The theme of the book of Revelation primarily deals with two future events. 1) The 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and 2) The pouring out of God’s wrath against unbelieving mankind. The word “coming” is a simple but important word that we’ll focus on in this segment. Please take a moment to pray for discernment and wisdom.
Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:7 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.
In between the “amen” ending in verse 6 and the “amen” ending in verse 7 you have a statement that stands alone revealing the theme of the book of Revelation which is the 2nd coming of Christ and the coming judgment. Notice the word “cometh.” Now turn to Rev. 22:20, the last two verses of the bible.
Revelation 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Here we see in the concluding verses in the book of Revelation his coming is again mentioned. Chapter 1:7 says “Behold, he cometh.” Chapter 22:20 says “Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Look back at this key verse: Revelation 1:7 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.
Let’s consider some distinct elements about this verse:
- Jesus is coming
- He is coming in the clouds
- Every eye shall see him – This is not a secret coming where the unsaved will be wondering where people went
- Jews and Gentiles are represented (all kindreds)
- There will be wailing (Webster’s Dictionary: to lament or mourn bitterly)
So what coming is this? That was one of the questions I asked God’s men as I sought to understand the 2nd coming better. Unfortunately, the answers I received were conflicting. Some men stated there are numerous “comings” in the end times. So let’s look at the important word “coming” in simplicity. Jump over to Matthew 24:30
Be aware that the plain teachings of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 24 have been under fierce attack for a long time. As you keep this in mind, continue to ask God for discernment as we read the scriptures.
Matthew 24:30 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.
“The son of man” is a title Jesus Christ used for himself and is found more than 80 times in the New Testament. Jesus describes his coming in Matthew 24 which include the same details as recorded in Rev. 1:7.
- Jesus is coming
- He is coming in clouds
- It is not a secret coming – All tribes shall see him
- Jews and Gentiles involved (synonymous: tribes – kindreds)
- All tribes shall mourn (synonymous: mourn – wail)
The bible often records the same events in different books of the bible. The details allow us to compare scripture with scripture so we know that we are dealing with parallel passages. The details aren’t there by accident, they’re there to help us rightly divide the word of truth.
Here are some additional details given in Matthew:
- Angels are present
- The trumpet sounds
- There is a gathering of the elect
Matthew tells us that while all tribes of the earth mourn, the angels with the sound of a trumpet will gather the elect. The unsaved people are mourning because the major events of 6th seal, bring an end life as we know it. Those that are left on the earth are aware that the great day of God’s wrath has come. We’ll come back to the topic of God’s wrath.
Now these details in Matthew also match the most famous “coming” passage in the bible:
1 Thessalonians 4:15 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.
16 For the Lord himself 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:
17 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.
Again we have the same details indicating we have another parallel passage describing the coming of Jesus Christ. I’ve heard many Baptist preachers try to correct the Apostle Paul by saying, “this is not really a coming since Jesus is still in the clouds.” My question then is, “What coming is this?” It is not the first coming so by deduction it is absolutely the 2nd coming of Christ! Verse 15 plainly says, “the coming of the Lord.”
We need to reject the crafty words and teachings of men and accept what the Bible actually says here. The gathering of God’s elect in Matthew 24 and the gathering of the brethren in 1st and 2nd Thessalonians is the same event.
Consider the distinctions in passage above:
- Jesus is coming – verse 15 says “coming of the Lord”
- He is coming in clouds
- It is not a secret coming – Shout, trumpet, resurrection
- Angels are present
- There is a gathering of the elect
So far we’ve established that the 2nd coming is the theme of the book of Revelation as found in Revelation 1:7. This event is discussed by Jesus in Matthew 24. Again this very same event is taught to the Thessalonians by Paul. The bible makes this plain by comparing scripture with scripture.
Now we’ll address the false doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture. I’m forced to use the word rapture because of its popularity, even though it is not found in scripture. The word “rapture” comes from the Latin translation of the phrase “caught up” and we’re stuck with it even though I prefer the bible word “gathering” (Matt. 24:31 and 2 Thess. 2:1).
Now, the pretrib crowd maintain with a stubborn defiance that Matthew 24:30 and 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 are not parallel passages. They claim 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 refers to the rapture and cannot be the same coming in the clouds as in Rev. 1:7 or Matt 24 (also in Mark 13, Luke 21, and others). And since Matthew 24:30 cannot be the rapture, they teach it is the battle of Armageddon, or that its an exclusively Jewish gathering, or some other event. Folks those are deceptions. Armageddon occurs much later chronologically in Revelation 19. At Armageddon, Jesus comes with his saints, on a white horse, to destroy his enemies. Absent are the clouds, the trumpet, the gathering of saints, there’s no darkened sun and moon, etc. This is a completely different event at a much later time.
Now I’ve shown pastors that according to their view, that there’s a trumpet for the rapture and another trumpet for Armageddon. And then I’d show them that their view has Jesus coming in the clouds, with angels, and there is a rapture or a gathering of saints for both events. It is rare to see a Baptist pastor fumbling for words regarding their doctrinal beliefs, but that’s exactly what you’ll to see if you challenge them with this information. The irrationality of the pretrib doctrine does not end there as we’ll see.
So why do they make these illogical claims? Because in Matthew 24:29, Jesus uses the chronological phrase “after the tribulation” and then refers to events following the opening of the 6th seal. This verse eliminates the possibility of a pre-tribulation rapture.
Matthew 24:29 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.
We need to carefully consider the chronological information that the bible is giving us. Immediately and after and then are all words that establish chronology. So after the tribulation, we have events occurring that are triggered by the opening of the 6th seal found Revelation 6:12-17, such as the sun and moon being darkened etc. This leads to an important statement that is imperative for you to understand:
The tribulation lasts only until the conclusion of the 5th seal. When the 6th seal is opened, the tribulation is OVER. The tribulation does not last for the duration of Daniels 70th week.
For pretribbers, that’s going to be a newsflash. If you’re not receiving that statement as a biblical truth, please go back and prayerfully read Revelation 6 which clearly teaches that the 6th seal triggers the sun and the moon to be darkened. This occurs AFTER the tribulation as recorded in Matthew 24:29. So, if you reject the 6th seal as taking place after the tribulation, and maintain that the 6th seal occurs during the tribulation (which all pretribbers mistakenly do), you’re not going to receive much more in this study. You might as well go make some popcorn, put in a fictional Left Behind movie.
So again, once the tribulation is over the 6th seal is opened, then we’ll see Jesus coming in the clouds with power and great glory to gather the saints. Folks the bible is plain, the rapture occurs after the tribulation and after the 6th seal. Even though the bible teaches this so clearly, it was a challenge for me to accept these words because they went against the doctrine I was taught for so long. It took me many months to overcome that false doctrine as I was left to study out this matter on my own because again, this information is just not taught in Fundamental Baptist churches.
Let’s reiterate the key points in this segment:
- The tribulation ends before the 6th seal – Important to overcome false doctrine
- The sun and moon go dark after the 6th seal which is also after tribulation
- Jesus comes after the tribulation, after the 6th seal, and after the sun & moon are darkened
- Jesus is coming in the clouds
- It is not a secret coming and vanishing of Christians like portrayed in the “Left Behind” fairy-tale series
- The elect are gathered – This is the rapture – This happens once not multiple times
- Angels are present at the rapture
- There’s a trumpet at the rapture
- The remaining tribes and kindreds shall wail and mourn
- Jews and Gentiles are involved meaning everyone – That includes the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9, 3:9)
- The great day of God’s wrath is come (trumpet and vial judgments follow)
- The pretrib claim that Matthew 24:30 is the battle of Armageddon is bogus
- Armageddon takes place after all seals, trumpets, and vials (not after the 6th seal)
- The pretrib doctrine is not a scriptural doctrine