By Nathan Jones
Is the Rapture not the Second Coming of Christ?
On Saturday, November 19, 2011, I was interviewed by host August Rosado of the BlogTalkRadio show Signs of the Times. August is a Bible prophecy teacher and preacher and founder of a ministry called Today in Bible Prophecy. He has and continues to be a personable guest on our television program Christ in Prophecy. He and I contrasted the Rapture with the Second Coming.
The Rapture and Second Coming Contrasted
Nathan Jones: Here is a hard concept for many folks to accept, but the Rapture is a separate event from Jesus' Second Coming. It's a different event. You can read about the Rapture and you can read about the Second Coming and realize those verses are talking about two totally different events. Now, you could take it that the Second Coming is one event but in two phases, but I prefer to think of them as separate events, though.
For example, we know when the Second Coming is because there has to be seven years of Tribulation beforehand. There has to be an Antichrist who comes on the world beforehand. There has to be 21 judgments that befall the planet beforehand. The Bible even gives us the time calculations so that we know exactly that it will be seven years or two 42 months of 30 days each until Jesus will come at His Second Coming. So there may be plenty of signs for the Second Coming, but there are no signs that have to happen before the Rapture of the Church as it's an imminent event.
August Rosado: Yes, because if we look at the Rapture and the Second Coming, the Rapture is when Jesus is coming for the Church. The Second Coming is when He is coming back with His Church. The Rapture and the Second Coming are separated by Daniel's Seventieth Week of prophecy, or what we would call the "Tribulation Period."
Nathan Jones: I would say that there are 10 differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming.
- With the Rapture believers meet Christ in the air. Christ does not come to the earth. He is up in the air and we go up to Him. But, in the Second Coming, Christ returns to the earth and lands on the Mount of Olives we are told, and He meets believers who are already here on the earth.
- At the Rapture the Mount of Olives is unchanged, but when Jesus comes back at the Second Coming He is going to split the Mount of Olives. This mountain is currently right outside of Jerusalem, and a new valley will be formed just East of Jerusalem.
- At the Rapture, living believers will get new glorified bodies, but at the Second Coming the living believers still on the earth remain in their same earthly body. These are two different groups of believers here.
- At the Rapture, believers go to Heaven, but at the Second Coming glorified believers come with Christ from Heaven back down to earth.
- At the Rapture, the world is left unjudged and living in sin, but at the Second Coming when Jesus comes back He brings justice and judgment.
- The Rapture depicts a deliverance of the Church from wrath, but at the Second Coming it depicts the deliverance of believers who are already enduring wrath.
- With the Rapture no signs precede it, but with the Second Coming there are so many signs that precede it. As a matter of fact, we even know the exact day the Tribulation begins, which is when the Antichrist makes a peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:26-27), and goes exactly seven years to when it ends.
- We know the Rapture is revealed only in the New Testament, but with the Second Coming we are given all sorts of references in both the Old and New Testament.
- The Rapture deals with only those of us who are saved, while the Second Coming deals with both the saved and the unsaved. Jesus comes as a relief for those who will be been saved during the Tribulation, but comes as a terrible judgment on those who have continued to rebel during that time.
- And, after the Rapture, Satan remains free on this earth. He's pretty much thinking he's ruling and reigning it because he has his number one man the Antichrist who will form a global government. But, at the Second Coming, Satan is defeated and is thrown into the Abyss for a thousand years.
Clearly from these comparisons, the Rapture and the Second Coming are totally different events.
August Rosado: When you look at the prophecies concerning the Second Coming, especially in the book of Revelation, you look in Revelation 19:14 and it tells us, "The armies that were in heaven followed Him upon white horses clothed in fine linen, white and clean." That has to refer to the saints who were raptured seven years earlier, coming back with Him seven years later. Zechariah 14:4 says the Messiah's feet touch the Mount of Olives and it splits. So, yes, you would have to come to the conclusion that the Rapture is a separate event from the Second Coming, separated by a seven year period of Tribulation. It forces one to conclude that.
Busy in Heaven
Nathan Jones: Yes, the Church has to be in Heaven during those seven years because the Bible tells us just what the Saints will be doing in Heaven during those seven years as God's wrath is being poured out on the earth.
The first thing that we will do once believers are raptured to Heaven is that we will participate in a judgment by God. Now, this isn't a judgment to determine if we are going to Hell or not. We are already in Heaven with Christ, and that means we are already saved. No, it's a judgment of the just to determine our degree of reward. You can find the description in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 19:6-9. So, there will be a judgment for the Church, but it will be in Heaven and it will be for our rewards in Heaven. The Bible talks about fancy clothing, crowns that depict how we have served Him, and it talks about new names. I won't be called Nathan anymore. I will get a new name. My wife says that Nathan is a nerd name, so I guess it's good it'll be changing! But, all of these rewards will be used to worship and glorify what Christ has done through us.
The second event the Bible says well be doing can be found in Revelation 19:7-9 where it talks about the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. This event is about how the Church — the Bride of Christ — as we are called, will be married to the Lord. You know, I don't know what that means exactly, but we do know there is a spiritual marriage between us and Christ, a reunification with us and our Savior who saved our souls.
The third event we will experience after the Judgment of the Just and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is that we will prepare to go with Christ back down to earth at the end of the seven years so Jesus can wage the Battle of Armageddon. Just by speaking, Jesus defeats His enemies. It says like we read in Revelation 19:14 that we will return with Him on horses. I don't know what kind of horses these are, they could be angels in animal form, or they could be real horses. But, the text says that we will be arrayed in white robes and will be following Jesus back to earth.
This third event shows that we can't be following Jesus back to earth if the Rapture and the Second Coming are the same because we would then have to simultaneously be going up and coming back at the exact same time. That just doesn't make any sense. Anyway, those are the three known events that we will be doing up in Heaven while the Tribulation is engulfing the world.
In the next part of this Interview by August, we'll look at some of the signs that point to this being the season of the Lord's return.