The Second Coming — In Two Part Harmony
Vol: 145 Issue: 26 Saturday, October 26, 2013
The Bible often appears to address the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as if it were one event, but upon closer examination, it is obvious that it takes place in two separate parts with an interval of time between them.
The Lord returns once for His Church as its Redeemer and then again at the end of the Tribulation Period as its Avenger. The first coming is in secret. It is signless – that is to say – there is nothing that must occur first.
That first, secret coming for His Church could have taken place at any time in history from the 1st century until now, something known to theology as the “doctrine of immanency.”
This secret coming is called the Rapture of the Church.
There will be some who will argue that the Rapture is a made up doctrine and point to the fact the word rapture does not appear in the Bible as ‘evidence’. (It is worth noting at this point that the word ‘Bible’ isn’t in the Bible either.)
The word ‘Rapture’ comes from the Latin word rapios which is itself a translation of the Greek word ‘harpazo’ which means, “to snatch away, grab, or carry off.”
So it’s not a very compelling argument, and its rebuttal is devastating:
The word ‘Rapture’ doesn’t appear in the English Bible for the same reason that there IS an English Bible. Because the Greeks and Romans used different words for everything than we do.
Whether the word Rapture is in the Bible or not, the picture of the Second Coming taking place in two-part harmony is unmistakable.
- In the first part, He comes as a thief. (Revelation 16:15)
- In the second part, He comes as lightning. (Luke 17:24)
- In the first part, as the Morning Star. (Revelation 22:16)
- In the second part, the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:1-2)
- In the first part, as a bridegroom. (Matthew 25:1-6)
- In the second part, as a King. (Matthew 25:31-34)
- In the first, to the marriage. (Matthew 25:10)
- In the Second, to the Throne of His Glory. (Matthew 25:31)
- In the first, to the virgins. (Matthew 25:1)
- In the second, to the nations. (Matthew 25:32)
- In the first, before the marriage. (Matthew 25:1)
- In the second, after the marriage. (Luke 12:36)
- In the first, for His Bride. (John 14:3)
- In the second, with His Bride. (Colossians 3:4)
- In the first, He meets His Bride in the air. (1st Thessalonians 4:17)
- In the second, He puts His foot down on the Mount of Olives. (Zechariah 14:3-4)
- In the first, He comes to receive His Bride unto Himself. (John 14:3)
- In the second, He comes to be received by repentant Israel. (Zechariah 11:10)
- In the first, He comes to take His bride to the heavenly city. (John 14:1-5, Song of Solomon 4, Ephesians 5:27)
- In the second, He comes to the earthly city of Jerusalem to take up His Throne as King.
- The first part is called, “our gathering together unto Him” (2nd Thessalonians 2:1)
- The second part is called, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ from heaven.” (2nd Thessalonians 1:7)
The Rapture of the Church is clearly not a new doctrine invented by a Scottish schoolgirl, or by C.I. Scofield or by J.N. Darby. For fourteen hundred years, it was a lost doctrine, along with the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.
Martin Luther didn’t discover a new doctrine when he read Ephesians 2:8-9, he rediscovered what the Vatican had buried during the Dark Ages. (That’s why they were called “the Dark Ages” in the first place).
Luther rediscovered the truth that salvation comes through grace and by faith, not by paying money to a priest for absolution from purgatory.
To the degree one can credit Schofield or Darby or anybody else, it can only be for the rediscovery of a doctrine long buried by the Vatican for the same reason. If the Lord is to come for the living saints, then the Vatican dogma that requires additional purification in Purgatory collapses.
It is beyond question that the Bible presents the Second Coming in two-part harmony – to argue otherwise is to argue that the Bible contradicts itself, rather than harmonizes.
Having established the clear Biblical timeline that proves the Second Coming is in two parts, the next question is whether or not the Rapture takes place before, during or after the Tribulation.
I could fill the page with similar references that confirm that the date of the Rapture will be incalculable, whereas the length of the Tribulation period is precisely outlined and concludes with His visible return, and can therefore be calculated. (Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 12:7,11-13)
This is the same problem with the Pre-Wrath, Mid-Trib and Post-Trib views – each conflicts with the doctrine of immanency, a doctrine Jesus hammered home many times.
The Rapture of the Church could have happened at any time in history without being early and the Tribulation could still be future without being late. That has always been the spiritual status quo – until this generation.
For this generation, that equation is turned on its head. Instead, the Rapture is like a floodgate on a dam. During the Church age, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within believers serves to hold back the onset of unrestricted evil.
When that floodgate is removed, then evil is allowed to flow unrestricted. We are that floodgate – once the Church has been removed, there will be nobody left to stand in the way.
In the meantime, we are all that stands in the enemy’s way.