I’ve been proclaiming that Jesus is coming soon for most of my life. However, I’m convinced that it is now upon us and I’m actually starting to get quite giddy about it! After listening to other respected evangelists preach and teach about the fulfillment of end times prophecies over the years, I’ve gained a great deal of insight both from their instruction and from my own research about these two events we call the Rapture of the Church (which I personally believe will happen just before the start of the Seven-Year Tribulation) and the Return, or Second Coming, of Christ (which happens at the very end of the Seven-Year Tribulation). Naturally, since world news is pointing more directly every day toward events that are prophesied to occur during the Tribulation, I’m looking for the Rapture of the Church to happen very, very soon.
One of the insights I’ve learned over the years that helps me understand this more clearly is that the seven feasts which God instituted for Israel to observe each year actually have prophetic significance as well as historic significance. When we look at each of these feasts from a broad perspective we see that they are laid out in the order of the annual seasons. You can read each of God’s commandments concerning them in Leviticus 23.
First, Pesach (or Passover) happens in the spring and is to be the beginning of the year for Israel (see Exodus 12:2), although somewhere along the way they changed their New Year to Yom T’ruim or the Day of Trumpets, better known today as Rosh Hashanah, which literally means Head of the Year. I’ll say more about that one when I get to it.
The second feast actually follows the day after Pesach, and it’s called Yom Matzoh or Day of Unleavened Bread. This feast lasts for seven days, and somewhere during that week is a regular weekly Sabbath (or Shabbat). The first day after the Sabbath following the Day of Unleavened Bread is observed as Yom Reshyth or Day of First-fruits. Thus, all three of these feast days occur within the space of one week. Then there is a period of 50 days, counting from the Day of First-fruits, which includes seven Sabbaths or weeks. The fiftieth day is called Yom Shavuot or Day of Weeks, better known to us as Pentecost (which is derived from the Greek word for 50 days).
It is interesting to note here that Jesus fulfilled each of these first four holy days at His first coming. He was crucified on the Day of Passover; He was entombed during the Day of Unleavened Bread; He resurrected on the Day of First-fruits; and finally, just ten days after His ascension back into Heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to launch the Church Age. The long gap between the Feast of Shavuot (or Pentecost) and the Day of Trumpets signifies the longer-than-expected duration of the Church Age to allow time for the Good News of Christ’s Salvation to be spread all around the globe.
Since Jesus fulfilled each of these first four feast days to the very day during His first coming, can we expect Him to do the same with the remaining three feast days at His second coming? I think we can. So, which is the next feast day in line for fulfillment? It is the Day of Trumpets. And which event will Jesus use to fulfill this feast day? It is the Rapture of the Church. What is the evidence for that? Well, it is the sounding of the trumpets, of course, and as the Apostle Paul stated so clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:52, it is “at the last trumpet” that “the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” He writes similarly in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up [raptured] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
Note here in both of these passages that Paul uses the pronoun “we”. He clearly expected this event to happen during his lifetime. For all of the revelation God had given Paul about this event, He kept hidden from him the fact that it was not going to happen for quite some time. However, we are nearing the time when the Rapture is about to take place.
Of all the feasts of Israel, the Feast of Trumpets appears to be the least understood. It seems to have no major significance to them, because it does not appear to commemorate any historic event as the others do. Passover commemorates when God spared them while He punished Egypt by killing the firstborn of every household and even of the livestock. Unleavened Bread commemorates their departure from Egyptian bondage. First-fruits commemorates the sacrifice God commanded them to give from their first harvest in the Promised Land and from every harvest thereafter. Shavuot commemorates their receiving of the Law of Moses on Mt. Sinai. Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, commemorates God’s annual examination of His people to determine their worthiness for blessing or judgment, and the Day of Tabernacles commemorates Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness and their living in tents (temporary dwellings) for 40 years prior to their entry into the Promised Land.
Since the Feast of Trumpets represents Christ’s Rapture of His Church, the Day of Atonement represents the Seven-Year Tribulation when God will once again turn His attention to delivering His chosen people — the nation of Israel — from their sins and the Feast of Tabernacles represents Jesus’ millennial reign on earth prior to the Final Great White Throne Judgment and the commencement of our eternal life with Him in the New Heaven and New Earth.
See now how Jesus will fulfill these final three feast days with His second coming. When the time to close the Church Age has come, Jesus will call up His Church in the event known as The Rapture. The word “church” comes from the Greek word “ecclesia” (pronounced ek-lay-SEE-ah) which means “called-out ones”. These are called out from the world to be His own people. Nevertheless, His people called Israel who have not acknowledged and accepted Him as their Messiah, along with all the wicked and those who pretended to accept Jesus without actually living for Him, will be left on the earth for judgment and revelation. Only those who finally accept God’s revelation will receive deliverance. This will take place during the Seven-Year Tribulation.
One of the strongest arguments against anyone trying to determine the time of Jesus’ return to Rapture His Church has always been Jesus’ words, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32 NKJV). This hasn’t stopped some, like Harold Camping and others, from setting dates nonetheless, but others have so eschewed the idea of trying to ascertain the time of Jesus’ return that they quote this Scripture as their proof text that we are not even to consider it. Since Jesus Himself commanded us to watch, how are we supposed to watch without seeming to set a date for His return? Consider this analogy: If you’re watching for the cab which you personally called, is it bad if you mistake a blowing horn or the flash of yellow of another passing car as the cab you are watching and waiting for? Of course, not! That’s just part of the process of watching and waiting. The same is true with our earnest and hopeful watching for Jesus’ return.
The reason Jesus said no one would know the day or hour of His return is because of a couple of facts. First, because it is a secret which God has kept to Himself, no one can know it for sure. The very word “know” means to have absolute and certain information about someone or something. Since God hasn’t revealed the date of Jesus’ return, we can hazard a lot of guesses, but we can’t know any of them to be true.
Secondly, we can’t know the day or hour of the Rapture because of the nature of time and the position of the earth in relation to the sun. At any given time throughout every 24 hour day, half of the globe is in light and half is in darkness. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said, “I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17:34-36 NKJV). Let me ask you: What women grind at the mill at night, and what men work in the field at night? Why did Jesus say “in that night” instead of “in that day”? Due to the global undertaking of the Rapture, half the earth will be asleep and half will be awake. Furthermore, at some point during every 24 hours half the earth will be on one day of the week while the other half will be on the next day of the week. It is because of these two facts — that God, first and foremost, has kept the date secret and, second, that half the earth will be in the night and half in the day — that no one can know the day nor the hour of Jesus’ return.
This, however, does not mean we cannot speculate about the approximate day of Jesus’ return. Since the Rapture is signified among the divine feast days as the Day of Trumpets and since Jesus fulfilled the first four feasts to the very day during His first coming, I think we can expect Him to fulfill the final three to the very day at His second coming. While we can’t know which Day of Trumpets He will choose to rapture His Church, we can expect that He will do so on one of them in the future; and while we can’t know the hour of the Rapture (because various segments of the earth’s population will be at a different hour of the 24 hour day) we can believe that it will be sometime during that day. In fact, because the Day of Trumpets is the only one of the seven feast days that begins on a New Moon (or the first day of the lunar month), and because the official declaration of the beginning of that day must be corroborated by two witnesses (priests) when they see the first sliver of the New Moon, there is a period of two days in which no one knows the day or hour they will actually see the New Moon. It is entirely possible that the Lord could rapture His Church at the precise point when the day side of the earth is at the end of the Day of Trumpets and the night side of the earth is just beginning the Day of Trumpets. While God can do this any way He chooses, it seems most reasonable to be me that He would do it this way.
For those who may wish to accuse me of setting a date for Jesus’ return, please tell me which date I have set here. The nearest I have come to setting a date is to say that Jesus will Rapture His Church on a future Day of Trumpets, but the date is yet unknown. Will He choose the year 2015, since it is the conclusion of another seventh Shemitah (or year of rest for the earth) and the commencement of another Jubilee, which occurs once every 50 years? Your guess is as good as mine, but it certainly seems to me that either 2015 or 2016 would be an excellent time to do so, especially since 2017 will be the next time the celestial alignment of the stars will match the description in Revelation 12:1. You can also watch a nine minute video depicting some very interesting points for consideration. Of course, the author of this content was thinking of a possible 2013 Rapture.
You see — no one (and that certainly includes me) can know the day or the hour of Jesus’ Rapture of His Church. However, if you happen to be among those left behind after the Rapture, you can calculate the precise day of Jesus’ return to the earth to set up His Kingdom and begin His millennial reign on the present earth, because it will be exactly seven years to the day from the day “the prince who is to come” (Daniel 9:26, better known to us as the Antichrist) enacts the seven-year peace treaty with the world (see Daniel 9:27 where the phrase “one week” refers to a week of years or seven years). Since we can calculate to the day when Jesus will actually return to earth to establish His Kingdom, Jesus must have been referring to the mystery of the Rapture when He said no one would know the precise day or hour when He would come for His Church.
Even though we can’t know the precise time of the Rapture, we can know it is near. As I said at the start of this article: Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready? Ready or not, here He comes!