This article seeks to address the timing of the seven-year marriage consummation period (seven days in the traditional Jewish-Galilean wedding) between our Lord and His bride – the church – in heaven after the rapture and how this will correlate to the seven-year Tribulation.
Many tend to equate this seven-year marriage consummation with the seven-year Tribulation, but there are logical and rational explanations for why this will not be the case. These reasons will be explored in our attempt to arrange the timing of this glorious seven-year consummation period and the celebratory Marriage Feast of The Lamb and His bride that follows.
We will also be looking into the seven seals of Revelation 6 and their probable position in relation to the seven-year Tribulation.
The Gap Between the Rapture and the Beginning of the Tribulation
There are many reasons why a gap between the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation must happen, not the least of which is the subject of our study. We are given clues in Revelation, and other prophecy passages, for why this is.
The 7 Seals – Seals One Through Four
The seven seals, that Christ opens after the rapture of the church, I expect to be opened in a rather quick procession.
When it comes to the first four seals, I don’t see much time in between the four horsemen’s activities – a fairly succinct and rapid series of events seem to commence.
Let’s examine the seven seals that Christ will open as the Lamb (Revelation 5:6).
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Revelation 6:1-2).
The first of the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” – the first four seals that Christ opens in heaven – is the Antichrist upon a white horse. He has a bow but no arrows, yet he was given a crown and “went forth conquering, and to conquer.” This pretty much encapsulates the career of the Antichrist from the rapture of the church until he achieves absolute dominance in the last half of the Tribulation.
The same Greek word – 3528 νικάω “nikaó” – is used for both “conquering” and “conquer” in this verse and means to conquer, prevail. Which is exactly what Antichrist will do as he fills the power vacuum that has been left after the rapture of the church and moves up in power and prestige on the world’s stage.
Within the gap of time between the rapture and the signing of the seven-year covenant (Daniel 9:27) – by my calculations – Antichrist will come on the scene and, through “peace,” rise up and “prevail” in the ranks of politics through the United Nations and the European Union. It’s not as if, after the rapture, he just rises up and immediately offers Israel and “the many” a covenant of “peace” for seven years which initiates the seven-year Tribulation.
The other three “horsemen of the Apocalypse” also come into view during these hectic times as the world is in a state of confusion resulting from the rapture of the church and needs to be remedied. Of course, it will be Antichrist that ultimately rises to the top with all of the solutions to the world’s troubles. But, until he does, it will be absolute chaos and turmoil as the pieces of globalism will need to be put into order – or back into place, depending on how far globalism advances before the rapture of the church.
The second red horse of Revelation 6:4 will see kingdom against kingdom, struggling and vying to fill this power vacuum associated with the calamities and repercussions of the rapture. Many countries, I suggest, will see opportunities to invade nations they had always coveted but felt constrained to act upon until this unique and opportune time presents itself.
It is soon after this second seal is opened that I expect the Ezekiel 38 Gog/Magog invasion of Israel to occur.
“And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Revelation 6:3-4).
The third black horse of Revelation 6:5-6 will see worldwide economic collapse, and extreme famine will prevail. Yet, as with all of human history, the elite and the rich will be unaffected.
“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (Revelation 6:5-6).
The fourth pale horse of Revelation 5:7-8 sees the culmination of the effects of the first three seals – that of physical death and Sheol (or hades/hell) being filled up with the souls of unrepentant sinners.
“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:7-8).
Again, these first four seals could happen so rapidly that they would seem to be one right after another, just as Christ is unsealing them. In essence, they are all linked to each other.
Other Events That Should Occur Within The Gap
Attempting to alleviate the anxiety of those who have been left behind and offering up explanations for why many millions of people were taken off of the earth will be job number one for Antichrist and the globalists. Job number two will be addressing the wars, economic collapse, and famine, as death will be prevalent in these initial stages. As a “peacemaker,” during this gap of time, Antichrist will do his part in trying to put the world back together again.
Gog/Magog Invasion of Israel: Ezekiel 38 and 39. I believe that this invasion will happen very soon after the rapture and will be the catalyst for the seven-year covenant between Antichrist, Israel, and the many (Daniel 9:27) that will initiate the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation. How much time will elapse between the ill-fated invasion — that will be repelled by God and the Israeli Defense Forces — and the signing of the covenant is unknown.
The setting-up of the 10 regional kingdoms of the earth through the auspices of the United Nations:
Antichrist propelling himself upward on the world’s stage as a major political leader and globalist savior; most probably rising somewhere in the European Union – although not as one of the 10 kings – through working hand-in-hand with the United Nations and the 10 regional kings and their kingdoms.
The Fifth Seal
Another confirmation of a gap happens at the breaking of the fifth seal:
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled“ (Revelation 6:9-11). (emphasis mine)
These saints are those that have come to Christ after the rapture of the church and have stayed faithful to “the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” We know this because everyone up to this point has their state of affairs laid out for us in Scripture: The Old Testament saints are in heaven awaiting their resurrection, and the church has been resurrected and raptured in their glorious, everlasting bodies. Therefore, these people’s souls that are under the altar are those who have died in persecution since the rapture of the church.
The question asked from those under the altar would not have been asked if they had been killed during the seven-year Tribulation, as they would know how much time was left by calculating the time from their deaths since the covenant was signed and how much time remained of the seven years.
They were also told to “rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were [during the same timeframe – the gap between the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation], should be fulfilled.”
Sixth Seal – A Great Earthquake
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Revelation 6:12-14).
Here we have our first of several earthquakes recorded in Revelation. I’m going to throw out a few observations for the reader to consider when it comes to this earthquake and the consequences found in these verses.
First, as far as the earthquake itself, we may be looking at an earthquake generated by a nuclear exchange or a divinely timed geological event. I personally suspect that this a divinely timed earthquake centering in the Pacific Ocean region that ignites the entire “Ring of Fire” volcanic structure in eastern Asia and western North America, and possibly triggering the Yellowstone Caldera super-volcano.
This would definitely produce the characteristics that John reported, as “the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood” because of the massive ejection of fire and volcanic ash into the atmosphere. This geologic catastrophe that John witnessed, as he would be looking at the region where it emanates, would produce “every mountain and island [moving] out of their places,” which would include islands and island nations such as Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Hawaii, and numerous other islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Secondly, when it comes to the phrase, “and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind,” there seem to be three possibilities.
- The natural effects of fire ejecting out of the volcanic eruptions into an ash-filled atmosphere and falling back to earth would most certainly give the illusion that stars were falling from the sky.
- If this is a nuclear exchange – which, again, I don’t lean toward – it could give this appearance as the missiles are passing through the atmosphere. But we have to note that in this passage, the earthquake happens first, so the likelihood of missiles being sent after the earthquake hits – or while the earthquake is taking place – seems quite out of sequence.
- As we should know, “stars” are often representative of angels in Scripture (Job 38:7, et al.). Therefore, some may suggest that John is witnessing Satan and his angels being kicked out of heaven by Michael and his angels and being thrown down to earth (Revelation 12:7-9).
Obviously, I lean toward number one.
And, as far as the phrase, “the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together,” a divinely timed geological event with a massive ejection of volcanic ash and fire into the atmosphere (along with the effects of a great earthquake shaking the earth), or a nuclear exchange, would both give this appearance.
For all intents and purposes, I really do think we are looking at a divinely timed geologic event with this earthquake.
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” – Revelation 6:15-17
We see the effect this earthquake has on the people of the earth globally: absolute terror as they recognize that “the great day of [the Lord’s] wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Even though Christ has been opening the seals and allowing, through His sovereignty, the Antichrist to come upon the scene, wars to break out all over the earth, and economic collapse and famine to occur – it isn’t until the earthquake hits that the inhabitants of the earth recognize that this is all the Lord’s wrath!
The Seventh Seal
This is when I believe the seven-year Tribulation is about to commence.
“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets” (Revelation 8:1-2)
I’m sure that many have conjectured what may be taking place when “there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” I have two theories, and they may actually both be in play.
First, I suggest that this half an hour of silence may indicate that heaven is witnessing the signing of the covenant between Israel, Antichrist, and the many (Daniel 9:27).
If this is the case, then when “… the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:5) could very well be God’s response to this covenant.
Secondly, “the silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” is very probably the sealing of the 144,000 Israeli evangelists (Revelation 7:1-8).
(For a study on Revelation 7 and when the 144,000 Israeli evangelists are sealed – when it comes to the judgments of God – please see Revelation 7: Bookends of the Tribulation).
Again, both the signing of the covenant between Israel, Antichrist and the many and the sealing of the 144,000 Israeli evangelists could be in view during this silence in heaven.
And, of course, the breaking of the seventh seal will usher in the seven trumpet judgments, all of which I believe will occur in the first half of the Tribulation.
Note: The seventh seal that ushers in the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:1-2) and the seventh trumpet, which ushers in the seven vial judgments (Revelation 11:15 and Revelation 15:6 – separated by three parenthetical chapters), are showing the reader that these judgments are chronological in scope. This is very important for the student of the Bible to understand when it comes to interpreting the book of Revelation and making the attempt to insert the other events into the chronological pouring-out of God’s wrath.
When Does the Seven-Year Marriage Consummation Begin?
In short, the answer is right after the rapture of the church. This is when the clock begins ticking.
But there are two events that will take place soon after our Lord takes us back to heaven.
- The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ for rewards to His bride.
- The breaking of the seven seals of Revelation by Christ that we just looked at – which, as I said, I believe will happen rather rapidly.
The Bema Seat, the Seven Seals, and the 144,000
It seems more than reasonable that Christ will immediately escort His bride into the Father’s house to purify His bride and give her gifts and rewards for her service to Him on earth. This would initiate the seven years of consummation immediately after the rapture of the church.
Our Bridegroom – the savior of the world, King of kings and Lord of lords – will have the duty of opening the seven seals. While not mentioned in the text, we know we are with our Lord because, as Paul says of the rapture:
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord“ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). (emphasis mine)
Immediately following the opening of the seal judgments, we can have confidence that our Bridegroom returns with His bride to the Father’s house to complete the ongoing seven-year consummation period.
“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. 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 14:2-3). (emphasis mine)
The only other time we see the Lord Jesus Christ, from then on, is when He comes back to earth to escort the 144,000 Israeli evangelists from Jerusalem to heaven in Revelation 14:1-5 at the midway point of the seven-year Tribulation. This is the only other place where we see Jesus in the chronological events before the Marriage Supper of The Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9) and His subsequent Second Coming to the earth (Revelation 19:11-21).
Therefore, it appears that the Lord will only come out of the Father’s house, with His bride somewhere close by to Him, to open the seven seals and, later, for His mission alone to come to earth momentarily to escort His beloved 144,000 Israeli evangelists to heaven in the middle of the Tribulation.
The Marriage Supper of The Lamb
In my article, Resurrections and The Marriage Supper of The Lamb, I discuss the Marriage Supper, how I see the resurrections occurring, and who will be the Bridegroom’s distinguished guests at this glorious Supper.
In relation to the seven-year consummation period, which will begin with the rapture of the church, the Marriage Supper of The Lamb would have to follow the completion of those seven years.
This is why I suggest – depending on how long the gap of time is between the rapture and the signing of the covenant between Antichrist, Israel, and the many (Daniel 9:27) – that The Marriage Supper of The Lamb would have to occur in the presence of the Father sometime in the last half of the seven-year Tribulation, known as The Great Tribulation, the last three and one-half years before Christ comes back to earth. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, followed by Christ’s Second Coming, is chronologically laid out in Revelation 19:6-21.
Timing is Everything: Our Marriage in Heaven
Concerning our marriage in heaven, I would like to summarize this subject in the following way:
Even though both the Tribulation and the consummation between Jesus and His bride are seven years in duration, they are not equal in relation to each other. That is, they don’t coincide, but they do overlap.
The seven-year consummation of Christ and His church will begin immediately after the rapture, proceed exactly seven years, and end somewhere in the last half of the seven-year Tribulation on earth so we may be revealed in heaven, in the presence of the Father, for our long-awaited, glorious and exuberant Marriage Supper!
Once the Marriage Supper of The Lamb is completed, then the armies of heaven – consisting of the Holy angels, the bride of Christ, the resurrected Old Testament saints, and saints resurrected up to the midway point of the Tribulation – will prepare for our Lord’s magnificent Second Coming. How long that will be in relation to the Marriage Supper and the Second Coming will be entirely dependent upon how long the gap is between the rapture and the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.
As we complete this study, I must confess that I’m getting a little excited about all of this, and I pray you are, too!
So, until we hear that trumpet of God, let’s be about our Bridegroom’s business of bringing the glorious gospel message to a lost and dying world who so desperately needs to hear it, and grow the bride of Christ while we still can.
Are you with me? I pray that you are.
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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