Question – Angel Aimuan (United Kingdom): Pastor, I will love you to throw more light on the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ. Thank you very much sir.
Answer: This is one of those few…no, many things rather that people confuse in the scripture. The rapture of the Church is different from the second coming of Christ. And, by the way, you will not really find the word ‘rapture’ especially in the older translations [of the Bible], because rapture means ‘to catch away’, ‘to take away’, ’to be caught up’, but you’re going to find that term [‘to be caught up’] even though you don’t find the word ‘rapture’ in itself. But, let’s just talk about where these things are in the scriptures, so that we can distinguish between them, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. In 1st Thessalonians…if you go into your Bible in 1st Thessalonians Chapter 4, reading from verse 13, the words of Paul the Apostle: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we, which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them, which are asleep. For the Lord Himself [now notice] shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up [that’s where the word ‘rapture’ comes from] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18] Beautiful words!
That 17th verse tells the whole story…it says, “then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them”. It tells us about this rapture; it says Christ will descend. He will descend himself from heaven with a shout and with a voice of the archangel and with the trump of God. And, the dead in Christ shall rise. Those Christians who have died would rise – come out of the graves – from wherever they were…wherever their bodies were buried, or even if their bodies were burnt, they’ll come together. And, then it says, “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air” [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. Now, I want you to notice a striking thing here; it says the Lord will descend, the dead in Christ shall rise, those of us who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall be caught up together with the dead in Christ that have risen, and we shall all meet the Lord in the air. He will be waiting in the air, so we’ll be caught up to meet him in the air. And, then [you know], we’ll be with him. And, that’s the way we leave; we are ‘caught up’ – that’s the rapture.
Now, there’s another portion that refers to the same thing, and it’s in 1st Corinthians Chapter 15 [I want to read that to you], from verse 51: “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [that means everybody is not going to die; it’s talking about Christians. Not every Christian is going to die], but we shall all be changed.” And this change is not the same change that you have in metamorphosis where we are transfigured. No! This is not that kind of change from one glory to another in terms of a metamorphosis but a transformation. The Greek here [for ‘transformation’] is ‘alasso’. It’s a transformation. It’s like you putting on something else. So, your body is going to be changed. That’s what it’s talking about. So, it says here, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” [1 Corinthians 15:51-52] Isn’t that wonderful? So, that’s the same thing it talks about in 1st Thessalonians 4. Now, these two portions of the Bible refer to the rapture of the church, when we are caught away from here – we are suddenly taken away from the earth. Now, according to the scriptures [because of time, we may not be able to go into all the details], what’s going to happen is this: first comes the rapture. In fact, the major sign that we’re waiting for in the world today is the rapture of the church, which means anytime soon, this is going to happen…anytime soon, this is going to happen [quotes 1 Corinthians 15:52 again]. That’s remarkable!
Now, the second coming of Christ on the other hand is very different. Now [you know something], the rapture of the church is actually one of the signs of the second coming. So, the rapture is not a coming of Christ [really], because he’s just going to be in the air, and we’ll be caught up to meet him, and we’ll go with him. So, he takes us away. But, in the second coming of Christ [that’s why it’s called the second coming, because the rapture is not a coming of Christ…he only descends and waits in the air, and we join him to be caught away, but in the second coming], he actually will come to this world, but he will be coming with us, because we went away at the rapture. So, we will be coming together with him at the second coming. So, he’s not coming alone; he’s coming with us at the second coming of Christ. So, we are not waiting for the second coming of Christ; we will be coming together with him to the earth.
Now, I’d read this to you in the scriptures. Let’s begin with the book of Jude, so you can follow this in the right context. The book of Jude – that’s the last…it’s the book before the book of Revelations – and, I’m reading verse 14 [it’s just a one-chapter book] : “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam prophesied of these, saying: Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints [now, notice it didn’t say ten thousand but ten thousands – that means you’re numbering them in tens of thousands] To execute judgment [notice what it says] upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed and all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers and complainers, walking after their own lust, and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” [Jude verses 14-16] Did you see that? It says the Lord is coming to execute judgment on sinners. That’s what the second coming is for. Jesus will be coming to execute judgment in the world. Now, we’ll go into a little more detail on that in a moment, but I want you to see what it says that the Lord will come with ten thousands of his saints – that’s tens of thousands of his saints. He’s coming with his saints.
Now, let’s go to his [Jesus’] very words. We go all the way to St. Matthew’s gospel in Chapter 24 [I’ll begin reading from verse 3]: “And, as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world? [Matthew 24:3]” There were three questions that they wanted to know from Jesus; [and] for us to understand these three questions, we’ll have to go back to verse 1: “And, Jesus went out and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple [beautiful building]. And, Jesus said unto them, see ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. [Matthew 24:1-2]” When he was looking at the temple [and he said ‘look’…they were trying to show him the beauty of the temple, and], he said, “[look] not one stone shall be left upon another”. And in verse 3, the disciples came to him and said, “tell us, when shall these things be [what he just said concerning the temple]?”, “what shall be the sign of thy coming [that’s question two]?”, “and of the end of the world [that’s question three]?” When will it happen? When will this temple be so destroyed that not one stone shall be left on another? And, then, Jesus began to speak from verse 4: “And, Jesus answered and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many: And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. [Matthew 24:4-8]”
And, Jesus kept on talking, giving sign after sign, sign after sign – things that’ll happen – in his response to those three questions. Now, the first one happened in 70 A.D. when the Turks invaded Jerusalem and they destroyed Jerusalem. They destroyed the temple. In fact, Josephus says, “Jerusalem was plowed up”; that’s his description. He says it was plowed up – not one stone was left on another that was not thrown down in that temple. It was destroyed just like Jesus said – completely destroyed. So, that was fulfilled [in] 70 A.D. many years ago. Then [two more questions], it says, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” And, this is the one that we would talk about now – the second coming. Remember, we were distinguishing between the rapture and the second coming of Christ.
Now, you go to…from verse 27 [of Matthew 24], because Jesus talked a lot about the terrible things that’ll happen in the world, and [you know] from one sign…in fact, in verse 21: “for there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And, except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened. [Matthew 24:21-22]” It says there shall be great tribulation [you see]…there shall be great tribulation. Now, what’s going to happen is this: after the rapture of the church, which the church is waiting for now [and this is going to happen anytime soon], there’s a period in which the anti-Christ will be revealed…the anti-Christ will be revealed. He’s called ‘the man of sin’, ‘the son of perdition’; we don’t have so much time to talk about him now. But, the anti-Christ will be revealed, and that will lead into the great tribulation. Actually, he will sign a treaty with Israel for seven years; now, in the midst of the seven years [in other words, in the middle of the seven years, according to the Bible] he will break the agreement and mistreat Israel, and also begin to mistreat those who believe in Jesus Christ. [This will happen] And, the great tribulation will actually be in that second part of that seven-year period. And, many of us believe that the rapture of the church will take place somewhere around the beginning [actually somewhere around] the inception of those seven years. When you see that treaty signed with Israel, to protect Israel [to guarantee the peace of Israel], know that the rapture is nigh.
Now [you know], there are Christians who wonder; they say, “will Christians go through the tribulation before the rapture?” and “will the rapture be during the tribulation, before the tribulation, or after the tribulation?” Well, I believe, for many reasons that the rapture will be before [just before] the tribulation. I believe that for many reasons. In the scriptures [you see], the Bible tells us that it was the day that Noah entered into the ark that the waters for destruction came [Genesis 7:7-17]. God waited for Noah to finish and enter into the ark and the ark was shut and then the rains of destruction came. Again, in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, after he [God] helped Lot to flee Sodom, the fire came [Genesis 19:15-25]. So, he cannot leave us in here, because Jesus also related these two stories that I just told you of Sodom and the days of Noah…he related them to the coming as well. So, letting us know that our flight will have to be before the trouble shows up. Well, so many scriptures for us to go through there, but that’s not your question; and, I want to stay within the ambits of this particular discussion.
Now, there’s something else here; I’m reading to you from verse 27 [to 28 of Matthew 24]: “For as the lightening cometh out from the east, and shineth even unto the west: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together [repeats verse 27].” That’s remarkable! You know, people say how’s Jesus going to come, because the Bible says the whole earth shall see him [everybody’s going to see him]. So, he’s going to be out there and the whole world is going to see him. Now, let’s read on, you’ll notice something [in verse 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: 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. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of the trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. [Matthew 24:29-31]” Now, what do you mean [by] ‘his elect’; there will be believers [many believers] who did not go at the rapture of the church and they went through the tribulation. There will be many from Israel, who will believe at this time, and there will be many all over the world who will believe, for the Bible says a multitude of people came through the great tribulation. So, there’s going to be a lot people who will come through the tribulation, and they shall be saved [Revelations 7:13-15]. These are those that will be gathered together unto the Lord, when we come together with him. Praise the Lord!
So, if you live your life according to the scriptures as he has told us, and you remain in prayer and in watchfulness, that day will not take you unawares. The rapture will not take you unawares; you will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, and then we shall come back with him. So, remember this: the rapture is the coming of the Lord in the air [he will not come to the earth]…he will stop in the air and believers will be caught up from here to meet him and they will go with the Lord. Then, many years after [about seven years or less, because that period from when ‘the man of sin’ signs that treaty with Israel until the coming of the Lord (the second coming of the Lord) will be will be seven years], when he comes he comes with the saints and then he comes to execute judgment. In fact, the seven-year period will be ending with the Armageddon, and just at that point of Armageddon [that war, that terrible war] is when the Lord comes in the air, and we come with him, with power and great glory. So, that’s the second coming…the second coming of Christ, we come together with him to this world and to execute judgment on this world. And, from then, he’ll establish 1,000 years of peace; so, Jesus will actually come into this world physically and we will come with him. And, he’ll begin a 1,000-year reign – a millennium of peace – and Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit for that period of time. He [Satan] will be in chains and put into the bottomless pit for 1,000 years. So much to say about all of these, but I just wanted to explain to you the difference [like you requested] between the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ. Praise the Lord!
So, prepare of the rapture rather than the second coming, because we are going to be coming together with him. Those who will be joining us at the second coming will have had to go through the tribulation. Alright! Tribulation [by the way] is a time of trouble, trouble and persecution, hardship like never before and terrible persecution because of Jesus.