About Contrasting Conditions at Rapture & Second Coming
What the conditions of the economic, social and geophysical in the world are likely to be at the Second Coming of Christ seem to be overlooked when placing some Scripture passages into the correct timeline. Those things make a great difference in how to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Getting that scenario straight is always important for knowing how prophetic passages fit together properly.
Let’s consider some factors that will contribute to those conditions at that time of the Second Coming. We believe the Scriptures clearly pinpoint the Rapture of the body of believers, the church, at the beginning of the seven-year period of tribulation, the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). It is not the “time of judgment on the saved in Christ.” At the time of the Rapture, the Bible says there will be “sudden destruction,” and one can easily envision the chaos that will take place when millions of people from all walks-of-life situations will suddenly disappear. They will leave their clothing and any non-body, non-flesh items lying where the person was sitting or standing. The Scripture times the disappearance as “in the twinkling of an eye” it will happen. That full passage is very worthy to be quoted here:
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
How many fatalities will result from the chaos that will occur at that time cannot be imagined. Then, the preview in Revelation 6 of what is coming in those seven years only increases the horror. First, the Antichrist comes on the scene, riding a white horse and deceitfully posing as the Redeemer, but instead, “conquering and to conquer.” That means he will be taking charge of all things as he presses toward the time of his final judgment. Knowing that his modus operandi is to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10), one can clearly expect things to be very terrible clear to the end of the age. With that view in mind, what conditions of economic, social, and otherwise should we expect to see at that time? It will not be a pleasing environment, for sure.
That preview in Revelation 6 continues with three other horses, each having a rider, who certainly must represent that first rider in his conquering mode. Those horses are colored red, black, and gray or pale. They represent warfare, famine, and death, the conditions that will be predominant in the seven years—not peaceable, happy or prosperous at all. As one reads through Revelation 7 to 19, he will discover the judgments on the earth will be very destructive. A third of mankind will be killed, a third of the sea will be turned to blood, a third of the green foliage will be burned up—and that is just in the early phases of that time.
When the heavens begin to explode, with hailstones of a hundred pounds weight falling from the sky, earthquakes in multitude, waves of the oceans creating havoc, it will not be a place of safety and security for anyone. It will be a time of judgment upon Jacob, that rebellious nature of the Jewish race, and all of those who will have rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior. Two-thirds of the Jews will be killed, and one-third will have God’s protection in a wilderness hiding place (Zechariah 13:8), but they will recognize Christ as their Atonement and turn to Him in fulfillment of the Feast of the Atonement (Zechariah 12:10).
The final half of those seven years will be very, very terrible, for the Antichrist will have imposed a Mark of the Beast upon all people, and those who do not accept that mark, a mark of submission to his authority and lordship, will be killed. The false prophet who is introduced in Revelation 13 will be readily available to do the Antichrist’s bidding in all of those evil actions.
Those who are shown in Revelation 7, standing before the throne of God, souls in white robes, are identified as those who have been killed in the “Great Tribulation,” the last half of the seven years. There are multitudes standing there, not in resurrection bodies, but souls. Thus, they are not the raptured saints, for they have been “snatched away” before the tribulation gets underway. Remember how Luke 17:31-36 relates it: “Two will be sleeping; one will be taken and the other left; two will be grinding meal, one will be taken and the other left. Two will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left.” As Noah and Lot were taken out of the way of judgment, so are those taken out of the way of judgment that will occur on earth to all those left behind.
It is not at all likely there will be any “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, building and planting” going on during those seven years, especially at the end of that time, for it is far more likely there will be a total effort being made merely for survival, even to those who have taken the Mark of the Beast. And given the multitude already killed for not taking that Mark, the few, if any, who still survive, their motivation may well be only to survive over multiple oppositions.
Now take a look at conditions well described when the Son of Man will be revealed. Both Matthew 24:38-39 and Luke 17:26-30 describe the physical and social conditions when the Lord comes, although Luke includes Lot’s time, additionally. Both passages in their extended contexts describe the “taken and left behind” actions, however, which are clearly a pre-tribulation action not later timed for nor mentioned at the end of the tribulation in Revelation 19 when Jesus returns to the earth. Following is the Matthew description of conditions at Noah’s time:
“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:38-39).
Luke reports what he has learned, guided by the Holy Spirit:
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).
The spiritual conditions of the times of Noah and of Lot, in Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 18-19, respectively, were marked by a saturation of sinfulness. In Noah’s time, God’s observation was “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In Lot’s time, the whole city of Sodom was saturated with all the men of the city filled with the lust of homosexuality.
It is clear that those physical and social conditions are not like what the results of the tribulation will leave behind. It is also clear that such conditions of all things being as they have been, generally, will make the coming of the Lord “as a thief in the night” much more of an unsuspected surprise. Peter wrote of this in 2 Peter 3:3-4: “…knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 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 creation.'”
While the exact time of the Lord’s coming to meet His saints in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) is said to be unknown by anyone except the Father in heaven, there are many clues toward the general time of His return at the Rapture event. These references to the conditions on earth tell us much about the timing. Realizing that the Lord never made a promise that He did not intend to keep gives us much more guidance to the timing. It is so told in Luke 21:28, where Jesus announced, “When you see these things begin to happen, look up, for your redemption draws near!” He said this in context with descriptions of extreme physical disturbances in the earth and the restoration of Israel to its statehood in the far-off future of the year 1948—the blossoming of the fig tree (Luke 21:29).
Then, the timing of the confirming of a covenant foretold in Daniel 9:27, along with the exclamation in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, saying, “Peace and safety,” tells us more of the timing of the Rapture. God has appointed the day and the hour before time began, and I submit that it will not be “some day and some hour” that occurs, but on the day and the hour so appointed (italics used for emphasis).
One important thing we must not forget is distinctly mentioned by Jesus in John 7:6 that brings home the significance of our mortal uncertainty: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.'” He said this in reference to His coming death on the cross, but it is equally true in these last days that His appointed time has not yet come, but every mortal person could face death at any time. And that means eternity is merely a heartbeat away for any of us.
No one can mentally picture or imagine the breadth and depth of that “sudden destruction” that will occur around the world when that “last trumpet” sounds and Jesus calls the dead in Christ out of their graves and up to Him in the air, along with those who are alive, all in transformed, resurrected bodies.
Again and again, we acclaim the victorious “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!” (Titus 2:13).
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