Rapture And Second Coming Contrasted

Question #2             

Is There Any Difference Between The Rapture And The Second Coming Of Christ?


The rapture of the church of Jesus Christ is not the second coming of Christ.  They are two events separated in time by seven years. The rapture takes place first before the second coming. In a sense, the rapture may be regarded as part of the Lord’s second coming since they are both end time events. One of the contrasts is the fact that the rapture will be a secret affair whereas the glorious appearing of the Lord will be a public event.  All eyes shall see Him. In the rapture only those qualified members of the church, dead and alive, will meet Him in the atmospheric air. There are significant contrasts between two events. From now on, I will use the term ‘Glorious Appearing’ to describe the personal, visible return of the Lord to the earth. The following are some of the characteristics.

Venue: Rapture

The rapture will take place in the atmospheric part of the first heaven.  There are three heavens: the first heaven is the earth and the clouds or atmosphere above it; the second is the stellar heavens – the domain of the stars; and the third heaven is the heaven of heavens – the throne of God. The Lord will leave the heaven of heavens and appear in the atmospheric heaven to await His saints.

Venue: Glorious Appearing:

The Lord, His saints and the holy angels will land at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

Participants: Rapture

Those who will be raptured are dead Christians who were ‘in Christ’ at the point of death and living born-again believers who qualify to be ‘caught-up’ when the Trumpet of God sounds. Those who are in Christ, dead or alive shall be transformed with glorified bodies and lifted up to the skies to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever.

Participants: Glorious Appearing

Jesus Christ, the Saints of the Lord and Holy Angels all riding on white horses shall descent from heaven like a cloud and land in Jerusalem.

Time: Rapture

When the Trumpet of God sounds first for dead saints and almost immediately for living saints. The day and hour of the rapture is not disclosed in the Scriptures because God has put that in His own authority. However, Christians who are watchful, have made themselves ready for the occasion and above all are looking forward to the evacuation, will have an idea of the times and seasons.  Qualified living saints will have an idea that the time is approaching. It will be like ‘birth pangs’ on a pregnant woman for Christians who have sufficient oil in the lamps, those full of the Holy Spirit. They will be the ones to hear when the trumpet of God sounds, which can be any moment from now.  At least seven years separate the rapture from the second coming. The intervening seven years is the Tribulation Period or Daniel’s seventieth week of seven years.

Time: Glorious Appearing

Immediately after the tribulation of those days …. From the venue of the Marriage Supper the Lord, His saints and holy angels ……  The time of Christ’s visible return to earth shall be seven years, xxx months, and  xxx days after the rapture of the church. All eyes shall see Him.

Nature of Event: Rapture

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.” 1 Cor 15:51-52. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thess 4:16-17.

Nature of Event: Glorious Appearing

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Mt 24:29:30. “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.” Zech 14:4

The major distinguishing feature of the two events is in their purpose. Some of the purposes of the rapture are:

The Purposes Of The Rapture

1.      To cause the hinderer of lawlessness to be removed so that the Antichrist will manifest to carry out his end time programme. The Holy Spirit and Church of Jesus Christ together currently restrain the explosion of lawlessness in the world.

2.      To resurrect “sleeping” saints from among the wicked dead and cloth them with robes of righteousness.

3.      To complete the salvation of saints, by making them perfect in spirit, soul and body.  Saints will receive glorified bodies, since flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, thus changing the bodies of saints from mortality to immortality.

4.      To receive saints both dead and living to be with Himself and be glorified in them as He promised.

5.      To ensure that living saints do not pass through the Tribulation Period.

6.      To allow for the revelation and reign of the Beast, the Antichrist.

7.      To bring to light the hidden things of darkness.

8.      To reward the saints for faithfulness and judge the Jews for rejecting the Messiah at His first advent and the Gentile world for their treatment of Jews and Christians, including the martyrs.

9.      To reign as King of kings and Lord of lords on the earth under the Davidic Covenant.

10.  To present the saints before God the Father.

11.  To take saints to heaven and assign them to their mansions in the New Jerusalem

12.  To present saints before God the Father.

13.  To make saints whole in body, soul, and spirit.

14.  To give awards to His saints for faithful service on earth.

Purposes of Glorious Appearing

The following are some of the reasons for the Personal visible of return of Christ to the earth:

1.      To save the Jews from extermination.

2.      To destroy the world armed forced at the Battle of Armageddon.

3.      To judge the sheep and goat nations of the Gentile world for their treatment of Jews and Christians, including the martyrs.

4.      To commission angels to select Millennial kingdom citizens from among the Gentiles.

5.      To cause Satan to be cast into the Bottomless Pit for a period of 1,000 years, corresponding to the Millennial Reign of Christ.

6.      To cause the Beast and the False Prophet to be cast alive into the Lake of Fire.

7.      To assign saints to their duty posts on earth.

8.      To divide the Promised Land among the twelve tribes of Israel for the Millennial Age, with Joseph inheriting a double portion.

9.      To re-establish the Temple as prophesied by Ezekiel (Ezek 40-46) for Millennial worship and other ceremonies.

10.  For Christ to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords on the earth under the Davidic Covenant.

11.  To end the Times of the Gentiles over the Jews and Jerusalem.

12.  To end all human rule as depicted in Nebuchadnezzar’s Colossus.

13.  To take full possession of the earth.

14.  To restitute all things on the earth before handing the Kingdom over to the Father so that God will be “all in all.”

Other Characteristic Contrasts

In the rapture of the Church, Christ is coming FOR the saints. Lk 21:34-36 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

1.      Jesus assured His disciples of mansions in His Father’s house. Jesus is currently preparing a place in heaven for His Bride. As soon as the mansions are ready, ‘I will come again and receive you to Myself.’ In Jn 14:1-3, Jesus said: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if itwere 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,; that where I am, there you may be also.”

2.      We shall not all sleep (1 Cor 15:51-56). Qualified Christians will not experience death. When the trumpet sound, they will be changed and equipped for occupation of heaven. Our corrupt flesh and blood which is subject to physical death cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Man must be in a state of sinless perfection to be united with Christ permanently. Hence, brethren are enjoined to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

3.      We must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things donein the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). This event will take place in heaven. It is not judgment for sin, but typifies the Olympic tradition of decorating winners with their trophies. Saints service on earth will be ‘judged’ for eligibility for price award. Salvation of soul is not in view here. All who partake of the Rapture are eternally saved.

4.      Christ shall change our vile body. In Phil 3:20-21, Apostle Paul said: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

5.      For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven and living saints shall be caught up together with dead saints in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thess 4:13-18)

6.      The total sanctification, spirit, soul and body, of saints will be complete when we meet the Lord in the air. (1Thess 5:23)

7.      When the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is taken out of the way, then the Antichrist will be revealed. (2 Thess 2:7-8)

8.      Christ shall appear to those who look for him. This is one of the qualifications for inclusion in the Rapture. “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Heb 9:28)

9.      Good pastors will be decorated with a Crown of Glory during the Judgment Seat of Christ, an event that will take place in heaven soon after the Rapture. “When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4)

10.  Abiding in Christ is a prerequisite to participation in the Rapture of the Church. (1 John 2:28)

11.  Only the pure can see Christ on the day of Rapture and be like Him. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)

Glorious Appearing

In His visible personal glorious appearing, which is indeed His Second Coming to the earth, Christ will come WITH the saints and holy angels.

1.      The Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ with His saints after the Tribulation Period of seven years will be heralded with frightening signs from heaven. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Mt 24:29-30)

2.      Christ’s glorious appearing will bring to an end human rule on the earth. He will set up “a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Dan 2:44)

3.      The Lord shall destroy the armies of the world at the Battle of Armageddon. “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle … And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—“The Lord isone,” (Zech 14:3, 9)

4.      On earth there shall be distress of nations and perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring. See Lk 21:25-28.

5.      The place and manner of His Ascension into heaven will characterise His glorious appearing. “This sameJesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

6.      The Lord will come with His saints. “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we doto you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. (1 Thess 3:12-13)

7.      He will also come with His mighty angels and be glorified in His saints “when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. (2 Thess 1:7, 10)

8.      The Lord shall come with ten thousands of His saints. “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’” (Jude 14-15)

9.      All eyes shall see Him presumably through satellite Television. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Rev 1:7)

Since church rapture is for sleeping and living saints of God, the key times to take note of are the moment of physical death (or rather sleep for the Christian) and the moment the trumpet sounds to signal the rapture. From the day church rapture takes place, the glorious appearing of Jesus with His entourage at the Temple mount in Jerusalem shall be seven years or eighty-four months of thirty days each, or 1320 days. Whereas the day and hour of church rapture is unknown the time of His glorious appearing can be calculated accurately to the day.

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