1 Thess 4:14-16
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Whenwe refer to the "End of Times", we are referring to several cataclysmic events and judgments that the Bible said would take place that will change this world as we now know it and culminate in God being “all and IN ALL”.
I. Rapture of the Church:
The first event that will take place in the series of end times events will be the “rapture” of the Church. The "rapture" is God's process for removing His people that make up the “true” church body to be taken away from the earth out of harm's way of Gdd's outpoured wrath opon the unbelieving inhabitants left behind on the earth. According to Dr.Clarence Larkin's book entitled: “Dispensational Truth” , the "first place" the Rapture is intimated in the New Testament can be traced to an event in Jesus’ ministry concerning a conversation Jesus had with Martha, the sister of Lazarus, who brother Jesus miraculous raised from the dead in John 11:25- 26.
Jesus waited four days after the burial of Lazarus to return to the family in Bethany to pay his respects to the family and to resurrect Lazarus from death. Martha in deep sorrow said to Jesus “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” But, she then makes a bold statement of her faith about what believed about the future state of the righteous: Martha said:
“I know that he will rise again in the last days at the resurrection”. (End of time) Jesus responded to her wavering faith by saying “I am the “Resurrection and the Life” he who believes in me even though he may be dead now, yet shall he live again; (at the first resurrection) and whosoever believes in me and lives (is still alive on earth when Jesus comes back) shall never die”. Why will the "Rapture" occur before the wrath of God falls upon the remaining inhabitants left behind upon the earth? Doe s the Bible teach this? And, if it does, why are there so many people that refused to believe that the end is near? The Apostle Paul gives us a candid answer as he spoke to the Chirch at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3:
"The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape".
II. 7-year Tribulation Period
This “judgment” period is to last for 7 years. The fact that the "7-year Tribulation Period" will occur is backed up by several passages in the Bible in both the Old and New Testament. In Jeremaih 30:4-7 (OT) this period is called the "time of Jacob's trouble". In Ezekiel 20:34-38, this period is spoken of as the time when "Israel will have to pass under God's "Correction Rod"". Also in Ezekiel 20:19-22, Ezekiel prophesized that God was to cast a "dsiobedient" Israel into His "Melting Pot" to be refineds as "pure gold. The Prophet Daniel spoke of this time in Daniel 12:1 as a "Time of Trouble".
The Tribulation period will be a time of judgment not just for Israel, but for the rest of the unbelieving world in general: Israel, because of their rejection of Jesus Christ their true Messiah, and the world for the same as well as for the way they will treat Israel while they pass under the “judgment rod” of God. According to Revelation chapter 4 through chapter 20, God, in judging them during this period, will open the “books” out of heaven that contain the type of punishments God will unleash on the world. These terrible judgments will come in the form of both “bowl” judgments and “vial” judgments, unleashing terrible plagues, death and destructive fires that will melt the earth with fervent heat. (on the surface) Woe unto those who are left behind and especially to those who take the identification “mark” of Antichrist in their hand or in their forehead as stated in Revelation 13:12-16. There is no redemption to those who take the mark of the Beast.
This event will lead into the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” because this day will be our “crowning day", while at the same time down on earth, the “Tribulation Period” will already be going on. This “period” started the same day the rapture of the Church took place and will be ongoing for 7 years. When the 7 years of tribulation are over, Jesus will come to earth for the second time, descending upon the Mount of Olives. Satan will immediately be bound by a strong angel and banished to the “bottomless pit” for a period of 1000 years. This also will mark the beginning of the 1000-year Millenial reign of Jesus Christ. His reign on earth will be 1000 years. At the end of these 1000 years and after Jesus will have judged the nations according to their treatment of Israel during the time of tribulation according to Matthew 25 in the Bible; separating them into "three classes" (sheep, goats and brethren),
Satan will be released upon the earth once again for “a little season”. This “little season” will lead up to the time of the "Great White Throne Judgment". The purpose of this judgment period is to judge the “wicked” dead that didn’t accept Jesus Christ as their savior and all of those who are alive and still remained unsaved as well as those if there be any that did accept Jesus Christ after the rapture of the church. "Their eternal punishment will be to be cast in the Lake of Fire with Satan, the false prophet, the demons, and all who opposed God all throughout time and history". The Great White throne judgment preambles the "culmination of the age" and ushers in the dispensation of the "Ages of Ages" where in this age and all ages to come afterwards if any, God will be “all and in all”.