The answer becomes quite clear once we realize that the Lord Jesus will return twice, and for two different reasons. First, let’s consider the Rapture. Indeed, the stage is set and the Lord could come back at any moment for this. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them IN THE CLOUDS, TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This is what is known as the Rapture. Notice that the Lord does not actually come to the earth. He comes to the clouds, to the air. There, all the saints both living and dead (but resurrected) will meet the Lord. We read more about this event in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” When the Lord comes for His people, to take them home, it will happen so quickly that in the ‘twinkling of an eye’ all believers in the world will be gone! This, indeed, could occur at any moment!

This event is referred to as a “mystery” here. That simply means that the truth of this event had not been given previously, but is now revealed to us. With that in mind, it is important to realize that the Lord Jesus NEVER talked about the Rapture. All of his words concerning His return were in reference to His coming at the end of the Tribulation Period to set up His 1000 year kingdom on the earth.

In Matthew 24:3 we read, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” From verse 4, the Lord speaks of the signs that precede His 2nd coming. For the remainder of the chapter, He speaks of conditions and events that will occur before His return to the earth. This time is known as the Tribulation Period. Let’s consider a few verses speaking of that time:

* Matthew 24:15, “When ye therefore shall see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:).” This event will occur in the middle of the 7 year Tribulation Period.

* Matthew 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” This 7 year period will see such great tribulation. Worse than has ever been seen before.

* Matthew 24:29-30, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” At the end of the Tribulation Period, the Son of man will return with “power and great glory” to reign upon the earth. Notice that they see the Lord “coming in the clouds” but no one goes up to meet Him there. He continues His ascent to the earth as we read in Acts 1:11, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

To learn more about the Lord’s triumphant return to the earth to set up His kingdom, let’s read Revelation 19:11-16, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I hope these portions help you understand that the coming of the Lord really occurs in two parts. The Lord will come FOR his church to take them out of the world. After the 7 year Tribulation period, the Lord will come WITH His church where we will reign with Him during His millennial reign upon the earth.

There is much more that can be said about these events. I encourage you to visit our website: and type “Rapture”, “Tribulation Period” or “Second Coming” into the SEARCH BOX to read more about these events. (259.2)