Rapture vs. The Second Coming
ETN - Today I want to address the difference between the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. If you're like me when I first became a Christian, it was hard to decipher the difference. These two are end-time events, but they are very separate events.
The rapture is when Jesus Christ ultimately removes the church from the Earth. Scripture tells us this happens in a twinkle of an eye. The way it's written, it appears all believers are taken in an instant from the Earth.
The Second Coming is when Christ returns to Earth with the armies of Heaven, defeats the Antichrist in what the Bible calls the battle of Armageddon, and establishes His one thousand year kingdom here on Earth.
Jesus gives us some insight into the Rapture in Mathew 24:40. He tells us two people will be walking in a field one is taken, and one is left, two women will be grinding, one will be taken, and one will be left, two people are laying in bed one is taken, and one is left.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says this, "now dear brothers and sisters. We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so that you will not grieve like other people who have no hope for since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again. We also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have already died. We tell you this directly from the Lord. We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord, himself will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout with a voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Believers who have died will raise from the graves. Then together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the Earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words."
We also see in 1Corinthians 15:50-53. Paul says, "What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will be transformed! It will happen in a moment in the blink of an eye when the last trumpet is blown.
For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will rise to lie forever. And we who are living will be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
You see, believers who have previously died will have their bodies resurrected. Those that are still living will have their mortal bodies transformed into Immortal bodies in the twinkle of an eye at the last trumpet.
There is much debate about when this will happen in the sequence of events in end-time prophecy.
What is clear - There will be a seven-year period called the tribulation where God will pour out his wrath on the Earth. It appears the first 3.5 years God pours out his wrath on the planet and the final 3.5 years God pours out his wrath on humanity. These seven years start with a treaty the Antichrist creates with many countries, including Israel. The midpoint or the 3.5 years is marked with the Antichrist entering the temple and declaring himself God. These events come full circle at the end of the 7 years with the return of Christ.
Jesus comes to defeat the Antichrist, where he establishes his 1000 year reign here on Earth. We see the description of this in Revelation 19:11-16. And it says this, "Then I saw Heaven open and a white horse was standing there. It's Rider's name was Faithful and True. For he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of flaming fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the word of God. The armies of Heaven, dressed in the fines of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the almighty, like juice flowing from the winepress on his robe, and this thigh was written. The title king of kings and Lord of all Lords."
During the Second coming, believers return to the Earth with Jesus. So it seems clear they wouldn't be on Earth if they were returning with him. (A side note, there will be believers on Earth at his second coming, but it appears these people would be people who came to faith after the rapture.)
The great and terrible tribulation is outlined for us in Revelation chapters 6 through 19.
It appears from scripture the rapture must occur before God pours his wrath out on humanity because scripture tells us life on Earth will be business as usual. Jesus says in those days it will be like it was in the days of Noah. People will be eating and drinking giving in to marriage, and they didn't know disaster was coming until it began to rain.
The Rapture is God's act to remove believers from God's wrath, while the second coming is removing unbelievers into judgment.
Whether you believe in a pre, mid or post rapture, it is clear these events are separate.
The end result is time is running out for all who our lost. We have to do our duty to fulfill the great commission.
Pastor & Evangelist
Go Follow Jesus International