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Chapter 5:

The Red Moon Rapture

"The Rapture" is a term that describes the moment when Jesus Christ will return to the atmosphere above the earth to snatch His believers off of the face of the earth, to take them with Him back to heaven. Jesus promised us that He would one day do this, and His promise was recorded in John 14:1-3,

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

God the Father lives in heaven and Jesus said that He would go there to prepare a place for us. Then He promised that He would come back and take us to live with Him there. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that when Jesus comes back for the living believers He would also gather all of the dead believers, and that this resurrection would immediately precede the rapture,

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."

The Greek word for "caught up" is the word harpazo, which is translated as rapturo in the Latin Vulgate Bible. That is how the "catching up" of believers into heaven has come to be known as the rapture. In an earlier letter, in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Paul had written that the change that takes place at the rapture would take place suddenly and be completed in a split-second,

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ "

The main point of these texts is that Jesus and Paul clearly predicted that the Messiah would return and gather up all of His faithful believers, living and dead, and take them back to live with Him in heaven. Jesus described this "Rapture" of living believers off of the earth within a talk He gave to His disciples on the Mount of Olives. His words have been preserved in Matthew 24:36-42 and Luke 17:26-35,

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed… I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."

The rapture will occur when no one is expecting it. People will be living as normal: working, partying, buying and selling, planting and building. It is also very important to note that believers and non-believers will be interacting with each other, living, working and even sleeping together when the rapture occurs. This is a description of life prior to the implementation of the infamous Mark of the Beast, which will act to separate believers from unbelievers in a very definite manner.

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth will come at a known day, precisely at the end of the 70th Week of Daniel. The Second Coming of Jesus will put an end to the Antichrist’s reign of terror, and limit it to exactly forty-two months. The day that Jesus returns to the earth will not be a secret. Believers during the Tribulation will be able to mark it on the calendar, and the Antichrist will anticipate it by gathering the armies of the world to fight against Jesus in the valley of Armageddon in Israel. 1  The visible Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth will occur on a known day, but the day when Jesus invisibly returns to the earth’s atmosphere to gather His believers up, to take them back to heaven, will occur on an unknown day. When Jesus comes to gather His believers He will not set foot upon the earth, but when He returns to establish His thousand-year era of peace He will set foot on the earth, standing on the Mount of Olives to battle the forces of the Antichrist. 2

The predictions of the coming of the rapture are similar to the predictions of the coming of the Day of the Lord. Both are predicted to come suddenly and unexpectedly to those who are not paying attention. Jesus speaks of this also within His talk that He gave on the Mount of Olives long ago, as recorded in Luke 21:34-36,

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Jesus said that His faithful believers would escape the "Day" that will come upon the earth. In the previous passages He compared this "Day" to the destruction that came at the time of the flood and at the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Paul seems to follow along with this comparison when he predicted that the Day of the Lord would be preceded by "peace and safety," and that it would begin with "sudden destruction." At the time of Noah and Lot people were experiencing peace and safety, and then after Noah and Lot were protected, the judgments came with "sudden destruction." The future Day of the Lord will come with terrible and sudden destruction initially, and then seven years later at the Second Coming it will result in the complete annihilation of the wicked, just as the wicked were completely destroyed in the flood and in Sodom and Gomorrah. Here is the passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9, in which Paul describes the coming of the Day of the Lord, giving the promise that God’s faithful believers will be protected from that terrible Day,

"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul also writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 that believers wait for "…Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."

Paul tells us that we will not suffer the wrath that will come with the Day of the Lord and all of its terrible judgments. That wrath is reserved for the unbelievers who exist in darkness. "They will not escape," but according to Paul and according to Jesus, believers will escape that Day, and be taken to heaven to "stand before the Son of Man." Revelation 3:10 also contains a similar promise,

"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth."

For enduring patiently believers will be kept from the hour of trial that will come to test humanity. This hour of trial is intimately related to the judgments of the Day of the Lord and also to the deception of the Antichrist described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12,

"And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."

The great deception of the Antichrist will be a major test for humanity, but it is not something that believers will have to contend with. It will come after the Day of the Lord begins and it will be directed at those who "refuse to love the truth and so be saved." Faithful believers will be "kept from" this hour of trial.

The rapture will be one of the most amazing events to ever happen to this world. Millions of people will appear to vanish into thin air as their bodies are changed and they are taken up to meet the Lord in the air. It will be eclipsed perhaps only by the visible return of Jesus at the end of the Day of the Lord. At that time He will come back with His previously resurrected and raptured saints to save Israel and the other few remaining tribulation believers from the Antichrist and his wicked followers.

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Jesus and Paul make it clear that God’s believers will be rescued from the Day of the Lord at the rapture. Let us now turn to the book of Revelation to examine the evidence that shows that God’s believers are indeed raptured from the earth immediately prior to the Day of the Lord which, as we have shown, begins as a result of the breaking of the sixth seal. Here is the passage that is important to our study, from Revelation 6:9 to 7:17,

"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

"I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"

"After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel…

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Now we will examine the evidence that exists within this passage that shows that the rapture occurs at the opening of the sixth seal, and that the Church, Jesus Christ’s body of believers, are shown in heaven as the "great multitude."

The Resurrection and Rapture

Prior to the opening of the sixth seal John views the opening of the fifth seal, after which he sees the souls of the martyrs as they exist under the altar in heaven, and he hears them cry out for the judgment of the earth. Then John watches as they are given a gift of white robes. This gift signals a transition, and the robes are given either as an indication of, or in preparation for, their resurrection. After they receive their white robes then Jesus will open the sixth seal and then enter the earth’s atmosphere to rapture the living believers off of the earth to save them from the catastrophes that will quickly befall the earth. Living believers will then meet the resurrected believers in the air as Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18. This will happen in the twinkling of an eye, at the same time as the initial sixth-seal events take place.

No Believers Present

The wrath of the Day of the Lord begins with a great shaking of the earth, and the people respond to this by crying out in fear saying, "the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" This is the wrath that believers have been promised to be rescued from, and from the description of the earth at this time we can be assured that no believers are present, and that they were raptured immediately beforehand.

Revelation records that "the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man" reacts in chaos and terror and expresses fear at the wrath of God. This list includes every single person on the face of the earth, because every man is either a free man or a slave. This reaction is not one that a believer would make. Every believer possesses inside Him a knowledge that Paul referred to as "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding." 3  If there were a believer present at the moment of the initial shaking of the earth then he or she would not react as these people do, and they would not feel personally threatened by God Almighty. This is evidence that when God shakes the earth after the opening of the sixth seal there are no believers present.

The Firstfruits from an Unbelieving World

After the events of the sixth seal have passed an angel appears from the east and says that before the four angels harm the land, sea or trees, a special group of saints must be sealed. The four angels who harm the land, sea and trees are the four angels who will soon blow the first four trumpets. The first causes fire upon the earth and the trees, the second causes a plague on the sea, the third causes a plague on the earth’s fresh water, and the fourth causes a darkness upon the earth, undoubtedly harming the environment. These angels are told to pause and to wait for the sealing of a group of 144,000 saints. These saints are described as coming from the twelve tribes of Israel, and they are described in Revelation 14:4-5 as those "who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless."

The term "firstfruits" only makes sense once it is understood that this group represents the first people who come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in the aftermath of the Rapture, which leaves the earth momentarily without any believers. The 144,000 will be saved after the Divine shaking of the earth in a manner probably very similar to Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Jesus will reach out and make Himself known to them and they will be saved and given the "seal of the living God" upon their foreheads.

The Signs of a Resurrection

The Resurrection that comes prior to the end-times Day of the Lord is not the first mass resurrection of souls. The first group resurrection occurred almost 2000 years ago at the moment when Christ died upon the cross, as recorded in Matthew 27:45, 50-53,

"From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land… And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people."

The two signs that occurred near the time of this resurrection were an earthquake and a strange darkness upon all the land. Here is what occurs prior to the Day of the Lord in Revelation,

"I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair…"

This is the sign of a resurrection. Other signs at this time will be a blood red moon and a shower of falling stars. The Day of the Lord will then begin after the darkened sun and blood red moon (according to Joel 2:31), when God causes the catastrophic shaking of the earth.

Jesus compared the time of the rapture to the days of Noah’s flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. In both cases the judgment came on the same day that God’s faithful were protected. For this reason we can reasonably conclude that there will be no more than twenty-four hours between the Rapture with the accompanying cosmic signs, and the shaking of the earth which marks the beginning of God’s wrath. This is a short period of time during which the Antichrist might also be publicly revealed prior to the actual beginning of the Day of the Lord, as predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3.

The Transition Becomes Complete

Prior to the sixth seal the souls of martyred believers are shown in heaven existing underneath the altar, and at first they exist there without white robes. Then they are given white robes which signals that a transition is taking place. The resurrection and rapture will be accompanied by the initial cosmic signs of the sixth seal. The end result of that transition is shown in heaven after the sixth seal events have concluded, when we are shown a scene of a great multitude of believers who stand in front of the throne and in front of Jesus Christ, all of them wearing white robes. Certainly the change from existing under the altar to standing in front of the throne, and from at first not possessing white robes to finally wearing white robes, is evidence of a profound transition, a transition that can only be explained as the rapture and resurrection.

Remember the promise that Jesus made to those who are faithful to Him?

"Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

The great multitude is the fulfillment of that promise. They are shown in heaven having escaped the Day of the Lord and they stand before the Son of Man. 4

The Great Multitude are God’s Raptured and Resurrected Saints

There are also a great many more reasons for believing that the great multitude of saints described in Revelation 7:9-17 are indeed the benefactors of the promises made by God to His Church that He will keep them from the earth’s hour of trial, from His wrath and from the Day of the Lord:

1- This group of believers appears to come into heaven all at once. The rapture of God’s faithful will be the only time a great multitude of believers appear in heaven at the very same time, because the souls of dead believers come into heaven one by one.

2- They are so numerous that no man can number them. They must be a large multitude indeed because the 144,000 are numbered, and elsewhere in Revelation an army of 200 million is numbered. The rapture and resurrection will likely be even larger.

3- In Revelation 5:11 the twenty-four elders mention that the death of the Lamb purchased men for God "…from every tribe and language and people and nation." This is a description of the true Church, God’s faithful believers who are promised to be rescued at the Rapture. The great multitude is described in a similar manner as being "…from every nation, tribe, people and language."

4- They appear in heaven as living believers. Nowhere are they described as being simply souls of dead believers. Souls are kept in temporary holding areas such as under the altar, yet the great multitude serves in the temple of heaven before the throne of God. John, the disciple who viewed these events, easily recognized the souls of dead believers at the fifth seal, yet he fails to immediately understand who the great multitude is.

5- Revelation 7:15 (KJV) mentions that "…He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them." It is God the Father who is sitting on the throne. This is the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made in John 14:1-3 that He would come again and take us to His Father’s house that we might live with Him and His Father in heaven for a time. This promise only applies to believers of this present age. If you become a believer after the rapture then you will never "dwell" in heaven with the Father. You will have to wait until after the millenium to live with the Father but it will not be in heaven, it will be on earth.5 The souls of the believers who die during the Day of the Lord will be kept in heaven, but they will not be "living" or "dwelling" with God the Father. If this were the case then Jesus would have simply said in John 14, "When you die then you will go to my Father’s house to live with Him." This is not the case. Jesus clearly connects living or dwelling with the Father in heaven to the rapture and His coming for His believers. Only after the rapture/resurrection will believers be living in heaven with Jesus and the Father. Therefore the fact that the great multitude dwells with and serves God the Father in heaven is evidence that they are those who were raptured prior to the Day of the Lord.

6- 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is a promise that believers will be kept from the Day of the Lord, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The appearance of this great multitude in heaven is the fruition of that promise and when they appear in heaven these saints cry out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

7- Another group is mentioned in Revelation 19:1-3 and 6-8. They are also described as a "great multitude" and they also shout "Salvation and glory and power belong to our God…" Here at the end of the Day of the Lord this group praises God and says, "For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." This fine linen is a reference to the white robes that the great multitude were wearing upon entering heaven after the sixth seal. Those who are wearing these white garments are referred to as the "bride" of the Lamb, a clear reference to God’s true Church. It is described as a great multitude and this is the very same great multitude that is first shown in heaven after the sixth seal.

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"Out of the Great Tribulation"

The term "Great Tribulation" is a highly debated prophetic term. Some scholars believe, based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:21, that the great tribulation can only refer to the time of tribulation of the last half of the 70th Week of Daniel after the abomination of desolation is set up in the Temple. This theory divides the end-times tribulation into two halves, referring to the first half of the 70th Week as simply the "Tribulation," and the second half as the "Great Tribulation." However, this division is suspect and conflicts with the other uses of the term "great tribulation" as found in Scripture. In fact, Jesus continued in His discourse to modify His characterization of the time after the abomination as the "greatest" tribulation, because it will be the worst time of distress that the world has ever or will ever see. The time after the abomination should not be viewed specifically and uniquely as the "great tribulation," but rather as the time of "greatest tribulation."

The term "great tribulation" is used to set it apart from the continual "tribulation" that the Church is told it must endure prior to the end-times in a number of Scriptures,

Acts 14:22, "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."

Romans 5:1-3, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience."

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

1 Thessalonians 3:4, "For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know."

2 Thessalonians 1:4, "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure."

Revelation 1:9, "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."

Believers must understand that they will continually face "tribulation" for maintaining and proclaiming their faith. However, the Bible offers no evidence whatsoever that believers must be prepared to enter into the end-times "great tribulation." In fact, the opposite is true.

There are only three instances of the prophetic term "great tribulation" found in the Bible, and they combine to make it clear that the term "great tribulation" is a term that applies to the entire end-times tribulation:

1. Matthew 24:15-21, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place… Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains… For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."

2. Revelation 2:20-22, "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds."

The above passage is part of the message Jesus gave to the Church at Thyatira. Jesus makes a warning to the wicked people who are associated with this Church, saying that unless they repent they will be cast into "great tribulation." This warning goes hand in hand with the promise that He gave to the Church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10,

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

Thyatira receives a warning and the wicked are told that they will be cast into great tribulation unless they repent, while Philadelphia receives a promise that the righteous will be kept from the hour of trial. It stands to reason then that believers will not be cast into great tribulation and the wicked will have to face the hour of trial. If believers are forced to enter into the great tribulation then Jesus makes a completely hollow threat to the wicked at Thyatira when He says, "repent, or you will be cast into great tribulation." Why make the threat if everyone is to be cast into great tribulation anyway?

The final use of the term "great tribulation" is used in reference to the great multitude that appears in heaven after being raptured at the opening of the sixth seal,

3. Revelation 7:13-14, "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

Many scholars believe that the great multitude is a group that has endured a portion of the great tribulation prior to appearing in heaven, but that is not the case. The end-times "great tribulation" is initiated by the breaking of the sixth seal, which unleashes a series of events that culminate with the shaking of the heavens and the earth that marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord. Jesus opens the sixth seal that initiates these events, but then He quickly leaves heaven and enters the earth’s atmosphere to rapture His believers off of the face of the earth "in the twinkling of an eye."

The Greek words that are translated in English as "came out of" from the passage, "These are they which came out of great tribulation," are the words erchomai ek. This phrase can also be translated as "came away from," giving an entirely different impression of the relationship that the great multitude has with the great tribulation. This group is not a group that has experienced any of the great tribulation, but is rather a group that was rescued away from it right as it was beginning.

The great multitude is the benefactor of the promise to the righteous of the Church at Philadelphia to be "kept from" the hour of trial, which is translated in Greek as tereo ek. The great multitude is "kept from" the hour of trial by being taken "out of," or "away from" (erchomai ek) the great tribulation right as it begins. That is how the rapture is always described. It is a rescue according to Paul, and an escape according to Jesus. Consider again the words of Jesus in Luke 21:34-36, and how the great multitude is an exact fulfillment of His promise,

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

The great multitude is then described as a group that has come "out of" or "away from" the great tribulation, and they stand before the Son of Man, as shown after the sixth seal in Revelation 7:9,13-14

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands… Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’"

The great multitude is a group that has escaped the great tribulation. They do not endure through any part of it, but are rescued right when it begins immediately after the opening of the sixth seal in heaven. Recall that Jesus compared the rapture to the rescue of Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 6  The rescue of Lot is described in Genesis 19:29,

"And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt." KJV

Here we have a very similar phrase, but the result is the same. Both the great multitude and Lot are shown having been rescued from God’s wrath in the nick of time, seemingly coming "out of" the catastrophe right as it commenced. Consider again the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, regarding the coming of the Day of the Lord,

"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ…"

After the sixth seal is opened in Revelation the people of the earth cry out,

"…hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

This is followed by a picture of the Church in heaven, that was raptured and kept from the wrath of God that struck the earth. Their cries directly reflect the promise that Paul gave to the Church,

"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."

The Church will be rescued much like one would be rescued away from the path of a runaway train, rescued right as the end-times tribulation begins with a bang.

 

Footnotes

1. Joel 3:9-12, Psalm 2:1-5, Revelation 16:12-16 and 19:19

2. Zechariah 14:4

3. Philippians 4:7

4. The twenty-four elders are shown sitting during a time when Jesus cannot be found.

5. Revelation 21:1-3

6. Luke 17:28-29

 

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