1 Thessalonians 4:1 - 18
ESV - 1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
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It is interesting that the questioner subconsciously ties the trumpet in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 (the Rapture) to the only place in Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:52 – the resurrection) where a ‘last trumpet’ is mentioned. The Seventh Trumpet in Revelation is never mentioned as the ‘last trumpet’. It is, however, the very last in a sequence of events that define God’s Wrath. It can never be confused with the trumpet in either 1 Corinthians 15:52 or 1 Thess. 4:16-17. The trumpets in both passages are related, occurring in the twinkling of an eye, and thereby tying the Rapture to the resurrection – a very critical point. However, these two trumpets can never be linked to the Seventh Trumpet in Revelation because the Church cannot see the Wrath of God (1 Thess. 5:9). On this point, the Church is unanimous! Michael is correct, in that the trumpet in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 is a calling. In fact, it is the last calling of the Church to the Wedding of the Lamb. It happens to be the resurrection where the Church receives “the righteous deeds of the Saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). These “righteous deeds” are the rewards for being justified in God’s eyes to having attained to the Prize of eternal life. In actuality, there is only one reward – one crown, but with five names. See: https://ebible.com/questions/2767-what-are-the-heavenly-crowns-that-believers-can-receive-in-heaven#answer-21950 When does this happen? Michael mentioned two options: Mid-Tribulation, and Pre-Tribulation. There is a third option and that is Post-Tribulation, but only for those who understand that the 2300 Days in Daniel, Ch. 8, begin at the mid-point of the Tribulation. If so, then you are left with a period of 2.8 years after the Tribulation. (The Tribulation is 7 years in duration, occurring at the end of this present Church age – an age in which God is dealing primarily with Gentiles. There is a subsequent millennial reign of Christ – the Kingdom Age – in which God will deal with Israel and the Jewish people. Sandwiched in between is this 2.8 year period in which all of God’s Wrath is confined. It is referred to in Scripture as the Day of the Lord – 2 Thess. 2:1-2). The whole reason for a Pre or Mid-Tribulation view is to exit the Church before God’s Wrath, which is currently viewed to occur within the 7 year Tribulation. As we will see, this cannot be the case. Matthew 24:29 sets the stage for the “Sign of the Son of Man” (the Rapture) in Matthew 24:30 “coming on the clouds” – the signature of the Rapture, and the last trumpet in Matthew 24:31 when the elect will be ‘gathered together’(NKJV) – another signature of the Rapture. It occurs “immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days.” The words ‘gathered together’ are used in THE DEFINITIVE PASSAGE for the timing of the Rapture (2 Thess. 2:1-4). Look at the reason for Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians. It is stated in 2 Thess. 2:1-2. Paul introduced the Rapture to the Thessalonians in his first epistle (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Two sources (the NASB and MacArthur Study Bibles) place the writing of Paul’s second epistle to be about two months after the first epistle. Apparently it did not take very long for the Church at Thessalonica to fear they had missed the Rapture and would now be facing the Day of the Lord. What does Paul tell them in order to allay their fears? He gives them two events they can observe to know they had not missed the Rapture. One of those events is the revealing of the Son of Destruction (2 Thess. 2:3). It happens as he takes his seat in the rebuilt temple of God, proclaiming to be God (2 Thess. 2:4). There are no scholars that disagree – this is the mid-point of the Tribulation. The Church has to be there at the mid-point of the Tribulation. The second event is ‘the apostasy’(2 Thess. 2:3 NKJV - rebellion ESV). The actual Greek is ‘apostasia’ (G646) “defection from truth…falling away, forsake.” It will happen when confronted with the 'Mark of the Beast' for the last half of the Tribulation.
Trumpet calls announce the activity of God. There are many trumpet calls in the end times. The underlying question that is really being asked is “When will the church be raptured?” My answer will attempt to put some biblical book ends around this question. Those who postulate a Pre-tribulation rapture equate the beginning of the wrath of God with the start of the seven year tribulation and the opening of the first scroll. However, the book of Revelation clearly states that the wrath of God does not begin until the sixth seal. Revelation 6:12-17 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” Others postulate that the rapture will happen after the seven year tribulation period. If this is the case how does the church avoid the wrath of God because it is poured out in full strength and completed with the seven bowls. Revelation 15:1,7 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues —last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. We know the church is already in heaven from John’s description of his vision of heaven in Revelation 7:9-17 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes —who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ” Once the church had been raptured, who will God use to proclaim his gospel message to those human beings still alive on earth. We need to remember that God’s wrath is still a reflection of his love seeking to turn people in repentance to receive his salvation. The replacement for the church is given to us in the 6th trumpet (two witnesses) and 7th trumpet (angel in midair proclaiming the eternal gospel. Revelation 11:1-12 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city —which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. Revelation 14:6-7 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth —to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” During the 7th trumpet we read about the war in heaven between the angels and demons. Could it be that the war was precipitated at this time because the demons were trying to stop the rapture of the church, to stop the souls from rising to heaven. Revelation 12:7-12 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” After the 4th angel has sounded, God sends an eagle to warn the inhabitants of the earth. Revelation 8:13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” Based on these book ends, and the chronology of Revelation I would place the rapture sometime during the first 6 trumpet blasts. As to the timing of this event during the 7 years of tribulation, I am persuaded it will occur before the testimony of the two witnesses begins, prior to the 6th trumpet blast.
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