Question: Who comes first, Jesus or Antichrist?
Answer: The next main event that will take place at any moment is the “Rapture” of the Church. We believe that the Bible teaches us this event will take place at the beginning of the time called the “Tribulation.” There are many fine Christians that believe it will happen at the mid-point or the end of the Tribulation, but the weight of Scripture, in my opinion, is on the view point of the Rapture happening at any moment.
Look at 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [reference to death of the body], 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.”
Then, 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 says “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (their spirit is in heaven but their body is in the grave). 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 (they that have died get a glorified body like Jesus’ body a split second before us that are being ‘caught up’).
“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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Jesus said in John 14: 1-4, before He went to the cross, “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. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Also, Revelation 4: 1 says, “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.'” In the book of Revelation the first three chapters are about the Church Age, and then when it is taken to heaven, while the rest of the book is about what happens after the Rapture of the Church.
John was told by Jesus to write about the things that he had seen (about Jesus’ first coming), things that were taking place in the Church, and future events after the Church goes to heaven. Revelation 1: 17b-19 “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forever more. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
After we are taken to heaven, we are to stand before Christ to be given our rewards for the good deeds we did in our life time, according to 2 Corinthians 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (Also Romans 2: 16; 14: 10; 1 Corinthians 3: 12-15)
Meanwhile back down on earth the Tribulation is starting. We pick up the story first in Daniel 9: 24-27. Let’s just quote verse 27 here: “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
What this is talking about is the time the imposter messiah (called the Antichrist, because he is against the real Christ) makes a covenant with the Jewish nation for a seven year period. You see the first part of, Daniel 9: 24-27, is about the 69 years that have taken place before this time. These years are referred to as weeks; there are 69 weeks that represent the time of the return of Israel to its land after captivity. They represent the time of Christ’s birth, then His death and resurrection.
After that it talks about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70A.D. by the Roman leader Titus. The point it makes though is that there is only one week of prophecy left to fulfill.
There is an interval of the Church Age between the 69th week when the true Messiah was “cut off” (crucified), rejected by Israel as their King and the 70th week (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Revelation 4-19) are about this week of prophecy (seven years). There are also many, many Old Testament passages that speak of this time. Since this is a summary study we cannot go into them at this time. You will want to study, to start with, Ezekiel 38, Joel 3, and Zechariah 14.
You will need to read 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-10 to see the Church Age perspective. In verse 7 it says: “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” We believe this is speaking about the Holy Spirit in the Church as the Church is taken to heaven. (Not that the Holy Spirit will not be on the earth during the Tribulation, but the influence the Church is having on the World as the “Salt” and “Light” will be taken out of the way so the false messiah can be revealed.) In other words, the Tribulation will not start until we are gone.
Just to give you an overview of the Tribulation, let me say first off it will be worse trouble for the world than it has ever had other than the flood. A world leader, probably a Jew, because the Jews would not accept him as a messiah unless he was a Jew, will make a treaty with Israel for seven years.
We believe the Rapture of the Church will have already have happened, or will take place right after this signing. This man will seem to be a peaceful man, but he is a deceiver. Behind the scenes he will be doing all sorts of nasty things.
The world will be experiencing real serious problems such as famines, diseases, plagues, and wars, but the “man of sin,” as he is called in Scripture, will claim he can solve all of the world’s problems. Many people will believe him, and want to make him their world leader. The world will have a one-world government, and a one-world religion. The one-world religion will be the result of the disappearance of all the born again believers in the churches, so the only ones that are left are non-believers.
These non-believers will form together to make up a world religion, no doubt, like the Humanism Religion or Baha’i Faith. Their leader will also support the false christ and his government. Revelation 13: 11-18 says he will be able to do lying wonders, or so-called miracles, such as causing fire to come down from heaven, and making an image live and speak.
He will force people to worship the beast (Antichrist), and his image, or they will be killed. He is the one that forces a mark to be put on everyone who worships the false messiah. We are not told what the mark on people will be, but the number 666 has something to do with this false messiah. People will know what they are doing when they take the mark, because they have been warned by God in several ways.
There will be 144,000 “Jews for Jesus” that will be preaching during this time, Revelation 7: 4-8, 14: 1-5. These evangelists for Jesus as Messiah cannot be killed. There will also be two prophets that are prophesying in Israel. These people can be killed after they are finished prophesying. They will rise again, however, and ascend into heaven, according to Revelation 11: 3-12. Along with these witnesses there are three angels that preach to the whole world, as foretold in Revelation 14: 6-12.
At this time, the Jews have rebuilt their temple, and have started to sacrifice again. Halfway through the seven years the Antichrist will stop the sacrifices to God of heaven. He then will go into the temple and stand up and say he is God, and that everyone is forced to worship him. If people will not take his mark on their forehead or hand they cannot buy or sell. When they will not worship him, he will have them beheaded, as shown in Matthew 24: 15-22 or Revelation 13.
At this point all “hell” breaks loose “so-to-speak.” The rest of the “Great Tribulation,” as it is called, is beyond your wildest imagination, if you read Acts 2: 19-21. During this time the nations of the world attack Israel and the Antichrist. Israel will be attacked in a terrible way. There will be all sorts of “bowl” judgments that the holy angels are pouring out on the earth. These cause similar things to happen in those days that took place in Egypt when Moses was sent to deliver the Jews the first time. However, this time the whole earth is affected by the plagues!
During this time up in heaven “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19: 8, 9 After this we are allowed to come back with Christ and be part of the Second Coming, as it says in Revelation 19: 11-21. You will want to read also Daniel 12, Matthew 24: 15-25: 46, Mark 13: 14-37, Luke 21: 20-36.
There are differences between the Rapture of the Church and Christ’s Second Coming. We meet Christ in the “air” in the Rapture. Christ’s 2nd coming is to the “earth” as king, where we will reign with Him. The Rapture is at the beginning of the Tribulation, and the 2nd coming is at the end of the Tribulation. At the 2nd coming unbelievers are taken away into judgment, Matthew 24: 40, 41.
The two are similar in that no one knows the day or the hour, Matthew 24: 42. They are different in that the Rapture is secret, but the Second Coming is such that every eye will see Christ as He comes back. Believers will be ready, but for unbelievers the 2nd Coming will be a surprise to them, Revelation 16: 15. The reason it is a surprise is because they do not believe the Bible is true, nor do they believe there was a flood, nor do they believe in the creation of the world, according to 2 Peter 3: 3-6.
At this point Satan is locked up for a 1000 years, as stated in Revelation 20: 1-3. The Old Testament saints are raised from the dead, in Daniel 12: 1-3. Their spirits have been in heaven, but their bodies have been sleeping in their graves, according to Luke 16: 19-31. Also those believers who were beheaded during the Tribulation will be given new bodies (Revelation 20: 4-5).
To see what happens in the 1000 years look at Revelation 20; Isaiah 2, 65; Micah 4,5; and many other Old Testament passages. People will live in peace, and Christ will rule and reign this world the way it should be ruled. However, at the end of this time in a perfect environment, most of the people in the world rebel against Christ. The reason for this is because Satan is allowed out of his prison to give people the opportunity of choice. He deceives many, as he did a third of the angels in heaven before. Then he is finished, and once and for all cast into the Lake of Fire forever, Revelation 20: 7-10, Matthew 25:41. God will bring fire from heaven, and those who chose to go with Satan will spend eternity with him.
At this point the Great White Throne Judgment takes place. The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, according to Revelation 21: 8, will have to pay for every sin they have committed because God has kept a record. They will be given different degrees of punishment in hell, as shown in Revelation 20: 11-15.
The world was ‘destroyed’ by water the first time, but the second time it will be destroyed by fire, according to 2 Peter 3: 10-13. Every reminder of sin will be destroyed. All the tanks for war, all the pornography, all the houses of sin, etc. will be done away with! Then God recreates the heavens and the earth, as shown in Revelation 21, 22.
We look forward to the time when Satan will no longer be allowed to tempt us or destroy God’s creation. We look forward with great expectation and anticipation to the time we will be forever with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We look forward to the time we will be with our loved ones who knew the Lord before they passed away. We look forward to the time we will be with the holy angels in a perfect place of beauty. A place the Bible says is like the Garden of Eden, even better because we will be made perfect through the blood of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, according to 1 Corinthians 2:9. [Look at our track Will Heaven Be One Eternal Church Service?]
Are you going to this place? You can be going with us believers if you put your trust in Christ’s blood alone to save you. Think about it, pray about it right now! You can be an overcomer, as described in Revelation 21: 7, and inherit all things with us. You can have God as your Father, and you will be His child forever! Write and tell us what your choice is.
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me at [email protected]