Things to Come
By Stan Davidson
Statement of Faith: The Bible teaches a literal catching away, or rapture, of the church and the physical return of Jesus Christ to this earth to reign for 1,000 years. After this there will be a final judgment, then eternity.
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. ”
Introduction: The study of end time prophecy is called eschatology and there are many varied opinions on the subject. This lesson will focus on biblical facts, with the knowledge that one lesson is insufficient if one is to thoroughly cover this topic. Therefore, it becomes expedient that the purpose of this lesson be expounded. The objective is to cover only absolute facts, things that should be considered doctrine. For instance, the rapture is absolute doctrine, but the time of the rapture in relation to Daniel’s Seventieth Week is opinion and should never be considered doctrine. In this session four biblical facts will be established. 1) There will be a literal catching away of the church. 2) Jesus Christ will literally return to this earth. 1) He will set up a kingdom that will last for 1,000 years. 4) There will be a final judgment, with some being rewarded with heaven and some sentenced to the eternal lake of fire.
Daniel’s Seventieth Week
As recorded in Daniel 9:23-27, the prophet foresaw seventy weeks of years in which God would complete His dealings with the Jews. Understanding this vision and its interpretation is crucial if the student is to discern end time prophecy. This revelation is the focal point around which all prophecy teaching rotates. These weeks were not weeks of seven days, but periods of seven years. Seventy weeks of years equals 490 years, so God was telling Daniel that He would conclude His work with the Jews as a nation in 490 years. This period was broken into three subdivisions. 1) The first 7 weeks or 49 years. This period began with the command to go forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. It is not clear why a distinction is made at 7 weeks, or 49 years. 2) The next 62 weeks, or 434 years. Combining this total with the previously mentioned 49 years gives a total of 483 years. This period ended with the Messiah being cut off, which is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 3) This leaves 1 week, or 7 years, which has not yet transpired. This seven-year period is known as Daniel’s Seventieth Week. It begins with the confirmation of a covenant by the Antichrist and ends with the “consummation,” the ultimate destruction of evil forces at the battle of Armageddon and the ensuing kingdom of God on earth. The following sketch will help the student understand this vision.
Daniel did not see the Church Age, for his vision only concerned the Jews. Therefore, there is a break in the prophesied 490 years after the death of the Messiah. This is the foundation for all teaching on a final seven-year period in which God will deal with the Jews. This period is often called the Great Tribulation, but is more correctly referred to as Daniel’s Seventieth Week. It begins with the confirmation of the covenant by the Antichrist. In the middle of the week, at the 3-1/2 year point, there will be an abomination that makes desolate after the Antichrist causes all sacrifice to cease. In Matthew 24:15-21 Jesus called this the Abomination of Desolation. The Antichrist will stand in the temple of Jehovah and declare that he is God and demand that all worship him. The Seventieth Week will end with intense wrath from God, the battle of Armageddon, and the second coming of Jesus Christ to this earth.
From this graph one can depict the four prominent theories on when the rapture of the church will take place. This lesson will only present them as theories and not seek to justify either position. This will aid the student in understanding prophecy terminology.
1) The Pre-tribulation Rapture Theory contends that the rapture will take place at the beginning of the Seventieth Week of Daniel. The church will not be on earth for any of the final seven years before the Lord’s physical return.
2) The Mid-tribulation Rapture Theory contends that the church will be present during the first half of the seven years during the rise of the Antichrist. The rapture will take place immediately before the Abomination of Desolation. Actually, this is also pre-tribulation, for the Great Tribulation does not occur until the last 31/2 years.
3) The Pre-wrath Rapture Theory, new among theologians, contends that the church will be present until just before the wrath of God is poured out, near the end of the “week.”
4) The Post-tribulation Rapture theory argues that the church will be present throughout the seven years, and that the rapture will occur immediately before the second coming of Christ. The saints will rise to meet Jesus in the air, then immediately return with Him.
All of these theories agree that the saints of God are not appointed to God’s wrath. (I Thessalonians 5:9) Also, there is agreement that the rapture and second coming of Christ are distinct events, even if they happen concurrently. With a basic understanding of Daniel’s Seventieth Week one can at least understand the deeper discussions that often take place concerning end time prophesy. This lesson will now turn to the biblical events that definitely shall come in the future.
The Rapture of the Church
The word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible. It literally means, “catching away.” The concept of the catching away of the church is absolutely sound Bible doctrine. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 was written to remove a concern in the minds of New Testament Christians. Believing that Jesus would return in their lifetime, they grew concerned and confused at the death of fellow believers. To calm these fears Paul wrote these verses. Hope does not lie with the physical body, for believers who have died will rise again. The rapture is described in three phases in these verses. 1) The Lord shall descend with the sound of a trumpet. Since the writer says the saints will rise to meet the Lord in the air it is a certainty that he is not referring to the literal return of Christ to this earth. 2) The dead in Christ shall rise first. 3) They that remain alive will be caught up to meet them and the Lord in the clouds.
Not the Second Coming of Christ
The rapture is distinct from the second coming of Christ. I Thessalonians 4:14 declares that the Lord will bring the dead in Christ with Him. Therefore, the rapture and resurrection of the dead must be a separate event from the second coming. His return may immediately follow the rapture, but the two events must be considered separately. In II Thessalonians 2:1 Paul again distinguishes between the “coming of our Lord Jesus ” and “our gathering together unto him. ”
The Judgement Seat of Christ
The rapture immediately precedes the judgment seat of Christ. This is the first of two judgments spoken of in the New Testament. Romans 14:10-12 reveals that all “brothers” shall give an account of themselves at the judgment seat of Christ. This point is reiterated in II Corinthians 5:10. This is also most certainly what Paul is describing in I Corinthians 3:11-15. Every man’s work will be tried by fire. Some will be consumed while others will be proven. This is not the White Throne Judgment because those whose works are burned will be saved, whereas, some judged in the White Throne Judgment will be condemned to the lake of fire. This is the judgment seat for Christians, who have recently been raptured, so they are all undoubtedly saved. As Paul says in II Corinthians 5:11, every man should be sober about this judgment because of the terror of the Lord. One does not want to stand before Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ empty handed! Perhaps this judgment seat will precipitate the thirty minutes of silence the Bible says will be in heaven. A person should desire salvation above all, but he should also desire to present to Christ some works that will stand the fire of judgment.
The Second Coming of Christ
Why Stand Ye Gazing?
Acts 19:11gives the promise that this same Jesus will return again in like manner. This does not mean that he will come again as an infant, but that He will return in the same manner in which He departed. This was the hope of the New Testament Church and should be the hope of all Christians today. This doctrine is repeated often in the scriptures and it should never be abandoned.
Feet on the Mount
Zechariah 14:1-4 further establishes the literal return of our Lord. His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives. The Bible prophecies that the mountain will split in half.
Even So, Amen
Revelation 1:7 adds a sad note to this glorious event. Every eye shall see Him and they shall wail because of Him. Even so, amen. It is sad that it must be, but He has given humanity every opportunity to be saved. Jesus Christ is coming again, ready or not!
The Millennial Reign
When Jesus returns to this earth He will destroy the Antichrist and his cohorts. The battle of Armageddon will signal the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. A description of this event is found in Revelation 19:11-21. This will be the battle to end all battles. In describing this event in chapter 3, verse 14, Joel calls it the valley of decision. Indeed, when it is over there will be no question as to whom is supreme. Revelation 20:1-6 depicts Satan as being bound for 1,000 years and Christ setting up a kingdom of peace and prosperity on the earth. The saints of God will reign as kings and priests in this kingdom. At the end of the millennium, Satan will be loosed and will rebel the final time. His ultimate defeat will precede the White Throne Judgment.
Revelation 20:7-10 describes Satan’s last rebellion and final defeat. Fire falls from heaven and consumes the conspirators and Satan is cast into the lake of fire for eternity.
The Second Resurrection
Revelation 20:11-13 announces the second resurrection. The first resurrection refers to all those resurrected before the 1,000 year reign of Christ. The second resurrection occurs just before the final judgment, when all others will be raised from the dead to stand before the Eternal Judge. This includes the dead of all ages, including the non-Christians who failed to make the first resurrection.
The White Throne Judgment
All those resurrected in the second resurrection will stand before God in the White Throne Judgment. The books will be opened which proclaim God’s plan for the age in which each individual lived. These books are no doubt the books of the Bible. Each individual’s book of life will be opened and judgment will be rendered according to God’s manifestation for his age of living. Revelation 20:14-15 describes the second death. This is not a physical death because all men have been resurrected and no longer have physical bodies. This simply refers to eternal separation from God in the lake of fire.
Those whose names are not written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 21:1-4 gives a peek at the future home of God’s children. Verse 4 is a good place to end this study. It is beyond imagination the glorious life that awaits the saints of God!
Conclusion: The purpose of this lesson has been to give the student a basic working knowledge of future events to enable him to further study the wonderful prophetic revelations in God’s Word. As this series comes to a close let each person determine to live his life according to SOUND BIBLE DOCTRINE so that the eternal abode of the saints will be his eternal home.
Open Book quiz – Student Copy
1) What is the study of the end time called?
2) List four biblical facts of the end time established in this lesson.
3) Daniel’s Seventy Weeks equals how many years?
4) Which event marks the beginning of Daniel’s Seventieth Week?
5) Which event marks the middle of Daniel’s Seventieth Week?
6) How will the Seventieth Week of Daniel end?
7) What does the word “rapture” mean?
8) According to Romans 14:10-12, who shall give an account of themselves at the judgment seat of Christ?
9) To what does the first resurrection refer?
10) Who will stand before God in the White Throne Judgment?
This article “Things to Come” is written by Stan Davidson is excerpted from his book Sound Bible Doctrine.