What the Bible Says about the Resurrection

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

[Job 19:25-27]

As I ponder the unsearchable depths of God’s mercy and love displayed on the cross of Christ this Good Friday, I also want to reflect on the immeasurable power of His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the central event in history that validates the truth of the gospel and the divine nature of God’s Son.

Only Jesus has demonstrated power over the grave and declared victory once and for all over death. He stands alone and is without equal, and He alone is able to give eternal life to all who believe in Him [Romans 6:23, John 11:25-26].

No human in history has been able to beat death, and therefore Jesus in His resurrection power is the only hope for all mankind.

Volumes have been written on the ramifications of the resurrection, so I am not sure if I can add much to what has already been said. Having said that, here are a few thoughts on what the Bible says about the resurrection.

The Resurrection is an Expectation in the Old Testament

Many may be surprised to discover that before the New Testament witness about the incarnation of the Messiah — Jesus Christ — the resurrection was deeply established in the Hebrew Scriptures — or Old Testament. As in the opening passage above from Job, the expectation of a final resurrection of the body is not merely a New Testament idea. The patriarchs and the prophets understood that God’s grand plan of redemption would culminate at the end of this present age with the renewal of all things in the age to come.

Hebrews tells us that Abraham offered up Isaac in faith, believing that God would raise his beloved son from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19]. Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel all prophesied about the day of resurrection, and more importantly about the coming Redeemer who would raise and gather God’s people in the end.

Consider just a few of those prophetic passages that we discover in the Old Testament.

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

[Isaiah 26:19]

Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel13And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

[Ezekiel 37:12-14]

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

[Daniel 12:3-4]

As you can see, the resurrection is not a New Testament idea, but it did take the first advent of Christ to bring it into an entirely new perspective.

Jesus is the Firstfruits of Resurrection

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

[1 Corinthians 15:20]
Golden wheat field and a beautiful summer sunset Wallpaper ...

The death of Jesus Christ on the cross can only be validated in light of His resurrection. Jesus was raised for our justification, proving that His sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to the Father and sufficient to save sinners. Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins [1 Cor. 15:17].

Beyond that, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s demonstration of power over death that provides the blessed assurance and eternal hope that we too will live in Christ. Jesus makes the most definitive declaration about Himself in John’s gospel.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

[John 11:25-26]

God has declared a Day when He has promised to redeem all of creation, including our physical bodies [see Romans 8:18-24]. Until that Day, all who believe in Christ receive the promised Holy Spirit as a deposit to guarantee our future resurrection. Jesus is the firstfruits, and all who believe in Him will be raised up on the last day as part of God’s great harvest!

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

[Romans 8:11]

The Resurrection of the Righteous will Occur on the Last Day

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

[John 6:40]
The Resurrection of Public Blockchains - CoinDesk

From Job to Daniel to Jesus to Paul, the testimony of the Biblical prophets is in absolute agreement. The resurrection of God’s people takes place at the end of this age on the last day when Jesus returns in power and great glory. The 2nd Coming of Christ is the Day of resurrection [see 1 Cor. 15:21-26]. It is the Day of God’s final gathering of His people. It is the harvest of the righteous to inherit the Kingdom [see Matthew 13:36-43].

The resurrection is the most critical and distinguishable element and identifying marker in Scripture that determines the timing of the return of Christ to earth, the rapture of the church, the recompense for evil, and the restoration of all things. The Bible is clear. The resurrection of the righteous takes place on the last day of this present age.

But each will be resurrected in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

[1 Corinthians 15:23-24]

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the coming kingdom of God. In other words, it is impossible for anyone to enter God’s kingdom in mortal flesh. No one can dwell in God’s holy presence on earth without first receiving a glorified, immortal body, and no one will receive their resurrected body until Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 

[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]

It will be at that moment — when we receive our immortal, glorified bodies — that we finally will be conformed to the image of Christ and His likeness forever! Until that Day, we rest in the finished work of Christ upon the cross for us, and we rejoice in the hope of the future glory that will be revealed in us when Jesus returns!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

[Romans 8:19, 23]

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! Come!

Epiphany — The Appearing of God

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ

[Titus 2:11-13]

Today is January 6th, 2021 — Epiphany.

On the traditional “Christian” calendar — especially in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox persuasions — today is regarded as the holy day of the Epiphany, which is the celebration of the manifestation of the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God and Savior of the world. As one of the oldest Christian holidays — even predating December 25 — it would be well worth some time to discover more about the origin, history and meaning behind such a sacred festival. Here is a helpful article from the Catholic perspective.

Primarily, the Feast of Epiphany is associated with the visit of the wise men — magi from the east — who first interpreted and then tracked a star to Jerusalem to investigate the birth of the King of the Jews [Matthew 2]. After finding the newborn King in Bethlehem, the magi bowed down to worship Him, commemorating the initial manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, fulfilling the ancient promise that the Messiah of Israel had come to bless all the nations of the earth with His eternal salvation [Genesis 12:3].

While the visitation the Magi and the mystery of the gospel to the Gentiles is also a topic most worthy of discovery and discussion, I would like to take today’s post in a different direction — an eschatological direction. The word epiphany itself is revealing in that its Biblical expression is more closely connected to the second advent of Jesus Christ than to His birth.

As we are about to see, epiphany literally means “brilliant appearance” or “glorious manifestation,” as derived from the Greek word — epiphaneia [ἐπιφάνεια]. The Biblical authors used this word intentionally to describe the visible and awesome display of the glory of God when He comes from heaven in power at the end of the age. In other words, in light of His first appearing as the Suffering Servant, we should be living in hopeful expectation of the appearing of Jesus Christ as the Conquering King.

Epiphany in the Prophets

There are so many prophetic references in the Old Testament that describe the visible and glorious appearance of the LORD when He comes to judge the nations. All of these Scriptures emphasize the conspicuous nature of the Day of the LORD. For brevity, I will only share a few here.

Then the LORD will appear over them,
and his arrow will go forth like lightning;
the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet
and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.

[Zechariah 9:14]

God came from Teman,
and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His splendor covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
His brightness was like the light;
rays flashed from his hand;
and there he veiled his power.

[Habakkuk 3:3-4]

And all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground … So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

[Ezekiel 38:20, 23]

Now let’s take a look at how the Apostles used the word epiphany in the New Testament to further develop this doctrine of God’s future appearing.

Epiphany in the New Testament

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

[Revelation 1:7]

The appearing of Jesus Christ is inextricably connected to several key eschatological events. The Apostle Paul was exclusive in his use of the Greek word, epiphaneia, though other Apostles used a similar Greek word — phaneroó φανερόω — to describe the appearing of Christ. These words, along with the words “coming” and “revelation,” are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament.

Jesus will appear to destroy the lawless one

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul provides a significant detail about the “appearing” of Jesus Christ — namely that it will be the precise moment He destroys the antichrist [aka the lawless one]. It is also worth considering that Paul connects the appearing of Jesus with His “coming” and the Day of the LORD.

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

[2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, 8]

We know from other passages like Revelation 19 that the Beast (antichrist) is destroyed at the end of the great tribulation, therefore, the appearing of Jesus Christ must be at the end of the great tribulation.

Jesus will appear at the appointed time

Paul encouraged Timothy to remain faithful and fight the good fight of faith to the end, which he correlates with the appearing of Jesus Christ.

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,14to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen

[1 Timothy 6:13-16]

Jesus will appear to establish His kingdom

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he connects the epiphany of Christ to His coming kingdom on earth. Again, God’s kingdom will be established at the end of this present age.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom

[2 Timothy 4:1]

Jesus will appear to reward the saints

In the very same passage, Paul links the final rewarding of the faithful saints to the appearing of Christ.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

[2 Timothy 4:8]

Jesus will appear in glory

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

[Titus 2:11-14]

Paul, in one of the most profound statements in the New Testament, says that our blessed hope is the appearing of our “great God and Savior Jesus Christ!” And because we interpret Scripture with Scripture, we now know that this appearing will take place at the end of the age when Jesus Christ comes in visible glory to destroy the antichrist, establish His kingdom and reward His saints.

It is critical in understanding that the appearing of Christ IS NOT a secret, phantom event but rather the most profound display of God’s glory the world has ever seen! The appearing of Jesus Christ will be LITERAL, VISIBLE, PHYSICAL, and UNMISTAKABLE!

In closing, I would like to remind everyone reading this post that the epiphany of Jesus Christ is much more than the story of His birth — as glorious as it was. The epiphany of Jesus Christ is the story of the coming Day when He returns in power and great glory for all the world to see. It is this appearing that we must be prepared to face. It is this appearing that we cannot escape.

The Apostle John leaves us with a reminder of how sobering this appearing will be. Are you prepared to meet Jesus Christ? Is your soul yearning for the appearing of our great God and Savior? Or will you shrink back in fear on that Day when His glory is revealed?

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

[1 John 2:28]

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

[1 John 3:2]

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

The Big Reveal

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence.

Isaiah 64:1

Reality consists of two worlds — two realms — separated by a veil. The physical dimension here on earth is but a shadow — a dim reflection of the spiritual realm — and in this present age we are unable to see behind the veil. Although the heavens are the true substance of things to come, they remain hidden from us — invisible to the naked eye.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

Fortunately, the Bible provides some interesting glimpses into heaven when the veil is partially lifted and man is able to peek behind the curtain, as it were.

Think of Jacob and the stairway to heaven [Genesis 28]. Ezekiel, Isaiah, and John and their visions of the LORD on His throne [Ezekiel 1, Isaiah 6, Revelation 4-5]. Elisha and his servant surrounded by the armies of heaven [2 Kings 6], and Stephen’s vision of Jesus as he was being stoned to death [Acts 7:54-56].

As intriguing as these glimpses into heaven may be, they were limited in scope and vision, but one day that will all change.

This day is what I like to call the Big Reveal!

This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The day of God’s visitation. The arrival of the King. There is coming a day when the heavens will be ripped open and the Lord Jesus will come down in all His power and glory and every eye will see Him for who He truly is.

It is a singular day — the culmination, crescendo and climax of history. It is the end, the finale. That is why the prophets always refer to this unique day as “the” revelation of Jesus Christ [see Luke 17:28-30, 1 Peter 1:5-7, 13, 4:13]. It is a day like no other.

The return of Jesus is THE BIG REVEAL! For believers … it is the moment we all have been waiting for. For the rest of the world, however, it will be the most dreadful day imaginable.

So how will this Big Reveal go down?

Let’s see what the Bible says.

The Veil will be Torn

Instead of thinking of the heavens as empty “space,” we must understand that the heavens consists of some form of material substance, though invisible to us. This what is known as the very fabric of space. The Bible repeatedly describes God the Creator as the One who “stretches out the heavens” like a tent or a curtain. [see Job 9:8, Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 48:13, 51:13, Jeremiah 10:12, 51:15, Zechariah 12:1]

So if heaven can be stretched out like a tent or curtain, then it stands to reason that it also can be rolled up like a scroll or torn apart. That is precisely what will happen during God’s big reveal. The veil between heaven and earth will be ripped open to reveal the LORD Jesus, and He will at that moment come down in all His power and glory.

Consider the overwhelming testimony of Scripture that describes this unique moment when the veil is torn and Jesus comes down from heaven to earth and treads upon the wicked in judgment.

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
2as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!

Isaiah 64:1-2

In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

7Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.

11He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.

Psalm 18:6-12

Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! 6Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!

Psalm 144:5-6

Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. 3For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.

Micah 1:3-4

Draw near, O nations, to hear, and give attention, O peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it. 2For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. 3Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. 4All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree.

Isaiah 34:1-4

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Revelation 6:12-14

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

Revelation 19:11

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 24:29-30

There will be no mistaking God’s Big Reveal when the veil between heaven and earth is ripped open and the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth in all His glory!

If that weren’t enough, here are a few more supplemental details that help put this monumental event into perspective.

The Angel Armies will Descend

Once heaven is opened and the veil is lifted, the entire host of heaven will be exposed for all to see.

[God will] … grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-8

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne

Matthew 25:31

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones.”

Jude 1:14

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

Revelation 19:14-15

The Nations will Mourn

There will be collective wailing and mourning by all who have rebelled against the God of heaven on that day.

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Revelation 1:7

The great Day of the LORD is near— near and coming quickly.  Listen, the Day of the LORD!  Then the cry of the mighty will be bitter. 15That day will be  a day of wrath,  a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, 16a day of horn blast and battle cry against the fortified cities, and against the high corner towers. 17I will bring such distress on mankind that they will walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung.

Zephaniah 1:14-17

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?

Revelation 6:15-17

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luke 21:25-27

Fire will Consume the Wicked

The final outpouring of God’s wrath is always associated with an all-consuming fire to be poured out on the wicked.

For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire
.
16For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.

Isaiah 66:15-16

Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.

Nahum 1:6

When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly … But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed … waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn

2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12

The Lord Jesus will Come Down to Wage War

God’s Big Reveal culminates with the Lord Jesus coming down from heaven to earth in bodily form to crush the Beast and his armies in the war to end all wars!

Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east … Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Zechariah 14:1-3, 5

And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.

Revelation 17:12-14

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:8

And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh

Revelation 19:19-21

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Simplifying the Second Coming of Christ

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Matthew 24:3

Over the last century, a majority of Christian churches in America have taught that Jesus Christ can come at any moment for His church — otherwise know as the rapture. But is the rapture the same thing as the 2nd Coming? Well, apparently it depends.

Few would argue that the 2nd Coming of Christ is one of the most essential, non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith. Christ has come. Christ will come again. Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately, because of a man-made doctrine — namely dispensationalism — the 2nd Coming of Christ has been distorted into a convoluted belief system that unnecessarily complicates the clear teaching of Scripture. For example, when dispensationalists say “second coming” they don’t really mean second coming. What they mean is that Jesus can “come” at any moment to rapture His church back to heaven, but also that He will “come” again to judge the earth.

In other words, the dispensational belief system has to divide the coming of Christ into two “phases” or “stages” in order to make sense of it all. Taken to its logical conclusion, there are not two “comings” of Christ, but rather … three!

Having been raised on the dispensational doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, I once affirmed this man-made system without question.

But then one day … I started reading the Bible for myself.

What I discovered was that the Scriptures did not align with dispensational theology, especially the notion that the church would be whisked away to heaven before the great tribulation. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I began to see that the Scriptures plainly teach that the “coming” of the Lord immediately follows the great tribulation at the end of the age on the Day of the LORD [see Matthew 24:27-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-28]. In other words, there is only one 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ. The 2nd coming of Christ is one event, one advent. Not one verse in all of Scripture presents the Second Coming of Christ in “two phases” or “two stages.” Once I came to that very important conclusion, the Scriptures began to make perfect sense.

Since dispensationalists refer almost exclusively to the writings of the Apostle Paul to support their view of a pre-tribulation rapture of the church, I thought it would be worth some print to demonstrate how the Apostle Paul actually destroys the pre-tribulation argument in his epistles.

Using only his letters to the church in Thessalonica, I will demonstrate how Paul understood and taught the essential doctrine of the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Parousia

The Greek word used predominantly in regard to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ is the word — parousia [παρουσία] — which means “coming, presence, arrival, advent.” Jesus Himself used this word to describe His return, as did Peter and John, but Paul used parousia more than any other New Testament writer.

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus Christ — Matthew 24:27

By using this very specific and technical term as a thread in Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica, all the unnecessary confusion about the 2nd Coming of Christ becomes crystal clear. Let’s take a closer look.

1 Thessalonians

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

Paul’s message to the saints in Thessalonica was one of encouragement and hope due to the intense persecution the church was suffering at the time. Here in the first chapter of his letter, Paul commends the church for turning from idolatry to the “living and true God,” and he encourages them to wait for His son “from heaven.” Although parousia is not used here, clearly Paul is referring to the 2nd Coming of Christ when He returns from heaven to earth. Notably, it is at this time that Jesus will deliver the saints from the wrath to come.

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20For you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

Paul first uses the term parousia here in chapter two. He says that the church has become his crown of boasting, which he will present before the Lord Jesus “at his coming.” Paul invokes the very same imagery in his second letter to Timothy, when he says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. [2 Timothy 4:8]

So Paul is expecting to receive his reward from the Lord “on that day” — the Day of the LORD and of His appearing.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

The next time Paul uses the word parousia he provides more detail. He says that the coming of Jesus is “with all his saints” — or holy ones. The 2nd coming of Christ is often characterized by the heavenly host, dressed in white robes of righteousness, coming with Jesus to earth. [see Matthew 25:31, Jude 1:14-15, Revelation 19:11-16]

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The passage above has been branded as the “classic” rapture passage in all of Scripture, and while it certainly describes the catching up [Greek harpazó] and gathering of believers to meet Christ in the air, we interpret this event within the context of the passage. This “rapture” event is connected to the parousia — the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ [see 1 Thessalonians 4:15]. This is the visible, public, glorious return of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth with loud shouts from heaven and the sound of the trumpet of God.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night3While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

Staying consistent with the theme of his letter, Paul finishes by encouraging believers that the parousia — the coming Day of the Lord — will NOT take believers by surprise! As children of light and of the day, true believers will be ready in hopeful expectation and will be aware of the signs and seasons preceding the coming of the Lord.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Paul concludes his letter by reminding us that our complete redemption will take place “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” which includes our “bodies” to be resurrected on the last day at the end of the age.

Before we move to 2nd Thessalonians, let’s recap Paul’s teaching about the second coming.

  1. Jesus is coming from heaven to earth.
  2. Jesus is coming with his reward.
  3. Jesus is coming with the saints.
  4. Jesus is coming down visibly on the clouds.
  5. Jesus is coming with loud shouts from heaven and the voice of the archangel.
  6. Jesus is coming with the trumpet blast.
  7. Jesus is coming to raise the righteous dead.
  8. Jesus is coming to gather all believers who remain alive until His return.
  9. Jesus is coming like a thief in the night to surprise those in darkness.
  10. Jesus is coming to judge the wicked.

2 Thessalonians

Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica picks up right where it left off in his first letter, emphasizing the coming of the Lord Jesus and the Day of the LORD. We can begin to complete our list of details with Paul’s words.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

Paul opens his letter by providing one of the most comprehensive accounts in all of Scripture of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He says that God ultimately will grant relief to believers when “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire!” No one can dispute that this is the second coming of Christ. He goes on to describe both the judgment of the wicked and the triumph of the saints “when he comes on that day.”

Up until now, Paul has been speaking about the same singular event when Christ comes in glory — the day of the Lord. This is the parousia — the very same coming that Jesus Himself predicted. The language only allows for one event, and Paul will drive the proverbial nail in the pre-tribulation coffin in the next chapter.

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Once again, Paul wants the believers in Thessalonica to make sure there is no confusion concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus and the rapture of the church — “our being gathered together to him.” Paul is adamant that believers will not be deceived or surprised at the coming of the Lord because there are several clear signs that must take place before the day of the Lord and the rapture of the church.

Paul could not be more straightforward. He says, “for that day will not come, unless the rebellion (apostasy) comes first, and the man of lawlessness (Beast) is revealed.” The reason believers will not be deceived or surprised is because we will know that the Lord will not come until these two major signs take place. First there will be a great falling away from the faith in the last days and then son of destruction — aka the “antichrist” — will be revealed and will enter the temple to set up the abomination that causes desolation [see Matthew 24:15].

And if that weren’t enough, Paul ties a massive bow on his teaching about the 2nd coming of Christ by giving us the precise element of timing. That’s right. Paul tells us exactly when Jesus is coming back — speaking of the parousia.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:8

Jesus Christ will destroy the lawless one — the son of destruction — how and when?

Jesus will kill the Beast with the “breath of his mouth” by the “appearance of HIS COMING!

It could not be more clear. Paul builds His entire case of the singular event — called the coming of the Lord — and he provides as many possible details connected to this singular event to help believers understand the key elements of timing that accompany the return of Jesus and the day of the LORD.

The final detail Paul provides is the most telling. Jesus Christ will destroy the Beast when He comes on that Day in flaming fire with His mighty angels to be glorified in His saints!

Case closed! This happens at the end of the great tribulation, which means that there is no “pre-tribulation” or “mid-tribulation” rapture of the church. The rapture of the church coincides with the 2nd coming of Jesus, which is precisely when Jesus kills the antichrist by the breath of His mouth.

The book of Revelation describes this very even in more detail, which again supports the timing of the post-tribulation rapture of the saints during the 2nd coming of the Lord at the end of the age.

And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

Revelation 19:19-21

Types and Shadows — Trumpets

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thessalonians 4:16

Today at sundown [September 18, 2020] designates the new year on the Jewish civic calendar. This day is called Rosh Hashanah and initiates the two-day Feast of Trumpets.

The Feast of Trumpets is one of the seven appointed Feasts of the LORD, given to the people of Israel to observe faithfully each year as holy convocations [see Leviticus 23]. The Feast of Trumpets is called Yom Teruah — the Day of Shouting — and traditionally is known as the hidden day because it is the only feast day that must be determined by the observation of the new moon.

The Lord Jesus makes a direct reference to this “hidden” day by using a common idiom, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows” [Mark 13:32]. As witnesses were told to observe the night sky for the first sighting of the new moon, it was difficult to know the precise day or the hour the moon would appear, and yet they still knew when the day was near. The whole nation would be waiting and watching in quiet expectation of this “sign” in heaven, but once the moon was sighted, the people were to make a collective shout of celebration and begin the trumpet blasts to announce the new year!

The Feast of Trumpets is the first of three fall feasts that constitute the most solemn time of year for the Jewish people. The high holy day of Israel — Yom Kippur — follows 10 days after the Feast of Trumpets. For a more detailed account about the Feast of Trumpets, feel free to read the following posts — PART 1 & PART 2.

The Theophany at Sinai

When the LORD instituted His appointed feasts and commanded Israel to observe them each year, He had a two-fold purpose. First, the LORD wanted His people to always remember and never forget how He redeemed Israel from Egypt with mighty signs and wonders and entered into covenant with them on the holy mountain — Sinai.

Second, the LORD also designed the appointed feasts to be prophetic “dress rehearsals” by establishing patterns and symbolic pictures that provide detailed depictions of the coming Messiah. Once you understand the prophetic significance of these appointed feasts, you will be astonished to discover how intentional and precise God’s word truly is.

When the LORD initiated the Feast of Trumpets with Israel in Leviticus 23, He commanded them to sound the trumpet blast on the first day of the month. The significance of the trumpet blast would have been quite fresh for this original audience because of what Moses and the Israelites had just witnessed at Mount Sinai.

This amazing encounter is worth another look.

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled17Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Exodus 19:16-20

The Feast of Trumpets is a dedicated day to remember the greatest manifestation of God ever witnessed on this earth. The trumpet blast was so intense that the people trembled and feared for their very lives in the presence of the God’s power and glory.

This was the day that the LORD God of Israel “came down” and showed Himself to His people. A day never to forget.

On the other hand, the theophany at Sinai serves as perhaps the most obvious allusion to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Just as the LORD gathered his people and came down on Mount Sinai in a cloud and with fire and lightening and trumpet blasts, so Jesus will return in like manner.

The language of the New Testament draws directly from this event to describe the return of Jesus from heaven to earth.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 24:29-31

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

The Battle of Jericho

Although there are so many types and shadows I could draw from, I want to close with another fascinating episode involving the trumpet blast — Jericho.

Many of us grew up singing the old Sunday school song, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho … and the walls came a tumbling down.” But the truth is that it was the LORD Himself who gave Israel the victory at the stronghold of Jericho, and He did so in a most unconventional way. Once again, what may have seemed like a bizarre command from God at the time was actually another prophetic picture God was painting in real time to point us to the final Day of the LORD!

Let’s take a closer look.

First we can’t overlook the encounter that Joshua has with the LORD just prior to the battle at Jericho. I am persuaded that this was an encounter with God the Son — the Lord Jesus — in a pre-incarnate manifestation [see Colossians 1:15-17].

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

The commander of the LORD’s army is standing with His sword drawn and is clearly God in human form because of Joshua’s response in fear and worship. Now listen to what the LORD told Joshua to do.

And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”

Joshua 6:2-5

Once again, the theatrics are intentional for prophetic purposes. The LORD was taking Israel through a dress rehearsal that in many ways will mirror the Day of the LORD. The fighting men were commanded to march around the city for 7 days with seven priests leading the way before the ark of the covenant, blowing 7 trumpets. Then they were to march around the city 7 times on the 7th day.

And then upon God’s command the priests were to make a long blast with their shofars and all the people were to give a great shout! Then earth would quake and the walls would crumble and their enemies would be given into their hands for total destruction.

The imagery is astoundingly prophetic. First of all, Joshua is one of the most obvious types of Christ in the Old Testament — even sharing the very same Hebrew name with Yeshua. The symbolism beyond that is simply amazing. Consider …

  • The repeated use of patterns with the number 7
  • The role of the ark of the covenant
  • The sounding of the last trumpet
  • The shouting of the people
  • The walls of the city falling down
  • The wrath of God poured out on His enemies
  • Israel conquering and inheriting the Promise Land

Both the 7th Trumpet and 7th Bowl from the book of Revelation draws directly from this event.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,17saying,

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
18The nations raged,
but your wrath came
,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

19Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Revelation 11:15-19

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.

Revelation 16:17-19

Finally, we know that the Apostle Paul also makes a direct reference to the last trumpet on the last day when Jesus returns.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:50-53

So as we recognize and celebrate the Feast of Trumpets this weekend, may we first remember the mighty acts of God on behalf of His people, and may we also wait in hopeful expectation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ when the final trumpet blast is sounded!

Maranatha!

A Deep Dive into Daniel — Part 24 — The Last Day the Dead are Raised

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Daniel 12:2-3

One of the most convincing proofs of the supernatural origin of the Bible is discovered in the mystery of how all 66 books of the Bible — written by 40 different human authors in at least 3 languages, on three different continents, and spanning nearly 2000 years — create an multidimensional, integrated message system from God that coalesces into one divinely inspired Book. The Bible is the true account of all things past, present, future. That is why by definition it is inerrant, infallible, and authoritative.

Few of the Biblical writers ever knew one another, much less lived contemporaneously with one another, and yet when you put all the pieces of Scripture together you begin to see no mere human invention. You see the living Word of God! Ponder for a moment the ways God has validated His message to the world …

  1. Unsearchable complexity
  2. Powerful simplicity
  3. Internal consistency
  4. External corroboration
  5. Historical integrity
  6. Living testimony
  7. Prophetic accuracy
  8. Clear design

You realize that the Word of God is unparalleled and unprecedented and unequalled among the works of men. It is the true lens through which we view reality. More amazing still — from beginning to end — the testimony of the Holy Spirit points to one Person — the Creator of the Universe — and reveals the One True God in the Lord of Jesus Christ.

Daniel 12 provides an opportunity to take a Biblical subject like the resurrection of the dead and demonstrate how the testimony of Jesus, the prophets, and the Apostles not only are in perfect agreement but also form a comprehensive and coherent picture of this future supernatural event.

Notice how I said future?

That is called an element of timing, which is significant when studying Biblical prophecy because either something has already happened and been fulfilled in history or it is still yet future. And to make matters even more fascinating, sometimes it’s both!

So how can I say definitively that the resurrection of the dead is a prophetic event that has not yet occurred?

And what else can we learn about the resurrection from the testimony of Jesus and the Biblical prophets? [For some deeper background material on the topic of the Resurrection feel free to check out this post]

The End of the Days

Notice how Daniel correlates bodily resurrection to everlasting life and contrasts it with everlasting death. God provides white robes of righteousness as coverings of glory and praise for His people, while those who have rejected The LORD and His Anointed will be ashamed and lay naked before the LORD and His divine judgment.

Before we turn our attention to the words of Jesus — our Authority on the resurrection — I would like to point out that the Lord Jesus told personally told Daniel when the resurrection would occur [Daniel 10:1-9 & 12:1-13]. First of all, the resurrection of the dead clearly follows this time of great tribulation — called Jacob’s Trouble. Despite the many tragedies that have beset God’s people historically — from the Babylonians, to the Romans, to the Mohammedans, and on to the holocaust of Nazi Germany — none of them will equal this time of distress. It is unprecedented and will be accompanied by signs and wonders on earth and in the heavens that cannot be mistaken.

The LORD’s very last recorded word to Daniel was in regard to his future hope of resurrection when he will one day again stand upon the earth to receive his inheritance. The LORD told Daniel this would happen at the “end of the days.

“But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

Daniel 12:13

And of course we would expect Jesus to confirm this, since He was the one that informed Daniel to begin with.

So what do we find?

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last dayNo one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Jesus Christ — John 6:38-40, 44

For emphasis the Lord Jesus mentions the timing of the resurrection of the dead three times in 6 verses. The resurrection occurs “ON THE LAST DAY!”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

[John 11:23-27]

The Return of Jesus and the Resurrection of the Dead

Now that it has been established that the resurrection of the righteous will occur on the last day at the end of the age, let’s find out what else coincides with the resurrection of the dead. Few people realize that Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares is a direct expansion upon Daniel’s prophecy about the resurrection of the dead. Consider the parallels.

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Matthew 13:36-43

Notice both Daniel and Jesus link together the resurrection the dead and the day of recompense, as the wicked will receive their punishment and the righteous their reward, which is nothing short of the Kingdom! Jesus reminds us that this is the end of the age.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

[John 5:25-29]

Interestingly enough, Jesus also uses descriptive terms in his parable like “harvesting” and “gathering” at the hands of the angels, who are called “reapers,” which should invoke all kinds of images from the Scriptures. For sake of time I will share three.

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

Mark 13:26-27

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.15And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.17Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

Revelation 14:14-20

The Biblical record is exhaustive.

The resurrection of the dead takes place on the last day — at the end of the age — when the Son of Man comes on the clouds in all His glory to harvest the earth by His holy angels. The resurrection of the dead is inextricably connected to the triumphal return of Jesus Christ to the earth to judge the living and the dead, reward His saints, and establish His Kingdom.

And if you can affirm everything I have said up unto this point, then you must affirm that the Rapture of the church must also take place at the end of the age on the last day when Jesus returns from heaven in power and glory!

How can I be so sure?

Because in the same way that the harvest of the earth and the judgment of the wicked and the rewarding of the saints are inextricably linked to the resurrection of the dead, there is another event that coincides with the resurrection of the dead — namely the rapture — which you will see is simply another name for the “gathering” of God’s people at the end of the age.

I leave you with two crucial passages to ponder.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

1 Corinthians 15:50-53

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

My Corona Journal — Day 9 — What is the Rapture?

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

With the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, I have seen several memes circulating in social media circles referring to the rapture. Most of these memes are comparing the surprising nature of this virus outbreak with the supposed surprising element of the rapture.

In other words, if Coronavirus took you by surprise, imagine what the rapture will do.

The popular Christian view is that the rapture will be a secret, surprise event when Jesus suddenly removes the church from the earth, leaving the entire world behind to face the great tribulation. Furthermore, this view proposes that the rapture could happen at any minute and that the removal of the church from the earth will be the prophetic sign that triggers the seven-year tribulation period. That is why the popular view has been labeled the “pre-tribulation” rapture of the church.

But as surprising as that would be, what many well-meaning Christians don’t realize is that the Bible does not teach a “pre-tribulation” rapture. You will not find one verse in all of Scripture that teaches a secret removal of the church before the tribulation.

Although I have written more extensively on this topic in the past, I wanted to use the COVID-19 crisis as reason to revisit this topic because I do believe the timing of the rapture matters. Feel free to go back and read these previous posts I have written for a more in depth study

  1. Three Comings of Christ? — https://days-of-noah.com/2019/06/04/the-pre-tribulation-rapture-and-three-comings-of-jesus-christ/
  2. Will Jesus Just Appear? — https://days-of-noah.com/2019/06/05/will-jesus-secretly-appear-at-the-rapture-and-come-again-later/
  3. The Timing of the Rapture — https://days-of-noah.com/2019/06/13/jesus-tells-us-the-timing-of-the-rapture/

What is the Rapture?

For starters, I do believe in the rapture of the church because the Bible clearly teaches it. Although the English word rapture — derived from the Latin word rapturo — is not found in the original Greek text of the New Testament, the concept is clearly portrayed in Scripture.

Biblically, the word rapture comes from the Greek word, harpazo, which simply means to “catch up” or to “snatch away.” The primary text for the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, which we will look at in a moment, but there are other passages that convey the same idea.

For example, after Philip was sent down the road toward Gaza to share the gospel with an Ethiopian eunuch, he was raptured out of sight. The Spirit of the Lord supernaturally snatched Philip away and relocated him.

“When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”

Acts 8:39 – NASB

Another example is when the Apostle Paul was “caught up” to the third heaven and given a vision of paradise. The same greek word — harpazo — is used to describe Paul’s supernatural experience.

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise —whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. “

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 – ESV

These two examples help us better understand what the term rapture really means. We see that the rapture involves the Spirit of God supernaturally snatching away or catching up individuals from the earth into another dimension and then bringing them back to earth.

Now that we have defined the word rapture, let us look more closely at how and when this future event will take place.

Rapture, Resurrection, Return

As I mentioned earlier, the primary passage of Scripture that describes the future rapture of the church is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, although the Apostle Paul also implicates the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52. There are many other passages that speak of the “gathering” of God’s people at the return of Jesus, such as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 and Matthew 24:29-31. I believe these passages also describe the rapture event, but we will save them for another day.

Let’s focus on 1 Thessalonians 4 for now. I encourage everyone to take the time and carefully read how the Scriptures describe the rapture.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

So what can we learn by this one famous passage?

This passage clearly involves the visible, triumphant, return of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth in the clouds in power and great glory

I have said before and I will say it again. There are only two comings of Jesus Christ. He appeared the first time on earth to suffer and die and be raised to life. He will appear a second time to judge the living and the dead and establish His kingdom on earth.

No one will ever convince me that this passage is describing some secret event where Jesus comes “halfway” to remove the church and then takes everyone back to heaven and then comes again later to the earth. Read it again. That is not what the Bible says.

This is one of the most vivid descriptions of the return of Jesus Christ to earth in power and great glory. It certainly is not a secret event. Every eye will see Him return. It certainly could never be missed any more than a lightening storm flashing across the night sky.

Consider just a few of the elements in this passage.

  • This is the “coming of the Lord”
  • The Lord will “descend from heaven” in the clouds
  • There will be shout, a cry of a command from heaven at the voice of the archangel
  • There will be the sounding of the trumpet of God
  • This is the bodily resurrection when all believers of all time receive their glorified bodies to inherit the kingdom
  • This is the rapture of the church — those who are alive on the earth to witness the return of Jesus.

There is so much more I could say, but I at least will mention that when we compare this passage to other second coming passages like Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17, it is clear that the rapture takes place when Jesus returns as King to the earth.

This passage clearly involves the bodily resurrection of the righteous saints

Jesus tells us multiple times that the resurrection occurs “on the last day,” and Paul also confirms this in 1 Corinthians 15.

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:40

“But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” 

1 Corinthians 15:23-24

This passage teaches that there will be a generation of believers who live to see the return of Jesus

The generation that lives to see the return of Jesus this side of heaven will be raptured, which simply means that they will received their resurrected bodies in the twinkling of an eye.

Jesus reminded us about this unique generation.

So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

Matthew 24:33-34

What have we learned?

  1. The rapture is not a secret event but rather it coincides with the visible, glorious, triumphant return of Jesus to the earth
  2. The rapture coincides with the resurrection of the righteous at the end of the age on the last day
  3. Jesus returns at the end of the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29-31) and therefore the timing of the rapture is after the tribulation … NOT BEFORE!

Maybe the biggest surprise will be when the church realizes that we all must go through the great tribulation and face Antichrist and endure in faith to the end — whether that be our death or the Lord’s return.

Even so … come quickly Lord Jesus!

The Day of the LORD — The Resurrection of the Righteous

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

[John 6:40]

Over the past few weeks, I have been examining the primary signs and events associated with the eschatological Day of the LORD. In this post, I will make the connection between the resurrection of the righteous — or the first resurrection — and the Day of the LORD.

Regardless of the variety of eschatological views that have emerged over time, traditionally there has been agreement concerning the final resurrection in both Jewish and Christian communities. The expectation of the Messianic age is one of glorious resurrection, final reckoning, ultimate redemption, and total restoration.

The Biblical connection to the Day of the LORD and the resurrection of the dead is undeniable. From beginning to end, the Biblical authors associate the resurrection of the dead with the end of days and the Messianic age to come.

The Testimony of Job

Job, being perhaps the oldest book in the Bible, provides one of the most foundational accounts of the final resurrection of the dead and even makes a connection with the final judgment [see Job 19:29].

“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

[Job 19:25-27]

Job’s faith is fascinating. He knows that his future resurrection is only obtainable through the life of his Redeemer. Jesus affirms Himself as this Redeemer when He says, “Because I live, you will live also” [John 14:19].

Job also provides an element of timing, saying that his Redeemer will stand upon the earth “at the last,” which is a reference to the Day of the LORD. Job’s words most certainly were in view when the prophet Zechariah declared, “On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem” [Zechariah 14:4].

The Testimony of Isaiah

The prophet Isaiah also knew of this future resurrection and its connection to the Day of the LORD. Notice how Isaiah places the resurrection at the same time as the Day of Judgment, when the LORD returns from heaven to punish the nations.

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity
,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.”

[Isaiah 26:19-21]

The Testimony of Daniel

Daniel echoes both Job and Isaiah in his description of the final resurrection. Interestingly, his vision was to be “sealed” until the time of the end.

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

[Daniel 12:1-4]

Daniel refers to the time of “great trouble” in the last days that precedes the return of Jesus and the Day of the LORD. Jesus quotes directly from Daniel in His Olivet Discourse when he refers to the unparalleled death and destruction during the “great tribulation.” Then Jesus describes His glorious return to earth, which includes the resurrection of the dead. [see also 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

[Mark 13:24-27]

The Testimony of Jesus

As the Jews were seeking to kill Jesus for “making Himself equal with God,” He affirmed His divine nature all the more by identifying Himself as the eschatological “Son of Man” and final Judge of resurrection. Again, the resurrection is always connected to the final judgment at the end of the age.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

[John 5:25-29]

In the 6th chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus emphasizes three times that the resurrection of the righteous takes place on “the last day.” [see John 6:39-40, 44] Every Jew in the audience would have unmistakably understood that Jesus was referring to the Day of the LORD and the end of the present age.

Upon hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus, Jesus and Martha have a powerful exchange that affirms the eschatological connection with the future resurrection.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

[John 11:23-27]

By Martha affirming her faith in Jesus as the Son of God who is coming into the world, she was identifying Him as the Redeemer who would triumph over all God’s enemies and establish His kingdom on earth, ushering in the Messianic Age.

The Testimony of Paul

The Apostle Paul perhaps gives us the most comprehensive teaching on the resurrection and the Day of the LORD. Paul affirms that the righteous dead are raised when Jesus returns to earth at the end of the age as Judge and King. Paul affirms that our mortal bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God, therefore we must receive incorruptible, resurrected bodies to inherit God’s kingdom when Christ comes again. Paul also provides some details to Jesus’ own teaching about the resurrection connected to His return to earth.

I will begin with Paul’s famous chapter on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Notice the elements timing he uses, such as the “end,” the “judgment,” the “last enemy,” and the “last trumpet.”

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

[1 Corinthians 15:21-26]

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” 

[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

[1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”

[2 Thessalonians 2:1-4]

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

[Romans 8:22-23]

The Testimony of John

Finally we turn to the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to the Apostle John to put a bow tie on the resurrection as taking place in conjunction with the day of the LORD.

The way I interpret the book of Revelation is by making obvious connections throughout the book that describe the same event and then recast certain portions of the prophecy from those points of alignment. I believe that the book of Revelation is incomprehensible when read strictly in chronological order.

With that in mind, I believe the return of Jesus is described by at least 5 different passages [Revelation 6:12-17, 11:15-19, 14:14-20, 16:17-21, 19:11-21]. These are all parallel passages that describe the same event — Jesus return to earth to judge the nations at Armageddon. Obviously every detail of this event is not found in each passage. For example, Revelation 14 describes the great harvest of the earth, which uses the same language of God gathering His people during the resurrection, yet Revelation 19, which clearly depicts the coming of Jesus doesn’t explicitly mention the resurrection.

We must use the greater context of all of these passages to help us understand that this is the triumphant return of Jesus to earth on the clouds in power and glory at the end of the age to judge the nations and usher in His millennial kingdom.

Then in Revelation chapter 20, we are given clarity about the righteous who were raised at the return of Christ are the saints who will reign with Christ in His kingdom.

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

[Revelation 20:4-6]

John’s vision then places the 1,000 year reign of Christ in between the first resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked unto judgment. “And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done” [Revelation 20:13]

All in all, once the whole counsel of Scripture is taken into consideration, it is evident that the resurrection of the righteous will take place on the last day when Christ returns from heaven to judge the nations and establish His kingdom on earth.

The Day of the LORD — He is Coming on the Clouds

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”

[Revelation 1:7]

I love clouds. They can be both peaceful and ominous. Bright and Dark. Transparent and Dense. Calming and threatening. Clouds provide shade and rain. They bring storms and radiate the light of the sun. They keep us looking upward to heavens — where God resides.

Believe it or not, the Bible has so much to say about the clouds and the Day of the LORD. But first, let us discover how the Biblical authors speak about the purpose of the clouds and the very presence of God.

He Wraps Himself in Light

“Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

[Ezekiel 1:28]

How can human writers communicate about an Immortal, Invisible God? This is one of the great challenges of trying to convey heavenly concepts in earthly terms. The Biblical authors were limited to using human language to describe the divine.

Fortunately, God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind within the context of the physical world and more specifically in the person of Jesus Christ, who is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” [Hebrews 1:3]. God the Son — Jesus — is the image of the invisible God, and therefore anytime the Biblical authors describe the LORD in physical form, Jesus is in view.

As we will see in a moment, Jesus is the central focus whenever the Bible refers to God coming in the clouds, or with the clouds, or riding on the clouds. All of these various descriptions convey the same idea — namely God’s visible presence and glory and power and majesty.

No one could ever survive the unsuppressed light of God’s glory. No mortal can see the face of God and live. As Paul says, God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” [1 Timothy 6:16], so when God so chooses to manifest Himself to mankind, He must veil His glory and suppress the radiance of His light.

This is where clouds come into the picture. Clouds are a covering for Almighty God and a canopy containing His glory.

“Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.”

[Job 22:14]

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;

[Psalm 104:1-3]

The LORD at Sinai

“The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”

[Exodus 34:5]

It can be argued that the Exodus from Egypt is the most important theological event in the Old Testament, but also the Exodus and subsequent theophany at Mount Sinai provide the most comprehensive foreshadowing of the Day of the LORD.

The LORD poured out wrath on all of Egypt with 10 plagues and at the same time protected His people Israel in the midst of it all. The LORD led the procession of His redeemed marching through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. The LORD then gathered the entire camp at the base of Mount Sinai, revealing His glory in thunderings, lightning, fire, trumpets and an earthquake. Moses and all of Israel trembled in fear.

Then the LORD “came down” out of heaven in a cloud to Sinai — the manifestation of His physical presence on earth. The clouds provided God’s covering, protecting Moses and the people from certain death.

“Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.  Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

[Exodus 24:15-17]

He is Coming on the Clouds

Now that it has been established that the clouds provide a visible covering for the glory of the LORD and a canopy to contain the brilliance of His light, it is easier to understand how the clouds are directly connected to the Day of the LORD — that final Day when the LORD returns to earth to wage war against the wicked.

The prophecies of both the Old and New Testaments are brimming with references to the clouds and the Day of the LORD.

Old Testament

Having already made reference of the theophany at Sinai, I would like to turn my attention to the wealth of other prophetic passages that describe God coming from heaven, visibly on the clouds in glory and judgment.

I would like to begin with a Psalm of David that is often overlooked as one of the most comprehensive Day of the LORD prophecies.

“In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire
.
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

[Psalm 18:6-15]

Psalms 97 & 144 convey the very same message.

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.”

[Psalm 97:2-5]

Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down!
Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Flash forth the lightning and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them!”

[Psalm 144:5-6]

Daniel 7 is one of the most foundational Day of the LORD passages in the Old Testament. Daniel’s vision provides key details about the end-times kingdom of the Antichrist and how the Son of Man returns from heaven on the clouds to destroy the Beast and establish His everlasting kingdom on earth. In using the title Son of Man, Jesus was declaring Himself to be the One who will be coming on the clouds on that Day!

“I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man
,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.”

[Daniel 7:13-14]

Almost every Old Testament prophet desires this final Day when the LORD visibly descends from heaven to the earth to take vengeance on the ungodly. Consider the testimony of the Biblical prophets.

Behold, the storm of the LORD!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest
;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his heart.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.”

[Jeremiah 23:19-20]

Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD:

“Wail, ‘Alas for the day!’
For the day is near,
the day of the LORD is near;
it will be a day of clouds,
a time of doom for the nations
.”

[Ezekiel 30:2-3]

“The great day of the LORD is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness
.”

[Zephaniah 1:14-15]

“Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.”

[Isaiah 19:1]

“For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind
,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.”

[Isaiah 66:15-16]

After a sampling from the Old Testament prophets, let us take a look at how the imagery of the clouds are used in the New Testament to connect the reader with the Day of the LORD and the final judgement.

New Testament

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

[Acts 1:9-11]

Jesus uses the very same cloud imagery to describe His return to earth in power and great glory. All three synoptic gospels contain His Olivet Discourse, so I will only share one here.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

[Matthew 24:29-31]

The Apostle Paul echoes the words of Jesus in his epistles.

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

[1 Thessalonians 4:16-18]

Finally, I want to provide a sampling from the book of Revelation that collectively builds on the imagery of the clouds.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

[Revelation 6:12-17]

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

[Revelation 14:14-16]

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

[Revelation 19:11-16]

He Marches forth in Judgment in a Whirlwind

I have one last thought concerning the LORD coming with the clouds in judgment. There are several passages that seem to imply that once the LORD comes down to earth, He will march forth in a cloud, or whirlwind, and lead His army on a deliberate campaign against His enemies.

This is what I consider to be the procession of the LORD on that Day when He marches against His enemies from Sinai to Jerusalem, striking down every wicked nation along the way.

I will spend more time on the judgment of the nations in a later post, but for now it appears that there is a possibility that the Lord Jesus will return with the clouds to the earth, and then He will commence to marching in a swift cloud as He takes vengeance on His enemies. The following passages appear to be drawing this distinction.

“Then the LORD will appear over them,
and his arrow will go forth like lightning;
the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet
and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south
.
The LORD of hosts will protect them,
and they shall devour, and tread down the sling stones,
and they shall drink and roar as if drunk with wine,
and be full like a bowl,
drenched like the corners of the altar.”

[Zechariah 9:14-15]

“God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
and those who hate him shall flee before him!
As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away;
as wax melts before fire,
so the wicked shall perish before God!
But the righteous shall be glad;
they shall exult before God;
they shall be jubilant with joy! Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the LORD;
exult before him!”

[Psalm 68:1-3]

“The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD is avenging and wrathful;
the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

[Nahum 1:2-3]

“But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust,
and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff.
And in an instant, suddenly,
you will be visited by the LORD of hosts
with thunder and with earthquake and great noise,
with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.

[Isaiah 29:5-6]

The Feast of Trumpets Future Fulfillment

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

[Revelation 11:15]

In the same way that the Lord Yeshua precisely fulfilled the spring Feasts of the LORD in His first coming, He will fulfill the remaining fall feasts at His second coming. The Lamb of God will return as the King of Glory to crush God’s enemies and establish His Kingdom on earth.

In my trumpets part one post, I discussed how the Israelites were to blow the trumpets on the first day of the seventh month, primarily as an annual reminder of when Yahweh appeared before Moses and the people at Sinai. As we will see, Sinai is the predominant typological event from the Old Testament that corresponds to the return of Christ to the earth. The LORD also prescribed other general occasions for the trumpets to be sounded in Israel — all of which have prophetic significance.

All in all, many of the prophetic passages of Scripture that describe the second coming of Christ and the Day of the LORD intentionally use identical language involving trumpet blasts, angelic battle cries, and loud shouts from heaven. As we will see, this is not by accident.

Old Testament Depictions of the Day of the LORD

Before I get to the obvious New Testament passages that correspond to the future fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets, I would like to examine a few prophetic passages from the Old Testament. These prophecies are concerning the great Day of the LORD, which always has been connected to the coming of Messiah the King at the end of the age to destroy the enemies of Israel.

“The great day of the LORD is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the lofty battlements.

[Zephaniah 1:14-16]

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near.”

[Joel 2:1]

“Then the LORD will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.

[Zechariah 9:14]

The Prophetic Teachings of Yeshua

Beginning with the prophetic words of Yeshua Himself and working through the Apostles, it becomes very evident that the LORD established the Feast of Trumpets so that His people would rehearse each year the dramatic events of God’s future arrival to Zion. We must not forget that these appointed feasts are “holy convocations,” or practice runs in anticipation for the real thing.

As Jesus taught His disciples the details surrounding His second coming on the Mount of Olives, He used language that would have been very familiar to devout Jews who were anticipating the coming Kingdom of God.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

[Matthew 24:29-31]

The “loud trumpet call” that Jesus referred to would have provoked several images in the minds of the disciples. First, the disciples would have remembered the LORD coming down in power and glory at Sinai. Just as Yahweh descended upon the earth at Sinai in flaming fire and thick clouds with trumpets blasting [Exodus 19], so Yeshua will return to the earth in like manner. Only this time, every eye will see Him coming and all the tribes of the earth will mourn at the sight of the Son of Man [see Revelation 1:7].

The Feast of Trumpets undoubtedly would have been in the minds of the disciples, as they had rehearsed this climatic event every year with the sounding of trumpets and with great shouts of joy in anticipation of the King of Glory. Jesus reinforces the imagery of the Feast of Trumpets by using language that uniquely corresponds to this holy day.

We must remember that the Feast of Trumpets was sometimes called the “Hidden Day” in Israel because it could only be determined by the sighting of the new moon on the first day of the seventh month. As the appointed time drew near, the people of Israel would wait and watch throughout all hours of the night to ensure that they did not miss the appearance, or “sign,” of the new moon.

Because of the uncertainty of when the first sign of the moon would appear, no one in Israel could know or predict the exact “day or the hour” when the Feast of Trumpets would arrive. Only the LORD in heaven had perfect knowledge of the precise day and hour.

Only in light of the Feast of Trumpets do the words of Jesus make sense. Unfortunately, many have misinterpreted His words to imply that the second coming could happen without notice at any moment, but that is NOT what Jesus was communicating at all. As a matter of fact if we read His words carefully, He is teaching the exact opposite.

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only …

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

[Matthew 24:32-33, 36, 42-44]

Notice that Jesus, using the exact “Feast of Trumpets” language, is teaching His followers to be watchful, ready, and prepared for His return. He clearly says that those paying attention will be able to recognize the signs leading up to His return and therefore will know when His second coming is near, “even at the very gates.”

Like the anticipation of the new moon appearing on the horizon, we are to wait and watch for the appearance of His coming. We may not know the exact hour or even the day, but WE WILL KNOW WHEN HIS RETURN IS CLOSE AT HAND! If we are willing to stay awake and pay careful attention to the signs, we will not be caught sleeping like the rest of the world in darkness, but we will be prepared to meet Jesus in hopeful expectation.

The Prophetic Teachings of Paul

The Apostle Paul builds on the teachings of Jesus and uses the same language to describe the “glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ” [Titus 2:13]. As you will see, the trumpets again play a prominent role in Paul’s prophecies.

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power … I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

[1 Corinthians 15:21-24, 50-52]

Immediately one can see that Paul is connecting the coming of the Lord with the “last trumpet“, which was the longest and loudest trumpet blast during the culmination of the Feast of Trumpets. Paul also corresponds the sounding of the last trumpet with three simultaneous events.

  1. The Return of Jesus at the end of the age
  2. The Resurrection of the righteous
  3. The Rapture of the church

Paul provides even more detail in his letter to the Thessalonians.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

[1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]

Again, Paul’s language draws on two primary sources — Moses and Jesus. This description is almost identical both to the appearance of Yahweh on Mount Sinai and to the words of Jesus on the Mount of Olives. Paul is prophetically illustration the events surrounding the second coming of the Lord.

Like at Sinai, the Lord will descend from heaven in a cloud and flaming fire [see 2 Thessalonians 1:8] with the battle cries and shouts from heaven and the blast of the trumpet of God! He is coming back to the earth in the same way He left [Acts 1:11].

Paul also draws from the language of Jesus, who described the great gathering together of His elect from all over the earth at His return [Matthew 24:31]. Just like the trumpet blasts were to summon the children of Israel to gather together before the LORD, we too will be caught up together at the last trump to meet King Jesus as He is descending to the earth in power and great glory. Here again we see the trumpet of God connected to the simultaneous Return of Christ, Resurrection of the dead and Rapture of the church.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

So much more could be said about the future fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets and the Return of Jesus Christ. But for the sake of time, I would like to at least mention the testimony of Jesus to the Apostle John concerning the final apocalypse — or revelation — of the Lord.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ remains one of the most mysterious and misinterpreted books in all of holy Scripture. I do believe that the key to understanding Revelation is to read the 7 seals, trumpets and bowls — not in strict chronological order — but rather as partially overlapping and culminating together at the coming of Jesus and the battle of Armageddon.

For example, the 6-7th seals, 7th trumpet and 7th bowl all are describing the same event — the return of King Jesus. All three culminate with similar Sinai language as well, further validating that they are referring to the same event.

  • 7th Seal — “there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” [Revelation 8:5]
  • 7th Trumpet (Last Trump) — “there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail” [Revelation 11:19]
  • 7th Bowl — “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake” [Revelation 16:17-18]

It only makes sense to harmonize the overlapping descriptions and understand them as the same event. There is only one second coming of Jesus Christ to earth — not multiple, but there are at least five different descriptions of the return of Jesus in the book of Revelation [Revelation 6:12-17, Rev 11:15-19, Rev 14:14-20, Rev 16:15-21, Rev 19:11-21].

Obviously Jesus doesn’t return five separate times! These are all depicting the same event from different perspectives. For the sake of our study today, let’s finish by looking at the 7th Trumpet, or Last Trump, in Revelation 11.

At the blowing of the 7th Trumpet, the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdom of Christ, as He begins to reign. The Lord pours out his final judgement in wrath upon His enemies and rewards the saints who are to inherit the kingdom.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

[Revelation 11:15-19]