This post is the fifth part of my previous post, “Five Proofs the Rapture Comes Before the Wrath of God.” So if you missed that post, please read it before starting this one.
If we count days as 24-hour periods, we could say the rapture occurs on the same day that the day of the Lord begins. However, if we count days as 1,000-year periods like the Lord does, the rapture marks the end of the sixth day and the end of the 6,000-year dominion of man. Then a new day begins, the seventh day, the day of the Lord (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 20:2-7, 21:1).
Here are eight proofs the rapture happens just moments before the start of the day of the Lord.
1. Persecution is Not the Wrath of God
Persecution includes any trouble that comes upon a believer because they are doing the will of God, which includes giving the testimony of their faith. Persecution is not caused by doing something wrong, but by doing something right.
God has promised to deliver his people from the wrath to come (Revelation 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9), but has not promised to deliver us from persecution, which comes from the wrath of men operating under the influence of Satan. In fact, just the opposite is true. He promised we would be persecuted. That might not be what we want to hear, but it is what we need to hear because it is the truth.
Jesus was persecuted for doing the will of God. It cost him his life. He warned his followers they would also be hated and persecuted.
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master. ’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18-20)
Fear of persecution caused Peter to initially shrink back in fear and deny his faith in the Lord, but after Jesus was raised from the dead he encouraged Peter by telling him persecution would come against him again, but his faith would hold firm and he would glorify God by his death.
Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:18-19)
Peter was not put to death because his faith failed, as some teach. He was put to death because of a faith victory. Being persecuted is an honor in God’s kingdom, not a disgrace. Peter’s death glorified God.
The same can be said for many other disciples. Stephen was stoned to death because he boldly declared the word of the Lord (Acts 7:54-58). History tells us eleven of the twelve disciples were eventually murdered for their faith. Only John was not killed, but they tried to kill him too. He survived only because the Lord supernaturally delivered him when he was thrown into boiling hot oil.
Persecution has always been part of the life of believers. Many believers around the world are already experiencing severe persecution, especially in the Middle East, Nigeria, and China. Many have been forced to flee their homes. Others have been kidnapped, tortured, and put to death.
Not only have Christians been persecuted throughout history, but the Bible reveals even greater persecution is coming during the end-times. The antichrist will be given power over the saints for three and a half years (Daniel 7:25). He will shatter the power of the saints (Daniel 12:6-7). He will make war against the saints and will overcome them (Revelation 13:7 and Daniel 7:21-25). The saints will be beheaded (Revelation 20:4-6) and destroyed (Daniel 8:24).
For believers, persecution is part of our past, present, and future. Therefore it is foolish to think these things cannot happen to Christians in America or to believe Christians will be raptured before persecution comes. It is already here and much more is coming soon. The wise thing to do is get our lamp filled with oil and so that we are ready for whatever happens.
Persecution is not pleasant, but it is not a faith failure nor is it the wrath of God. So there is no scriptural reason to expect the rapture to deliver us from persecution. To locate the timing of the rapture in the sequence of coming events we must find out when the wrath of God is coming. Persecution has nothing to do with it.
2. Tribulation is Not the Wrath of God
The New Testament Greek word translated as tribulation is “thlipsis”. This word literally means pressure caused by pressing or pressing together, but the broader definition includes anguish, distress, burdened, persecution, tribulation, and trouble. The NASB version translates thlipsis as “affliction” about the same number of times as “tribulation.”
Tribulation is similar to persecution in that God has promised both will happen in the lives of his people. Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Like persecution, tribulation is not the wrath of God. It is also not the result of a faith failure. If either of those were true we would have to say the Apostle Paul was constantly attacked by the wrath of god and having faith failures, which is absurd. Paul not only endured much persecution, but also other forms of pressure, including distress, anguish of heart, many tears, hardships, calamities, sleepless nights, hunger from being often without food, thirst, poorly dressed, homelessness, exposure to the cold and the elements, laboring with his hands, three times he was shipwrecked, once he spent a night and day in the ocean. He endured danger from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, and dangers on the sea. (1 Corinthians 4:11-12, 2 Corinthians 2:4, 6:4-10, 11:25-27). In Asia he came under such great pressure that he despaired of life itself. Yet he reported how God used the pressure to teach him how to rely more on God and less on himself (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).
It was not the will of God nor the wrath of God that these things happened to Paul. Neither was it because his faith was weak. All sorts of pressure comes into our lives because we live in a fallen world where most people are not doing the will of God. Their disobedience causes trouble not only for themselves but also for others around them. This is the source of all the trouble in the world. God often gets blamed for it, but it was never his will, nor was it his fault. He does not want trouble for his children any more than we would want trouble for our own children.
Jesus gave us the solution when he instructed us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). If everyone on earth would obey the Lord we would have heaven on earth. Since that is not going to happen in this age, tribulation (pressure) is part of our life. It has been here since the fall of Adam and Eve and is going to increase as we get closer to the end.
Since tribulation is not the wrath of God, we have no scriptural reason to expect the rapture to deliver us from tribulation now or during the coming tribulation period. Therefore the coming tribulation has nothing to do with the timing of the rapture. Like Paul, we must endure tribulation and believe by faith that God will cause all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28).
3. Jesus Said the Rapture Happens on the Day of the Lord
Jesus gave us two examples of how God delivered his people and destroyed their enemies on the same day. First, he pointed out how Noah and his family entered the ark on the same day the floods came and destroyed the unbelievers (Luke 17:27).
Second, he pointed out how Lot escaped from Sodom the same day fire destroyed everyone in the city.
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot. They were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them. It will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:28-30)
Jesus concluded by saying the same thing is going to happen again on the day of the Lord, which he referred to as “the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”
On another occasion, the disciples asked Jesus about the end-times. He answered by identifying the major events that would come at the end. He broke the events down into three groups, including birth-pangs, tribulation, and great tribulation.
He said the birth-pangs would include the rise of false messiahs, wars, rumors of wars, pestilences, terrors, famines, and earthquakes (Matthew 24:4-8). He called these birth pangs because they are warning signs leading up to the end, but they are not the end.
After the birth-pangs, Jesus said there would be a time of tribulation.
“They shall lay hands on you and persecute you and deliver you up to tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:12-19 and Matthew 24:9).
In addition to martyrdom, he said the tribulation events would include apostasy, more false prophets, lawlessness, and the love of many people would grow cold (Matthew 24:9-13). After that the man of lawlessness enters the temple and stands in the holy place, which is the catalyst that triggers the start of the day of the Lord (Matthew 24:15-31).
None of the events identified by Jesus during the birth-pangs or the tribulation had anything to do with the wrath of God. All of those events are caused by persecution and tribulation (pressure). Since God has not promised to deliver us from either of those and has only promised to deliver us from the wrath to come, there is no reason to expect him to deliver us from either the birth-pangs or the tribulation and no reason to expect the rapture must happen prior to the birth-pangs or the tribulation.
4. John Saw the Rapture Happens on the Day of the Lord
John’s vision of the end-times reveals the same birth-pang events that Jesus saw. John even listed them in the same sequence as Jesus did. So we can conclude they were both referring to the same events. John’s vision reveals these birth-pang events are released when the first four seals of the book of life are broken in Revelation 6. The following list compares the events he saw to what Jesus saw.
- First Seal – A rider on a white horse is the antichrist (Revelation 6:2). He is the one who comes claiming to be God. Jesus said, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray” (Luke 21:8 and Matthew 24:5).
- Second Seal – A rider on a red horse brings war (Revelation 6:3-4). Jesus said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet” (Luke 21:9 and Matthew 24:6-7).
- Third Seal – A rider on a black horse brings a scarcity of food (Revelation 6:5-6). Jesus said there will be famines in various places (Luke 21:11 and Matthew 24:7).
- Fourth Seal – A rider on a pale horse brings death to a fourth of the earth with the sword, famine, death, and wild beasts (Revelation 6:7-8). Jesus said there will be pestilences, terrors, and earthquakes in various places. (Luke 21:11 and Matthew 24:7)
After the first four seals are broken, the next event John sees is again the same as Jesus, the mass murder of believers. When the fifth seal is broken, John sees under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and because of their testimony (Revelation 6:9). Jesus calls this the tribulation (Luke 21:12-19 and Matthew 24:9).
So John’s testimony agrees with Jesus and provides further evidence that all of the events coming during the birth-pangs and tribulation come from persecution and pressure, but not from the wrath of God. Neither of them make any mention of the wrath of God during either of these periods. So once again, there is no scriptural reason to believe the rapture happens during either of these periods.
Based on John’s vision, it makes sense the wrath of God could not begin to be poured out until after all of the seven seals are broken because the book of life could not be opened until then. The book contains the names of every person who has received eternal life. So the judgment of God could not begin and the wrath of God could not be poured out until after the final two seals are broken.
After the sixth seal is broken John sees a great earthquake, the sun becomes black as sackcloth, the moon becomes like blood, the stars of the sky fall to the earth, and the sky is split apart like a scroll. (Revelation 6:12-14). These are the same events Jesus calls “a great tribulation”.
For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. (Matthew 24:21)
Joel saw these same events would mark the coming of the day of the Lord.
“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” (Joel 3:30-31)
These terrible events are not the wrath of God, but they are enough to convince the world the wrath is coming soon. John saw all the people of the earth would see these things and would know the day of the Lord has arrived. He heard them call it “the great day of their wrath.”
Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand. (Revelation 6:15-17)
This is the first time the wrath of God is mentioned in all of these events. So now we can expect the rapture must be coming even soon. That is exactly what happens. Both Jesus and John identified the rapture happens immediately after these shakings (Matthew 24:30-31 and Revelation 6:12-17 and 7:9-17).
5. Paul Called the Rapture and the Day of the Lord the Same Event
The Apostle Paul also revealed the rapture and the day of the Lord happen at the same time by referring to them as the same event.
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. (2 Thessalonians 2:1)
In this passage, Paul used three names interchangeably for the same event;
- the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
- our being gathered together to him
- the day of the Lord
Since Paul saw all of these things happening at the same time the rapture must happen on the day of the Lord.
6. Both the Rapture and the Day of the Lord are Administered by Angels
None of the events happening during the birth pangs or the tribulation mentioned anything about angels causing them. However, both the rapture and the day of the Lord are administered by angels.
Jesus identifies the rapture is administered by angels:
He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (Matthew 24:31).
John saw the day of the Lord is administered by angels. After the seventh seal is broken, seven angels are given seven trumpets. The wrath of God is then released as each angel blows their trumpet (Revelation 8-11).
The significance of angels administering the events reveals these things are being done by the will of God because the angels of the Lord only do the will of God. The absence of angels during the birth-pangs and tribulation reveal these things are not the will of God or the wrath of God. On the other hand, the terrible events released by the seven angels blowing their trumpets on the day of the Lord must be the will of God and the wrath of God.
This is further evidence the rapture and the day of the Lord happen together, both by the will of God, and both on the day of the Lord. It is the day when God intervenes to stop the actions of evil people and takes action to do his will.
7. Both the Rapture and the Day of the Lord are Announced by Trumpets
None of the events during the birth pangs or the tribulation were announced by blowing trumpets. However, the rapture, the day of the Lord, and the wrath of God poured out on the day of the Lord are all announced by blowing trumpets.
Jesus identifies the rapture begins with a trumpet blast:
He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (Matthew 24:31).
The prophet Joel reveals the day of the Lord begins with a trumpet blast:
Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. Surely it is near. (Joel 2:1)
John saw each of the terrible events caused by the wrath of God are announced by seven angels blowing seven trumpets (Revelation 8-11).
The prophet Zephaniah referred to the day of the Lord as “a day of trumpet and battle cry” (Zephaniah 1:16).
Since the rapture and the events of the day of the Lord are all announced by trumpets, we have more evidence that these events go together, all happening at about the same time.
8. The Wrath of God Comes on the Day of the Lord
The ominous shakings and dark clouds that appear after the sixth seal is broken set the stage, letting everyone know the wrath is soon to come, but these events are still not the wrath of God. So there is no reason to expect the rapture must happen prior to them. So during these shakings God’s people are still on earth waiting to be delivered.
However, the rapture must happen soon afterwards because of God’s promise to deliver his people. According to Jesus, that is exactly when it happens.
“But 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 the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:29-31)
John’s testimony agrees. After the sixth seal releases the ominous shakings, he sees a great multitude standing before the throne of God in heaven. He is told these people all came out of the great tribulation (not the tribulation). They are the raptured saints (Revelation 6:12-17, 7:9-17).
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:13-14)
It might appear the Lord is cutting it too close by waiting until the very last second to deliver his people. However, the close proximity of the rapture with the wrath is not a problem because the rapture happens very fast, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52). As fast as we can blink our eyes we will be out of here! A great trumpet will sound and the Lord will gather his people together in the air. Once his people are safely out of harm’s way, the wrath comes.
Just as Jesus said, the day of the Lord has two purposes. It is a time of deliverance for God’s people and terrible destruction for those left behind (Luke 17:27-30).
So the rapture happens soon after the ominous shakings, just prior to the wrath. Then the wrath of God is released by seven angels blowing seven trumpets. There are many scriptures proving the wrath of God is poured out on the day of the Lord. Here are some of them.
- Jehovah comes cruel, with wrath, and fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:9)
- Jehovah comes to make the land a desolation. (Isaiah 13:9)
- Jehovah comes to destroy the sinners out of the land. (Isaiah 13:9)
- God will make man more rare than fine gold. (Isaiah 13:12)
- God in His wrath will make the heavens tremble. (Isaiah 13:13)
- God in His fierce anger will cause the earth to be shaken out of its place. (Isaiah 13:13)
- All the tribes of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky. (Matthew 24:30)
- Unbelievers will not understand what is happening until it is too late (Matthew 24:37-39)
- The day of the Lord will come upon unbelievers like a thief in the night, bringing sudden destruction. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3)
- The Lord will slay the evil one with the breath of His mouth. (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
- He is coming to judge and wage war. (Revelation 19:11)
- His eyes will be a flame of fire. (Revelation 19:12)
- He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood. (Revelation 19:13)
- Armies follow him from heaven. Armies are for waging war. (Revelation 19:14)
- He has a sharp sword so He may strike down the nations. (Revelation 19:15)
- He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God. (Revelation 19:16)
- He will destroy the beast and the kings of the earth. (Revelation 19:19-20)
- He kills the rest of the people with the sword, which comes from His mouth. (Revelation 19:21)
The wrath of God will not all be poured out in a 24-hour period. We know this because the fifth trumpet releases locusts, which are instructed to harm people for five months (Revelation 9:5). However, the wrath of God is poured out on the day of the Lord so we can expect the rapture also happens on the day of the Lord.
Based on the testimonies of John and Jesus, the rapture happens after the start of the day of the Lord. Since the wrath of God is poured out on the day of the Lord and the Lord promised to deliver his people from his wrath he is obligated to deliver them on the day of the Lord. If he waited any longer they would perish. However, his promise does not obligate him to rescue them prior to the day of the Lord. So we can conclude the rapture happens on the day of the Lord.
The American church today is heavily indoctrinated with the false teaching that the rapture happens before the final seven-year period, which conveniently allows believers to avoid the persecution that is coming. This false teaching has become popular for obvious reasons, but it contradicts many scriptures, which are documented in this post and in my previous post Ten Things that Must Happen Before the Rapture.
The pre-tribulation teaching is dangerous because it will cause believers to abandon their faith when the tribulation comes and they are surprised to see they are still here. This confusion will contribute to the coming apostasy, the great falling away of believers, which is coming during the tribulation period.
God’s people can take comfort in knowing the tribulation will be cut short when the Lord interrupts it with the day of the Lord. On that day he will gather His people in the clouds and execute His wrath on unrepentant sinners.
If you are not yet ready for the rapture, find out how you can get ready today.
See more End-Time Bible study topics.