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This column is based on part of Greg Laurie’s book “Are We Living in the Last Days?”
In my last article, we looked at the Next Event of God’s prophetic calendar, the Rapture. In the flash of a second, every living Christian on earth will suddenly and instantaneously be gone. So, you might go to bed one night and wake up in heaven.
This brings me to a frequently asked question about the Rapture: Can we predict the date? The answer is no, we cannot. What about the people who say they have somehow “broken the code” and have figured it out? Should we believe them? No, we should not. Under no circumstances should we believe anyone who tells us that he knows the date of the Lord’s return.
Why? Because Jesus said, “No one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (Matthew 24:36, NLT) Now, if you were to translate this verse from the original language, it would read, “No one knows the day or the hour.” So what that actually means is, “No one knows the day or the hour.” In other words, Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said. So don’t buy into the nonsense that we can predict when the Rapture will occur. The Bible simply tells us to be ready for it.
While no one knows when the Rapture will take place, I can give you an educated guess as to when the Second Coming of Christ will take place. Of course, I can’t give you a specific date, but I can tell you that the Second Coming will occur seven years after the Rapture takes place, following the Great Tribulation period.
The Rapture and the Second Coming
Sometimes people confuse the Rapture and the Second Coming. Here are some differences: The Rapture will occur before the Tribulation, while the Second Coming will occur after the Tribulation. At the Rapture, Jesus will come before the time of judgment. At the time of the Second Coming, Jesus will come with that judgment. The Rapture is for His people. The Second Coming is Jesus with His people.
The Bible teaches that when Christ returns in the Second Coming, He will be joined by saints arrayed in fine linen (see Revelation 19:14). It will be the ultimate Holy Land tour, directed by Jesus Christ Himself as He establishes His kingdom on earth! In the Rapture, Jesus will come like a thief in the night (see Matthew 24:42-43; Luke 12:39-40). In the Second Coming, everyone will see Him (see Revelation 1:7). Jesus said, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27).
A glimpse of the future
Let me give to you what I believe is a “bird’s eye view” of the last days timetable.
Somewhere close in proximity to the time of the Rapture, many nations will join together and attack Israel. A large force from the extreme north of Israel, identified in the Bible as Magog (believed by many scholars to be modern-day Russia), will join with allies that are hostile toward Israel.
When Israel is attacked, the Bible says that God will intervene, defend Israel and turn back the majority of that attacking army. The weapons from that war will be burned for seven years, and there will be a great revival. Many believe that this battle will occur right before the tribulation period, because a seven-year chronology follows. But sometime before, during or right after this battle, it seems, the Rapture of the church will take place.
A coming world leader will then arrive on the scene. The Bible calls him the Antichrist, the Beast. He will be a charismatic and powerful economic and military leader who will be able to do what no other leader has ever been able to do. He will develop a peace treaty between the Jews and the Arabs in which both sides will actually stop their fighting. The Antichrist will establish a treaty that will work, and he will even help the Jews rebuild their Temple.
After the Temple has been rebuilt, halfway into the seven-year Tribulation, the Antichrist will show his true colors. He will erect an image of himself in the Temple and command people to worship it. There also will be a mark that people will be required to take in order to buy or sell things.
The seven-year tribulation will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon. It will be the war to end all wars, fought in the Valley of Megiddo. Then, Jesus Christ will visibly return to the earth in the Second Coming and will establish His kingdom. We know this as the millennial reign of Christ.
That’s a lot of information to process, but just keep this in mind: Jesus could come back again at any moment, so, you need to either get right or get left!
I close with this question for you. If Jesus came back today, would you be one of those who would be taken to heaven or left on this earth?
In my next article, we will learn why the Rapture is relevant to our walk with the Lord Jesus today.