Today we would be looking at a teaching on the end time series which include rapture, marriage super of the lamb, release of Satan after 1000 years, millennium, great tribulation and final judgement.
When is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation?
The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulational position.
First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth “seven” (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel’s entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.
The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God’s removing His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation.
The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.
Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the “hour of trial” that is going to come upon the earth.
This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated “from.” However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the “hour” of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation.
The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.
How are we to live our lives in light of Christ’s return?
We believe that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, that is, His return could occur at any moment. We, with the apostle Paul, look for “the blessed hope “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Knowing that the Lord could come back today, some are tempted to stop what they are doing and just “wait” for Him.
However, there is a big difference between knowing that Jesus could return today and knowing that He will return today. Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour” (Matthew 24:36).
The time of His coming is something God has not revealed to anyone, and so, until He calls us to Himself, we should continue serving Him. In Jesus’ parable of the ten talents, the departing king instructs his servants to “occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13 KJV).
The return of Christ is always presented in Scripture as a great motivation to action, not as a reason to cease from action. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul wraps up his teaching on the rapture by saying, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:6, Paul concludes a lesson on Christ’s coming with these words: “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” To retreat and “hold the fort” was never Jesus’ intention for us.
Instead, we work while we can. “Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).
The apostles lived and served with the idea that Jesus could return within their lifetime; what if they had ceased from their labors and just “waited”? They would have been in disobedience to Christ’s command to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15), and the gospel would not have been spread.
The apostles understood that Jesus’ imminent return meant they must busy themselves with God’s work. They lived life to the fullest, as if every day were their last. We, too, should view every day as a gift and use it to glorify God.
How can I be sure I won’t be left behind in the rapture?
The series of Left Behind novels and movies has prompted a lot of questions from a lot of people: is the rapture for real? (Answer: yes.) Will the rapture be followed by a time of divine judgment on earth? (Answer: yes.) Will I be left behind in the rapture? (Answer: that depends.)
The rapture is what we call the event in which Jesus comes again to take believers out of this world. The Bible calls it a “catching away” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and describes it as an instantaneous “change” of the body that bypasses death (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
Those raptured “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Believers in Jesus Christ are taken in the rapture; unbelievers will be left behind when the rapture occurs.
Those left behind in the rapture will face a quickly changing world—and the change will not be for the better. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says that the “power of lawlessness” is currently being held in check by the Holy Spirit.
At the rapture, the true church is removed from the earth, and the Holy Spirit’s restraint will be “taken out of the way.” At that moment, the world will have no born-again believers anywhere. All the Christian workers in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, rescue missions, relief agencies—gone. Every Christian in law enforcement, social work, and health care—gone. And of course many churches will sit empty. In addition to the great void in the service community will be the commencement of God’s judgment on a rebellious world, detailed in Revelation 6—16.
Don’t be left behind. Make sure you are ready for the rapture. Since the rapture is for believers, it is vital that you place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Acts 16:31). Repent of your sin and fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sin. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). The Lord knows who are His, and He will leave none of them behind (John 10:14).
Those who are saved by faith in Christ will not be left behind in the rapture. The saved are like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who are ready for the coming of the bridegroom; they have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13).
To make sure that you are not left behind, trust Christ. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. The matter is urgent. Trust Christ now.
Related article: Mystery and Purpose of Salvation
What is the marriage supper of the Lamb?
In his vision in Revelation 19:7–10, John saw and heard the heavenly multitudes praising God because the wedding feast of the Lamb—literally, the “marriage supper”—was about to begin. The concept of the marriage supper is better understood in light of the wedding customs in the time of Christ.
These wedding customs had three major parts. First, a marriage contract was signed by the parents of the bride and the bridegroom, and the parents of the bridegroom or the bridegroom himself would pay a dowry to the bride or her parents. This began what was called the betrothal period—what we would today call the engagement. This period was the one Joseph and Mary were in when she was found to be with child (Matthew 1:18; Luke 2:5).
The second step in the process usually occurred a year later, when the bridegroom, accompanied by his male friends, went to the house of the bride at midnight, creating a torchlight parade through the streets. The bride would know in advance this was going to take place, and so she would be ready with her maidens, and they would all join the parade and end up at the bridegroom’s home. This custom is the basis of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1–13.
The third phase was the marriage supper itself, which might go on for days, as illustrated by the wedding at Cana in John 2:1–2.
What John’s vision in Revelation pictures is the wedding feast of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and His bride (the Church) in its third phase. The implication is that the first two phases have already taken place. The first phase was completed on earth when each individual believer placed his or her faith in Christ as Savior.
The dowry paid to the bridegroom’s parent (God the Father) would be the blood of Christ shed on the Bride’s behalf. The Church on earth today, then, is “betrothed” to Christ, and, like the wise virgins in the parable, all believers should be watching and waiting for the appearance of the Bridegroom (the rapture).
The second phase symbolizes the rapture of the Church, when Christ comes to claim His bride and take her to the Father’s house. The marriage supper then follows as the third and final step. It is our view that the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place in heaven between the rapture and the second coming (during the tribulation on earth).
Attending the wedding feast will be not only the Church as the Bride of Christ, but others as well. The “others” include the Old Testament saints—they will not have been resurrected yet, but their souls/spirits will be in heaven with us. As the angel told John to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). The marriage supper of the Lamb is a glorious celebration of all who are in Christ!
Why is God going to release Satan after the 1000 years?
Revelation 20:7-10, “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth “Gog and Magog” to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
As we read these verses, we wonder, “Why will God release Satan at the end of the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ?” First, we must admit that there are some biblical questions which we cannot answer this side of glory because God has chosen to reserve some mysteries to Himself (Deuteronomy 29:29, Romans 11:33-36).
Yet, as believers, even if we cannot always understand something about God’s Word, His will, or His ways, we can be sure that He remains ever faithful, true, and trustworthy, and in light of that our job remains to obey what we do understand as quickly, fully, and well as we are able. Even if we might not be able to answer why God releases Satan, we can suggest some possible reasons and motivations, based on an understanding of the entirety of the Word of God.
At the beginning of the Millennium, only believers will be alive (Revelation 19:17-21), some who live through the Tribulation Period, and some who come back with the Lord at His second coming. It will be a time of peace unparalleled in history (Isaiah 2:4; Joel 3:10; Micah 4:3). Jesus will be ruling on the throne of David, imposing a benevolent theocracy on all of His creation. Jesus will ensure that everyone has every need fulfilled, while not tolerating the sin so prevalent in today’s society (Psalm 2:7-12; Revelation 2:26-29; 12:5; 19:11-16). We can only imagine such a time of “heaven on earth.”
The believers who live through the Tribulation will be mortal. They will live and repopulate the earth during the Millennial Kingdom. Without the devastation of sin taking its toll, we can imagine the population increase during the Millennium will be enormous, almost incomprehensible. All those who are born during the Millennium will enjoy the benefits and blessings of Christ’s reign on the earth, but they will still be born with a sin nature, and they will still have to freely repent and believe the Gospel, personally choosing Christ as Savior and Lord.
Yet, at the end of the Millennial Reign, Satan is loosed and is able to deceive a vast multitude to follow him in one final rebellion against the Lord of glory and His saints! It seems that the further humanity gets from the end of the Tribulation and the start of the Millennium, the more they will “take for granted” how good they have it, and some may even harbor doubts about the goodness of God. Even though the number who rebel with Satan are said to be “as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7), they may still be a minority compared to the number who do not rebel.
It will still be a large number of souls who join Satan. Undoubtedly, one of the primary reasons God gives us this picture of what will happen in time is to demonstrate the deep-seated sin nature inherent in all of humanity (Jeremiah 17:9).
Additionally, God is trying to tell us something about His nature as displayed during the Millennium. His grace and goodness will be on display continually. But at the end of the 1000 years, He will have zero tolerance for rebellion.
When it happens, He will show no mercy and offer no “second chances.” At that time, He will be quick to judge, and the final rebellion of Satan and sinful man will be over in a flash of fire. After this, the final judgment of the dead takes place (the Great White Throne Judgment, Revelation 20:11-15). Eternity can thus begin with every aspect of sin gone for all time.
Finally, God is trying to reinforce some very important lessons concerning Satan himself, especially for believers. First, that he has been and always will be the enemy of humanity. As God has fixed His love on us, Satan has for us a special hatred. Ever since Satan’s fall (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28), he has been the adversary of believers, and he is aptly described as the ultimate deceiver of mankind (John 8:44; 1 John 2:22).
All he can give or promise man is death and destruction (John 10:10a). Satan is also shown here to be a truly defeated foe, and his ultimate doom is certain, along with the doom of all who follow him. God is trying to remind us that Satan is a created being who is powerless before Him (2 Corinthians 12:7).
All this should encourage believers today to take God at His Word concerning our position in Christ with respect to the devil (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:1-7; James 4:6-8; 1 John 2:15-29; 1 John 4:1-3), especially as we remember this grand truth: “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
How is the second coming going to be like a thief in the night?
The key element of Jesus’ comparison is that no one will know when He will return. Just as a thief catches a household by surprise, Jesus will catch the unbelieving world by surprise when He returns in judgment. People will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (verse 38), just as if they have all the time in the world. But then, before they know it, Judgment Day will be upon them (verses 40–41). Paul puts it this way: “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
The believer does not fear this swift and sudden judgment; the “thief in the night” will not catch us by surprise. Christians are in a separate category: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
It is only those in darkness who will be taken unawares, and we “are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (verse 5). Praise the Lord, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 9). The unsaved should heed Jesus’ warning: “Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44).
How can you be ready?
God has provided the way for you to escape the judgment. That way is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). By accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are granted forgiveness of sins, mercy, and salvation with the promise of everlasting life (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9). The “thief” is coming, but you can be a child of the day. Don’t put it off; this is “the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19).
What does it mean that Jesus will return like a thief in the night?
The return of Jesus Christ is likened to the coming of a thief in the night. Two passages use the wording “a thief in the night”: Matthew 24:43, “Understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of His second coming at the end of the tribulation. Paul calls it “the day of the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 5. This is a day of divine retribution featuring astronomical upheaval and the visible “sign of the Son of Man” in the heavens (Matthew 24:29–30). Jesus says it will happen “after the tribulation of those days” (verse 29, ESV), a description that distinguishes this event from the rapture, which happens before the tribulation.
What is the Great Tribulation?
The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan:
1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 – 18).
The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27; also see the article on the Tribulation).
The Great Tribulation is the last half of the Tribulation period, three and one-half years in length. It is distinguished from the Tribulation period because the Beast, or Antichrist, will be revealed, and the wrath of God will greatly intensify during this time. Thus, it is important at this point to emphasize that the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are not synonymous terms. Within eschatology (the study of future things), the Tribulation refers to the full seven-year period while the “Great Tribulation” refers to the second half of the Tribulation.
It is Christ Himself who used the phrase Great Tribulation with reference to the last half of the Tribulation. In Matthew 24:21, Jesus says, “For then there will be a Great Tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” In this verse Jesus is referring to the event of Matthew 24:15, which describes the revealing of the abomination of desolation, the man also known as the Antichrist. Also, Jesus in Matthew 24:29-30 states,
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”
In this passage, Jesus defines the Great Tribulation (v.21) as beginning with the revealing of the abomination of desolation (v.15) and ending with Christ’s second coming (v.30).
Other passages that refer to the Great Tribulation are Daniel 12:1b, which says, “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” It seems that Jesus was quoting this verse when He spoke the words recorded in Matthew 24:21.
Also referring to the Great Tribulation is Jeremiah 30:7, “Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, but he will be saved from it.”
The phrase “Jacob’s distress” refers to the nation of Israel, which will experience persecution and natural disasters such as have never before been seen.
Considering the information Christ gave us in Matthew 24:15-30, it is easy to conclude that the beginning of the Great Tribulation has much to do with the abomination of desolation, an action of the Antichrist.
In Daniel 9:26-27, we find that this man will make a “covenant” (a peace pact) with the world for seven years (one “week”). Halfway through the seven-year period—”in the middle of the week”—we are told this man will break the covenant he made, stopping sacrifice and grain offering, which specifically refers to his actions in the rebuilt temple of the future. Revelation 13:1-10 gives even more detail concerning the Beast’s actions, and just as important, it also verifies the length of time he will be in power. Revelation 13:5 says he will be in power for 42 months, which is three and one-half years, the length of the Great Tribulation.
Revelation offers us the most information about the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 13 when the Beast is revealed until Christ returns in Revelation 19, we are given a picture of God’s wrath on the earth because of unbelief and rebellion (Revelation 16-18). It is also a picture of how God disciplines and at the same time protects His people Israel (Revelation 14:1-5) until He keeps His promise to Israel by establishing an earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
What happens at the final judgment?
The first thing to understand about the final judgment is that it cannot be avoided. Regardless of how we may choose to interpret prophecy on the end times, we are told that “it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
We all have a divine appointment with our Creator. The apostle John recorded some details of the final judgment:
“And I saw a great white throne, and Him sitting on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And a place was not found for them. And I saw the dead, the small and the great, stand before God. And books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead in it. And death and hell delivered up the dead in them. And each one of them was judged according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death. And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).
This remarkable passage introduces to us the final judgment—the end of human history and the beginning of the eternal state. We can be sure of this: no mistakes will be made in our hearings because we will be judged by a perfect God (Matthew 5:48; 1 John 1:5). This will manifest itself in many undeniable proofs.
First, God will be perfectly just and fair (Acts 10:34; Galatians 3:28). Second, God cannot be deceived (Galatians 6:7).
Third, God cannot be swayed by any prejudices, excuses or lies (Luke 14:16-24).
As God the Son, Jesus Christ will be the judge (John 5:22). All unbelievers will be judged by Christ at the “great white throne,” and they will be punished according to the works they have done.
The Bible is very clear that unbelievers are storing up wrath against themselves (Romans 2:5) and that God will “give to each person according to what he has done” (Romans 2:6).
Believers will also be judged, at a different judgment called the “judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10), but since Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us and our names are written in the Book of Life, we will be rewarded, not punished, according to our deeds.)
At the final judgment the fate of the unsaved will be in the hands of the omniscient God who will judge everyone according to his soul’s condition.
For now, our fate is in our own hands. The end of our soul’s journey will be either in an eternal heaven or in an eternal hell (Matthew 25:46). We must choose where we will be by accepting or rejecting the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, and we must make that choice before our physical lives on this earth come to an end.
After death, there is no longer a choice, and our fate is to stand before the throne of God, where everything will be open and naked before Him (Hebrews 4:13).
Romans 2:6 declares that God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”
Let us all live our lives in view of the end times.