THE WORD OF HIS GRACE
Robert E. Hanna
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:31; [Thessalonians 4:16, 17
As we "rightly divide the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15), one of the key distinctions that emerges is the difference between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. Bible teachers have long mixed the two and have lead their hearers into needless confusion.
The second coming of Christ (also known as the "revelation" of Jesus Christ) was prophesied throughout the Old Testament, and it involves the return of Jesus Christ to the earth to set up His throne in Jerusalem. Zechariah writes, "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east" (Zechariah 14:4a). This, of course, is the same location from which He left the earth two thousand years ago (Acts 1:10-12). "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matthew 25:31). This will signal the beginning of Christ's earthly kingdom. All of this takes place "'immediately after the tribulation" (Matthew 24:29a).
The rapture was a secret, not revealed in Old Testament times. Paul includes it as part of the great mystery revealed to him. (See 1 Corinthians 15:51.) The rapture, or catching away of the Body of Christ, involves Christ's coming in the air (I Thessalonians 4:17), not to the earth as the second coming. The rapture will occur before the tribulation period when God's wrath is poured out upon the earth. "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 5:9).
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