Let’s look at a brief outline which will give the chronological order of these events.

  1. The RAPTURE…One of the definitions of the word “rapture” in my American Heritage Dictionary is “the transporting of a person from one place to another.” Though the word itself is not found in Scripture, the thought is clearly indicated in 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17: “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 thus we shall always be with the Lord” (NKJV). The Rapture is a sign-less, imminent event which involves Christ coming FOR His saints to take them home to His Father’s House (which He promised in John 14:2-3). We saw in these verses that the “dead in Christ will rise first” and then living believers will be “caught up together with them.” This means that those who had died will receive their “resurrected bodies” even before they rise, and that living believers will also receive their new glorified bodies. This is confirmed in 1st Corinthians 15:51-53: “Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” What a BLESSED HOPE we have, dear fellow-believer! When the Lord comes to take us home our salvation will be complete, for our bodies will then be redeemed. I would encourage you to read more about what our glorified bodies will be like in 1st Corinthians 15:35-49 and Philippians 3:20-21.
  2. The TRIBULATION…The Tribulation period begins right after the Rapture. A verse that speaks to this is 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.” The Lord keeps believers from the “hour of trial” (the Tribulation Period) by rapturing them to heaven, and then the Tribulation begins.  The Tribulation Period is the 70th week (a “week of 7 years”) of Daniel’s great prophecy (see Daniel 9:24-27). The 69th weeks were fulfilled when Christ was “cut off” (Daniel 9:26) by His crucifixion. Israel was then temporarily set aside and the Church Age began. The prophetic time clock for Israel stopped but once the Church is raptured, the time clock will begin ticking once again. It begins with a 7-year peace treaty between a European leader and the Jews settled in the land of Israel (Daniel 9:27). The Tribulation will be divided into two equal periods of 3 ½ years. The first half is referred to in Scripture as “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8) and the latter half as “the great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21 along with Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1).
  3. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST…After the 7-year Tribulation has been fulfilled; Christ will come to earth (in contrast to the Rapture where Christ only came to the AIR to receive believers to heaven) in power and glory. I would encourage you to read Matthew 24:30, 25:31; 2nd Thessalonians 1:7-8; and Revelation 1:7; 19:11-16. These passages all describe His Second Coming. He is coming to the earth to: 1) Save Israel from destruction (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:13; and Romans 11:26); 2) Judge the living (Acts 17:31; Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 19:17-21); and 3) Set up His kingdom (Matthew 25:31). (235.2)