Second Coming: Rapture or Glorious Appearing?

Shalom friends!  Several days ago we focused on God’s Plan of the End.  A tenet of Christian faith is that Jesus Christ will come again to take us (believers) to live with Him forever.  In fact, while teaching His disciples about end times, Jesus assured them with these words:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
~John 14:1-3

We refer to that as the Second Coming.  However, for some, the idea of Jesus’ Second Coming seems contradictory and confusing.  But 1 Corinthians 14:33 says that God is not a God of confusion, so let’s dig in to gain understanding and clarity.

Take a look at Matthew 24:36 (or Mark 13:32).  What do those verses tell us about the time that Jesus will return?  Who knows the day and the hour of His return?  If you said no one, except the Father, knows the day or the hour, you are correct!  Only God the Father knows.

Now read Daniel 9:23-26 and Revelation 12:6.  Do those verses seem to indicate a number of days after which we can expect Jesus’ return?  Certainly, they seem to.  So, which is it?  Is the day of Jesus’ return known or not?

In order to make sense of the seeming contradiction, one must understand that God is working within two prophetic programs:  one that is very specific to the Jews, His chosen people; and one that is specific to the body of Christ, the church (believers).  His return brings both together under His sovereignty.

Think of Jesus’ Second Coming as one event in two phases.  The first phase is spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, among other passages of Scripture.  We are told that believers in Jesus Christ will be taken up to meet Jesus in the air.  We call this the “rapture,” which means to “take up,” or to “snatch away.”  This is the portion of the Second Coming that relates to the body of Christ, and no one knows the day or the hour the rapture will occur.  This is the first phase of the Second Coming.

The second phase, known as the Glorious Appearing, takes place roughly seven years later, when Jesus returns in bodily form to the earth.  How do we know that?  Because Scripture tells us!  In fact, the Bible calls this seven year period the “tribulation.”  This second phase of Jesus’ Second Coming has to do with God’s prophetic plan for the Jews, His chosen people.  The timing was established while the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, and is recorded for us in Daniel 9:23-27.

So, in review of our Plan of the End diagram, you will see that the rapture is the next thing on the prophetic calendar.  It brings the Church Age to an end, and will usher in the tribulation.  After 7 years of tribulation, Jesus will come again.

Plan of the End

Jesus has indeed gone to prepare a place for us, and He will most certainly come again to take us to be with Him.  The rapture could happen at any time!

 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our
great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.
~Titus 2:13

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