The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Post-Tribulation Rapture

The first coming of Jesus Christ changed the world. His second coming will change the universe. The timing of His appearance is explicit in many Bible passages. He will come again to earth at the end of the battle of Armageddon. He will destroy the armies of the world, judge the inhabitants of the earth, and then set up His Messianic Kingdom.

Jesus promised to His disciples when He walked on the earth two thousand years ago that He would come again:

"1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3)

The writer of the Book of Hebrews also spoke of His second coming:

"27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:27-28)

There is no doubt in the minds of the New Testament writers that Jesus Christ is literally coming to earth again.

Nevertheless, since it has been two thousand years since Jesus made His promise to return, many people have rejected this concept. The Book of Second Peter talks about this attitude of unbelief concerning His second coming:

"1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:1-10)

The apostle Peter states that scoffers and mockers of those who believe that Jesus Christ is coming to earth a second time will increase in the last days. He also says that what seems like a long time to humans is but one day to God. Peter gives the reason for this delay when he says that God is not willing for anyone to perish. Therefore, God is giving humanity time to come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. This correlates with what Jesus said about the preaching of the gospel occurring throughout the entire world before the end comes.

Peter mentions that the earth will burn up and the heavens pass away. He might be referring to the cosmic changes that take place in the latter part of the Tribulation Period. He also could be speaking of the renovation of the earth that occurs at the start of Jesus' Millennial Kingdom.

Every Eye Will See

There have been misguided individuals in history who have proclaimed that they were Jesus Christ come again. Also, there is a religious sect that believes Jesus came secretly in the early part of the Twentieth Century. Both of these concepts are not only biblically erroneous but they are also heretical.

The Bible makes it clear that when Jesus Christ comes again to set up His earthly kingdom, the whole world will witness it:

"7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." ( Revelation 1:7-8)

This means that anyone claiming to be Jesus Christ, including the Antichrist, must come in the clouds with the whole world witnessing it. Otherwise, they are deceivers and manipulators and are worthy of denunciation and opposition.

In this passage there is also an allusion to the prophecy in Zechariah concerning the coming of the Messiah:

"9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zechariah 12:9-10)

The world will see Jesus, Whom they pierced at His crucifixion, when He comes during the final battle of the nations at Armageddon.

Jesus also spoke concerning His second coming and the universality of it:

"For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:27)

The Bible is unyielding in teaching that all humanity will indeed witness the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. When that event occurs it will not happen in secret or in some mysterious fashion. The world will know that Jesus has returned as He said He would.

How will it be possible for everyone on earth to see this event since some will be living on the other side of the world? I do not believe this will occur through the medium of television or some other modern means of electronic transmissions, although that is possible. Rather, they will see His second coming with their naked eyes.

You may remember that the fifth bowl judgment results in darkness coming on the earth as Armageddon is occurring. When Jesus comes again the Bible declares that there will be a heavenly illumination accompanying this event:

"And then shall that Wicked [i.e., the Antichrist] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:8)

"29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:29-31)

The brightness of Jesus' coming will overwhelm the darkened earth and illuminate the entire heavens so that the whole world will see it. The sound of a trumpet will accompany His appearance and a shaking of the heavenly realm occurs. In this second passage we once more see a reference to the mourning that will take place when Jesus comes again. The cause of this grief is the recognition by humanity that it had been responsible for the death of the Son of God because of their sinfulness.

The Second Coming

As mentioned in some of the passages above, the time of Jesus' second coming will occur during the battle of Armageddon. We read that the events leading up to this final battle encompass the Tribulation Period during which God punishes the world for its rebellion against Him and His Son.

The Book of Revelation offers the clearest description of His second coming:

"11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." (Revelation 19:11-21)

John gives quite a graphic account of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. Though we cannot know how many, if any, of the descriptive terms he uses are symbolic, it is clear that he saw Jesus' second coming as a visible, literal event.

The Post-Tribulation Rapture

The last doctrine concerning the timing of the Rapture appears to be the historical position held by the early Church (although this teaching has been refined in recent years).

This belief states that the Rapture will take place in conjunction with the second coming of Christ, which occurs at the very end of the Tribulation Period. This doctrine is referred to as the Post-Tribulation Rapture.

This teaching is based on several issues. One is that Jesus' disciples asked Him to tell them what the signs would be leading up to His second coming (Matthew 24:1-51). Jesus explained to them that several events would take place before He came again. This raises the question that if the disciples or future Christians were going to be raptured before the Tribulation Period why would Jesus give them signs to watch for if they weren't going to be around to see them?

Another basis for Posttribulationism is the fact that persecution of Christians has been going on since Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. Therefore, it will be no different during the Tribulation Period since it will be a continuation of the suffering that has been going on for two millennia.

The apostle Paul in a second letter that he wrote to the Thessalonian Church also seemed to say that there are some signs that would take place before the Rapture: "1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5) Here Paul uses the personal pronoun indicating that he and other Christians would not be raptured until after the wicked world ruler appeared on the scene. It seems as if Paul is saying that the Rapture would take place toward the end of the Tribulation Period and therefore would occur at Jesus' second coming to earth.

Lastly, those who adhere to the Post-Tribulation position believe that the "Day of the Lord" cannot start until Jesus destroys the nations of the world at the battle of Armageddon and sets up His Messianic Kingdom. They quote from the Book of Isaiah, which says, "11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low" (Isaiah 2:11-12) This is the first mention in the Bible of the "Day of the Lord". Isaiah states that only the Lord will be exalted in that day. Since the wicked world ruler is to be exalted by humankind before the Messiah comes, the "Day of the Lord" has to be reserved for Him until the end of the Tribulation Period. Therefore, those Christians who say the "Day of the Lord" begins with the Rapture or at the beginning of the Tribulation would be in error according to this teaching.

Post-Tribulationists also reference other scripture verses in which the "Day of the Lord" revolves around the battle of Armageddon, which occurs at the very end of the Tribulation Period. (Isaiah 13:9; Joel 2:1-11; Zechariah 14:1-9)

There are many other reasons why Post-Tribulationists believe that the Rapture will take place at Jesus' second coming to earth..

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