which refers to the Second Coming of Jesus when He sends His angels to gather the elect. See Mt 24:29-31.), will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep (both the dead and the living believers will all be caught up – raptured- together).  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God (No amount of explaining can make this passage a “secret” rapture. It’s a glorious event that includes a shout, the voice of an archangel and God’s heavenly trumpet blast.), and the dead in Christ will rise first (both N.T. and O.T. elect).  After that, we who are still alive and are left (believers alive on the earth during the Great Tribulation) will be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
 Therefore encourage each other with these words. (No one who has died in the faith will miss out on the Rapture and the blessings of God’s kingdom.)
After describing the Rapture, Paul answers the obvious question of the church, “When will this Rapture happen?” Paul explains that it will take place immediately before the Day of the Lord begins.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11 LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3  Now as to the times (the period of time until Christ returns) and the epochs (the events associated with Christ’s return), brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. (They completely understood that no one knows the exact time of Christ’s return and no one knows when the events associated with Christ’s return will begin.)  For you yourselves (the saved) know full well that the day of the Lord (The Day of the Lord = God's Wrath) will come just like a thief in the night. (They also understood completely that the Day of the Lord would arrive “like a thief in the night.”)  While they (the unsaved) are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them (the unsaved) suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they (the unsaved) shall not escape. (Jesus’ Coming will be totally unexpected and unanticipated by the unsaved. The Day of the Lord will be a total surprise to them. Jesus’ Return will be like a “thief in the middle of the night” to the unsaved. For them, it will be sudden because they will not be looking forward to it and clueless about any warning signs. They will be caught off-guard and they will not escape the Day of God’s Wrath!)
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11  But you (the saved), brethren, are not in darkness, that the day (The Day of the Lord) should overtake you like a thief; (On the other hand, Jesus will not come as a “thief in the night” to the saved.)  for you (the saved) are all sons of light and sons of day. We (the saved) are not of night nor of darkness; (the Day of the Lord is a time of darkness)  so then let us (the saved) not sleep as others (the unsaved) do, but let us (the saved) be alert and sober. (The saved will not be surprised or caught off-guard by Jesus’ return and the Day of the Lord because we will be looking forward to and anticipating His Coming. The generation of believers living in Daniel’s 70th week will know the prophetic warning signs indicating we are living in the end-times. We will not know the exact hour or day, but we will know the general time period of the Lord’s Coming.)  For those who sleep (the unsaved) do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk (the unsaved) get drunk at night.  But since we (the saved) are of the day, let us (the saved) be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. (Faith, Hope and Love should characterize the lives of believers. See 1 Cor 13:13)  For God has not destined (appointed) us (the saved) for wrath (While the Church will not escape the persecutions of the Antichrist, the Church is clearly exempt from God’s wrath contained in the Day of the Lord. The Word of God is unmistakable in this teaching. God’s wrath falls only on those who refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus. See Rom 1:8, John 3:36, Rom 5:9, and 1 Thess 1:10.), but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (Referring to our complete deliverance at the Rapture),  who died for us (the saved), that whether we are awake (living) or asleep (dead), we may live together with Him (the Rapture).  Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
As helpful as this passage is, this first letter still did not completely answer all their questions. The Thessalonian church was still disturbed because false teachers had told them that the Day of the Lord had already begun. To correct that error, Paul wrote a second letter and revealed two specific events that MUST precede the Day of the Lord; first the Apostasy must come and second the Man of Sin must be revealed.
2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-17
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2  Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Greek = Parousia. Many futurists teach that the coming of Jesus can take place at any moment and no prophesied event must take place before He returns. This view is known as “Pre-tribulationalism.” Nowhere do the scriptures state that the coming of Christ will take place before the tribulation.) and our being gathered to him (The Rapture), we ask you, brothers,  not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. (False Teachers were saying the Day of the Lord was already in process. To correct that error Paul revealed two specific events that must precede the Day of the Lord. First, the apostasy must come. And second, the man of sin must be revealed.)
TWO EVENTS PRECEDE THE DAY OF THE LORD
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the Day of the Lord) will not come until the rebellion occurs (Greek = The apostasy or the falling away from the faith. The first event the Church is to look for is the falling away which will involve both Israel and the Church. Concerning Israel, it will begin with the nation signing the 7 year covenant of Death with Antichrist and will occur at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. Concerning the Church, we are warned against falling away from the faith as the Antichrist will deceive many with signs and wonders followed by unprecedented persecution which he will inflict upon the saints of God. Paul specifically points to the middle of week as the most recognizable event signaling the end times.) and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (This is the second event that precedes the Day of the Lord.)  He (the Antichrist) will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple. (This is the Abomination of Desolation, which is the height of all apostasy, and it occurs in the middle of the week, when the Antichrist sets up an image of himself in the future rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaims he is God. See Mt 24:15, Dan 9:27, 11:42-45. This event triggers the Great Tribulation. See Mt 24:21-22)
2 Thessalonians 2:5-10  Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?  And now you know what is holding him (Antichrist) back (Something or someone is restraining the Antichrist from coming forth. Some propose this is the Church, but the Church is feminine and the Restrainer is masculine in v. 7. It can’t be the Holy Spirit, He will still be active on the earth after the Antichrist begins his reign. Mt 10 confirms that H.S. is active and will give us the very words we should say! It can’t be government, because the Antichrist will control the government of the world. It is probably Michael the Archangel. See Dan 10:12-14, 21, 12:1. Michael was the restrainer of evil in the Old Testament. Apparently, Michael will arise or stand aside and cease from his normal ministry of protecting Israel when the Antichrist proclaims himself God, thus permitting the Great Tribulation to occur.), so that he may be revealed at the proper time. (Antichrist will be openly revealed when he proclaims himself God in the temple.)  For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work (the spirit of Antichrist was already at work in Paul’s day.) but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he (Michael) is taken out of the way. (Michael will continue to restrain evil until the Antichrist is openly revealed at the Abomination of Desolation. At that point, Michael is “taken out of the way” and he will cease from hindering Satan and the Antichrist for a short period of 3 ½ years. During this time Antichrist will rule the entire earth and will be allowed to pour out his unrestrained wrath upon the nation Israel, and the Church. The apostle Paul clearly had Daniel 12:1 in mind when he wrote this verse.)  And then the lawless one (Antichrist) will be revealed (When he proclaims himself to be God in the temple and will rise to power for 3 ½ years.), whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.  The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, (Satan will perpetuate a massive deception upon mankind.)  and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-16  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion (God himself will send a massive deception. This doesn’t sound like a massive revival occurring after the Antichrist is revealed or like the 144,000 are converting the world.) so that they will believe the lie (It’s amazing what people will believe once they have rejected the truths of Jesus Christ. The lie is that the Antichrist is God, the Protector and Deliverer of Israel! The ultimate blasphemy is the worshiping of the image of the beast in the temple. This is the Abomination which causes the Desolation of Israel.)  and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called you to this through our gospel,that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:50-58 – CLASSIC RAPTURE TEXT #2
1 Corinthians 15:50-58  I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery (a secret part of God’s plan that is unrevealed until this point in time. The mystery is that there is one generation of believers who will not experience death; they will be raptured.): We will not all sleep (Die. The believing generation living at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming will not experience death), but we will all be changed (glorified, transformed, caught up into the air at the Rapture)  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (The Rapture will occur with the sounding of the “last trumpet” of God. This trumpet has 2 purposes: 1. To call God’s people home. 2. To call his angelic armies to war. God Himself sounds this trumpet, not one of the angels, so it is not to be confused with the trumpet judgments in the Book of Revelation. See 1 Thes 4:16 and Zechariah 9:14-16. This “last” trumpet is not to be confused with the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15. The sounding of God’s trumpet will start the Day of the Lord). For the trumpet will sound (The Rapture occurs at the last trumpet that God sounds announcing the outpouring of His wrath during the Day of the Lord. See Joel 2:1), the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (Those living and the dead in Christ will both receive glorified, immortal bodies, through the Rapture.)  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
 "Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
The Pre-Wrath Position
The pre-wrath position makes a very important distinction between the Antichrist’s great tribulation, which will be directed against God’s people, and the event of the day of the Lord’s wrath, which will be directed against the ungodly. The great tribulation will happen first, and at some unknown day and hour those days of persecution will be cut short with the return of Christ (Matt 24:22). The Lord will come down to the clouds to resurrect the dead-in-Christ and rapture together those believers who have survived up to the coming (parousia) of our Lord (1 Thess 4:15–17). Immediately after the rapture, the Lord’s wrath will begin to be executed against the ungodly, displayed in the systematic judgments of the trumpets, bowls, and the battle of Armageddon (Matt 24:29–31; 1 Thess 5:1–11; 2 Thess 1:5–12; Rev 8–9; 15–16).
What are key passages that you believe best represent your position?
I think the strongest passage is 2 Thessalonians 2, where Paul reassures the trepidatious Thessalonian believers that they are not experiencing the day of the Lord’s wrath. Paul explains that they are not experiencing the day of the Lord’s wrath because two discernible events must happen first—the revelation of Antichrist and the apostasy. Since they have not happened, Paul argues, the day of the Lord has not materialized.
I also see Jesus’ Olivet Discourse as a key passage that supports the pre-wrath position. It depicts all the key elements: the Antichrist’s great tribulation, cutting short of the great tribulation, celestial disturbances, Son of Man’s return to the clouds, rescue of God’s people, and the impending wrath of God.
I would argue, as well, from the book of Daniel and Revelation, but the former two passages, in my view, form a strong case for the pre-wrath position.
What role does Daniel 9 have in your understanding of the timing of the rapture?
I do not see Daniel 9 informing a particular eschatological sequence vis-à-vis the rapture question (but I do in Daniel 11:36–12:4). There are at least two points that Daniel 9 informs us on: (1) There will be a future seven-year period during which time key events will unfold, and (2) the fulfillment of the salvation of Israel will happen when the seven-year period is complete.
Do you hold to a form of dispensationalism, and how does that affect your view?
If I were to place myself within a biblical-theological camp, particularly on the issue of the kingdom of God and the question of Israel’s future (and present) role, I would have some affinity with progressive dispensationalism (Bock and Saucy), and some hybrid of Kaiser. To be sure, one does not have to hold to progressive dispensationalism in order to affirm pre-millennialism and a future reconstituted national Israel (e.g. Michael Brown).
I would affirm that God has worked with both Israel and the church at the same time in the past; he works with both at the present time; he will work with both at the same time just before the second coming of Christ. I also affirm a future reconstitution of national Israel back in their land when the Lord returns. The future kingdom in the millennium (and beyond) will possess one people of God; yet it will be characterized with, to name a few aspects, ethnic, social, and political diversity.
What unique practical implications do you see in your view? How does your understanding of the rapture affect your life?
Jesus ominously warns believers, “See, I have told you beforehand” (Matt 24:25). This is not a cliché, but a real warning to God’s people. The great tribulation will be a concrete event occurring in the future just before the Lord returns. Jesus says it will be characterized by martyrdom, hatred, apostasy, betrayal, deception, and lawlessness. So much so that he says, “such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Matt 24:21). To be sure, if we do not experience this event in our lifetime, there are important faith-principles that can use to apply to our lives in the present time.
Since God has ordained that the last generation of church will experience this event before she meets her Rescuer bride-groom, should this not be an urgent warning for the church? The temptation during the great tribulation to capitulate to persecution, false teaching, and slothfulness will be intense. There will be two imperative duties for the believer during the great tribulation: to overcome the adversity through faith and to encourage the fellow believer to do the same.
One final implication is saliently portrayed in the angelic warning not to take the beast’s mark, lest they suffer eternal punishment in hell (see Revelation 14:9–12).
God perseveres the faith of his people through concrete warnings, so it is incumbent on Christian leaders not to dismiss these eschatological warnings for their people that God has entrusted to them. So the practical implications for the basic correct interpretation are sober for the believer.
What resources would you recommend to someone wanting to study the pre-wrath position more?
I would point readers to my book Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Return of Christ. Another helpful work is Alan Hultberg’s pre-wrath contribution in Three Views on the Rapture: Pretribulation, Prewrath, or Posttribulation, 2nd ed., ed. Alan Hultberg (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).
AN ADDENDUM ON THE TERM “PAROUSIA”
I want to give a brief explanatory note for the Greek noun behind the word “coming,” which is parousia, meaning “an arrival and a continuing presence.” It is the term behind the expression “second coming” or “second advent.” The Lord’s second coming (parousia) will be a comprehensive-complex whole. In other words, it will not be a simple, instantaneous event as the rapture will be. Instead it will span various events that will fulfill divine purposes.
We can illustrate this by looking at Jesus’ first coming. When we think of this event, we do not think exclusively of his birth. His birth was his arrival, but his subsequent presence included his upbringing, teaching ministry, miracles, discipleship, death, burial, and resurrection. It was a complex whole that God used to fulfill his purposes. Similarly, the second coming will begin with Jesus’ arrival in the clouds to resurrect the dead and rapture them along with believers who are alive at that time (1 Thess. 4:13–18). The biblical writers often emphasized the arrival aspect of the parousia because they wanted to induce godly living in their listeners. But it would be a mistake to think they viewed it as limited only to Jesus’ glorious appearing in the sky to resurrect the dead and rapture all believers. This is because his subsequent presence (parousia) will encompass major events such as the day of the Lord’s wrath, bringing the remnant of Israel to salvation, and reclaiming his earthly regal-rule, which will extend into the millennium. In short, Christ’s parousia will be realized in his delivery of God’s people, judgment upon the wicked, and reign over the world.
In the post-tribulation schema, God’s people immediately descend to earth after they were just caught up to the clouds in the rapture. The pre-wrath position, instead, affirms that after the rapture the Son will usher his redeemed people before the throne of the Father in heaven (John 14:2–3; 2 Cor 4:14; Rev 7:13–15; Isa 26:19–21). And only after the completion of the series of judgments on earth will God’s people then descend to earth in the New Jerusalem.
Pre-tribulation: We agree with pre-tribulationism that God’s people will be raptured before the day of the Lord’s wrath, since believers are promised protection from eschatological wrath (1 Thess 5:9).
The watershed question in this whole debate is, when does the day of the Lord begin? I do not see anywhere in Scripture that it starts before the great tribulation, or before the seven-year period in the pre-tribulational schema. Instead, I see it consistently taught that the day of the Lord begins soon after the celestial disturbances at which time the rapture occurs (Joel 2:30–31; Matt 24:29–31; Luke 21:25–28; Rev 6:12–17). Pre-tribulationism fails to see the celestial disturbances happening after the great tribulation and before the day of the Lord’s wrath. Pre-wrath, in my judgment, gives the most consistent interpretation to these passages.
Post-tribulation: The pre-wrath and post-trib views have affinity with each other since both agree on the fundamental tenet that the last generation of the church will face the Antichrist’s persecution. I frequently hear that “pre-wrath is a modification of the mid-trib view.” This is not the case. If anything pre-wrath is a “modification” of the post-trib view (or vice versa). Moreover, it is more accurate to say that the mid-trib view (a basically defunct view today) is a variant of pre-trib, because both of these views agree that (1) Christ can return at any moment, and (2) the church will be raptured before the Antichrist’s great tribulation (some mid-tribs, admittedly, may want to nuance this).
Post-tribulationists mistakenly either affirms: (1) the day of the Lord’s wrath unfolds within a literal twenty-hour period, or (2) the great tribulation and the day of the Lord’s wrath will happen at the same time, or (3) the great tribulation is the day of the Lord’s wrath. Pre-wrath resolves this post-trib conundrum of where to fit God’s wrath by recognizing that the great tribulation is cut short, thereby having the day of the Lord’s wrath naturally unfolding for a sufficient amount of time (not squeezed into a twenty-four hour period; e.g. the fifth trumpet itself is five month long).
Post-tribulationists mistakenly interpret that the three septets (set of seven) of seals, trumpets, and bowls concurrently unfold; i.e. the sixth seal, sixth trumpet, and sixth bowl are the same event, or happen at the same time. This results in a strained reading among the judgment elements. Pre-wrath affirms the consecutive nature of their unfolding; i.e. the first trumpet cannot begin until the seventh seal is broken.
Post-tribulationists mistakenly interpret the resurrection of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:12 as “representing” the rapture of the church. Pre-wrath rightly sees that interpretation as groundless and a form of allegorizing. Pre-wrath interprets the innumerable group in Revelation 7:9–17 as the raptured people of God.
Post-tribulationists mistakenly interprets Paul’s “last trump” with the seventh trumpet in the book of Revelation, consequently having the church on earth during God’s wrath in the trumpet judgments. In contrast, pre-wrath does not identify Paul’s “last trump” with the seventh trumpet; instead, pre-wrath interprets “last” (eschatos) in the specific context as “last” in the sense of signifying that the present order is no more, implying that a new era has dawned in God’s redemptive work, which fits the resurrection context well in 1 Corinthians 15. In addition, eschatos can also carry the meaning of utmost or finest, which carries the connotation of culmination, again very fitting for the context in 1 Corinthians 15. Either of these latter senses is much more plausible than the post-tribulational interpretation of it referring to the seventh trumpet in the book of Revelation.
Tenets of Prewrath
There is a future seven-year period, and at the midpoint the Antichrist will be revealed and commit the abomination of desolation, initiating his great tribulation against the Church and Israel.
There is a biblical distinction between the Antichrist’s great tribulation against the Church and Israel and the day of the Lord’s wrath against the ungodly. The latter event happens after the former event.
The gathering of the elect mentioned in Matthew 24:31 refers to the rapture (cf. Mark 13:27; Luke 21:28; Rev 7:9–17; 1 Thess 4:13–18; 2 Thess 2:1).
At an unknown day and hour during the second half of the seven-year period, the Antichrist’s great tribulation will be cut short by the Revelation of Christ to resurrect and rapture God’s people, and this will be followed immediately by the day of the Lord’s wrath executed upon the ungodly.
On the same day the rapture happens, the onset of the day of the Lord’s wrath takes place, just as it was in the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:22–37; cf. 2 Thess 1:5–10).
The second coming (parousia) is not a simple (instantaneous) event. The second coming is a unified, complex-whole event realizing various purposes of God, beginning with the Revelation of Christ in the sky displaying his glory and power to the whole world, resurrecting and rapturing God’s people, and followed by the day of the Lord’s judgments upon the ungodly and Antichrist’s kingdom, restoring Israel to salvation, and culminating in Christ’s earthly reign.
Although Armageddon belongs to the unified complex-whole second coming, Armageddon does not initiate the second coming; rather, the second coming begins with the resurrection and the rapture.
The resurrection and rapture happens between the opening of the sixth seal and the seventh seal.
The first six seals are not part of the day of the Lord’s wrath. The first six seals are conditional events that must happen before Christ’s return.
The sixth seal signals the impending day of the Lord’s wrath as recorded in Joel 2:30–31; Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:25–26; Mark 13:23–25; and Revelation 6:12–17.
The seventh seal pronounces the day of the Lord’s wrath.
The trumpets, bowls, and Armageddon contain and execute the day of the Lord’s wrath.
The trumpets, bowls, and Armageddon will not occur before the seventh seal is opened.
Paul’s “last trumpet” (1 Cor 15:52) is not the seventh trumpet judgment in the book of Revelation.
Christ’s return to resurrect and rapture God’s people is not imminent (“any moment”), since discernible prophesied events must happen first (e.g., the Antichrist’s revelation and his ensuing great tribulation; the apostasy; coming of Elijah; and a cluster of discernible celestial events). Christ can return in any generation of the Church.
—Alan Kurschner, 08/01/12