Summary: Although Christians might disagree as to when the rapture takes place, there are three truths about the coming Day of the Lord that no Bible-believing Christian can deny.
A Thief in the Night: The Plot Thickens
1. Intro: The dreaded words every English or Math teacher hears are also dreaded by Pastors who teach the whole counsel of God. We don’t want to hear you ask, "What do I need this for?"
2. The Christian life is a life that is meant to be devoted to Bible study. The coming again of Jesus Christ and the end of the age occupies some 1,845 Scriptural verses. —John Wesley White
3. If it is in the Bible, it is worth studying. (repeat) If you do not have this conviction, I hope you will develop it. And the Second Coming of Christ is all over the Bible.
4. The ladies did a Bible study with Beth Moore via DVD. Before digging deeply into the prophetic sections of Daniel, a section very difficult to understand, Beth said, "When we’re done, you won’t be any dumber."
5. That seemed to satisfy the ladies. They were willing to think deeply and work hard at understanding for Beth.
6. And that’s what it takes to understand end time prophecy.
7. Some people are like the pre-Reformation church: they want others to do the thinking and they will simply blindly trust the opinions of their spiritual leaders. The Reformers said no to that. Every Christian is responsible to study the Bible, think, and reach conclusions.
8. So today we are going to look at a variety of viewpoints -- held by godly people who are not dummies -- about the rapture and its relationship to the Tribulation.
The Rapture is what we studied last week, when Christ comes to the Clouds, the dead in Christ have their bodies resurrected and living believers are transformed as they are whisked away to heaven.
The Tribulation is a 7 year period of misery, plague, and disaster on the face of the earth -- sort of like the Plagues of Egypt. The latter half of this 7 year period is so bad that it is sometimes called "The Great Tribulation."
The Millennium is a 1,000 year Kingdom on the Earth in which Christ reigns from Jerusalem over some of the survivors of the Tribulation.
9. What I am afraid of this morning is TMI: Too Much Information. So I am not going to mention all significant End Time events, just enough to help us get the picture. If you have never been exposed to End Time prophecy, this will be TMI. Take in what you can.
A. View One: Believers do not know when the Rapture will occur (imminent)
This is where I stand; I believe the Scriptures teach Christ can come at any moment; I am open to both of these two positions in the category, though I lean toward the Pre-trib view.
(1) Pre-trib Position [Left Behind, Ryrie Study Bible, Moody, Dallas; common]
Christ can come at any moment, but before the Tribulation.
(2) Agnostic Position
Christ can come at any moment, either before the Tribulation or anytime during it.
B. View Two: End-time believers will know when the Rapture will occur
Christ will come in the very middle of the Tribulation, before it’s second half (the last three and a half years are known as the Great Tribulation)
(2) Pre-wrath (Pre-Armageddon)
Christ will come before Armageddon, near to the end of the Tribulation (but not the very end).
Christ will come after the Tribulation; resurrected believers go up to meet Christ in the air and shortly come down to help Him reign during the Millennial Kingdom.
As we look at the text, please pay attention to the pronouns "them" and "you;" them in this context refers to unbelievers, you to believers.
When it says Christ delivers us from "the wrath to come" (I Thess. 1:10), different positions interpret "wrath" in different manners.
Post-Trib: wrath = Great White Throne/Lake of Fire
Pre-Wrath: wrath = Armageddon
Mid-Trib: wrath = The Great Tribulation (last three and a half years)
Agnostic: wrath = any or all of the above
Pretrib: wrath = the entire 7 year Tribulation
Main Idea: Although Christians might disagree as to when the rapture takes place, there are three truths about the coming Day of the Lord that no Bible-believing Christian can deny.
I. The DAY of the Lord Will Come Unexpectedly -- At Least for Unbelievers (1-2)
A. The Day of the Lord
• Lots of Old Testament imagery; but what does this mean?
The Day of the LORD is a time of great wrath and judgment followed by a time of blessing.
So I understand this to be the Tribulation (aka, Daniel’s 70th week) and Millennium. But others would say the last half of the Tribulation and the Millennium, or Aramgeddon and the Millennium.
"The Term the Day of the Lord occurs 25 times in 23 verses, including the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi, Acts, I & II Thessalonians, and II Peter."