Entering the Apocalypse:
The early sequence of end-times events
The Chronological Sequence of Revelation
The Ministry of the Two Witnesses
The Benchmark within Revelation
The Beginning of the Day of the Lord
The Magog Invasion
The Red Moon Rapture
The Resurrection of the Dead In Christ
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The Birth of the Antichrist (see AB:8)
The Seventieth Week of Daniel's epic prophecy is the lynchpin of all Biblical end-times prophecies. Placing this seven year period within the book of Revelation creates a chronological map from which the numerous predictions of Jesus and the prophets can be understood.
The current most commonly accepted chronological models of the end times differ chiefly on the placement of the Rapture within the 70th Week of Daniel, but generally agree on the placement of the 70th Week within Revelation. These models, the established Pre-Trib, Pre-Wrath and Post-Trib models are all generally based upon the premise that the start of the 70th Week of Daniel corresponds with the opening of the First Seal of Revelation.
It is this author's opinion that this false premise is one of the main reasons why such heated arguments continue between the three main prophetic camps. Problems are sure to surface within models based on a fallacy, and all three sides have effectively neutralized each other with pointed and accurate objections. The Red Moon Rapture model, developed slowly over the course of five years or more, is a new model that offers an alternative chronology within Revelation. It is a chronology that makes the issue of the timing of the Rapture self-evident and it also brings the events of the early part of the Tribulation much more clearly into focus.
This article will try to explain the evidence for this new chronological model, identify the key Biblical events at the beginning of the tribulation, and identify the Rapture within Revelation and in relation to the 70th Week of Daniel. Finally at the end we will engage in a bit of sensible speculation about how world events could easily be leading us closer to the Biblical apocalypse.
The Chronological Sequence of Revelation
The Red Moon Rapture model depends on a sequential fulfillment of the seven Seals, Trumpets and Bowls that are referred to throughout Revelation. This is the simple idea that Revelation was written in the basic chronological order that it will be fulfilled: first the Seals will be opened one by one, then the Trumpets will be blown one by one, and finally the Bowls will be poured out one by one.
Post-trib models usually view the sixth Seal of Revelation as an event that occurs at the end of the 70th Week, and so these scholars are forced to the puzzling conclusion that the seventh Seal, which brings forth the seven Trumpets, is actually fulfilled prior to the sixth Seal. Most Post-trib models are typified by this chaotic and non-sensical random fulfillment of the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls and with this view the simple chronological reading of Revelation is actually seen as an impediment to our understanding.
Some of the Pre-Wrath models view the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls as being at least partially fulfilled simultaneously, with the seventh of each series being fulfilled simultaneously at the end of the 70th Week. This simultaneous fulfillment of the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls is also fraught with problems, which is why few scholars give it much thought. This leaves us with the only common-sense view regarding the chronology of Revelation, and this is sequential fulfillment.
The sequential fulfillment of the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls of Revelation is reinforced by Revelation itself in a number of areas. The sixth Seal is seen to precede the seventh Seal because of the words of the angel from the east in Revelation 7:3. He holds back the angels who will blow the first four Trumpets to allow for the sealing of the 144,000. Then the seventh Seal is broken, which brings forth the seven Trumpets. The first four Trumpets are judgments which "harm the land and the sea," while the last three are referred to in 8:13 as the three "Woe" judgments. The references to these Woe judgments, in 8:13, 9:12 and 11:14, give strong evidence of sequential fulfillment. The description of the Bowl judgments as the "seven last plagues," also gives support to the sequential fulfillment view as opposed to the random fulfillment or simultaneous fulfillment views. Certainly once the "seven last plagues" are introduced there are no unfulfilled Seal or Trumpet judgments left on the timeline.
For more on this argument please refer to http://www.redmoonrising.com/book3.htm.
The Ministry of the Two Witnesses
The 70th Week of Daniel will be fulfilled on a seven year timeline of 360 days per year. Daniel 9:27 reveals that this seven year period is divided in half by the appearance of the "abomination of desolation." Reinforcing this fact are the many references within Revelation of three-and-a-half year periods of time. Revelation 11:2 refers to 42 months, which is three and a half years, 11:3 to 1260 days which is exactly three and a half years on a 360 day-per-year scale, 12:6 also refers to 1260 days, 12:14 to "a time, times, and half a time" (three and a half years), and 13:5 again refers to a 42-month period.
The most significant references to a three and a half year period are those referring to the Beast of Revelation, also known as the Antichrist, and to the Two Witnesses,
13:5-7, "The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." NIV
11:3-5, "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die."
Both of these opposing forces are "given power" to pursue certain agendas. The Beast is "given power" to conquer the saints and to take over the world, whereas the Two Witnesses are "given power" to speak their message and to destroy the enemies who seek to harm them. Of course the agent giving this power can be none other than God in Heaven and giving the Beast three and a half years to pursue the Satanic agenda may compare with the three and a half years that Jesus Christ was given to pursue His ministry on this earth after His baptism.
Among prophetic scholars it is generally agreed that the forty-two months of the Beast refers to the last half of Daniel's 70th Week, from the time of the takeover of the Temple and the abomination of desolation at the midpoint of the 70th Week, until the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the 70th Week. This conclusion is proven by a number of texts and remains undisputed within the realm of prophetic interpretation.
On the other hand, the timing of the ministry of the Two Witnesses continues to be debated among competing camps. The Pre-Wrath view in particular, because of a number of their chronological premises, is forced to argue that the Two Witnesses also minister fully within the second half of the 70th Week, alongside the reign of the Beast. Other highly inventive prophetic models argue that the ministry of the Two Witnesses straddles the midpoint of the 70th Week, and others even argue that their ministry extends past the end of the 70th Week itself.
The Red Moon Rapture model agrees with the majority of prophetic scholars that the ministry of the Two Witnesses can only occur within the first half of the 70th Week, and that their death takes place at the midpoint of the 70th Week at the same time as the Satanic takeover of Jerusalem and the Temple. The time of the Two Witnesses' God-given power to minister must be a period of time completely separate from the Beast's when he receives his God-given power to conquer. These time periods cannot conceivably overlap. They must be mutually exclusive. This conclusion is reinforced by looking at the nature of the Beast's power and comparing it with the manner of the Two Witnesses' death.
Revelation 13:7 refers to the Beast's forty two months of power, "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them." KJV
The end of the Two Witnesses is described in Revelation 11:7, "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them."
From these texts and from the precise wording used in the descriptions it becomes clear that the Two Witnesses, the most influential saints on the earth, minister until the midpoint of the 70th Week which is when "they shall have finished their testimony." At this point their God-given power to defend themselves is ended. At the very same time the Beast receives his God-given power "to make war with the saints and to overcome them," and he first exercises it by "making war" on the Two Witnesses and "overcoming" and killing them. They are the Beast's most hated rivals and God allows him to immediately deal with them the moment that his reign of power begins. There will be no period of time during which the Beast and the Two Witnesses battle each other with conflicting God-given powers because their powers are exercised at entirely different time periods.
The timing of the ministry of the Two Witnesses within the first half of the 70th Week is a hugely important factor in creating a valid prophetic chronology of the end times. It effectively demolishes the chronology of the Pre-Wrath view as popularly espoused by both Van Kampen and Rosenthal. However, despite a faulty chronology, a number of elements and conclusions within the Pre-Wrath view are valid, and the overall work of both Van Kampen and Rosenthal has been a blessing and has led to a better prophetic understanding.
For more evidence of the pre-abomination ministry of the Two Witnesses please refer again to
The Benchmark for the midpoint of the 70th Week within Revelation
The importance of the first half ministry of the Two Witnesses is made clear by Revelation 11:14, emphasized at the end of the passage,
"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city... And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly."
This hugely important little text makes it clear that the "second woe," which is in fact the sixth Trumpet judgment of Revelation, is completely fulfilled exactly three and a half days after the midpoint of the 70th Week of Daniel. Assuming a sequential fulfillment of the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls, this means that the seven Seals as well as the first six Trumpet judgments all occur prior to the midpoint of the 70th Week of Daniel, with the effects of the sixth Trumpet judgment extending three and a half days into the second half of the 70th Week. The chart below demonstrates:
The Pre-Wrath model, as well as Hal Lindsey's personal Pre-Trib model, both place the midpoint of the 70th Week prior to the fifth Seal of Revelation. With a pre-abomination ministry of the Two Witnesses Revelation 11:14 shows that this position is erroneous. Other Pre-Wrath assumptions, such as connecting the cosmic disturbance of Matthew 24:29 with the cosmic disturbance of the sixth Seal, and connecting the gathering of "elect" in Matthew 24:31 with the "great multitude" of Revelation 7, are also called into question. Simply put, a pre-abomination ministry of the Two Witnesses leads to the conclusion that the cosmic disturbance of the sixth Seal, and the appearance of the "great multitude" in heaven immediately after the sixth Seal, both occur far prior to the midpoint of the 70th week, and not a year or two after the midpoint as the Pre-Wrath view concludes. These issues are dealt with and resolved in a much more satisfactory and Biblical manner within the Red Moon Rapture model as we continue to explain it throughout this study.
The midpoint of the 70th Week of Daniel occurs after the sixth Trumpet is blown, and this is also reinforced by the sequence of the book of Revelation. Chapter six of Revelation deals with the Seals, chapter eight deals with the first four Trumpets, chapter nine deals with the fifth and sixth Trumpets, and then the Bowls are not dealt with until chapter fifteen. The mid-trib events of the death of the Two Witnesses, the Satanic takeover of Jerusalem and the flight of the Jewish remnant are described in chapters eleven, twelve and thirteen, after the sixth Trumpet, but before the Bowl judgments. This is not by coincidence. Mid-trib events are described in Revelation after the sixth Trumpet simply because this is exactly where the midpoint of the 70th Week lies. It should not be placed back prior to the fifth Seal as the Pre-Wrath and other models argue.
The Beginning of the Day of the Lord
One of the positive aspects of the Pre-Wrath view is its emphasis on the "Day of the Lord" prophecies and its focus on the sixth Seal of Revelation. The "red moon" of Joel 2:31 is identified with the "red moon" seen at the beginning of the sixth Seal.
Joel 2:31, "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD." NIV
Revelation 6:12, "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..."
The blood red moon of the sixth Seal is positively identified as Joel's red moon that must precede the Day of the Lord through the reaction of the people of the earth as the rest of the sixth Seal events take place,
Revelation 6:16-17, "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?' "
The people of the earth make it clear that they understand that the great and terrible Day of the Lord has just begun. It is preceded by the darkened sun and blood red moon, and then begins with the terrible shaking of the earth described in Revelation 6:14, " The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place." This verse describes a "polar shift" type event where the stars appear to quickly "scroll" across the darkened sky and the geographical positions of every location on earth are changed relative to their previous polar alignments. That this great shaking of the earth is a "Day of the Lord" event is proven through Isaiah, who describes the very same scenario,
Isaiah 2:10-19, "Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low... And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth."
The Pre-Wrath view, because it erroneously connects the sixth Seal with Matthew 24:29, is forced to conclude that the Day of the Lord begins after the cosmic and global disturbance of the sixth Seal. That is clearly wrong, and the people of the earth flee to caves because of what is happening, rather than in anticipation of a future event. The Apostle Paul is clear that the wicked will heed no warning of the Day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4) and they only react once it has begun. The Day of the Lord is preceded by the darkened sun and blood red moon (Joel 2:31 and Revelation 6:12), and then begins with the great shaking of the earth by the very hand of God (Isaiah 2:10-19 and Revelation 6:14). Then the people of the earth cry out, "Hide us... for the great day of His wrath has come!" The Pre-Wrath view is that the Day of the Lord begins with the seventh Seal, whereas the Red Moon Rapture view is that the Day of the Lord can only be viewed as beginning within the sixth Seal, with the shaking of the earth.
Some of the most commonly accepted Pre-Trib models also fall into error regarding the Day of the Lord. Many scholars agree that the Day of the Lord encompasses the entire Tribulation period, but some argue that the Day of the Lord begins with the opening of the first Seal. The exclamations from the people of the earth that the Day of the Lord begins within the sixth Seal are simply viewed as mankind's first understanding that God's wrath is truly at work. However this creates the idea that God will first pour out his wrath in secret, without the world knowing it, before acting in an obviously destructive manner. Paul also discredits this possibility in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 when he writes that the Day of the Lord begins with "sudden destruction." It begins with a BANG! rather than with a gradual sequence of ambiguous events (the first five seals). It will be preceded by certain signs, but the unbelievers on the earth will not heed these signs. They will not react until God acts by shaking the earth, which marks the beginning of the end times "Day of the Lord."
The Magog Invasion and the Beginning of the 70th Week within Revelation
Now let's take a look at the sequence of events surrounding the beginning of the Day of the Lord as described in Revelation:
1. The sixth Seal is opened.
2. A great earthquake (the location is not given).
3. The sun is darkened and the moon turns blood red (this precedes the Day of the Lord according to Joel 2:31).
4. Falling stars fill the sky.
5. The earth is shaken, giving the impression of mountains and islands moving and the sky "scrolling" overhead. The people on the earth panic and flee to the caves and cry out that the great day of God's wrath has come (Isaiah 2:10-19 also describes this shaking and mankind's reaction in relation to the Day of the Lord).
6. The wind is stopped and the four angels who harm the land and sea are made to wait. The 144,000 "firstfruits" are sealed on the earth. A great multitude of saints are shown in heaven.
6. The seventh Seal is opened and there is silence in heaven for half an hour. The seven angels come forth with their seven trumpets.
7. The first Trumpet is sounded. Hail and fire with blood is "hurled down" upon the earth and one third of the earth is burned.
It is the conclusion of the Red Moon Rapture position that a number of these events that are described in Revelation surrounding the beginning of the Day of the Lord are also described in Ezekiel 38-39 in connection with the Magog invasion of Israel. What must be noted is that the Magog invasion is predicted to precede a very specific seven year period according to Ezekiel 39:9. Here is what Ezekiel describes:
1. Israel is referred to as a land living in "peace" and "safety" in Ezekiel 38:8,11,14 (1 Thessalonians 5:3 predicts that the "sudden destruction" of the Day of the Lord will come when people are saying "peace and safety").
2. A great earthquake (the location is given as in the land of Israel - Ezekiel 38:19).
3. The entire earth is shaken and all the creatures and all the people on the earth tremble at God's presence - Ezekiel 38:20 (the great earthquake in Israel is a fore-shock of the shaking of the entire earth).
4. Hail and fire with blood is "poured down" upon the invaders of Israel and upon the nations making up the invasion - Ezekiel 38:22.
5. Fire will burn up Magog as well as the region of the "coastlands" where people live in "safety" - Ezekiel 39:6.
Together, the descriptions in Ezekiel and in Revelation combine to give a very clear picture of the events at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. The Red Moon Rapture model maintains that the similarities of the descriptions from these two different sources are enough to conclude that they are indeed descriptions of the same event. It is hard to believe that this similar sequence of events will take place twice, first to fulfill Ezekiel, and then again to fulfill Revelation. There will be one fulfillment for the similar events described in Ezekiel and Revelation.
- Both sources describe an event predicted to precede the Day of the Lord. In Revelation we see Joel's red moon, and in Ezekiel we see Paul's "peace and safety" that is experienced by Israel and also by the people of the enigmatic "coastlands."
- Both sources specifically mention a "great earthquake."
- Both sources describe a great shaking of the earth after the initial "great earthquake," and both sources tell us that the people of the earth understand that God has acted. In Revelation the people cry out that God's day of wrath has come, and in Ezekiel the people will "tremble" at God's presence.
- After the shaking of the earth, both sources describe an astro-physical catastrophe of "fire and hail" that will be "hurled down" or "poured down" on the earth. Both sources refer to blood or bloodshed in the context of this judgment.
- As a result of this plague, or in addition to it, both sources predict that a large portion of the earth will be burned by fire.
For a more comprehensive view of the many Bible passages that refer to the beginning of the end-times tribulation please click to this printable table.
According to Ezekiel 39:9, in the aftermath of this judgment that destroys the invading armies of the Magog alliance the people of Israel will gather and use the captured weapons of war for exactly seven years. The Red Moon Rapture model is in agreement with scholars such as Missler and Fruchtenbaum, that this seven year period must be concluded prior to the end of the 70th Week. It is illogical to believe that this fuel source would be used within the Messianic Kingdom after Jesus Christ returns and the earth is made new. In fact, according to Micah 4:3, at the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom all weapons of war, captured or otherwise, will be turned into agricultural equipment! They would not be available as a fuel source, and thus the seven years of Ezekiel 39:9 must precede the Messianic Kingdom.
The Red Moon Rapture prophetic model maintains that the seven years described in Ezekiel 39:9 parallels the 70th Week of Daniel's prophecy, and thus the 70th Week does not begin within Revelation until some time after the first Trumpet judgment of Revelation 8:7, which is responsible for the destruction of the Magog invasion. The chart below demonstrates:
The Red Moon Rapture
Placing the beginning of the Day of the Lord within the sixth Seal, and the beginning of the 70th Week after the first Trumpet, is bound to cause controversy among those holding to the traditional Pre-Trib viewpoint. The nature of the first five Seals must be re-evaluated as well as the identity of the Great Multitude of Revelation 7, which is now understood as appearing in heaven prior to the 70th Week.
The traditional Pre-Trib view is that the Day of the Lord and the 70th Week both begin with the opening of the first Seal, and that prior to this the Rapture of the Church occurs, symbolized by the Twenty Four Elders who are pictured in heaven when the events begin. However, the Red Moon Rapture view favors the Great Multitude as the fulfillment of the Rapture over the Twenty Four Elders for a number of Biblical reasons. Let us begin by examining some of the texts that refer to the Rapture and we will see which group is the more likely candidate.
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."
This statement from Jesus follows His description of end-times events. He describes the events and then he provocatively suggests that those who are faithful to Him and keep their eye on Him, rather than on the pleasures of this world, will be allowed to escape the end-times events and stand in heaven before Him. It offers proof of a Pre-Trib rapture because the greatest threats to the believer are described as "dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life." These will be temptations for the believer prior to the tribulation, but once the tribulation begins over-indulgence in the good life would hardly apply to persecuted believers. And then after the Mark of the Beast is implemented on a global scale believers won't even be able to buy food, much less engage in "dissipation."
What is notable for our present discussion, however, is the description Jesus gives of believers after they "escape" from "all that is about to happen" on the earth. Jesus says that they will "stand before the Son of Man." Which of the following texts is a better fulfillment of the words of Jesus that refer to the Rapture?
Twenty Four Elders: "Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders." Revelation 4:4
Great Multitude: "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." Revelation 7:9
Another important point to note is that the Twenty Four Elders are shown in heaven for a great length of time prior to the appearance of Jesus. The Elders appear in Revelation 4:4, but Jesus does not appear until Revelation 5:6. Yet Jesus Himself said that the Raptured saints would immediately appear in His presence! These words of Jesus are also confirmed by Paul,
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, "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."
Paul and Jesus combine to tell us that after the Rapture the saints will never be separated from Jesus Christ. Because the Twenty Four Elders are shown separated from Jesus they cannot be the raptured saints as maintained by the traditional Pre-Trib view. On the other hand, the Great Multitude of Revelation 7 is a much better fulfillment of the words of Jesus and of Paul because they are instantly pictured standing in heaven in the presence of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
There is another point to be taken from the words of Jesus in Luke 21:36, and that is Jesus' use of the word "escape" to describe what will happen to faithful believers prior to the terrible events of the time of the end. Paul uses similarly terminology in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, "...and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."
Jesus refers to the Rapture as an "escape" and Paul describes it as a "rescue," a rescue from "the coming wrath." Paul continues with this theme of "wrath" is connection with the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 when he writes, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The wicked are appointed to wrath, while believers will be rescued and receive salvation. These texts are nowhere fulfilled more clearly than after the opening of the sixth Seal of Revelation,
"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 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.'" Revelation 6:14-17, 7:9-10
After the great shaking of the earth that follows the opening of the sixth Seal we find that the unbelievers on the earth cry out that 'God's wrath has come,' and that faithful believers in heaven sing 'Salvation belongs to our God.' Just as Paul and Jesus predicted, there will be wrath for the wicked who are left behind and salvation for the righteous who are rescued.
Common Pre-Trib theory holds that there will be an undefined period of time between the Rapture (as signified by the 24 Elders) and the beginning of wrath (as signified by the opening of the first Seal), but the words of Jesus and Paul contradict this possibility. They describe the Rapture as an escape and a rescue in the face of oncoming wrath. Why would there be a delay once the righteous have been saved? The Bible is clear that there will be little or no delay, and once believers are rescued the wrath will fall upon the unbelievers who remain on the earth. This type of scenario is nowhere even hinted at within the Pre-Trib model that focuses on the 24 Elders and the first Seal, but it is crystal clear within the Red Moon Rapture model once it is understood that God's wrath is poured out globally with the shaking of the earth after the sixth Seal, and that the Great Multitude is a picture of the saints who are rescued from that wrath.
The Red Moon Rapture model maintains that the actual rapture, or catching up, of the saints from the earth will occur immediately after the opening of the sixth Seal. Jesus will open the Sixth seal, leave heaven and enter the earth's atmosphere according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and then believers will be caught up to meet Him just prior to, or at the same time as, the initial sixth Seal events of the great earthquake, the red moon, darkened sun and falling stars. Then the wrath of God will fall upon the whole earth as God shakes the earth. The unbelievers left on the earth then respond to this catastrophe in fear and terror and exclaim that "the great day of God's wrath has come!"
The Rapture will take every believer off of the world and leave it momentarily populated only with unbelievers. This is when God's wrath begins. After the shaking of the earth then there is a brief pause and another important event occurs, which is the sealing of the 144,000 (which obviously includes bringing them to a saving knowledge of the Messiah). These 144,000 saved and sealed individuals are referred to in Revelation 14:4 as the "firstfruits" who were purchased from among men. Their description as "firstfruits" only makes sense once it is understood that the 144,000 are the very first people to be saved from a world composed entirely of unbelievers. They pass through the first phase of God's wrath as unbelievers, but then after it passes they are then supernaturally saved and sealed and become believers, much like Paul was supernaturally saved on the road to Damascus.
The Pre-Wrath view maintains that the 144,000 are saved and sealed prior to the Rapture. The obvious question arises, if they are saved then why are they left behind? The reason for their conclusion, once again, is the fact that the Pre-Wrath view erroneously connects the cosmic disturbance of Matthew 24:29 with the sixth Seal, and the "gathering of the elect" of Matthew 24:31 with the "great multitude" of Revelation 7. Because the "gathering" (Matt. 24:31) comes after the cosmic disturbance (Matt. 24:29), they must believe that the great multitude is saved after the sixth Seal events have been concluded, and after the saving and sealing of the 144,000. They put believers through the wrath of the shaking of the earth, and then at the Rapture they leave behind 144,000 believers. These are just a couple of examples of the many errors and illogical conclusions within the Pre-Wrath prophetic model.
The Resurrection of the Dead In Christ
So far we have identified the Rapture of living believers as occurring immediately after the opening of the sixth Seal, but we have yet to identify the timing of the Resurrection of dead believers. The Apostle Paul writes that the Resurrection will immediately precede the Rapture,
"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." 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
Immediately prior to the opening of the sixth Seal John watches in heaven as a group of dead believers are given white robes. This gift of white robes may very well signify the Resurrection or the preparation for Resurrection, and/or it may signify the conclusion of the Judgment Seat of Christ for these souls, after which believers are clothed with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53) and rewarded for good works (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 19:8).
Here is the fifth Seal of Revelation 6:9-11,
"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."
Here is the simple outline of what takes place at the opening of the fifth Seal:
I. A Picture of the Martyrs- "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."
II. The Question- "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?’ "
III. The Gift- "Then each of them was given a white robe…"
IV. The Answer- "…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."We must take care to neither add or subtract interpretations that do not appear in the text. For instance, the fifth Seal does not describe a great persecution of saints that is taking place (present tense). Rather it shows a picture of saints "who had been slain" (past tense). These are the saints who have been killed throughout history because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. These are Church Age saints, because Israel was never commanded to proselytize, or give testimony, as Church saints are. These are martyrs who have died for Christ.
Another misconception is made regarding the question the martyrs ask. They do not ask "How long until we are resurrected?" No, they simply ask "How long until the earth is judged?" This is further proof that these saints are Church Age martyrs, and not Tribulation martyrs as maintained by Pre-Trib, Post-Trib and Pre-Wrath advocates. If they had been killed within the seven year tribulation, then they would know the general answer to the question they ask. They would know that the judgment of the earth was at most seven years away. Their ignorance of how much longer until the end, as well as the vague answer they get, is evidence that at the fifth Seal the 70th Week is still in the future.
The answer to their question does not imply that they must wait to be resurrected. Again, that was not their question. Their question was "How long until the earth is judged?" The answer they receive is that the earth will be judged after the predestined number of saints have been martyred. Saints will be martyred all the way until the very end of the 70th Week, and so the judgment of the earth will not take place until after the 70th Week. They will be "waiting" for the judgment, even after they are resurrected, until the end of the 70th week. The answer they receive is also a prediction that more saints will be martyred and the fulfillment of this prediction is shown in Matthew 24:9, Revelation 14:12-13 and Revelation 20:4.
When the fifth Seal is opened John only hears the martyrs of the Church Age cry out, and there are obviously many more souls of Church saints in heaven who are not martyrs. In spite of the fact that John seems to only focus on martyrs, there is evidence that between the fifth Seal and the conclusion of the sixth there is a profound change, in two different ways, that occurs to believers in heaven. The first change is the change of existing without white robes when the martyrs are first seen in Revelation 6:9, to receiving robes in 6:11. The Great Multitude is also shown wearing these robes in 7:9. The second change is the change of existing "under the altar" in 6:9, to "standing before the throne" in 7:9. Certainly going from under the altar to before the throne, and going from the absence of white robes, to wearing white robes, is proof of a major transformation of believers as they exist in heaven. The only credible explanation is that the Resurrection and Rapture brought about this transformation.
The Pre-Trib view is that the martyrs under the altar, who exist at first without white robes, are Tribulation martyrs, and that the Great Multitude in front of the throne that wears white robes is also representative of Tribulation martyrs, being the fulfillment of the prediction of more martyrs in Revelation 6:11. Why are these two allegedly identical groups of "tribulation martyrs" kept separate from each other. Why is one group under the altar and the other in front of the throne? Why did John easily identify the first group of "tribulation martyrs," yet he failed to identify the "tribulation martyrs" of the Great Multitude? The Pre-Trib explanations fail for lack of common sense when it comes to these issues. The martyrs of the fifth Seal may at first exist under the altar without white robes, but then when they are given white robes this signals a transformation. This transformation is then complete by Revelation 7:9, when all of the saints, both the resurrected and the raptured, stand in heaven before the throne wearing their white robes. The Elder may refer to the group as "those who have come out of the great tribulation," but this does not mean that the previously dead in Christ are not a part of this group. John could identify the dead in Christ, but he could not identify those who were raptured. The Elder's answer only refers to those that John could not identify.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The majority of prophetic models maintain that the first four Seals, the infamous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, represent either plagues, events or judgments that take place in the first half of the 70th Week of Daniel. However, the Red Moon Rapture model places the beginning of the 70th Week far later in the timeline, after the first Trumpet judgment, and so the first four Seals must be explained as occurring prior to the 70th Week. We will show that when compared with the words of Jesus, the Four Horsemen are much better explained as the "birthpangs" of the oncoming tribulation, rather than representative of actual Tribulation events. The Olivet Discourse is sometimes referred to as the Little Apocalypse, and it is within this passage that the "birthpangs" can be understood,
Matthew 24 KJV
"3. 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?
4. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."
The Greek word translated here as "sorrows" is the word odin, which refers specifically to the pains of a woman giving birth. The ASV translates the passage better as "all these are the beginning of travail." The Apostle Paul uses the same Greek word in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (KJV), "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
In Matthew 24:7 Jesus predicts the beginning of birthpangs, and in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 Paul refers to the sudden destruction of the Day of the Lord as the onset of the actual labor.
The signs from Matthew 24:4-9 that Jesus describes can be put into three categories:
1. Signs that do not apply to the end-times.
2. Signs that predict the approach of the end-times (the beginning of "birthpangs")
3. The sign that is a part of the end-times
The two signs that do not apply to the end-times are mentioned in verses 5 and 6. They are the appearance of many false Christs (plural) and scattered wars and rumors of wars.
The four signs that should be understood as the beginning of "birthpangs" are the signs of (1) a major global conflict, (2) famines, (3) pestilences and (4) earthquakes in divers places.
The sign that is a part of the end-times is the persecution and worldwide hatred of people who believe in Jesus.
The first three birthpangs are reflected in Revelation as the second, third and fourth Seals. The chart below demonstrates,
Jesus in Matthew 24:7 Revelation "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom..." 2nd Seal - "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. " "...and there shall be famines..." 3rd Seal - "When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" "...and pestilences..." 4th Seal - "When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth."
According to Jesus, the very first birthpang that believers are supposed to recognize as a visible sign of the approaching end-times is the sign of a global military conflict. When Jesus mentioned this sign He was describing something that is very well known within Judaism. In an ancient Jewish commentary, the Bereshit Rabbah, section XLII:4, it is stated, "If you shall see kingdoms rising against each other in turn, then give heed and note the footsteps of the Messiah."
In another Jewish commentary, the Zohar Chadesh, it is written, "At that time wars shall be stirred up in the world. Nation shall rise against nation and city against city; much distress shall be renewed against the enemies of the Israelites."
Jews and Christians should both understand that a massive World War is a sign of the approaching end-times. If we were to look back in history and try to identify a conflict that might possibly fulfill Jesus' prediction we need look no further than the Second World War. It encompassed eastern and western Europe, as well as a significant part of Asia and Polynesia, parts of Africa, and it was fought throughout the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It was also fought, as the Jewish source the Zohar Chadesh appears to have predicted, against the "enemies of the Israelites," who were the German Nazi's who exterminated up to six million Jews.
World War II ended with the use of atomic energy, a terrible power never used in warfare since, and it dwarfed World War I, which was fought mainly in Europe and the Middle East, which was more comparable in size to the Napoleonic Wars than to World War II. Truly the Second World War stands out as the most significant global conflict of the past two millennia, and it had a huge impact on the global Jewish community, leading to the creation of the modern nation of Israel. When Jesus predicted a worldwide conflict as the first birthpang of the end-times it is highly likely that He was referring directly to World War II.
The second and third birthpangs, those of famines and pestilences, described in Revelation as the third and fourth Seals, are also signs that could easily be already fulfilled. The global economic order brutalizes the Third World and keeps it continuously indebted and in a pre-industrial state. While a vast portion of the Third World remains in poverty and hunger, the developed nations continue their plundering, while their economic engines are fueled by the foundational resource of oil ("do not damage the oil..."). In this age of technological advancement the entire continent of Africa has suffered a drop in its basic standard of living over the past thirty years. Perhaps this lack of fairness is signified by the scales held by the rider of the black horse. Scales are a universal symbol for justice, and perhaps the third seal is pointing out the terrible injustice promoted by the established economic order and maintained by the world's most powerful political forces.
It should also be noted that the fourth Seal does not describe the death of one-fourth of the world's population, but rather that the power that the fourth Horseman possesses will be exercised over one-fourth of the earth. Compare the fourth Seal to the sixth Trumpet. The fourth Seal speaks of a fraction of the world's territory, whereas the sixth Trumpet speaks of a fraction of the world's population. The fourth of the earth under the power of the fourth horseman may refer to the poorest fourth of the earth including areas such as Africa and Southeast Asia. Certainly the people in these areas are much more acquainted with death in the form of war, famine, plague and wild animals, than the rest of the earth.
The fourth birthpang, that of "earthquakes in divers places," is not mentioned in Revelation, but as Hal Lindsey has shown, there has been a major rise in earthquakes over the past sixty years or so:
From 1940 to 1950 there were only 4 major quakes recorded in the world (6.0 or greater).
From 1950 to 1960 there were 9.
From 1960 to 1970 there were 13.
From 1970 to 1979 there were 51.
From 1980 to 1989 there were 86.
From just 1990 to 1993 there were over 100 quakes that measured 6.0 or greater.
Scientists have been able to track these huge quakes worldwide since the late 1800s, and so this is not simply an indicator that science has advanced in its ability to find earthquakes. It is in fact the fulfillment of Jesus' prediction of a rise in earthquakes worldwide prior to the tribulation.
Three of the four birthpangs described by Jesus are paralleled in the second, third and fourth Seals of Revelation, and all of these can be viewed as having been fulfilled. The fourth birthpang is easily demonstrated by scientific records and can also be viewed as having been fulfilled. Jesus said, "All these are the beginning of sorrows..."
The last sign from our passage from the Little Apocalypse, a sign that the end has come, is the sign of worldwide Christian persecution. This sign, given in Matthew 24:9, can be found within the fifth Seal of Revelation. It is the prediction of future martyrs that will be killed throughout the tribulation, after the Rapture, as fulfilled in Revelation 14:13 and 20:4.
Matthew 24:9, "...then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." 5th Seal - "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."
Note again that the fifth Seal does not describe a worldwide persecution of believers, it merely predicts a worldwide persecution of believers. This prediction of future martyrs in Revelation 6:11 compares with the description of the persecution of believers as found in Matthew 24:9, which comes after the birthpangs have been fulfilled. The persecution of believers is one of the main characteristics of the end-times period. After the Day of the Lord begins, and after all believers have been Raptured, those new believers who turn to Christ can expect to be hated for their faith and hunted down and killed throughout the entire world.
The First Seal
[Note: The view that the first Seal represents the birth of the Antichrist is no longer held by the author. Please refer to American Babylon: Part 8 to read the author's current understanding of what the first Seal of Revelation represents.]
In comparing the Little Apocalypse of Jesus with the Seals of Revelation we find very close similarities in the predictions, all the way from the second Seal to the fifth Seal. This brings us right up to the sixth Seal that will mark the beginning of the Day of the Lord's wrath. The only discrepancy is of course the first Seal. Why did Jesus not mention this sign among the other birthpangs, the sign of a singular figure arriving on the scene with authority and the power to conquer?
"I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest."
If the other three horsemen can be viewed as "birthpangs" of the end-times, then should not the first horsemen similarly be viewed as a birthpang? Is not the initial breaking of the seven sealed scroll a remarkable event? It certainly is from heaven's perspective! This scroll is a terrible thing, and John weeps and weeps when a search is made and no one is found to open it. And then when Jesus finally appears to take the scroll and open the Seals heaven rejoices!
Certainly the breaking of the first Seal is a momentous event, but why did Jesus not refer to it within the Little Apocalypse? Why did Jesus refer to the World War, an event related to the second Seal, as the first visible birthpang of the tribulation period? Perhaps the answer is that the breaking of the first Seal is an event invisible to believers here on earth, but visible to those in heaven. Jesus did not mention it within His Little Apocalypse because believers on earth would have no way of knowing that it took place. That is why he focused on the visible birthpangs, the first of which is the World War of the second Seal.
The opening of the first Seal may in fact symbolize the birth of the Antichrist to a human mother somewhere on the earth. This is truly the first "birthpang" of the time of the end. It is an event unknown to believers on earth, but certainly known to those who inhabit heaven. Once it happens, or happened, the earth would truly be on an unstoppable timeline, and the visible birthpangs described by Jesus would follow soon after.
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum concludes, based on Genesis 3:15, that the Antichrist will mimic Christ in that he will have both a natural and a supernatural origin. Genesis 3:15 refers to the "seed of the woman" which is understood as the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible, and it also refers to the seed of the serpent, which is a prophecy of the future Antichrist. The natural origin of the Messiah was through the virgin Mary, and His supernatural origin was through God the Father. The natural origin of the Antichrist will also be through a human female (virgin or not) and his supernatural origin will be through his father Satan. Fruchtenbaum's view is that the Antichrist will be conceived along the lines of the fallen angelic-human interaction of Genesis 6.
If the Antichrist is indeed to be born of a human mother then his birth will be a hugely significant event in the history of the earth. Once it occurs the earth will be on an unstoppable timeline. Jesus himself hints of an unstoppable timeline in Matthew 24:32-34,
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."
The simple parable that Jesus gives here (a parable that may have nothing to do with the creation of Israel), is that just as new leaves on a fig tree signify the approach of summer, so does the fulfillment of "all these things" signify the approach of the time of the end. Once again, Jesus was referring to the birthpangs that precede the time of the end. He then makes the provocative statement that "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." This is a definite reference to an unstoppable timeline. The reference to "this generation" refers to the generation that sees the birthpangs. It will not pass away before the end of the age. That is because the very first birthpang, the birthpang invisible to human eyes, is the actual birth of the Antichrist. The final generation will witness "all these things" and "will certainly not pass away" because it will be the generation that parallels the life of the Antichrist, and his destiny will be fulfilled within the space of one human lifespan.
It is the position of the Red Moon Rapture model that the opening of the first Seal represents the birth of the Antichrist, the very first birthpang of the Apocalypse, visible to those in heaven, but hidden to those on earth. He is born with a destiny to conquer and thus the rider of the white horse is symbolically given a crown and armed with a bow as he rides off. With that event there will be no turning back on the earth's timeline.
For further evidence for this Biblical sequence of end-times events please read this study on the identity of the "Two Witnesses of Revelation."