Second coming and Armageddon?
Revelation 16:16(HCSB)16 So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew, Armagedon. Traditionally the hill of Megiddo, a great city that guarded the pass between the coast and the valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon; The word “Armageddon” comes from a Hebrew word Har-Magedone, which means “Mount Megiddo” and has become synonymous with the future battle in which God will intervene and destroy the armies of the Antichrist as predicted in biblical prophecy (Revelation 16:16; 20:1-3, 7-10). There will be a multitude of people engaged in the battle of Armageddon, as all the nations gather together to fight against Christ.
The exact location of the valley of Armageddon is unclear because there is no mountain called Meggido. However, since “Har” can also mean hill, the most likely location is the hill country surrounding the plain of Meggido, some sixty miles north of Jerusalem. More than two hundred battles have been fought in that region. The plain of Megiddo and the nearby plain of Esdraelon will be the focal point for the battle of Armageddon, which will rage the entire length of Israel as far south as the Edomite city of Bozrah (Isaiah 63:1). The valley of Armageddon was famous for two great victories in Israel’s history: 1) Barak’s victory over the Canaanites (Judges 4:15) and 2) Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Judges 7). Armageddon was also the site for two great tragedies: 1) the death of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:8) and 2) the death of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:22).
The rapture is the teaching that at or before the return of Christ (Matthew 24:30, Acts 1:11) the Christians who are alive on the earth will be transformed into the resurrected bodies and literally be caught up into the clouds to meet Jesus.
There is debate as to the timing of the rapture. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine says that the rapture will occur at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation period, which immediately precedes the return of Jesus. The mid-tribulation rapture doctrine says that the rapture will occur 3 1/2 years before Christ returns or halfway through the great tribulation period of seven years. The post-tribulation doctrine says that the rapture will occur at the same time as the return of Christ or at the end of the seven-year tribulation. All of these positions fall within the realm of Christian orthodoxy.
The verses used to support the doctrine of the rapture are as follows:
• 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18(HCSB), 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
• 1 Corinthians 15:20-23(HCSB) 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.
• 1 Corinthians 15:51-52(HCSB)51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed,52in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,and we will be changed.
Please note that the verses found in Matthew 24 and Luke 17 that deal with two men in the field and one is taken while the other is left are not dealing with the rapture. This is a common misunderstanding about those verses. Upon close examination of the texts in Matthew 24 and Luke 17, you will find that the ones who were taken are the wicked. In fact, Jesus’ disciples ask where they are taken, and He gives them an answer: Luke 17:37(HCSB) “Where the body is, there also will the vultures be gathered”.
The Secret Rapture
In early 1830, a 15 year old Scottish Girl called Margaret McDonald claimed to have visions that included a secret rapture of believers before the appearance of a one man antichrist who she also named. Edward Irving (1792-1834) who was her Scottish Presbyterian pastor and forerunner of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements, attended prophecy conferences that began in Dublin Ireland also in 1830 at Powerscourt Castle where he promoted this rapture doctrine as per her vision.
John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) who was a minister of the Church of Ireland later became a member of the Plymouth Brethren and also promoted the secret rapture after attending the same Powerscourt Bible Prophecy meeting in 1830 where he learned of Margaret McDonald’s supposed vision. Darby modified her views and then taught them under his own name. He developed and organized “futurism” into a system of prophetic teaching called “dispensationalism” with this rapture doctrine at its centre. He visited Margaret McDonald at her home in Port Glasgow, Scotland and then later visited America several times where this false rapture theology starting gaining a large acceptance in the 1850s and 1860s.
John Nelson Darby who was largely responsible for introducing this new teaching on a large scale also greatly influenced Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843-1921) who also incorporated this false doctrine into the notes of his Scofield Reference Bible, first published by Oxford University Press in 1909. One million copies were printed by 1930, firmly establishing this Futurist theory into different denominations and Bible schools of the United States in the 20th Century.
According to those teaching this theory, the coming of Jesus will be in two separate stages. The first will be a secret rapture of the Church at the beginning of a supposed seven year tribulation period followed by a glorious, triumphant return of Christ to the Earth accompanied by the Church at the end of the seven year period. They believe that during this seven year period the antichrist is going to come into power and God will select and seal 144,000 literal Jews who will take the Gospel to the whole world converting immeasurable souls to Christ. They also believe the great battle of Armageddon is a literal national war against literal Israel, which occurs near the end of the seven years and is brought to a halt by Christ’s return with His Church. Then literal Israel accepts the Lord as the Messiah and enters with Him as His covenant people into the 1,000 year (millennial) reign on earth known as the Kingdom Age. Christ will rule directly over the earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem, where the typical temple services function again. Those who ultimately reject Christ’s rule are eventually judged and destroyed at the end of the Millennium. The new believers will then receive immortality and eternity will begin.
However, the Bible nowhere speaks of these two separate comings and the word “rapture” is also an invention of theologians and occurs nowhere in the Bible. The deception does not stop there, Christians also debate whether we will be taken before the tribulation or in the middle of the seven years or at the completion of the seven year tribulation. These are called pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post tribulation. Now for the most amazing part of these views in regards to the seven year tribulation period; are you ready for this? It was manufactured by a Jesuit Priest who was commissioned to come up with this false interpretation of Bible Prophecy. This raises many questions, such as why was this done and how could so many be drawn into this lie. I hope you will read on as we cover all aspects of this topic and reveal the Bible truth
I do not believe in the rapture. I believe what Jesus taught. There is 1 second coming, not a second coming for the church then another second coming after the tribulation. The purpose of Christians on this earth is the great commission, to proclaim the gospel to the lost, to reach people for the kingdom. If Jesus “raptures” the church(the ekklesia, the bride, the Christians) then there is no more need for any people to be left on earth since the very essence of what we the church is here for is now removed. I call it escapism mentality, the mentality that we will escape the evils of this world. If that was true and that was God’s design for humanity then the minute we would accept Christ he would “rapture” us up.
Matthew 13:24-30(HCSB)24 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds[a] among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’28 “‘An enemy did this!’ he told them.“‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him.29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’”
It is so clear that we need not second guess what is going to happen. So what are we told in the pre-tribulation rapture theory? We are told that Christ will “gather” His people BEFORE the tribulation and separate the “wheat and the tares” BEFORE the harvest. And yet what does it clearly state in the Bible verse above? That the separation only takes place AT the harvest.
According to those who hold to the pre-trib rapture theory, the harvest takes place BEFORE the tribulation and BEFORE the end of the world. This is clearly what they believe because according to this teaching, the world continues for another 7 years and then another 1000 years AFTER the rapture. Well, what does Jesus say about this?
Matthew 13:38-40(HCSB)38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
The church(SAVED) and the wicked(UNSAVED) continue to live together on earth until the END OF THE AGE. And it is only at the end of the world that the separation takes place.
Please understand that VITAL point. The rapture theory teaches a separation BEFORE the end. But the Bible clearly teaches that there is NO separation before the end.
This also proves the mid-tribulation rapture teaching to be false
Those who hold to the mid-tribulation rapture theory, believe (just like the pre-trib teachers), that the separation takes place BEFORE the end of the world. But as we have shown from the Bible above, the separation takes place ONLY at the end of the world. Need more proof? Take a look at these Bible verses and you will notice that the focus is NOT about the church being taken away before the end, but rather AT the end of the age and the LAST DAY.
John 6:40(HCSB)40 For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 11:24(HCSB)24 Martha said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
John 12:48(HCSB)48 The one who rejects Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
Eternal life is given on the LAST DAY. The resurrection happens on the LAST DAY. Judgment is given on the LAST DAY. If the rapture were real then that means God would have to do SOME KIND OF judgement BEFORE the end!
Notice also what Jesus says in Matthew 28:20(HCSB)20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Now why would Jesus reassure us that He would be with us until the END OF THE AGE, if we were to be raptured away BEFORE the end?
Matthew 24:37-42(HCSB)37 37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.
This is such a misunderstood passage of scripture today. Take a look at the context of the above Bible verses. Do you see that Jesus is telling us that His second coming will be like what happened in Noah’s day? And what happened in the days of Noah? The above verse tells us. The flood DESTROYED the earth, taking away the wicked and leaving behind God’s people (Noah’s family). Who was “taken away” and who was “left behind” in Noah’s day? Take a look at the above verses again. It was the wicked who were TAKEN and Noah was LEFT BEHIND! And this is what Christ is pointing us to. He is saying that the day is coming when the earth will be destroyed again and the wicked will be TAKEN and the saints will be LEFT BEHIND.
Jesus is pointing to the “END OF THE AGE”. Just like it was the “end of the age” in Noah’s day when the flood came.
And what did we already confirm would happen during the harvest at the end? Let’s read it again … Matthew 13:30(HCSB)’Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’” … The wicked are “taken” first and the saints are left behind to then be “gathered into My barn” (taken to heaven).
Matthew 24 is a very good chapter to read on the coming of Jesus.
The whole context of Matthew 24 is a warning for us to “watch and be ready” so that the “sudden destruction” that is to come upon the world will not TAKE US by surprise.
1 Thessalonians 5:3(HCSB)3 When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. Just like what happened in Noah’s day. Who were taken? The wicked. Who were left behind? Noah and his family!
Mark 13:14-27(HCSB)14 “When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it should not” (let the reader understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! 15 A man on the housetop must not come down or go in to get anything out of his house. 16 And a man in the field must not go back to get his clothes. 17 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! 18 Pray it won’t happen in winter. 19 For those will be days of tribulation, the kind that hasn’t been from the beginning of the world, which God created, until now and never will be again! 20 Unless the Lord limited those days, no one would survive.[i] But He limited those days because of the elect, whom He chose.
21 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah! Look—there!’ do not believe it! 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and will perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 And you must watch! I have told you everything in advance.
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation:
The sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not shed its light;25
the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the celestial powers will be shaken.
26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
Mark 13 directly correlates with Revelation 6:12-17(HCSB)12 Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; 13 the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; 14 the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?”
The danger of any minute rapture,is people will fall for the false messiah, the antiChrist thinking he is Jesus coming back. The Jews do not think Jesus was the messiah and they will fall for the antichrist.
Matthew 24:24-28(HCSB)24 False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note: I have told you in advance. 26 So if they tell you, ‘Look, He’s in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; ‘Look, He’s in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather.
Many people in churches today take for granted that this is what the Bible teaches. They may be surprised to discover that no biblical text specifically and unambiguously mentions believers being removed before the final tribulation. That limitation may be why we have no clear record of any interpreter noticing the view in the Bible before 1830. The view was held by none of the church fathers, none of the Reformers such as Luther or Calvin, none of the leaders in various evangelical revival movements such as John Wesley or Jonathan Edwards.
Passages in the Bible do teach that Jesus will return, that he will gather his followers, and that he will bring justice by punishing those who chose evil rather than truth. Passages also promise a subsequent future of justice and peace. By showing that God values justice and peace, such passages also invite his followers to work for such values now. Some New Testament passages further share the ancient Jewish expectation of a period of end-time tribulation, although scholars debate what this means.
But no unambiguous passage supports Christians being “raptured” before the tribulation. The Book of Revelation describes sufferings, many of which characterize much of the world we live in. But while Revelation depicts God protecting at least some of his people from his own judgment, it nowhere mentions Christians being removed. Revelation’s first full description of Jesus’s coming, as well as its first mention of what many construe as Christians’ resurrection (“the first resurrection”) appear toward the end of the book Revelation 19:11-16(HCSB)11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. 13 He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. 14 The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. 15 A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. 16 And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh:
KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 20:4-5(HCSB)4 Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Throughout Revelation’s middle section, God’s servants suffer on earth and, after death, worship in heaven.
To argue that a rapture precedes Revelation’s tribulation, some appeal to Revelation 4:1, where a voice invites John, “Come up here!” But this voice invites John’s vision, not the church’s rapture. More persuasively, some appeal to Jesus’s promise to some Christians in the Church at Philadelphia in
Revelation 3:10(HCSB)10 Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth.: “I will keep you from the hour of testing.” The wording, however, can mean “protect from while there” (as in John 17:15(HCSB)I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.—an understanding that better fits the rest of Revelation.
Many counter with 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7(HCSB)3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about this? 6 And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, where a restrainer is removed before the coming of the ultimate wicked ruler (what many call the “antichrist”). Readers propose a vast range of interpretations here, but one view that context prohibits is that the passage describes Christians’ “rapture.” The wicked ruler comes before Jesus’s coming to gather his people
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3(HCSB)Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him: We ask you, brothers, 2 not to be easily upset in mind or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has come. when Jesus will destroy that wicked ruler (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10(HCSB)8 and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, Further in the context, Jesus’s followers do not receive final exemption from sufferings until his public return to judge the world.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10(HCSB)5 It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, 6 since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you 7 and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, 8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength 10 in that day when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admired by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed.
I can summarize only three more arguments of “left behind” proponents. Some protest that since Jesus will come unexpectedly, he must return before the final tribulation. Unfortunately for this argument, most texts that speak of Jesus’s unexpected coming are in contexts that refer unambiguously to his coming to judge the world, with no specific reference to an event several years before (Matthew 24:29-31, 43-44; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15-21). Indeed, other passages summon Christians to look for Jesus’s public “appearing” (Titus 2:13) and the final judgment (2 Peter 3:12).
In context, Jesus’s saying that mentions some being “left behind” may refer to the righteous left behind when the wicked are “taken” to judgment (Matthew 24:38-41), to where vultures feed on corpses (Luke 17:34-37)!
Finally, some contend that Christians will escape God’s “wrath”
1 Thessalonians 1:10(HCSB)10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11(HCSB)9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.. But elsewhere in Paul’s letters deliverance from God’s wrath means that Jesus’s followers are forgiven because of him
Romans 5:9(HCSB)9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. It does not refer to escaping tribulation. Even when Revelation uses the Greek term that Paul uses here, it refers to final judgment, not a preceding tribulation. (Revelation may use a different Greek term for God’s anger during tribulation, but even that Greek term refers more often to the final judgment.)
Many books argue for or against left-behind theology. When I am asked what book I recommend against left-behind theology, I usually recommend that people read a book supporting that theology — and then look up in context all the verses it quotes. After I became a Christian, I was initially schooled in “left behind” theology myself. Once I began reading the Bible carefully, however, I discovered that every text supporting this view was out of context.
I would challenge the view’s advocates to reread the Bible as honestly as possible with this question in mind: If you had never been taught either way, would you recognize a clear gathering of believers before a future tribulation, or would you identify that gathering with what happens at Jesus’s return after tribulation (Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:24-27)?
But if Christians will not leave the rest of the world behind, we’re all in this together for now. If so, that probably means that God wants us to keep loving and serving our neighbors in the meantime