Commentary on Matthew 24

Matthew 24 is among the most heavily debated passages in Bible Prophecy discussions, especially for those who debate the timing of the rapture.  It is troublesome for those who preach the pretribulation rapture, because verse 29 contains the phrase "...after the tribulation..." and then goes on to describe events which appear strikingly like the rapture.  I teach the pretribulation rapture, but I disagree with the popular pretribulation arguments that attempt to explain the passage:  For example, one argument is that the entire passage is for the Jews only, written to the Jews and not Christians.  The conclusion that follows from that is that the passage does not contain any information about the rapture at all.  Such popular teachings are unconvincing, and I think wrong, which is my reason for writing this commentary.  Many people have said that it is irresponsible to say that large parts of the New Testament are not for us.  I believe Matthew 24 is written to Christians, and teaches about the rapture, and this commentary will explain how and why this passage need not be troublesome, but supports the pretribulation rapture position.

One method of understanding Matt 24:29 is through the realization that the great tribulation takes place during the Day of the Lord.  I will provide several scriptural arguments to back this assertion.  Thus, the stellar signs which signal the beginning of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31) also come before the seven year great tribulation.  This shows that the stellar signs would not be after the "great tribulation" (verse 29 does not say "great") but would be "after the tribulation" of today, and I will examine the stellar signs in depth, which will indicate that the stellar signs suggest the pretribulation event of Satan being cast out of heaven.

So, one of the other ways through which I have come to understand the passage is by recognizing many of the double references in the passage.  Specifically, the word "tribulation" in Matt 24:29 has been interpreted by many people to refer to the past history of the Church, while others say it refers to the future tribulation.  If we simply let the passage retain both of these Biblical meanings so that word "tribulation" refers to two times, both today and the future, then the problem for the pretrib position is solved:  Thus, I believe the general tribulations that the Church has always experienced will end with the rapture, the stellar signs, the casting out of Satan, and the start of the Day of the Lord at the beginning of the future great tribulation.  The second meaning and fulfillment of Matt 24:29-31 would then be that the future "great tribulation" will end with the gathering together of the Jews.

Thirdly, my understanding has come from letting scriptural comparisons give the interpretation.   1 Corinthians 2:13  "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

The fourth method that has helped me to understand Matthew 24 is through the study of the Feast of Trumpets and the Jewish Wedding, both of which teach about the pretribulation rapture. This commentary will not focus on the Wedding, nor the Feast of Trumpets, since those are each topics large enough for their own study, but I will bring the conclusions that those studies make to this discussion, as supporting evidence.

Although people who argue for the post tribulation rapture quote Matt 24:29-31 frequently, they usually have relatively little to say about the passage, giving little analysis, although they do typically attempt to make scriptural comparisons to 1 Thess 4-5, Rev 6 and Joel 2:31.  They often claim scripture is easy to understand, (in contrast to the Bible's statements about itself such as contained in Prov 25:2, Isaiah 44:18, Ezek. 14:9, 2 Cor 4:3, Matthew 11:25, Mat 13:10-11, 2 Peter 3:16, John 12:16, 16:12, 1Cor 2:7-8, 3:2, 13:12, 14:22). Thus, they claim that Matthew 24:29 is the final answer for their side of the debate, "it's after the tribulation", and think nothing else need be said.  While a few obvious scriptural comparisons of the stellar signs to the day of the Lord are often made, they are apt to draw the wrong conclusions because they refuse to acknowledge the stellar signs are related to Satan being cast out of heaven, they typically ignore comparisons to Deut 30:1-4, Isaiah 11 & 27 & Zech 2:6, and they erroneously place the Day of the Lord after the great tribulation.  They also assume the stellar signs of the sixth seal Revelation 6 must come late in the tribulation or after the tribulation, although there is no basis in Revelation 6 for making such a claim.

Matthew 24-25 is also known as "the Olivet Discourse".  Luke contains very similar wording to Matthew 24, but in Luke, parallel passages are spread out and contained in Luke chapters 12, 17, & 21.  Guessing when Jesus actually spoke each passage is part of the "Synoptic problem".  I will quote Luke and Mark to help explain Matthew, in line with the Bible's command that we should be "comparing spiritual things with spiritual", (1 Corinthians 2:13) and to let the Bible interpret itself.   I do not believe I need to prove when various things were said.  In all the gospel accounts, these are the words that Jesus spoke, and he probably repeated himself and certain themes all the time.  I would not claim that parallel passages are unimportant or irrelevant simply because another gospel records that Jesus spoke a parallel passage at a different time and place.  I cannot dismiss any scripture.    (2 Timothy 3:16) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."  Nor can I dismiss any slight nuance of scripture.  Paul and Jesus both made arguments that hung on a single letter or jot and tittle.  This examination is long because it examines many details.



Regarding double meanings:

There is a popular rule of Hermeneutics, or Bible interpretation, which says, "Although there can be more than one application in a passage, there can be only one meaning."  Unfortunately, I have never seen the Bible say this or teach this concept.  Nor have I ever seen anyone ever provide a scriptural basis for this method of understanding scripture. We should let scripture teach us how to interpret scripture, and not use arbitrary man-made rules that go against common sense.  This hermeneutic rule of "only one meaning" is a concept and tradition of men.

Such a rule is designed to prevent wild speculations of meanings.  However, as a man-made invented rule, designed to prevent man-made invented interpretations, it seems rather ironic and thus, self defeating.

Although this rule is popular among academic circles, I reject it.  There are other academic circles which laugh at such silly things, and I speak of five year olds who tell jokes which are funny because a word ends up meaning something other, or in addition to, that which was originally thought when setting up the joke.  Thus, since it is such common sense, I do not feel I have to prove the general principle that words in real life can have more than one meaning at once.

Nor do I feel a need to prove this from examples elsewhere in scripture, that words can have more than one meaning, or that passages can refer to two different prophetic events at once.  I suppose I could list 10-20 or so other examples in scripture where I see this happening, but then this would be a commentary on those cases, and not on Matt 24.  All I need to prove is that there is evidence in Matt 24 for double meanings, and my case is made.

In contrast, those who wish to prove their hermeneutic rule of "only one meaning" have an overwhelmingly large burden of proof upon them since they must prove that this is a rule which must apply everywhere in scripture.  Furthermore, they need to prove that God tells us somewhere in his book that this is the approach we must have.   They fail on both counts, and so I reject their rule as wrong.  The problem with umbrella rules like this is that one exception is enough to prove the rule invalid.

Thus, those who would discard my explanation of the pretribulation rapture in Matthew 24 on the basis of the rule of "only one meaning" really need to ask themselves which they value more, a rule of men, or the Word of God?

Furthermore, there are two ways this rule might not necessarily be invalidated by my exposition.  First, the word "tribulation", although referring to two times, still means "distress & trouble" in both cases.  Second, the "one meaning" may well be a choice of determining which ONE of three options is correct.  A. Tribulation refers to the future "great tribulation".  B.  Tribulation refers to the tribulation of Church history.  or C. Tribulation refers to both time periods.

I will conclude this section by saying that the "Word of God" itself has a duel meaning, since we use it not only as a term for the Bible, but it is also one of the names of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Revelation 19:13 "...his name is called The Word of God." John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..."



Duel meanings in the Olivet Discourse

In the Olivet Discourse itself, this technique of two prophecies being mixed together was being used regarding the subject of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Luke records the historical fulfillment more strongly than the other gospel accounts in Mark and Matthew.  When Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, the Christians fled when the army left.  (Luke 21:20 "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.")  This prophecy seems to be mixed together with the description of the abomination of desolation, which is yet future. That this passage contained relevant prophecy for early Christians should be enough evidence that the Olivet Discourse was not written to the Jews exclusively, but to us also, given that the people who took the warning to heart and fled were Christians.  After they fled, the Roman army came back and destroyed the city.  Then, Luke 21:6 was fulfilled by the armies who destroyed the Temple to retrieve the gold of the Temple which melted into the cracks between the stones.  (Luke 21:6  "As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.")

This historic fulfillment proves several things.  First, the Olivet discourse is prophecy, the Word of God, and that it is accurate and reliable beyond any of man's writings.  A near term partial fulfillment in prophetic writings often established their authority, even in Old Testament times.  Second, it shows that the passage clearly has a duel fulfillment in view, the historic abomination of desolation fulfillment of 70 AD with the destruction of the temple, and at least one more future fulfillment of the abomination of desolation. Third, we are given proof that elements in the passage are not given in chronological order, since Luke 21:20 was fulfilled first, when the armies surrounded, and then Luke 21:6 when the stones of the temple were later upturned.

It can be confusing to try and see two separate events that are both prophesied at once in the same passage of scripture.  Such requires much study, and perhaps this is what is meant in 2 Timothy 2:15  "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

This concept, that duel meanings exist in words and in prophecies, aids in understanding that the word "tribulation" in Matt 24:29, can easily refer to both the present day tribulation of Christians, and also the unique future time of great tribulation which is unlike any other.  And since this is the heart of the explanation of Matt 24:29, it should be no surprise that this hermeneutic of recognizing duel references is viciously attacked.

Truly, the passage is not as simple as post trib authors frequently claim.  I'm not saying that God is the author of confusion, but people, who do not know how to rightly divide the scriptures, and who may not have studied well, can be confused, and fail to recognize the principle from Proverbs 25:2 "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."  Misunderstanding can come from failing to search the scriptures fully, or by not having been taught correctly.  Truly my exposition is not necessary for understanding, since the Holy Spirit is the guide to all truth.  1 John 2:27 "...ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."  Nevertheless, God has provided teachers for the body of Christ (Hebrews 5:12, 2 Timothy 2:2,24, 1 Corinthians 12:28 ), and one cannot use 1 John 2:27 to reject knowledge of the scriptures.  The Holy Spirit and the Word of God should guide you, the reader, as to whether or not my scripture presentations are truth.



Is the Olivet Discourse addressed to the Jews "only", or Christians too?

It is a popular view that this passage is not written to Christians at all.  The view that this "entire" passage is to the "Jews only" is a rather broad umbrella type argument that would collapse if only one exception is found.  A context based argument such as "The passage is to the Jews only" cannot be rightfully used to refute that the rapture is being spoken of in the passage because such an over reaching context based argument collapses in the face of evidence to the contrary.    Here are eight obvious evidences that the Olivet Discourse, and thus Matt 24-25, is to Christians also, and not to the "Jews only".  I am not refuting that this passage is to the Jews, but rather, my point is that the actual context of the Olivet Discourse is spoken to both Jews and Christians:  Even if it be granted that Matt 24 is to the "Jews only", that would include true Christians who are Jews inwardly, since Christians are heirs of Abraham.  Romans 2:29 "But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."  Galatians 3:29  And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

1. Mark records at the end of the Olivet Discourse that Jesus said his words were for all, not just the disciples, in Mark 13:37 "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."

2.  Luke 12:35-44 mirrors this concept that a specific parable from the Olivet Discourse is spoken "unto all", but gives a slightly different answer.   Luke records the question from Peter to the Lord, "speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?"  This question is regarding the parables of watching for the thief, the goodman of the house, the faithful steward, and not knowing the day or hour.  These parables from Luke 12 are recorded as part of the Olivet Discourse in Mark 13:32-37 and Matt 24:42-47.  Mark's account of these same parables gives the more specific answer, Mark 13:37 "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."  It is as if Luke and Mark record different bits of the same conversation, Luke leaving out the answer "unto all", and Mark leaving out the question that repeats the same concept that the Lord is speaking "to all".   The answer in Luke 12:41-44 is not the phrase "unto all", the answer is the faithful steward who rules.  The faithful steward parable, in connection with the same context of the Lord coming at the unknown time, is repeated in Matthew 24:42-47.  Ruling is the promise to faithful Christians. (Rev 2:26-27, Rev 3:21, Rev 5:10).  Thus, if the Lord is speaking to the faithful steward who rules, he is speaking to Christians who will be raptured.

3.  The Olivet Discourse was spoken to the 12 disciples, who were Jews yes, but believing Jews.  And there is no difference between believers, Jew or Gentile, all in Christ are Christians.

Romans 10:12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:11  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

These speak of believing Jews.  There is no difference among those who are in Christ, among those who are believers.  The Jewish disciples, therefore, represent their fellow Christians.  The disciples might represent the unbelieving Jewish nation, but because the disciples are not unbelievers, they represent Christians first, and only maybe unbelieving Jews also, but only on a symbolic level.

4.  The martyrs for the faith in the Olivet Discourse were both the Apostles and Christians.  Luke 21:12 says they will be brought before kings, and Paul was arrested to be brought before Ceasar, Acts 25:10, Acts 27:24, Acts 28:19

Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

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.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Mark 13:11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

5.  Matt 24:4-13 read like a history of the Church.

6.  Luke's words from the Olivet Discourse saved the lives of Christians in 70 AD, when they had opportunity to flee before the destruction of the city.  Unbelieving Jews did not heed these words, and they perished in the city.  Christians heard these words, and Christian lives were saved.

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

7.  There are words to servants who are believers, Luke 12:42-48, Matt 24:45-51  Jews are not believers, but unbelievers.  Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

8.  Many people simply admit and feel that there is no basis for tearing out parts of the Bible as irrelevant to them.  Although there may be a phrase or verse that speaks to the Jews only, that is no basis for saying the entire prophetic passage is written only to them.  Likewise, the evidence above should not be construed to mean that the entire passage is to Christians only.  I believe the passage contains prophecies for both the now-unbelieving Jewish nation at large, and believing Christians all throughout history.

In addition to these several obvious quotes, each verse in Matt 24 that teaches about the rapture is an indirect piece of evidence that this passage is written to Christians who will be raptured.

What follows next are parallel bible verses that show Matt 24 contains prophecy which is specific for the Jews that have been scattered among the nations.



Matt 24:30-31 compared with Deut 30:1-4.

It is likely that Jesus had in mind several Old Testament passages regarding the return of the Jews when he spoke his words as recorded in Matt 24:30-31, (& Mark 13 & Luke 21): In the Greek Septuagint, many of the words are the same between Deut 30 and Matt 24.  Specifially, I will note that the word "heaven" can be used of the earth.  Jews who were "driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven" is a phrase meaning that people are driven to remote parts of the earth.

Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds,from one end of heaven to the other.

Deuteronomy 30: 1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:


Comparing Matt 24:30-31 to Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 27:12-13

I see that there are at least four concepts in common:

1.  The elect, Israel, are gathered together.
2.  There is a sign for the nations.
3.  The great trumpet shall be blown.
4.  They are gathered from the four corners of the earth.

Separately, these 4 concepts contain 8 elements:
1. The elect, Israel  2. are gathered together  3. there is a Sign  4. For the nations  5. Great Trumpet  6. Blown & sounds  7. From four corners  8. Of the Earth

The final comparison is that this is a supernatural gathering done by angels or by the Lord's power:  "be gathered one by one" with "he shall send his angels".  "The Lord shall set his hand... to recover... his people".

Isaiah 11:11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah 27:12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Isaiah 11:11 "the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people"
Isaiah 27:12 "ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel."
Isaiah 27:13  "they shall come which were ready to perish... and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem"
Matthew 24:31 "And he shall send his angels... they shall gather together his elect"

Isaiah 11:12 "he shall set up an ensign for the nations"
Matthew 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn"

Isaiah 27:13  "the great trumpet shall be blown"
Matthew 24:31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet"

Isaiah 11:12 "from the four corners of the earth."
Matthew 24:31 "from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Mark 13:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

These similarities are all contained in Matt 24:30-31, not verse 29 which I will examine in detail a bit later.  I will paraphrase the description of this event as:  The supernatural gathering together of the Israelites from the four corners of the earth when the great trumpet sounds after God has set up the sign of the Lord Jesus Christ for the nations.

The point of this scriptural comparison is to show that there is an event in Matt 24:30-31 which is NOT the rapture or translation of the Church to immortality.  This is the gathering together of the Jews or Israelites.  This should be enough to prove to those who already insist that the passage is about the rapture, which I agree with, that two events (the rapture, and the gathering of the Jews) are being mixed together in this one prophetic passage of Matt 24:30-31.



The following is a short list of other passages about the gathering together of the Jews, in addition to Deut 30:1-4 and Isaiah 11:11-12, 27:12-13.  Take special note of Zechariah 2:6, it contains the same phrasing as Matthew 24:31 about the "four winds" and "of the heaven"

Zechariah 2:6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 30:3 For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.

Jer 23:3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

Jer 23:7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

Isa 43:5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
Isa 43:6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;

See all of Ezekiel 36 & 37:
Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Ezekiel 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:

Ezekiel 39:27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;
28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.



Why the rapture is also in view in Matt 24:29-31

This event appears to be the rapture for several reasons.

1.  It reads like the rapture. Even if this passage were strictly and only speaking of the supernatural gathering together of the Jews carried one by one by Angels to another location, that alone is certainly similar to various rapture events such as happened to Philip in Acts 8:39-40 who was transported from place to place, and to Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11-12

2.  The parallel passage from the gospel of Mark 13:27 says they are gathered "from... earth to... heaven."  The rapture is a gathering of people into the air, 1 Thess 4:17.

3.  It is "A great sound of A trumpet" in Matthew and not necessarily "the great trumpet" of Isaiah 27:13.  Why is Matthew more vague, saying "a trumpet" instead of "the great trumpet"?  Is it because two events are in view?  The point is that a trumpet sounding blast is a key element of the rapture mentioned in 1 Thess 4:16 "the trump of God" and 1 Cor 15:52, "at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound."

4.  It mentions the son of man "coming in the clouds", as does 1 Thess 4:17. "...caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..."

5.  As I have already noted, and will continue to explore, Matthew 24 is filled with double references.  These passages can easily be describing BOTH the pretribulation rapture, and the posttribulation gathering together of the Jews.  I believe it is typical of the Lord to conceal things in prophecies like this.  It hides things from unbelievers, and makes the study of his word glorious, bringing glory to God.  ("It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." --Prov 25:2)

Furthermore, a third event might also be in view which is the posttribulation return from out of heaven of those who were previously raptured.  The return of the saints from out of heaven following Jesus Christ is pictured in Revelation 19.  The first reason for this idea is that Matthew writes they are gathered "from one end of heaven to the other" and not gathered from the earth as does Mark.  The second reason is the "great trumpet", because this is associated with the Day of Atonement, which should be fulfilled at the end of the tribulation with the defeat of Satan.  The third reason might be that the two events, the gathering of the Jews from the earth, and the gathering of the saints from heaven, all together into Christ's presence at his return, happens at the same time.  If these two gatherings from the earth and heaven happen at once, it would make sense that these two events are blended together in scripture.  Thus, the term "elect" can easily refer to both the Jews and to the previously raptured Christians.

6.  Matt 24:30 appears to be the rapture because of the mention of the sign, "the sign of the Son of man in heaven".  Those who deny the pretribulation rapture have challenged, "Where does the Bible ever describe two returns in one verse?".  Well, in Matt 24:30, the "son of man" is mentioned twice, first as a sign in heaven, and then, after the nations mourn, he is coming in the clouds.  The pretribulation rapture would, indeed, be a sign for the nations.

As an aside, if the rapture is "the sign of the Son of man in heaven", then it supports the argument that Jesus remains in heaven at the rapture.    This is an important point, because it refutes the argument from Acts 3:21 that Jesus cannot return before the "time of restitution of all things" which is supposed to be after the tribulation.  This argument is refuted because Jesus remains in the sky, in heaven, at the rapture.  (Sky and heaven are nearly interchangable terms in scripture.)  Acts 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

I wonder, if the sign of the son of man in heaven is not the rapture, then what else would it be?  And there is no statement in Matt 24:30 that the three sequential events need happen simultaneously.  There could easily be 7 years from the sign to the coming of Christ in glory.  After all, there needs to be time for the nations to mourn, which would be the tribulation.



7.  Margaret Macdonald

Margaret Macdonald, in her vision, appears to identify "the sign of the Son of man" from Matt 24:30 with the rapture.  The entire vision, "as published in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861)" can be found online at http://www.geocities.com/bibleprophesy/vision.htm

I agree with Margaret Macdonald that the rapture is the "sign of the son of man in heaven".  After that, the nations will mourn because it will be during the tribulation.  There is scriptural support for Margaret Macdonald's position that there will be a time when only a few, the blessed, those filled by the spirit, will see the Lord (Matthew 5:8, John 11:40, Hebrews 9:28, Numbers 22:23, Acts 9:7) and this would be the rapture.   I agree with Margaret Macdonald that the verses "one taken and the other left" from Matt 24: and Luke 17 refer to the rapture, as I will explain further.  She also identifies the ten virgin parable as a parable that explains the rapture, and I agree with that, too.

I am not appealing to her vision as if she is an authority on the subject.  But her writings has helped to clarify some of my views since much of what she said is a paraphrase of scriptural teachings.  Scripture is the only authority, and is sufficient to show the idea:

One only needs to turn to 1 Thess 4:17 to see that at the rapture, the Lord is returning in the heavens, which is much like a "sign of the son of man in heaven".

If the "sign of the son of man in heaven" is the rapture, whether the nations see the Lord or not at that time is not the issue.  Margaret suggests they will not see the Lord -- and this may be the origin of the "secret rapture" idea -- but that's not the issue.  The nations will certainly see the results of the rapture.  And in that case, it will certainly be a sign for all people.  Whether they understand it correctly as the rapture of the righteous or whether the nations are deceived by any one of the many possible lies about it afterwards (2 Thes 2:11) is the real issue.  Some such lies might be "that was the rapture of the wicked", or "those people not ready for the earth changes and not ready to evolve to the higher plane were removed", or that "those were abducted by space aliens", or any combination of the above.

Matt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.



8.  The emotional state of the nations

That the tribes of the earth mourn, (bewailing, lamanting, in grief, cut off, [kopto --Strong's) is unlike how they are described at the end of the tribulation, which is in anger.  "Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come..."  How can one be lamenting in grief, and provoked to wrath at the same time?  It seems that sadness would be the appropriate emotion for the nations after the pretribulation rapture, when millions of people have disappeared and the world thrown into chaos.  And anger aptly describes the world that has gathered together to battle at Armageddon.

Mourning, bewailing, or lamenting in grief, is a description that fits the rapture parable of Matt 25:1-13, where the foolish virgins are left behind the shut door of the rapture.  Other false-believers to whom the Lord says "I know you not" are described as weeping and gnashing their teeth.  First, those who didn't have the proper wedding garment in Matthew 22:13 are described as "weeping and gnashing of teeth".  Second, the evil servant in Matthew 24:51 is described as "weeping and gnashing of teeth".  Third, it's the unprofitable servant who mourns, Matthew 25:30 "And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Both mourning and anger seem incompatible with the description of the world that is carrying on as usual with normal daily activities and taking no note.  Thus, the time when people are not taking any note is appropriate for before armageddon when people are in anger, and before the tribulation when people are in mourning.  Thus, when people are "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage", this is the time before the rapture, before the tribulation.

Matthew 24:
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

This description in Matt 24:36-41 where people are living their lives as usual, is out of place with the description of how they will act after the beginning of the stellar signs and the Day of the Lord when the nations are mourning, as described in verses 29-31.  The mourning in grief and lamenting seems most appropriate for the beginning of the tribulation, and anger is appropriate for the end.

Thus, we have three descriptions of the emotional state of the nations, which represent three different times.  Life as usual before the rapture at the start of the tribulation.  Mourning after the rapture in the tribulation.  And finally, anger at the end of the tribulation at Armageddon.  This also shows that the description of Matt 24:29-31 is apt for the beginning of the great tribulation, at the start of the Day of the Lord.

Isaiah 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Isaiah 2:19 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.

Amos 5:16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.

Zephaniah 1:10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
11 Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

Joel 1:13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.

Thus, the emotional state of the nations may be a strong clue to what is being described here, which is the tribulation of the Day of the Lord.

Matt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

The tribes of the earth mourning seems to most appropriately describe the start of the day of the Lord, just after the pretribulation rapture.  This is long before the world has turned angry at Armageddon.



9.  They vs. You

And there is another key word in this verse:  THEY.  It says "they shall see the Son of man"...  Now, if seeing Christ return after the tribulation was the blessed hope of the believer, wouldn't the appropriate word be YOU?  Why the change, unless it signifes that faithful believers, YOU, are no longer there?

Luke also contains the different words "they" and "you", but also includes a phrase that might be a final warning to be especially ready, which suggests to be ready for the rapture.

Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

The question must be asked, why didn't Jesus say in verse 27, "and then shall YOU see the Son of man coming"?  The answer is that YOU would be behind Jesus, following after him as depicted in Rev 19.  The armies that follow him out of heaven would include faithful believers such as YOU.

The phrase "when these things begin to come to pass" indicates a pretribulation rapture before all these things come to pass.  It does not say "after these things completely come to pass..."  Nor does it say "when these things begin to come to pass, hide your heads, for you will have to endure tribulation for several years".  And a few verses later, Luke records one of the strongest pretribulation verses in the Bible:

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

In order to escape the abomination of desolation, which is among "all these things that shall come to pass", the rapture must be before the tribulation.

Regarding the abomination of desolation, it also says "YOU", instead of "they".  It has been argued that this indicates that we would have to go through the tribulation to become the "YOU" that sees the abomination.  But this is a wrong conclusion for the following reason.  All the word "you" proves is that there will be believers in the tribulation.   But "believers in the tribulation" is not a valid reason to say the rapture could not have happened earlier.  Some people left behind after the rapture will repent.  From Rev 3:10, we see that the tribulation is the "hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."  So, some will be tried and found faithful who were not raptured and kept from the hour.  Scriptural examples of saints in the tribulation are from Rev 7, the "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations" & Rev 12:17, the "the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."  Revelation 12:17's "remnant" are those left behind after the rapture of the man child, which we will see is the rapture of the Church.



10.  The Stellar Signs & Satan's Fall

To understand Matt 24:29, we must examine the meaning and timing of the stellar signs.  First, I will briefly discuss a possible literal meaning, then the symbolic.

Matt 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Literally, the sun is darkened every day it sinks below the horizon at night.  The moon is darkened for a time every month before the new moon. (There is a difference between the observable new moon, and the astronomical new moon.  The Bible's new moon is when you can first see the new sliver of light.  The astronomical new moon is the moment the moon is closest to the sun for the few days it is not observable at all.)  If you were looking for a time when the sun and moon are dark, it would be when the moon is near the sun and not seen at all at night.  Looking across the night sky from dusk to dawn, the stars in the sky literally spin around the north pole.  Looking toward the setting sun in the west, the stars would continue to fall toward that same horizon all night long, and neither the sun or moon would be seen all night long.  This time period happens every month for a few days just before the new moon.  The Feast of Trumpets is the only feast that occurs on the new moon, so this description of the stellar signs might be a type of a reference to this Feast.

Solar and Lunar eclipses and meteor showers are also noted as possible literal natural interpretations of this verse.  The sun and moon and stars might also literally go black by the hand of God, as God is able to work such miracles and signs, as he made the sun stand still or go backwards in previous times.  Now to discuss the symbolic meaning:

Matt 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Nearly all of those who teach the post trib rapture hang their entire argument on saying that these stellar signs happen at the end of the tribulation.   I believe these stellar signs suggest the pretribulation event of Satan being cast out of heaven, which lends additional evidence to the idea that Matthew 24:29-31 is a prophecy of two events, which will take place at two times.  I believe the Bible teaches that the stellar signs symbolically represent Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven.  The Bible is clear in Rev 12 that Satan is cast out of heaven BEFORE the tribulation.

Each of the three phrases from verse 24:29, individually and alone, can signify the fall of Satan from out of heaven, and there are several scriptural comparisons for each phrase.
1.  the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light
2.  the stars shall fall from heaven
3.  the powers of the heavens shall be shaken



Matthew 24:29 says "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken", which strongly suggests this is referring to Satan & his angels being cast out of heaven.

Satan is a power "in high places". Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

According to Job & Revelation, Satan has access to heaven to accuse the brethren.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

What happens when a power of heaven is shaken?  Hebrews implies and inteprets the phrase the "heavens shall be shaken" as a specific singular event which will remove Satan and all his angels.

Hebrews 12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

There are ten verses which contain the terms "shake & heaven" which are, Isaiah 13:13, Ezekiel 38:20, Joel 3:16, Haggai 2:6, Haggai 2:21, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:25, Luke 21:26, Hebrews 12:26, Revelation 6:13.  Isaiah 13:13 is significant because it also associates this with the Day of the Lord and the stellar signs.  Revelation 6:13 puts this event at the sixth seal.



The concept of the sun & moon & stars going dark is associated with Satan's fall in Isaiah and Ezekiel.

Isaiah links Satan's fall with the stellar signs three times.

First, Isaiah 13:9-13, mentions the Day of the Lord, and the stellar signs and the heavens being shaken.  Then, after this report, the next chapter continues, "Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:"  Lucifer means "light-bearer" or "morning star" and verse 14:13 says "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God" which implies rulership over other angels.

Moving back to Isaiah 13, we see that between verse 10 and 13, which our verse Matthew 24:29 is very nearly quoting, we see in Isaiah 13:11 that God "will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible."  This must refer to Satan's fall as Satan is both proud and terrible.

Isaiah 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

Second, Isaiah 24: "the host of the high ones that are on high" are the fallen angels in heaven.  Again, the timing of their punishment is associated with the sun and moon going dark, the words are "confounded" and "ashamed".
21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

Third, Isaiah 34 links figs falling with the "host of the heavens shall fall down". The figs falling is an element of Rev 6:12-17, the sixth seal, which also lists the same stellar signs.

Isaiah 34:4  And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

Rev 6:13 specifically links the figs falling with the stars falling, and appears to be quoting that part of Isaiah.  It even brings back the concept of the heavens being shaken, as is mentioned in Isaiah 13 and Matthew 24.

Revelation 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13  And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

Ezekiel makes similar comparisons between the stars, sun & moon going dark and Satan's fall, "when I shall put thee out... in the day of thy fall".

Ezekiel 32
7 And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.
8 All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.
9 I will also vex the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known.
10 Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall.

Some have weakly protested that Ezekiel 32 is a prophecy to the Pharoh of Egypt and therefore, cannot be about Satan.  But such a protest fails to take into consideration the context of Ezekiel, where a few chapters earlier, in Ezekiel 28, prophecies of Satan are mixed with an earthly king.  And this type of prophecy, mixing together the fate of Satan and Kings continues through the chapters leading up to Chapter 32.



The concept of stars falling in Revelation 12 is symbolic language of Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven.  The stars in Rev 12 are representative of Satan and his angels.

Rev 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Stars are shown to represent Angels.  Job 38:7, Rev 1:20, Rev 9:1, Rev 22:16.

And finally, regarding the stellar signs in Rev 6:12-17.  Although I believe the comparison valid, I find no justification for saying that the sixth seal in Revelation 6 must happen late in the tribulation.

This was not an exhaustive list of the stellar signs.  These were merely the passages that I have been able to find so far that associate this event with Satan and the heavenly host being cast down out of heaven.  And this was also not an exhaustive list of all verses which pronounce judgment on the heavenly host and describe their fate.  But this should be more than enough evidence to prove the symbolic meaning of the stellar signs of Matt 24:29, that this is speaking of Satan being cast out of heaven.

Isaiah 13 and Joel 2 clearly link the event of the stellar signs to the "Day of the Lord".

Isaiah 2 says that in the Day of the Lord everyone proud (which I would expect would include Satan) will be humiliated, which I take to mean that Satan will be brought low, or cast out of heaven as the other passages say, and I will examine this argument in greater detail when examining the timing of the "day of the Lord".

Isaiah 2:11 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.
12 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:

The Lord's Return as Lightning

Another strong reason why Satan's fall is in view in Matt 24:29 is that verse 27 says "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."  Satan's fall is also described as lightning.  Luke 10:18 "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."  This strongly suggests that Matt 24:27 is describing the return of Jesus at the rapture at which time Satan is cast out of heaven.

Some have suggested that Satan was cast out of heaven at the time Jesus spoke his words.  However, it is more likely that Jesus spoke of a vision, "I beheld".  Jesus did not say, "Behold, Satan has fallen".  Thus, the vision is what happened in the past tense, not the event of Satan's fall.

In the parallel account in Luke 17:20-24, and in the context of Matt 24:23-27, the coming as lightning is spoken in contrast to the physical appearing of the antichrist in a specific location.  The Lord's return as lightning does not seem to describe the physical return of the Lord to earth after the tribulation.  The description of lightning is absent from descriptions of the second coming.  Lightning is not mentioned in Zechariah 14 nor in Revelation 19, nor in any of the scriptures which describe the Lord's return to Bozrah, Isaiah 34:1-7, 63:1-6, Habakkuk 3:3, Michah 2:12-13.

Matt 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

Believers are not to listen to anyone who claims to be the Messiah, the Christ.
Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

The return of Jesus as lightning is spoken of as being in contrast to the antichrist's physical presence.  In other words, do not go after anyone claiming to be Christ, because Jesus is returning as lightning.

Lightning is a quick instantaneous flash.  The rapture also happens "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye..." 1 Cor 15:52.  In contrast, after the tribulation, the Lord returns at battle over a period time, not instantaneously.



Satan cast out of heaven before the tribulation in Revelation 12 & before the Pretribulation Rapture

There are several passages which tells us when the stellar signs occur, and I will explain several of those next.  Building on the conclusion that the stellar signs represent Satan's fall, I have concluded that the stellar signs are a pretribulation event.  Revelation 12 supports this idea that the stellar signs occur before the tribulation.  Satan and his angels, described as stars, are cast out of heaven before Satan is to rule for 42 months during the second half of the tribulation.

Satan and his demons are the "third part of stars" that fall from heaven.  Rev 12 gives the description twice.  Compare Rev 12:4 with verse 9.

Rev 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Also note:  Daniel 8:10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.

After each of these two descriptions, Rev 12:4-5 & 9-10, is a rapture & salvation verse, strongly suggesting that the event of Satan and his angels being cast out occurs at the pretribulation rapture. Compare Rev 12:5 with verse 10.

Rev 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

In addition, the description of the tribulation is given twice, compare: verse 6 with 14.  Verse 13 shows clearly that Satan is cast out BEFORE the tribulation yet the man child brought forth is already in the PAST.

Rev 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

Rev 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

A common interpretation is that these verses only prove that Satan is cast out of heaven at the middle of the 7 year tribulation, right before the last 3.5 years.   But in fact, verse 13 does not include information about the 3.5 years.  It only mentions that Satan persecutes the woman after he is cast to the earth.  Given the language and phrasing, it is quite possible that 3.5 years or more of time pass between when Satan is cast out, and when he is actually able to persecute the woman.

There are several common sense reasons why Satan is cast out of heaven prior to the 7 year tribulation.

First, from Rev 12:4-5, Satan is cast out of heaven just as the man child is raptured to God's throne.  The rapture of the man child is the pretribulation rapture of the Church.  Every description of the man child is applicable to the Church:

[Rev 12:4] And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
[Rev 12:5] And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Every single characteristic of the man child applies to both Christ AND the Church.  Christ rules, and we rule as his bride (1.  over the nations, 2. with a rod of iron, 3.  sitting on his throne).
Rev 2:26 He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations,
Rev 2:27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father;
Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

The woman in Rev 12 is Israel, and the early Church was born out of the Jews who were converted.

The man child, from Isaiah 66, is a nation which is delivered, or caught up to God, before the travail, (the time of trouble, the tribulation, the Day of the Lord).  This means that the man child rapture of the Church is before the tribulation.

Isa 66:7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.

Since the man child is a nation, this cannot be "Jesus only" because Jesus is not a nation, but rather the "man child nation" born at once before the travail, is the "body of Christ", or true Christians which are a "nation".
1 Peter 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

I will pause from listing 5 reasons why Satan is cast out prior to the tribulation for a moment, to discuss further why Revelation 12 refers to and describes the rapture of the Chruch.  Revelation 12 has "Feast of Trumpets" symbolism all over it, and the Feast of Trumpets teaches about the pretribulation rapture.  As was noted by Greg Killian, whose work has spread over the internet, the first several verses of Revelation 12 describe the constellations of the stars on the day of the Feast of Trumpets for four years from 1996 to 1999.  The new moon was being birthed between and beneath the legs of the constellation of Virgo, as the virgin was laying on her back and her feet in the air, with the sun near her head just beneath the horizon.  The constellation of Draco the Dragon, which is positioned next to Virgo, is seen looking down at the drama unfolding.  This shows several things.  First, that the new moon man child being born represents both Christ and Christians.  The new moon reflects the light of the sun just as Christians reflect the light of Jesus. Second, it shows that the rapture is like a birth.  Christ was likely born on or near the Feast of Trumpets, and was also likely baptised on or near the day, 3.5 years prior to his death on Passover.  Being "born again" is a requirement of seeing the Kingdom as shown in John 3:1-10.  Christ's resurrection, which is the model for ours, he is described as the "firstborn" from the dead in Col 1:18.  And finally, there is an unexplained rapture at a baptism in Acts 8 with Philip.

Getting back on track of listing reasons why Satan is cast out prior to the tribulation.  Second, if the rapture of Christians into heaven is pretrib, and Satan is cast out of heaven later at the mid trib, then all Christians made immortal and caught up to heaven would confront Satan and all his host.  Such a conflict is never mentioned anywhere in scripture.  The location where we would most expect to read about such a confrontation would be in Revelation chapters 4 & 5, which describe a scene in heaven just after the rapture in Rev 4:1, and there is no mention of any such conflict.

Third, as Revelation 12:12 makes clear, Satan knows his time is short at the moment he is cast out of heaven.  If the tribulation started and Satan was not yet cast out of heaven, Satan would know his time is short 3.5 years prior to when he is actually cast out of heaven, and thus, Satan's wrath would start while he is still in heaven.  But Satan's wrath does not start when he is in heaven because of the way the verse reads.

Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

As it is today, prior to the pretribulation rapture, neither Satan nor any of the angels knows how long he has left, nor do we.

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

After the rapture, Satan will finally know he has only 7 years left.  Since the verse says this knowledge of how little time is left is the cause of Satan's wrath, then Satan's wrath must begin at the start of the 7 year tribulation.  And since the verse says this wrath happens when Satan is cast down, then Satan is cast down at the start of the 7 year tribulation.

Fourth, the first phrase in Rev 12:12, "rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them" is yet another indicator that the rapture has happened by the time the devil is cast down.  Those who "dwell in heaven" would include the raptured saints.  The peculiar phrasology of "dwell in heaven" and "inhabiters of the earth" signifies that there is someplace different where men can dwell, otherwise the verse could just as easily say "rejoice ye angels, and woe to you people".  If we ignore the specifics of scripture and translate the verse to the more general "rejoyce angels, woe people" we are taking away from scripture.  I'll say that again.  In order for the phrases "dwell in heaven" and "inhabiters of the earth" to be most applicable and accurate descriptive phrases containing specific meaning, there must be another location where people are dwelling at that time.  The more general phrase "woe to people", or even a specific "woe to living people" would not be accurate if there are people dwelling in heaven who will never experience Satan's wrath in the tribulation.  Thus, the rapture must have taken place at the time Satan is cast out.  Further, we know there are people in heaven during the tribulation because Rev 19:1 starts out with people in heaven singing praises, prior to the return.

Fifth, the major kings of world kingdoms were often prophesied against as if they were Satan, or at least a representative of Satan.  As for King Nebuchadnezzar, he was forced to become as a beast for seven times as described in Daniel 4.  This is a foreshadow of the length of the tribulation, as the concept of "times" becomes a measure of time to describe parts of the tribulation "time times and half a time."  Just as the king became a beast for seven times, Satan will be reduced to a man or beast for the seven times, or seven years, of the tribulation.  This does not imply that Satan will rule for seven times.  The first half of the tribulation will be needed in order for the antichrist to rise to world power.

Sixth, the "son of perdition" is a term used to describe both Judas and the antichrist.  John 17:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.  Satan entered Judas to possess him.  Luke 22:3 John 13:27.  Thus, most scholars believe that Satan will personally enter the antichrist as well.  Additional evidence that Satan will enter and possess the antichrist is that the antichrist rises to power with Satan's power in 2 Thess 2:9, Daniel 8:22-25.  Thus, the revealing of the man of sin would be a clue that Satan must have already been cast down to possess the antichrist.

The man of sin is revealed when he signs the covenant with many for 7, as in Daniel 9:27, since confirming a covenant with many would be a public action revealing him.  Some people think the man of sin is revealed in the middle of the tribulation, and they quote 2 Thess 2:3-4.

[2Thess 2:3] Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
[2Thess 2:4] Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

However, the language does not say "when" it says "who".  This is a crucial distinction.  It means that 2 Thess 2:4 is a description of the man of sin, it does not describe the event of the revealing from the prior verse.  Let me say that again, the word "who" means that verse 4 describes who, the man of sin himself, not the event.  To mean that the revealing takes place at the moment the man of sin declares himself God would mean that the world would have to be completely ignorant of a man who has led the world to the brink of accepting him as God, but nobody really noticed up until that point.  Daniel is quite clear that the man of sin is revealed at the start of the week, when he performs the public action of "confirming the covenant with many".

[Dan 9:27] And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

There are a great many scriptures in Daniel and Revelation which describe the political rise to power of the antichrist, and the antichrist will be revealed when he begins to fulfill those prophecies, particuarly Daniel 9:27, which begins the final 7 year tribulation.

Getting back to 2 Thess 2, it gives the occasion for the revealing of the man of sin in two parallel passages, both of which hint the rapture is what causes the revealing:

2 Thess 2:3 "...except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed..."
2 Thess 2:7-8 "...only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed..."

The word translated "falling away" is apostasia, the meaning of which is also among the most heavily debated words and passages in the Bible regarding the pretribulation rapture debate.  The two basic definitions are 1. a falling away from the faith and 2. a physical departure.  The second meaning comes from the root word "aphistemi" which is translated "departure" in the KJV.  This duel meaning might be most appropriate since Satan being cast out of heaven is also described by the concept of "falling".   Some have also suggested that the he who will be "taken out of the way" is none other than Satan himself.  Perhaps if Satan is in heaven that would mean that he is "in the way" of our being raptured into heaven?  Or, if the he who will be "taken out of the way" is the Church, then when we are raptured into heaven, then Satan can be revealed.

The seventh and perhaps strongest reason why Satan is cast out of heaven before the full length of the tribulation is that as I have shown, Satan's casting out is associated with the stellar signs.  As I will show next, the Day of the Lord is the tribulation.  And as Joel 2:31 states, the stellar signs happen before the Day of the Lord.  Thus, Satan is cast out (stellar signs) of heaven before the tribulation (Day of the Lord).

Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.



Reasons why the Day of the Lord begins at the start of the Tribulation, that these are both the same time:

1. the time unlike any other, such as never was, and never will be.

Most people who deny the pretribulation rapture compare Matt 24:29 which puts the stellar signs "after the tribulation", and Joel 2:31 which puts the stellar signs "before the Day of the Lord".  They then happily and simply conclude that the order of events is as follows: the tribulation, then the stellar signs, then the day of the Lord.  They conclude this in order to put the day of the Lord and the rapture after the tribulation.  This poses a serious problem, however, because both the tribulation and the Day of the Lord are described as a unique time unlike any other, such as never was, and will never be.  So, if there are two sequential time periods, each of which is worse than any other, and no other day will be like it, that's quite an unresolved paradox in their theology; which time is the time of trouble unlike any other, the tribulation or the Day of the Lord?

Matthew 24:21  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Daniel 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.

Joel 2:
1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

This unique phrase, this unique time, must be one time period. There can be only ONE day or time unlike any other, there can only be one worst time.  They cannot be sequential time periods.  The Day of the Lord and the great tribulation are the same time of trouble and distress.  After being presented with this evidence, the only way one can deny it is to say that each of these unique times are still so unique they really are unlike each other.  Yet, as we shall see, the two times are described in the same terms!



2.  Zephaniah 1:15 describes the day of the Lord as "tribulation, trouble, or distress".

This shows that the great tribulation (a day unlike any other), and the Day of the Lord (a day unlike any other), are speaking of the same time.  Yes, the Day of the Lord, is clearly described as tribulation, distress, trouble.

Zephaniah 1:
14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

Other translations, such as the NIV translate the word for tribulation in Matt 24:29 as "distress". --In which case we would have an exact match.  The Worldwide English translation says "time of trouble" for Matt 24:29.  Of course, the words in Zephaniah 1:15 is not the exact same word as in Matt 24:29, one is Hebrew, the other is Greek.  Here are the definitions from Strong's concordance so you can see how well they match:  They match extremely well, even being derived from similar root words meaning a narrow compressed tightness, trouble, distress.

Matt 24:29 "tribulation" GREEK
2347 thlipsis {thlip'-sis}
                 from 2346; TDNT - 3:139,334; n f
                 AV - tribulation 21, affliction 17, trouble 3, anguish 1,
                 persecution 1, burdened 1, to be afflicted + 1519 1; 45
                 1) a pressing, pressing together, pressure
                 2) metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits
2346 thlibo {thlee'-bo}
                 akin to the base of 5147; TDNT - 3:139,334; v
                 AV - trouble 4, afflict 3, narrow 1, throng 1, suffer tribulation 1; 10
                 1) to press (as grapes), press hard upon
                 2) a compressed way
                 2a) narrow straitened, contracted
                 3) metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress

Zeph 1:15 "trouble" HEBREW
06869 tsarah {tsaw-raw'}
                 from 06862; TWOT - 1973c,1974b; n f
                 AV - trouble 44, distress 8, affliction 7, adversity 5, anguish 5,
           tribulation 3, adversary 1; 73
                 1) straits, distress, trouble
                 2) vexer, rival wife
06862 tsar {tsar} or tsar {tsawr}
                 from 06887; TWOT - 1973a,1973b,1974a,1975a; adj
                 AV - enemy 37, adversary 26, trouble 17, distress 5, affliction 3,
                 foes 2, narrow 2, strait 2, flint 1, sorrow 1, misc 9; 105
                 1) narrow, tight
                 2) straits, distress
                 3) adversary, foe, enemy, oppressor
                 4) hard pebble, flint

Zeph 1:15 "distress"
04691 m@tsuwqah {mets-oo-kaw'} or m@tsuqah {mets-oo-kaw'}
                 from 04690; TWOT - 1895e; n f
                 AV - distress 6, anguish 1; 7
                 1) straitness, distress, straits, stress

The five word concepts, "trouble, distress, tribulation, affliction, straits" are contained in both the Greek and Hebrew words.  Not only that, but as we just saw, Daniel 12:1 and Jeremiah 30:7 both used the phrase "time of trouble".

3.  The Day of the Lord is also described as the "trouble":
Some people easily identify the tribulation with the time of trouble in Daniel 21:1 or Jeremiah 30:7, but continue to refuse to identify it with the Day of the Lord, because that would conflict with their theology.  But the Day of the Lord, which is clearly described as travail, is also described as the "trouble" in Isaiah 26:16-21:

Isaiah 26:16 LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.
17 Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD.

4.  The Day of the Lord and the Tribulation from Matt 24 are both the "time of travail or birth pains or labor pains".

Matthew 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. KJV
Matthew 24:8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. NIV

Isaiah 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

1 Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 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.

Those who identify the time of Jacob's trouble with the great tribulation, must also identify it with the Day of the Lord, because of the birth pains, and travail.

Jeremiah 30:6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?
Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.

See also: Revelation 12:2, Isaiah 66:7-9, which I have already discussed in the context of the rapture of the man child (Rev 12:4) nation (Isaiah 66) happening before the travail.  This all means that the rapture happens before the great tribulation, before the Day of the Lord, before the time of trouble.

5. The Day of the Lord is the "wrath of God", and the wrath of God will be the entire seven year tribulation week, the 70th week of Daniel.

In Daniel Chapter 9, Daniel realizes that his people have not repented and turned back to God during their 70 years of captivity.  This troubles him, probably because he knows the law in Leviticus 2618-24, which says that if the people do not repent after being punished, there will be a punishment seven times as great.  Sure enough, at the end of Chapter 9, we see the 70 years become 70 weeks of years.  Ezra writes how the 70 years were the wrath of God.

Ezra 5:12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the
Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.

Since the 70 years were from the wrath of God, the seven fold judgment of 70 weeks of years will also be the wrath of God.  The first 69 weeks of years were troublesome, the wall and street were rebuilt in "troublous times", and so too, will the last week be troublesome, the "time of trouble" from Jer 30:6-7.

Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

The 70 years was a "curse poured out upon us" (Dan 9:11), and the 70 weeks of years are a curse of the Law in Leviticus 26.  Since Christians are not under the curse of the law, (Gal 3:13) Christians are not appointed to endure this time of the curse of the law, the 70th week.

Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Additionally, Christians are not appointed to wrath.

1 Thess 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Therefore, Christians will be raptured before the wrath of God during the Day of the Lord.

Zeph 1:14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

Isaiah 13:9  Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

6.  The "Day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night" (1 Thess 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10)

The "thief in the night" is a wedding reference which shows that the groom comes to steal away (rapture) his bride like a thief.  Thus, the Day of the Lord begins with the rapture.

7.  Luke describes the "great distress" or tribulation as containing wrath.

Luke 21:23  But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

8.  Destruction of crops and famine takes place during the Day of the Lord.

Joel Chapter 1 describes destruction of vegetation leading to famine as a part of the Day of the Lord.  This is like the first trumpet of Rev 8:7.  Famine is also mentioned in Revelation 6:5-8, the fourth seal, and in Revelation 18:8.

9.  Death of sea life takes place during the Day of the Lord.

Zephaniah Chapter 1:3 describes the Day of the Lord as the death of the fishes of the sea, which appear to cause the cry of the fishermen in the fish gate.

Zeph 1:3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked: and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.
Zeph 1:10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.

Thus, the second Trumpet and Vial are in the Day of the Lord because both involve the death of fishes of the sea.

Rev 8:
8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

Rev 16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

The day of the Lord certainly cannot come after the second vial, when sea life is destroyed.

10.  Satan will be brought low in the Day of the Lord.

Isaiah 2 says "the Lord alone shall be exalted" in the Day of the Lord.  Many have mistakenly thought that since Satan is worshipped by men in the tribulation, that this proves that the Day of the Lord comes after the great tribulation.  However, Isaiah 2 actually proves the opposite, that Satan will be brought low and cast out of heaven in the Day of the Lord.  Since Satan is cast out of heaven before the great tribulation, as I have shown in Revelation 12, then the Day of the Lord must begin before the great tribulation.

Isaiah 2:11  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.
Isaiah 2:12  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:

Satan is included in the phrase "upon every one that is proud and lofty", since Satan's main attribute is pride and self exaltation.  Some have suggested that the context of Isaiah 2, (verse 11) means that men only, and not the fallen angels, will be "humbled and bowed down", despite the inclusiveness of the language "upon every one".  It does not say "upon every man".   A closer examination of the context of Isaiah 2 says that this day is not only upon "every one" but also upon every cedar, oak, mountain, hill, tower, wall, ship and picture, Isaiah 2:13-16.  Interestingly, between the chapters in Ezekiel which describe the fall of Satan in great detail, Chapters 28-32 (specifically Ezekiel 31) its describes Satan as a tree.  Satan might also be likened to a mountain: Jeremiah 51:25, Ezekiel 38:20, Luke 3:5, Rev 6:14, 8:8, 17:9, Matthew 21:21.  But regardless of whether trees or mountains might be symbolic of Satan, the wording "upon every one that is proud and lofty" surely includes Satan whose pride was the cause of his fall.

Isaiah 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

Isaiah further clarifies the point that the day will include "the host of the high ones that are on high", which would be the fallen heavenly host of Satan and his angels.

Isaiah 24:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.

Getting back to the main point, Satan, during the tribulation, does not actually succeed in fulfilling his goal of exalting himself "above the stars of God" or "above all that is called God", he simply tries to exalt himself.  It seems simple enough to say that Satan's statement about himself, "I am God" is simply another lie.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Those who insist that the Day of the Lord cannot be during the tribulation, on the grounds that someone other than God is exalted, are actually arguing that Satan IS exalted.  Thus, their argument depends on exalting Satan!  But their argument still fails because the word "exalted" does not mean "to be worshiped".  Yes, Satan is worshipped during the tribulation.  But the Hebrew word for "exalted" means to be set safe and secure on high, and at the time of the tribulation, Satan is cast low, out of heaven, "...for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Rev 12:12).  Satan in the tribulation is neither secure, nor high, nor safe, he is not truly exalted in any sense of the word.  Satan in the tribulation will be far away from accomplishing his goal as stated in Isaiah 14:13, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God", because the stars (angels) of God will have just finished casting him out of heaven.  Rev 12:7-8

During the tribulation, scripture says that Satan "exalts himself", and by that point he will be doing everything he can to exalt himself over men.

Isaiah 2 is not actually even saying that only God will be worshipped during the day of the Lord.  I argue that the Day of the Lord is 1000 years, as 2 Peter 3:8-10 states.  In the millennium, there will be the occasional rebellion against God.  In Zech 14, nations who refuse to worship God will not have any rain.  In Isaiah 65:20, we see that it will be a rare man who dies young at 100, and will be considered a child, and cursed.  Again, probably because he refused to worship God.  Thus, the occasional rebellion of not worshipping God is not excluded by the statements in Isaiah 2 that "the Lord alone will be exalted" in that day of the Lord.

I believe the two main points of the phrase "the Lord alone will be exalted in that day", is that Jesus will take the throne in heaven at the start of the Day of the Lord, no longer at the "right hand of God" (Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, Acts 7:55-56, Romans 8:34, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22), and that Satan is cast down at the start of the Day of the Lord.

Daniel 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Rev 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.



The Bible's two definitions of the word "tribulation":  present day and future time.

Finally, when we place the great tribulation as happening at the first part of the Day of the Lord so that the "time unlike any other" is just one time, then we are left with the main objection with the stellar signs.  Are the stellar signs before the Day of the Lord (& tribulation) as in Joel, or after the tribulation (& Day of the Lord) as in Matthew?  If we let the word "tribulation" be defined by the Bible as being applicable to two times, referring both to the tribulations today, and the unique great tribulation in the future, then this problem disappears.  The stellar signs can be after the general tribulation that has always afflicted the Church, and before the unique great tribulation and Day of the Lord of the future.

The great historic debate in all of prophecy is whether or not there will be a future fulfillment of much of what is written.  The amillennialists, historicists, and preterists typically say that the tribulation of Matthew is historic and present day, because as history has shown, the Church has experienced tribulation in the past, and continues to experience tribulation today, and thus, there is no unique future time of tribulation.  The straw man position set up by those who would attack the futurist view is that the tribulation is only future.  The real position of nearly all futurists is that we recognize that there has been historic and present day tribulation, but that this is not that unique time of tribulation as described as the Day of the Lord.  Here are just a few verses showing the historic and present day application of the word "tribulation".

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

2 Corinthians 1:4 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.

Tribulations of the Church are also given in Matthew 24:

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.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

False prophets are mentioned twice, in verse 11 and 24; the second time in context with the specific future abomination of desolation.

Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

And in the parallel account of the Olivet Discourse, Luke records the early tribulation of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD as I have already noted.  Luke 21:6,20.  This shows the passage clearly has at least a partial fulfillment historically.

John records the false christs or antichrists as being fulfilled in his time.   This appears to be a restatement and reminder of the warnings Jesus gave back in the Olivet Discourse.  He even identified such fulfillment as reason for believing that his time, his day, "is the last time".  It appears as if John's point is that the tribulation was upon them.  On one hand, there is acknowledgement that one antichrist is yet to come which will indicate that it is the last time.  Yet the many antichrists, John says, are reason to say that the time back then was "the last time."  I believe John is letting us know that there are two fulfillments of tribulation, one in his present day, and one in the future.  It appears as if the tribulation of his time was the final tribulation for the Church as far as he was concerned, since he did not say that the "last time" is yet to come, but that they were in it.

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

1 John 4:3  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

These verses do not prove there is no future tribulation or no future antichrist.  Just as there are many antichrists in the tribulation of today, there will also be one "that antichrist shall come" in the future tribulation, "whereof ye have heard that it should come".  John's recognition of a fulfillment in his day is NOT a denial of a future fulfillment.

If there can be "only one" fulfillment of any given prophecy, then Joel 2:28-32 must have been completely fulfilled in Acts 2:16-21 on the day of Pentecost!  Since Joel 2 is obviously a duel reference, to both history and future, then the parallel passage of the stellar signs in Matt 24:29 may very well be a parallel passage also referring to two times.

Since I am arguing that the "tribulation" of Matt 24:29 is referring to two times, one cannot simply assert that it is the "great tribulation" in view in the passage, as a rebuttal to my position, since I have already established and agreed with that fact.  To assert that it is the "great tribulation only" in view, one would have to assert dogmatically that the other tribulations mentioned previously in the passage (verses 9-11 of the Church age, verse 24, and the fall of Jerusalem with the abomination of desolation with the destruction of the temple) that had historic and present day fulfillment could not possibly be in view.  I have argued this point with people repeatedly.  They will try to correct me and say that line 29 is simply referring to the tribulation just spoken of, and point to line 21.  But that is nearly my same argument, we need to look to the passage to see what tribulation was just spoken of.  But I will point to all the tribulation, trouble and distress in the entire chapter.  There are several tribulations just spoken of, and thus, I believe "the tribulation of those days" (plural) refers to all of them.  The idea that line 29 refers to the "great tribulation only", is an argument that is really a denial that any other tribulation is in view.  Additionally, to maintain that position, one would have to literally add the defining word "great" or defining phrase "as never shall be" to verse 29 where it is absent.

The great tribulation that in the future is the unique time of tribulation unlike any other.  Today's tribulation is not described as being a unique time unlike any other.  God's servants have always been persecuted and killed from the very beginning of Old Testament times starting with Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.  Since the future tribulation is unique, there are two times of tribulation:  today's general tribulation, and the future tribulation.

So, given that there are two events described in Matthew 24:29-31, the rapture and the gathering of the Jews, and two times of tribulation, we must match up each event with the proper time.

I believe today's general tribulation will end with the rapture.

I believe the future unique seven year tribulation will end with the gathering together of the Jews to Israel to meet the Lord as he returns with his saints whom he has gathered together from out of heaven.



Specific phrases in Matthew 24 which refer to the pretribulation rapture through the Feast of Trumpets and the Wedding.

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

"Of that day and hour knoweth no man...but my father only" is a Wedding idiom.
"Of that day and hour knoweth no man" is a Feast of Trumpets expression.

This phrase refers to BOTH the Feast of Trumpets and the Wedding.

The time of the bridegroom's return is related to the bridal chamber's construction. When the preparations on the bridal chamber were completed then it would be the proper time. But the groom's father would be the one to give permission. It was a common expression or saying, a Jewish idiom, that a man would say when his friends asked him when his marriage would be. He would reply, "of that day or hour no man knows, but my father only."

The unknown day also is a reference to the Feast of Trumpets, which comes with the observance of the new moon.  Since the new moon has a cycle of 29.5 days, it is uncertain on whether it will be seen comes 29 or 30 days after the last new moon.



The "taken and left" verses:

There is much debate as to the meaning of these two verses.  Who is taken, the righteous in the rapture or the wicked in judgment (Matt 13:40-42, 48-50)?

Matthew 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Matthew 24:41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

These two phrases describe a picture of what happens when the Feast of Trumpets is observed.  Dr. Stephen Cook of Mission Ministiries notes at http://www.angelfire.com/oh/MissionMinistries/feast3.html the following:

"At the instant that the Jewish workers heard the trumpet sound, all would immediately stop harvesting, even if they were not finished (think about that!) and go to the Temple for worship!  In those days, as it is sometimes today, a Jew & an Arab might be working side by side in the fields - but when the trumpet sounded on this particular day, the Jew would stop and go to worship, while the Arab kept on harvesting."

Before I learned that this verse may be a Feast of Trumpets reference, I was able to note that these verses aptly describe the rapture by the definitions of the words for "taken and left".    The word for "taken" is paralambano, which means to receive and join together.  In marriage, two are joined as one, (Gen 2, Eph 5:31-32, and Matthew19:5,6, Mark 10:8, 1 Corinthians 6:16).  The marriage, of course, symbolizes how in the rapture we are to be joined with Christ.  Paralambano is also the word used in John 14:1-3 to describe how Jesus will paralambano, or take us or receive us, to be with him, which is a clear rapture passage.

2 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.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive [paralambano] you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Young's Literal translation reads as follows:

Matt 24:40 Then two men shall be in the field, the one is received [paralambano], and the one is left;
41 two women shall be grinding in the mill, one is received [paralambano], and one is left.

It has been noted that paralambano does not necessarily signify the rapture because the word was used negatively since it is used to describe how Jesus was arrested in Mat 27:27.  However, harpazo, which is the rapture word used in 1 Thess 4:17 is also used to describe Paul's arrest in Act 23:10.  Since Paul's arrest could not be used to prove that harpazo is not a rapture word, then Jesus's arrest cannot be used to prove that paralambano is not a rapture word.  In fact, the use of paralambano to signify an arrest, or seizing, signifies that the word is a more appropriate, not less appropriate word for rapture. The fact that paralambano is used to describe an arrest, as harpazo does, means that the word is very similar to harpazo, the word for rapture.  The rapture is when Jesus will paralambano us, or harpazo us, or rapture us, which is to say he will seize us and take us away by force.



The body & eagles parable:

Also, there is further supporting evidence that the "taken and left" verses show the rapture by looking at Luke 17:34-37.

Luke 17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

This ties back in with the phrase in Matthew 24:28, which is several verses out of place with regard to the "taken and left" verses in Matthew 24:40-41.

The Bible gives two meanings to this peculiar phrase about the bodies and eagles.  First, it is most clearly like the destruction of the wicked at the end of the tribulation as pictured in Revelation 19:17-18, which is used to say this phrase cannot be about the rapture, but rather, the return of Jesus at the end of the tribulation.

Revelation 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

However, there is another interpretation, and that is that the eagles are Christians, and the body is Christ.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

There are two objections I have heard to this interpretation of the body/eagle parable.  The first is that the interpretation is creative, novel, or new.  This is not the case since this same interpretation was being expounded in the 1200's by St. Thomas Aquinas who apparantly quotes Chrys., Jerome, Hilary, Origen and Greg..  The other objection I have read is that people have found it repugnant that the Lord could be described as a corpse.  Well, I wonder if they find the gospel repugnant, or Revelation repugnant as well, since the Lord is described three times in that book as a "slain Lamb" in three verses, Rev 5:6,12, Rev 13:8.

I believe this parable of the eagles being where the body is has a "duel fulfillment" referring to both the start and end of the tribulation.  That Matthew uses this line of the bodies and eagles out of place in verse 28, just before 29, is very interesting.  I feel Matthew knew the Bible's duel interpretation and placed this verse there deliberately, and not next to the "taken and left" verses as did Luke in Chapter 17.  Or, Matthew was definitely led by the Holy Spirit to do this, specifically in order to let us know that there is a pretribulation fulfillment and posttribulation fulfillment going on in these verses.



The return as a thief verses:

The next verses, about the Lord coming as a thief, are a picture of the groom coming for his bride at the Jewish Wedding.

Matt 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Luke 12 links this parable to the marriage more clearly.

Luke 12:
36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

There is a bridal theft, or kidnapping in the dramatic conclusion to Judges 21.  The law in Deut 22:25-29 and Exodus 22:15-17 both make provision for a permanant marriage if a man takes, seizes, or seduces a virgin girl.  The point here is not to say that Jesus is a thief or a rapist, but merely to point out that there is a provision in the law for Christ to rapture us into a permanant marriage with him.

There is another marriage/rapture/seizing word, and this word is the Hebrew word Laqach which is a word used to describe Enoch's translation, and that is that God "took" him. Genesis 5:24.  The word Laqach is also a word used to describe how men "took" wives for themselves, Genesis 6:2, Genesis 11:29, Genesis 12:19.

In the Jewish Wedding, the bride is to stay awake and watch for when the groom will come and get her.  She is to be ready for this event.  The word used for "watch" in Matt 24 is gregoreuo which also means to stay awake.  The root word, egeiro, makes this even more clear as it not only means to awake, but to arise, raise, rise up, and even "to be born", again a theme of the rapture in 1 Thess 4-5 and the Feast of Trumpets.  At the rapture, people will awake from the dead, or be translated while still living to receive new spiritual bodies, and be "born again to immortality" 1 Cor 15:51-54.  To observe the Feast of Trumpets, people often stay awake all night.

Paul, in 1 Thess 5:2-7, expounds on all of these concepts; the coming of the thief, of watching, and staying awake and links them together.  In addition, he makes the contrast between sleep and watch.   Since sleep is a term for death as used in 1 Thess 4 and throughout the Bible, this is a contrast between death and resurrection, and also spiritual slumber and spiritual watchfulness.



The rapture in Matt 25:1-13

Finally, Jesus ties together several of the concepts we have been looking at in the parable of the 10 virgins.   The rapture themes contained in this parable are the following:

1.  We are espoused as virgins..  2Cor 11:2 "...I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

2.  There is the door that is shut on the foolish.  The door is also found in the rapture passages Rev 3:10, Rev 4:1, and is a part of the Feast of Trumpets in that the gate is open on the new moon.  Ezek 46:1.  We are also told that few will enter through the narrow gate, Matthew 7:13-14

3.  That the virgins sleep is like death, so when they awake it is like the resurrection.  The might not all have actually slept.  But "they all slumbered and slept". If you look at root words in a concordance, could mean that some just nodded, or were like the ones who drop their heads but jerk themselves awake continually as they try to fight off sleep. Staying awake is the theme of 1 Thess 5, and the Feast of Trumpets.

4.  The "midnight cry" is like the trumpet blast.

5.  The cry is actually a command, just as it is a command in 1 Thess 4:17 (NIV) and Rev 4:1.

6.  The phrase "for ye know neither the day nor the hour" is repeated, which is also the expression of the wedding and Feast of Trumpets.  The wedding is the unknown time, and so is the Feast.

7.  The foolish virgins represent Christians, because they are virgins, and are looking for the bridegroom.  The world is not virgins, and does
not look for the return of Jesus.

8.  There is the parallel of the Laodicain Church from Rev 3, which is also spewed from the mouth of Jesus.  And this is right in the context of the rapture, right between Rev 3:10 and Rev 4:1, both of which contain the door symbol.



In conclusion, the Olivet Discourse is loaded with phrases and symbols that teach about the pretribulation rapture, beginning substantially in Matt 24:27.  The preceeding verses 15-26, which describe the warnings of the return of the Antichrist & the abomination of desolation in the great tribulation are in sharp contrast to the return of the Lord at the pretribulation rapture.  In the summary below, PT stands for pretrib evidence.  FTW stands for Feast of Trumpets & Wedding.  R stands for rapture. DOTL stands for Day of the Lord.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  [PT, Luke 10:18]
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. [R Isaiah 40:31, John 6:53-56]
29 Immediately after the tribulation [Two times of tribulation: John 16:33, Zeph 1:14-17] of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: [DOTL Joel 2:31, Isa 13, PT Rev 12:4-5, FT Rev 12 & Isa 66]
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven [R. 1 Thess 4:17]: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, [DOTL, Isa 2:19, 13:6-8, Rev 6:15-17] and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. [Jews gathered, Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 27:12-13]
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. [FT symbol of doors, Matt 25:1-13, Rev 3:10, 4:1]
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. [FTW, PT]
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [FTW]
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [FTW]
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. [FTW]
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. [FTW, Judges 21, Deut 22, Exodus 22, John 10:10]
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. [FTW]
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 
 

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