For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Will we go through the Tribulation Period? Didnít Jesus say Watch out that no one deceives you Matthew 24:4? The bible tells us that we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord Deuteronomy 8:3. Test everything. Hold on to the good 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Letís consider why the prophets couldnít include the term Tribulation Period in their letters. Could it be that God didnít inspire them. Therefore arenít we spinning our wheels over a distorted perception rather than seeking the truth of Godís word?
Those who teach from this text attempt to prove a doctrine that has no evidence to support it. The doctrine of pre-tribulation rapture introduces new terms that are not incorporated within the text of the bible. To understand this argument using these terms leaves God in a position of being able to say I said nothing like that, but what I have planned Ė will come to pass. To derive a biblical basis for a tribulation period and associated terms the term tribulation period must be incorporated in the biblical text with a description of what it all entails.
The way I think about the rapture the words of Jeremiah seem to apply. Jeremiah said, Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill the words you have prophesied, Jeremiah 28:6 . Nothing would please me more than to escape the rage of Satan and the war on the saints of God that God warned us about. However God revealed this through Daniel in a vision.
As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. Daniel 7:21-22
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." Daniel 12:7
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelation 14:12
It appears as if Paul was answering a specific concern the Thessalonians had in his first letter. One of the questions concerns those who fell asleep or died in Christ before the Lord returned. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 provides an overall plan for gathering his elect when the Lordís returns that agrees with the words of our Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us that the Lord will come down from heaven, with a loud command, perhaps in the same manner when Jesus gave up his Spirit on the cross.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. Matthew 27:50-52
When Christ returns he will speak with authority loud enough to wake the dead. Jesus said this
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out ó those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. John 5:28-29
Perhaps Jesus quoted Daniel 12:2 to say God is not partial when he raises the dead.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2
1 Thessalonians 4:16 also tells us that the dead in Christ will rise first and we should listen to what Christ had to say on that topic.
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:39-40,44
As much as I would like to see a pre-tribulation rapture occur I have to say I have been drawn to Jesus by the Father and believe in his Son like those Jesus referred to in John 6:39,40,44. However, when Jesus said I will raise him up at the last day he indicated that the end of the age had come upon us. Malachi also said something interesting about the resurrection of mankind.
"They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. Malachi 3:17-18
Those who are still living according to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. Those who believe in the rapture and teach on 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 say that this is not the second coming of our Lord because Jesusís feet do not touch the earth. The only place where Jesus sets his feet on the earth is spoken of in Zechariah 14:4 just outside Jerusalem. The bible says,
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24:30-31
Therefore it is entirely possible that Jesus could gather his elect to meet him in the air in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives where he ascended into heaven.
Letís remember what Jesus said about judgment day.
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. John 12:48
The last day speaks of the end of the age when Godís plan to build a kingdom of kings and priest has been fulfilled. God wants you to partake of his eternal kingdom but it requires you to make a covenant with God for everlasting life.
The question of when the Lord returns has always been a concern of Christians. However the concern of God has always been have you prepared yourself for that day? On the day Jesus comes he will separate the sheep from the goats, he will judge between those who know him and those who do not. The bible says
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3
Do you know him? The means to know Jesus and the father is in the Bible and attending your local church where you will meet other people who know the Lord and will help you to know Jesus and the Father. Donít be among those who never sought him or he may speak these word from his mouth.
'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' Matthew 7:23
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