The Day of Christ Opens for Saints in Heaven
It has been noted that the next event on the divine timetable is the coming of the Lord for the Church, when every believer in Christ in this dispensation of grace (from Pentecost to the moment of the Rapture) will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Believers who have died (the “dead in Christ”) will be raised from the grave with new bodies patterned on the body of the risen Christ. Believers still alive, with bodies changed to that same pattern “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1Cor 15:52) are caught up together with their resurrected brethren to meet the Lord in the air (1Thes 4:13-18). The Lord, in His final promise to believers of this age, reminded them: “Surely, I come quickly” (Rev 22:20). Through the ages, the very imminence of that coming has been a cheer and comfort to tried saints in life’s darkest hours. Many believers have sighed through tears “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus (22:20).”
The Rapture has taken every believer of the gospel age to meet the Lord in the air. The initial meeting in the air precedes their presentation to the Father in the Father’s House (Heb 2:10). There, they enter upon the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2Cor 1:14), or the Day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6) or simply the Day of Christ (Phil 1:6, 10; 2:6). Two events of major importance take place in glory. First the Judgment Seat of Christ (2Cor 5:10) where Christ takes His place as judge and the work of each saint is revealed, reviewed, and rewarded by the Lord Himself (Rev 22:12). The bride of the Lamb, the Church, now ready and “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white … the righteousness of saints” (Rev 19:6-8) is presented to the Lamb in the marriage ceremony. These events take place before Christ returns to earth with His Bride to host the Marriage Supper (Rev 19:9) at the establishment of the Millennium Kingdom.
The Day of the Lord Opens for Souls on Earth
The Rapture, which opens the Day of Christ for the saved of earth, opens the Day of the Lord for the souls left on earth after the Rapture. For believers, the future means glory in the presence of the Savior. For unbelievers, the future at this point means the gloom of the Tribulation. The Day of the Lord for earth is introduced by the Rapture, which is the first manifested divine intervention in the affairs of earth since the resurrection and ascension of Christ. It has come upon unbelievers as a thief in the night. Unexpectedly and without warning, that generation has their state of “peace and safety” dramatically shattered. That slogan sounds pathetic now, in the light of divine intervention at the Rapture. Deceived by the lie of evolution, all on earth had been assured that a God of Creation was an ancient myth, while a God of Judgment was a relic of the Victorian age. As the “taking” of Enoch shattered the peace of the generation that met the flood of Noah’s day (Matt 24:36-42), so the generation on earth beginning at the Rapture will endure the judgments of the Tribulation, ending with the climax of Armageddon.
It may come as a surprise to some to note that the Tribulation does not commence immediately after the Rapture of the Church. In fact, it is likely that the time gap between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation may be quite a few years. A glance back at Article 1 in this series and the diagram there will show that the gap in the timeline of the Seventy Weeks Prophecy is between the 69th and 70th week. The 69th ended with the presentation of Christ to the nation on the 10th Nisan AD 32. His death, burial, resurrection and ascension followed. The sending down of the Holy Spirit ten days after His ascension opened the Church age. The Rapture closes the Church age and every believer is caught up to meet their Lord. However, while the Rapture opens the Day of the Lord, the commencement of the 70th week in Daniel’s prophecy awaits the confirmation of a peace covenant between the charismatic leader of an independent nation of Israel who speaks for the majority (a democratic majority?- note “the many”), and the Palestinians and their Arab supporters. The unique feature of this treaty that distinguishes it from all previous peace agreements is that it has the guaranteed support of a mighty man from the west called the Coming Prince (Dan 9:24-27).
That there is such a time gap between the Rapture and the opening of the Tribulation is confirmed by a study of the first eight verses of Revelation chapter seven. Here, the incipient storm, symbolized in the four winds, is held back by divine agencies, symbolized in the four angels, until 144,000 of Israel are sealed in their forehead “with the seal of the Living God.” It is clear that the Tribulation period is delayed in divine supervision until 12,000 from each tribe of the nation are saved, sealed for their security, and sent through the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matt 24:14). Since all preachers of the gospel in the church age have been removed at the Rapture, these men of Israel are saved by direct, divine action patterned on the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (1Cor 15:8). Israel, for the first time, has become the missionary nation God had always intended them to be.
It may well be that the chaos after the Rapture will be cleared up very quickly. Roads and airfields will quickly be made serviceable again, while the intestacy cases going through the courts will take much longer. The immediate impact will likely fade surprisingly quickly (do you remember now the impact of 9/11?). Satan will have his men in place – the politicians, the philosophers, the prelates, and the preachers to sooth public disquiet, perhaps with the lie of “alien attack” based on UFO sightings. So long as any suggestion of divine intervention is kept out of the story, Satan does not care. For most people, life settles down quickly into its normal routine. The Rapture begins to fade from the consciousness of the majority of the people.
Suddenly this peace is shattered. From Jerusalem issue, not 12 men (as in Acts 2), but a multiple of 12 (12x12x100). These men are sent throughout the world with the message of a Coming King. Some have questioned the possibility of the tribal identification made in this passage. The problem arises, in our thinking, because the genealogical records of the Jews were destroyed by the Romans (AD 70). Thus, it is presently impossible to identify tribal links. However, with genetic identification through blood testing now available, the situation has changed dramatically. Already certain tribal patterns have been observed, and the tribal identification goal seems within the grasp of science. Nevertheless, God is not dependent upon human records or the progress of science. He will fulfil His Word exactly as stated, and 144,000 true witnesses will preach Christ as the Coming King across the world.