(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)
FOCUS: When will the elect be gathered (raptured)?
KEY SCRIPTURES: Daniel 12:1-4; Matthew 24:15-22
“ ‘At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge’ ” (Daniel 12:1-4).
“So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation . . . then there will be great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, BUT FOR THE SAKE OF THE ELECT those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:15-22).
PROPHECY CONNECTION IN MATTHEW:
Jesus described a specific event in the heavens that will take place “immediately after the distress of those days” and will signal the gathering of His elect!
Matthew 24:29-31 — “IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE DISTRESS OF THOSE DAYS
” ‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken‘ [Isaiah 13:10, 34:4].
“AT THAT TIME the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, AND THEY WILL GATHER HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
(According to Mark 13:27 — “He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, FROM THE ENDS OF THE EARTH to the ends of the heavens.”)
PROPHECY CONNECTION IN REVELATION:
The prophet John described a similar spectacular event in the heavens which would signal unprecedented distress and the gathering of a great multitude of people “who have come out of the great tribulation” . . .
Revelation 6:12 – 7:17 — “I watched as [the Lamb] 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 earh, 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 the wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree . . .
“After this I looked and there before me was a 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.’ . . .
“Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes — who are they, and where do 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.
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.’”
PROPHECY CONNECTION IN 1 THESSALONIANS:
The apostle Paul told followers of Christ that they would rise from death — just like Jesus did!
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 — “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 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 Him forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
A SOLEMN WARNING: Jesus cautioned: “No one knows about THE DAY OR THE HOUR, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so in 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 a field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding 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. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known what time of night the thief was coming, HE WOULD HAVE KEPT WATCH and would not have let his house be broken into. SO YOU ALSO MUST BE READY, because the Son of Man will come AT AN HOUR when you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:36-44).