The Rapture, The Tribulation And The Millennium

[A] The Rapture
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:7-9).

In these verses we find that the Church is already in Heaven before the Millennial Reign of Christ begins. Therefore we see that a pre-millennial Rapture is not a theory but a fact according to Scripture. The chronology of these references do not make sense with post-millennialism or any other theory.

That the Church is in Heaven is also proven by the fact that there is no break in the flow of the description given between verses 1-6, “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye His servants, and ye that fear Him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”, and verses 7-9. In verse 8 we notice that the “wife” (bride in 21:2) is “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints”. For the saints (believers) to be dressed like this means that their labour on earth is completed.

Verse 14 gives us a further indication that the Church is in Heaven before the Millennium, “And the armies which were in Heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean”. The only ones mentioned that are adorned in this way are the saints / the Church. For this return to earth with Christ, for His actual second coming, we have to agree that the Church must have previously been caught up. In Revelation 17:14 we find another description of the same event, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful”. Called, Chosen, Faithful can only be spoken of the Church of Christ. It should be noticed that He comes with the Church to set up His Millennial Reign.

John calls the pre-millennial Rapture “the first resurrection” for those who “have part” in it will “reign with Him a thousand years” on earth (Revelation 20:6). These saints did not compromise with the world, Satan, Antichrist, or sin, some of whom are said to have been martyred for the cause of Christ before the Rapture, they will be enthroned with Christ.

[Note: I’m arguing this from a pre-wrath Rapture position that sees the Church going through the 3½ years “Tribulation of the saints” but raptured before the wrath of God is poured out in the final 3½ years. This position does not accept the term “Seven Year Tribulation” since Scripture continually portrays the final seven years before the Millennium as being two separate 3½ year periods. If the pre-wrath Rapture teaching is not correct, then the only real alternative is the pre-tribulation Rapture.]

[B] The Tribulation
The Tribulation must come before the Millennial Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ . The Saints that return with Him are already in Heaven as He makes His way back to this earth to reign. Some of these saints are said to have been “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4) and had “come out of great tribulation” (7:14).

ince we know that the earthly reign of the Antichrist is a period of seven years, and that the Lord Jesus will cast him into the Lake of Fire on His return to earth, “The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:20) it has to be acknowledged that the Tribulation and the Wrath of God must come before the Millennium. The Tribulation period is not the same as the “fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (19:15) which is manifested by Christ when He begins His earthly rule.

Basically, all that is described from Revelation 1 – 19:10 takes place before the Millennium. Though the book of Revelation is not entirely chronological we cannot escape the fact that the sequences it depicts must follow a logical order in time. With this in mind it is impossible to have the Tribulation (and Wrath of God) after the seven year reign of Antichrist, and since the Antichrist is on earth before Christ returns to destroy him, then the Tribulation must be before the Millennium. Also, the very fact that some who reign with Christ a thousand years come out of great tribulation again places the Tribulation before the Millennium.

[C] Millennium
The actual 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth begins with His descent from Heaven with His saints, “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” (Revelation 19:11-16). We see in these verses that when He comes the Lord Jesus will reign over all the nations of the earth. This is not ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ of Christmas carols but He which comes with the fierceness and wrath of God. He will not return to save the lost, but to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. The book of Hebrews 9:28 teaches us that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation”.

Revelation 19:17-21 gives us a description of the Battle of Armageddon, “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh”. This battle takes place at the close of the seven year period (chapter 16 informs us that all the demonic spirits will be gathered at Mediggo and will inspire the armies of Antichrist to try to destroy the Lord and His Church as He returns to Jerusalem. The idea here is that the Beast will come to destroy Israel once and for all, but the Lord’s Second Coming will intervene and will consume these armies).

Though many pre-millennial preachers believe that the Marriage Feast of the Lamb occurs in Heaven during the seven years of Antichrist, it seems more likely , and fitting with Scripture, that it will take place during the first seven years of the Millennium. If the Battle of Armageddon is the same as described in Ezekiel 39 then we understand that the weapons will burn “with fire seven years” (:9). Thus the Marriage Feast will probably take place in Jerusalem while the ‘clean-up operation’ is underway. It must be noted though that the Scriptures do not specify a seven year Marriage Feast – this figure is presumed by those who have opted for a pre-trib Rapture, but even if the Rapture is pre-trib it still does not correspond with the actual timing of the Marriage Feast.

During the Battle of Armageddon the Lord Jesus Christ captures the Antichrist and his False Prophet and casts them “alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:21). All other human beings that dared to oppose the Lord will be slain before Him (:22). At this point an angel appears from Heaven with a “great chain” and binds Satan in the Bottomless Pit for the duration of the Millennium (20:1-3). It must be presumed that all the demonic host will be included in this.

Scripture teaches us that Jesus will come to “rule the nations” (19:15) so bringing an end to the “Times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), no longer will Gentile Kings (political leaders) rule over Israel for Jesus will be the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). This Millennial Reign of Christ does not fit with anything that has happened in world history since His ascension. Therefore the Preterist theory of the book of Revelation and the Second Coming of Christ is built upon falsehood and misapplication of Scripture. Though certain Last Days prophecies have been fulfilled as a matter of course, the actual bodily return of Christ to this earth and the Millennium are still future.