End time prophecy is a difficult subject to study and many people make big mistakes because they don't understand the rules of interpretation of end time events. One of the major rules is to find out first who is being addressed.
1 Cor 10:32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.
God sees only 3 categories of people on the earth, you are either a Jew, a Gentile or a Believer.
Matt 24:1-25 . 3 Questions asked but they thought they were all the same question.
Tell us, when shall these things be?
and what shall be the sign of thy coming,
And of the end of the world?
Was Jesus a Christian? Was he talking to Christians? Who was he talking to? Where was the church at this time?
Jesus here was telling the Jews about their future, not the future of the church, this is where most people fail in trying to understand bible prophecy, they try to make this passage fit the church but it doesn't. Matt 10:6 , Matt 15:24 Jesus said that he came to the Jews and here he was speaking to the Jews.
John 1:12 then tells us that "he came unto his own and his own received him not but to as many as received him gave he the right to be sons of God".
So what are we believers looking for then, if Jesus in Matt 24 was talking to the Jews what will happen to the believer?
There was no church until the book of Acts and so it is only in the Epistles that we find the future of the church, Peter and Paul were the apostles to the church.
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
What is the hope of the church or more importantly the hope of the believer…What is it that we are really looking forward to? As believers we are looking forward to put off this corruptible body and put on a new body and to spending all eternity in the presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
But how will it happen, how will we go to spend eternity with Jesus? There are really two ways taught in the scriptures…
1. we will go by way of the grave, that is to say that our bodies will eventually wear out and we will just go on home to be with the Lord… 2 Cor 5:6 - 8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say , and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
2. Jesus will come back for us according to the scriptures… John 14:1 - 3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so , I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
This 2 nd way is known as the rapture…although the word rapture is not found in the english bible… The word "rapture" comes from the Latin verb " raptare " which means "carried off" or "caught up". It was used in the Latin Vulgate translation of 1 Thess 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. But while the word rapture is not there the teaching of being carried into the presence of Jesus most certainly is.
The Rapture is not to be confused with the 2nd Coming of Jesus…they are two separate events… The Rapture will take place when Jesus Christ snatches His Church out of this world. It will happen suddenly and without any notice. It's important to realize that the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are completely different. At the Rapture Jesus is coming for His saints. At the Second Coming the Church will return with Jesus Christ. Jude 14 Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints.
Also at the rapture Jesus will come in the clouds and not visit the earth but at the 2nd coming he will atand on the mount of Olives.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 - 17 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep (dead). ( compare Acts 7:59-60 , Acts 13:36 , 1 Cor 11:30 ) 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The word meet is from a Hellenistic origin and relates to the visit of dignitaries to a city where the visitors would formally be met by a delegation and escorted with great pomp and ceremony into the city.
1 Corinthians 15:51 - 55 Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, (die) but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Is there any scriptural evidence of this happening before?
Genesis 5:22 – 24 22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
Hebrews 11:5 by faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
2 Kings 2:11 and it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Acts 8:39 – 40 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
The word caught away here is the same word used in 1 Thess 4:15-17 implying that it is the same type of event.
When will this rapture take place? One of the many things that Christians worry about is “will I be here for the tribulation and the rule of the antichrist?”
2 Thessalonians 2:3, 6-7 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come , except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let , until he be taken out of the way.
The man of lawlessness is being withheld until the appointed time…what is the time…he that letteth is not a good translation…it comes from katecho…kata which means come down with force and echo which means to own or possess so katecho means to hold on with force to your possession…so who is he talking about…many people believe it is the Holy Spirit that is holding on until God takes him out of the earth and allows the man of lawlessness to take over but this couldn't be right because right from the beginning the Holy Spirit brooded over the earth and he will not leave just because the antichrist is here and also people will still be saved during the tribulation and they need the Holy Spirit to convict them and lead them into a relationship with Jesus.
So we still have the problem…who is he that witholdeth that will be taken out of the way? It is the body of Christ…we are the ones in Authority here and Satan can't have free course until we are taken out of the way.
When we are taken out of the way the earth will enter into a 7 year period known as the tribulation where Satan will be free to do whatever he wants in the earth and the earth will enter a time of great judgement, God will pour out his wrath in many different ways to show the earth that the time of the end is near and they have only a short time to repent before they are lost forever.
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth.
1 Thessalonians 5: 9-10 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.
God will deliver us from the tribulation, we were not appointed to tribulation…the verse that seems to contradict this is…
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
But in this verse we will have tribulation from the world but the tribulation at the end times is a judgment from God and we have not been appointed to that tribulation.
Revelation 4:1 A voice called for the apostle John to "Come up here," and immediately he was in heaven. This could be a prophetic reference to the rapture of the Church. The words "Come up here" are spoken to the two witnesses who are killed in the middle of the Tribulation, who are resurrected and ascend into heaven ( Rev. 11:12 ). Therefore, the phrase "Come up here" could mean the church is raptured in Rev. 4:1 . The word "church" is mentioned 22 times in Rev. 1-3 , but is not mentioned again until Rev. 22:17.
God felt it was so important for us to be alert and watchful for his coming that he reminded us several times to be ready.
God will come for his Church suddenly at a time when we least expect it. For this reason, He instructs us to be ready, always prepared, and on guard for his coming. As those around us turn their backs on God, worshipping themselves, other gods, or false prophets, instead we should be looking up. We should have our spiritual lives in order, so that we might escape what is to come. Especially as we are now witnessing the beginnings of birth pains, God reminds us that we need to be watchful, always ready for his coming.
It is to our benefit that God didn't tell us the hour of His coming. It encourages us to live righteously as Christ may return any time, and it encourages believers to work diligently for the souls of friends, family and the lost of this world. It reminds us that we have much work to do and may not have much time to do it. If there was ever a time to be an example, share your faith, and make sure that everyone you know has heard the name Jesus, it is now.
After the rapture of the Church, the tribulation will fall upon the Earth. For those of us who received Christ and were prepared for His coming, we can shout for Joy. The Lord has prepared a place for us and we will be with him always.
Some people think there are still some prophecies to be fulfilled before the return of Jesus...but believres in every generation thought it would be in their day including the Apostle Paul the reason for that is there were never any prohecies that need to be fulfilled before the rapture not even one.
So in every generation men could say "even so, come Lord Jesus".