The Day of the Lord and Hour of the Rapture
By Randy Nettles
There is considerable debate among Bible teachers, students, scholars, and theologians in regard to the topic and timing of Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, which are passages of scripture within the Olivet discourse between Jesus and his disciples about the end of the age. This debate has been going on for centuries, especially within the dispensationalist premillennial pre-tribulation camp, and revolves around one particular statement by Jesus that is found in two of the gospels:
“But of that day and hour no man knows, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).
The question that causes so much debate is this:
Is the topic of these passages referring to the Second Advent of Christ or the coming of Christ at the pre-tribulation Rapture?
There are well-known and respected Bible teachers and scholars on both sides of this controversial issue. John F. Walvoord, Jack Kelley, and Thomas Ice are a few learned men who believe these Olivet discourse verses are referring to the Second Coming. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Dave Hunt, and Terry James are a few learned men who believe these verses are referring to the Rapture. Evidently, both sides cannot be right. That means some of these respected men of God are mistaken. This only proves one thing. Even the best Bible teachers can’t be right 100% of the time, especially when it comes to prophecies regarding eschatology.
Let’s dissect Jesus’ Olivet discourse one more time and then see where you stand on this issue. A little background information would help us understand the disciples’ frame of mind at this time. The Olivet discourse occurred a few days before Jesus’ last Passover. “Now it came to pass when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matthew 26:1-2). This was the fourth time Jesus had told his disciples that he would be crucified. The other three times he had also told them he would be resurrected on the third day. By this time, they should have known what was to come.
The Three Versions of the Olivet Discourse in the Synoptic Gospels
The disciples also knew Jesus was to establish his kingdom after His resurrection, but weren’t sure of the exact timing. So, you can imagine their shock at the news that the Temple would be destroyed. They just naturally assumed it would be in place for Jesus’ kingdom when He returned. “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). Likewise we see the discussion regarding the destruction of the Temple mentioned in Mark 13:2 and Luke 21:6. For this article, we will mainly concentrate on Matthew’s account of the Olivet discourse.
In Matthew 24:3 the disciples asked Jesus three questions: When shall these things be (the destruction of the temple)? What shall be the sign of your coming (to set up His kingdom)? What shall be the sign of the end of the world? Evidently, they believed Jesus’ return would be concurrent with the end of the world.
The first question was regarding the timing of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus did not answer this question in Matthew or Mark but he did in Luke 21:20-24, although no date was given. In Matthew’s account, Jesus answered the disciples’ next two questions out of order. He answered the third question first. What shall be the sign of the end of the world? Jesus divided his answer into three parts. The first part, Matthew 24:4-8, is the pre-tribulation events known as the beginning of sorrows or birth pangs. The second part, Matthew 24:9-14, deals with the first half of the seven-year Tribulation. The third part, Mathew 15-28, describes the last half of the Tribulation. It is known as the Great Tribulation.
The Great Tribulation
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
The Great Tribulation (the last 3.5 years of the seven-year Tribulation) is recorded in Matthew 24:15-28 and Mark 13:14-23. It is not recorded in Luke. The start of the Great Tribulation is when the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Daniel 9:27, 12:11), is set up in the Jewish Temple. By Jesus’ statement regarding the abomination of desolation in the holy place within the temple, the disciples realized that a new Temple would be constructed sometime after the existing one is destroyed. Jesus informs the future Jews to flee to the mountains after the A.O.D. “for then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
After the end of the Tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken (Matthew 24:25, Mark 13:24, Luke 21:25-26). Then the survivors of the tribulation will see Jesus coming in the clouds with great power and glory. This is the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth. The sign of the Second Coming will be the Shechinah Glory light emanating from Jesus, breaking through the worldwide blackout.
The regathering of the Jewish saints (Messianic Jews) will occur at this time. “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31, Mark 13:26-27, Luke 21:27-28). Following the Second Coming, the Messiah will send his angels all over the world to regather the surviving (one-third) remnant of “elect” Jews and bring them back into the Land. He will also send His mighty angels and gather the resurrected Old Testament saints that are in heaven and bring them into the land as well. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah 27:12-13. Luke 21: 28 offers words of hope to the saints of the tribulation, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near.”
The Parable of the Fig Tree
The next comment in the Olivet discourse, which is included in all three synoptic gospels, is the parable of the fig tree. “When the fig tree’s branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:32-35).
The fig tree is often figuratively used to represent Israel. In this parable, many scholars believe the budding fig tree represents the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 or the repossession of Jerusalem in 1967. However, some believe it is only an illustration, such as Dr. Fruchtenbaum. “The real point of this passage is that the fig tree is being used literally as an illustration, not as a symbol for Israel. This is clearly seen in verse 29 of the Luke passage, which reads Behold the fig tree, and all the trees. If the fig tree represents Israel, what, then, do all the other trees represent? If they refer to other nations, and since a number of nations have risen – and keep rising – since 1948, then when would the forty-year (or 70, 80, 100-year) generational countdown really begin? Neither the fig tree nor the other trees are used symbolically to refer to any nation or nations; rather, they are being used literally as an illustration.
The point of the illustration is this: When the fig tree and all the other trees begin to blossom, it is a sure sign that summer is on its way because blossoming occurs in the spring. Then, in the application of the illustration, Jesus said, Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Just as a blossoming fig tree means that summer is on its way, in the same way, when these events that Yeshua spoke about occur, then they can know that His return is near.
But what is it that signals the soon return of the Lord? It is not the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, because Jesus never mentioned that event in this passage. Rather, the event that He was speaking of was the Abomination of Desolation in the newly rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. When the Abomination of Desolation occurs, it will signal the soon return of the Messiah, namely only 3 1/2 years later.
The point of Matthew 24:34 is not that the generation that sees the re-establishment of the Jewish State will still be here at the Second Coming, but rather, the Jewish generation that sees the Abomination of Desolation will still be here at the Second Coming. Verse 34 is intended to be a word of comfort in light of the worldwide attempt at Jewish destruction. It must be kept in mind that the Abomination of Desolation signals Satan’s and the Antichrist’s final attempt to exterminate the Jews. The fact that the Jewish generation will still be here when the Second Coming of the Messiah occurs shows that Satan’s attempt toward Jewish destruction will fail, and the Jewish saints of the second half of the Tribulation can receive comfort from these words.”
Jesus is Near, Even at the Door
It’s interesting that Matthew 24:33 can read, “In the same way, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the door,” in many English translations. To me, this one-word change (from ‘it’ to ‘he’) changes the context of this verse, especially when it’s used with the door. Jesus said,
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:9).
”Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Most scholars believe these verses are Rapture related.
I believe the parable of the fig tree is a divider between the two comings (parousia) of Christ at the end of the age. The fig tree parable divides the preceding Second Coming verses (Matthew 24:27-31) from the following Rapture verses (Matthew 24:36-51). Just as Jesus answered the disciple’s questions out of order, so did he describe the two comings of Christ out of chronological order.
But of that Day and Hour No One Knows
After the parable of the fig tree comes this statement from Jesus. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Within premillennial and pretribulation circles, the majority view today is that this passage is speaking of the Second Coming rather than the Rapture. The main reason is that Jesus has been speaking about the Second Coming and since this passage follows that discussion then, logically, it would mean that He is speaking of the same thing.
However as Dr. Fruchtenbaum observes in his book, The Footsteps of the Messiah, “Matthew 24:36 begins with the word ”But,” which in Greek is peri de. The peri de construction in Greek is a contrastive introduction of a new subject; hence, it is often translated as: But concerning (I Cor. 7:1; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1; I Thes. 5:1). The use of this construction points to the introduction of a new subject. So, yes, He has been discussing the Second Coming until this point. However, the peri de means that He is now introducing a new subject, and that is the Rapture. As to the question of when the Rapture will occur, the answer is simple: no one knows. This is not true of the Second Coming of the Messiah, which will someday be a datable event; it will occur exactly seven years after the signing of the seven-year covenant and 3 1/2 years – 42 months or 1,260 days – after the Abomination of Desolation.”
Dissecting Matthew 24:36-51
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:36-51).
I believe the “day” in verse 36 is referring to the day of the Lord, otherwise known as Jacob’s Trouble, the Tribulation, Daniel’s 70th seven, and other terms. The exact phrase, “day of the Lord’ is used 28 times in the Old Testament and five times in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, this terminology is always referred to as a time of judgment and punishment by God against ungodly sinners who worship false gods. The day of the Lord can refer to the actual day (24 hours) of the Second Coming or the entire 7 years of the Tribulation. Thus far, the “day of the Lord” is what Jesus has been talking about in his Olivet discourse.
There has been no mention of a Rapture (harpazo – caught up) up to this point. Can you imagine the poor disciples trying to grasp the concept of a future group of dead and still-living “saints” (believers) being caught up into the sky and transported to heaven (they didn’t even know about heaven at this point, only Paradise/Abraham’s Bosom) before the remaining seven years of Daniel’s 70th seven began?
Did the disciples even realize that Jesus’ death came at the 69th “seven” of Daniel’s 70 sevens prophecy? They could barely understand that Jesus was going to be killed and then resurrected back to life. They didn’t even fully understand His coming again to set up His millennial kingdom or the timing of such. How could Jesus add to their confusion by revealing the mystery of the Rapture at this time? However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t mention it to them for future remembrance, as we will see.
What many Christians don’t understand is that the “day of the Lord” starts with the Rapture of the Church. It isn’t just the seven-year Tribulation. It also encompasses Jesus’ coming in the sky at the Rapture and Jesus’ Second Coming to the earth before His millennial kingdom begins. These are the two bookends of the day of the Lord. Whether this duration is for seven or ten years (as one example), we don’t know.
The long-time president of Dallas Theological Seminary and one of the most prominent evangelical scholars and biblical prophecy experts of his generation, John F. Walvoord, had this to say on the subject: “How does the Coming of Christ for his church relate itself to the Day of the Lord which precedes the second coming of Christ by a number of years? This Day of the Lord will come suddenly and unexpectedly. What is the point? The point is that just as the translation (rapture) of the church is the end of the day of grace, it also marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord. In other words, the one event seems to do two things: it serves as the closing of one day and the beginning of the other.”
The Typology of the Day and Hour
The words “hour” and “day” in the Bible can be used literally, as “60 minutes” and “24 hours,” but sometimes they are used figuratively as an indeterminant duration of time. For example, a day can refer to a year and an hour usually refers to a short period of time. An “hour” is even used once for the Tribulation in 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.” Likewise, there are three instances in the New Testament where the words “the day of the Lord Jesus” are used in reference to the Rapture: 1 Corinthians 1:6-8, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5, and 2 Corinthians 1:13-14.
Here is an example of the word “day” used typologically (in conjunction with Mr. Walvoord’s statement above). Day 1 is the age of Grace. It started with the giving of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost (the start of the Church) and will end with the Rapture of the saints (the end of the Church). Day 2 is the Day of the Lord. It will start with the Rapture and will end with the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth. Day 3 consists of the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords over all the nations of the earth.
This Old Testament passage in Hosea could be a prophecy referring to this “three-day” typology. “Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he has torn, and he will heal us, he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 6:1-3).
In Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, I believe the “day” is a typology for the longer period of time, namely the seven-year Tribulation (cumulating with the Second Coming). The hour is a typology for the shorter period of time, namely the Rapture. Just as the (first) hour is the first part of a 24-hour day, so is the Rapture the first part of the day of the Lord. You could extend this typology further by assigning each “hour” of the 24 hours in a “day” an end-time event. The Rapture is the first hour, the time gap between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation is the 2nd hour, the 21 judgments of God (the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments) would be the 3rd through the 23rd hours, and the 24th hour would be the time between the last bowl judgment and the short period of time before Jesus begins His millennial kingdom (possibly 30–75 days per Daniel 12:11-12).
With this concept of the Rapture in view, let’s now review the remaining passages in Matthew 24. In verses 37-39, the flood is definitely a typology of the Tribulation. ”But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” The flood came and took all the God-rejecting unbelievers away. In other words, the flood killed them. The flood was the result of the wrath of God, the Antediluvian’s Tribulation.
The ark represents Jesus and the rapture of the saints, for it snatches (harpazo) Noah and his family away from the jaws of death. Once Noah’s family (which represents God’s church family) entered the ark they were saved before the tribulation of the great flood came. Although the world was extremely wicked, the antediluvians were still going about their lives in a normal manner, doing the basics such as eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage until the flood took them away. It appears that Jesus is placing his emphasis on how normal it was before the flood instead of how evil it was. You have to ask yourself, “why?”
If Matthew 24:38-39 would have said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days of the flood, the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be,” then I would agree this coming of Christ would be the Second Advent and not the Rapture. Notice there is no mention of Noah’s ark in this scenario (which is a typology of the Rapture), only the continuous evil of the times, which is comparable to the days before the Second Coming.
Before the Rapture and subsequent Tribulation (the two end-time comings of Christ), life is basically normal with people eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage. Although people will still be doing these daily activities before the Second Coming, life will be far from normal. They will just be trying to survive. The unbelieving sinners of Noah’s day did not believe the flood was coming, although they had been warned. They chose not to board the ark. Likewise, the unbelieving sinners who live before the coming of the Son of Man will choose not to accept Jesus as Christ and will miss the Rapture. “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4).
Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36 accurately describe the “left behind” scenes occurring all over the world at the Rapture. Now, look at Matthew 24:42. “Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” Why do you suppose Jesus said “hour” instead of “day” or even “day and hour” as he did before? I really don’t think he is talking about an hour in a 24-hour day. He is referring to the symbolic hour of the Rapture, which will occur before the seven-year Tribulation.
The Hour of the Thief in the Night
The next words of Jesus are: “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into” (Matthew 24:43). What is Jesus talking about here? He is comparing the Rapture to a thief in the night. This same terminology is used again by Paul in 1 Thessalonians. “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). The first part of the day of the Lord is the hour of the Rapture. It will come unexpectantly like a thief in the night.
Is it a coincidence that 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, regarding the day of the Lord, immediately follows the chapter in 1 Thessalonians 4, which is one of the two main passages describing the Rapture of the Church? “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). So, there you have the sequence of end-time events. First, the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and then the Tribulation in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.
The next verse in Matthew’s version of the Olivet Discourse is: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). There is that word “hour” again…Jesus coming at an hour that you do not expect is the Rapture, not the Second Coming. Whereas the Rapture’s date is unknowable, the Second Coming of the Messiah will someday be a datable event; it will occur exactly seven years after the signing of the seven-year covenant and 3 1/2 years – 42 months or 1,260 days – after the Abomination of Desolation.
Watch and Be Ready
Here is how Dr. Fruchtenbaum describes Jesus’ exhortation to “watch and to be ready:” “There is also the supplication in Matthew 24:43-44, Mark 13:35, and Luke 21:34-36 to watch for the purpose of escaping the Tribulation. Throughout the Olivet Discourse, to watch means, “to be ready.” Watching is the equivalent of readiness, and readiness is equivalent to salvation. So the means of escaping the Tribulation is by means of salvation. Only those who accept the Messiah before the Rapture of the Church can be ready and watching.
Luke gives two reasons for watching: first, so that believers may escape all these things that shall come to pass during the Tribulation. What Luke states in verse 35 should not be missed. He points out that the Tribulation will come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. In other words, no one living on the earth can escape the effects of the Tribulation. It will fall upon all earth-dwellers. In verse 36, Luke also states there is a possibility to escape all these things that shall come to pass. This possibility is not if one is on the earth. Hence, to escape all these things, one must be off the earth. The second reason for watching is so that the believer might stand before the Son of Man in Heaven. This will be the result of the Rapture: we stand before the Son of Man and by standing before Him, we escape all these things. Both of these things can only be accomplished by the Rapture, and that is why to watch is to be saved.”
The Parable of the Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant
Now, let’s look at the closing passage of Matthew’s version of the Olivet Discourse with the hour of the Rapture in mind. This is a parable called the faithful servant and the evil servant. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming (Rapture), and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour (Rapture) that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51). (this authors emphasis and text in parenthesis added)
Of course, this same “hour” is also mentioned in the other synoptic gospels as well, specifically Mark 13:32 and Luke 12:39,40,46. It is also found in the Book of John. “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:25-29).
The first part of verse 25, “the hour is coming,” refers to the future resurrection at the Rapture. The second part of verse 25, “and now is,” refers to the time after the crucifixion, when Jesus and many saints were brought back to life. They became the first fruits of the dead in Christ to be resurrected (Matthew 27:52-53). It’s interesting that Jesus used the word “hour” instead of “day” in this passage of scripture. The next hour mentioned in verse 28 encompasses all of the different resurrections that will occur. They include those who have done good: Jesus and the first fruits, the Church at the Rapture, Old Testament saints, and Tribulation martyrs. This hour is also referring to the resurrection of the unbelievers, those who have done evil, that occurs after the Millennium, at the great white throne judgment.
Jesus’ Discussions with the Disciples regarding the Rapture
Even though the Lord never gave a clear teaching on the Rapture of the Church, he did mention it briefly outside the Olivet discourse a few times in the gospels. “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:3-35). These are clear hints that the Church will be delivered from the end-times judgment by the pre-tribulation Rapture. The only time we will be worthy to stand before the Son of Man in His glorified state is at the Rapture when we are in our new glorified bodies that resemble His.
The clearest hint or mention of the Rapture is found in the gospel book of John. I believe the very first mention of the Rapture is in John, chapter 11. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). This is a tremendous statement that I am certain the disciples didn’t fully understand. It is describing the two stages of the Rapture. “Though he may die, he shall live” is describing the dead in Christ being raised from the dead to everlasting life. “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” is describing those believers who are alive at the time of the Rapture. They/we will never die but will be raised to glory in Christ Jesus. We are part of the first fruits of the LORD.
The next mention of the Rapture is found in John 14, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). This is not a Second Coming passage but a Rapture passage. Jesus is saying if you believe in Him, He will come one day and receive you/us unto Himself and take you/us to His home in heaven. Once again, I am certain the disciples didn’t fully understand Jesus’ words.
Although Jesus referred to the Rapture in several of the gospels, he didn’t expound upon it or teach his disciples fully about it. The apostles were both emotionally and theologically unprepared to receive this revelation at this time. It would be left up to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles to give a clear and detailed teaching of the Rapture. However, the disciples would eventually remember the words of Jesus, including his teachings on the Mount of Olives.
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe” (John 14:25-29).
“Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45).
The Jews have always required a sign before they would believe (1 Corinthians 1:22). Jesus’ disciples were no different. The disciples wanted to know what would be the sign of Jesus’ coming back to the earth to set up His kingdom. What supernatural sign from God would be greater than the Rapture of the Church (consisting of both Gentiles and Jews)? How’s that for a sign? If millions of people from around the world disappear all of a sudden (in the blinking of an eye) on a particular day and hour, minute, and second; and you are not one of them, you had better come to the conclusion that this is a supernatural sign from God. He wants those left behind (both Jews and Gentiles) to know that the end is near and Jesus is coming again, just as the Bible says. This time He will not come for salvation, but for judgment.
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” – (Luke 21:36).
Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!