An obvious connection exists between Michael arising, the Restrainer's removal and the Antichrist being revealed.
Also, note Dan. 10:21 KJV in which Michael "holdeth with me" and compare with the Restrainer in 2 Thess. 2:6-7 KJV.
The day of the Lord’s return is not known. All we know is that there are 1260 days between the appearance of the abomination in the Holy Place and Armageddon (perhaps 1290 or 1335 as in Dan 12:11-12). We are told that during this time Christians will suffer great tribulation which will be cut short at some point in time when Jesus returns (Matt. 24:15-22) and then God’s wrath will be poured out. The length of the period of wrath is not known either. Rev 15:1 tells us that the Bowls are the seven last plagues which complete God’s wrath so the Trumpets, which precede the Bowls, are also part of His wrath. How long the Bowls and Trumpets take is anyone’s guess (the 5th trumpet alone is for 5 months). Some believe that the church will be taken away at the Last Trumpet of Rev 11:15 and that God's Wrath is only the seven Bowls which follow the seventh Trumpet. This may be so. Either way, the church will be going through a period of great tribulation and persecution from the Antichrist.
Summing this up, there will be 1260 days which begin with the appearance of the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15). These days include an unknown period of great tribulation which is cut short by Jesus’ return and the Rapture of the church. Then God’s wrath is poured out over the remaining days until Armageddon. Believers desperately need to prayerfully brace themselves to go through the Great Tribulation as Jesus said that “many will turn away from the faith … but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:10, 13). We are without excuse and must prepare for this time as Jesus said, “See, I have told you ahead of time” (Matt. 24:25).
An examination of the Greek words parousia (coming) and apantesis (meet) as in 1 Thess. 4:15-17. 1 Thess. 4:15-17 tell us of the coming of the Lord and that believers will be raptured to meet Him in the air. The following examines the meaning of the words translated as 'coming' and 'meet'.
Parousia (G3952) is translated 'coming' in 1 Thess. 4:15 and has the following meaning:
Physical presence, arrival - The main use is the physical presence of a person. Where that person is not already present refers to the prospect of the physical arrival of that person, especially the visit of a royal or official personage.
Apantesis (G529) is translated 'meet' in 1 Thess. 4:17. It is a technical term that refers specifically to the practice of sending a delegation outside the city walls and gates to receive a dignitary who was coming. This was the practice when a king and his army were returning from war. All the people would pour forth from the city gates and welcome them with pomp and circumstance. The people would meet them outside and then usher them back into the city with shouts of joy and acclamation.
Regarding apantesis, W.E. Vines says “It is used in the papyri of a newly arriving magistrate. It seems that the special idea of the word was the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary".
I would like to look at every instance this word is used in scripture (which is only 3 places):
Matt. 25:1 "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom".
Matt. 25:6 "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him".
Matt. 25:10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut".
We can note three things about this word "meet" (apantesis)
1 - The bridegroom is going to the marriage feast.
2 - The virgins go out to meet him.
3 - They continue on to the marriage feast, the original destination.
The bridegroom certainly does not fetch them from where they are waiting and whisk them off to some far away location. Rather, while the foolish virgins are away buying more oil, the bridegroom comes and enters into the marriage feast with the five wise virgins. The foolish virgins return to their original location to find the door already shut.
Acts 28:15-16 "And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him".
Again, we note three things:
1 - Paul is traveling toward the city of Rome.
2 - The brethren meet him.
3 - Paul and the brethren continue on into Rome, the original destination.
1Thess. 4:16-17 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord".
This does not say anything about the Lord returning, then reversing direction and heading back to Heaven.
1Thess. 4:17 says “And so shall we ever be with the Lord”. We can’t follow Christ back to Heaven and “Ever be with the Lord” when He isn’t going to be there forever.
He’s setting up His kingdom here on earth!
When the dignitary approached a city, the elders of the city would go out to meet him and escort him back into the city. In no case does the one being met reverse direction and return the way he came. On the contrary, it is the people meeting the dignitary who change direction.
Once again, we note three things:
1 - The Lord descends from heaven [toward Earth].
2 - After the dead rise first, we who are alive go to meet him in the air.
3 - We accompany the Lord back to Earth, which he was originally approaching
Based upon this (among other things I’ve already mentioned in the book), I am persuaded to believe that the return of Christ and the rapture of the church take place simultaneously.
W E Vines (http://kingdomstudies.blogspot.com/2009/07/apantesis.html) Click here to download this article on 'coming' and 'meet'.
Is The Rapture Imminent?
Many people believe that the Rapture can occur at any moment, that is, it is imminent. Imminent means that something can happen at any moment, without anything else having to occur beforehand. What did Jesus' disciples think about the timing of the Rapture?
Peter could not have believed in an imminent Rapture as, in John 21:18-19, Jesus told him that he would face death in his old age. The other apostles and all those familiar with Jesus' teachings would have been aware of this also. They knew that Jesus told Peter that he would die so they would not have believed in an imminent Rapture while Peter was alive.
Paul's letters are said to support the doctrine of imminency but this is very illogical as he wrote most, maybe all, of his letters before Peter died. Because the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write his letters we can be sure that Paul would not have written about an imminent Rapture while Peter was alive. 1 & 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians were written before Peter's death.
The word 'watch' has been taken to mean an 'any moment Rapture' but when Jesus spoke about His return, He didn't use the word in that context. In the Olivet Discourse, Mark 13:1-32, Jesus spoke about the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation and then in Mark 13:33-37 He told the disciples not to sleep but to be alert and watch for His coming. Note that Jesus said to watch for His return AFTER certain events, so the context of the word 'watch' is not of imminence. For this reason, the call for Christians to be watchful for the Lord's return in other parts of the Bible is not speaking of an imminent return of Jesus. The three points mentioned so far are clear evidence that the Bible does not teach an imminent return of Jesus.
What does it mean to not sleep but to be alert and watch for Jesus' return? Obviously we must sleep. Mark 13:36 says, "if he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping" and then in 1 Thess. 5:4 Paul said, "you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief". Being in darkness means to be in sin and this will lead to 'sleeping' and being surprised like a thief. So, the call for Christians to be alert and watchful is a call to remain faithful, by abiding in Jesus, even through great tribulation. Timothy was told, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Tim. 4:16).
Is it possible to joyfully wait for our Blessed Hope if we know we are going to go through great tribulation? In Matt 24:8 Jesus said that the trials during the end times will be like the beginning of birth pains, so in the same way that a woman knows she is going to face pain before she sees her child, Christians can (and often do) face great tribulation with joy, knowing that they will soon see their Blessed Hope. Paul suffered greatly yet said, "in all our troubles, my joy knows no bounds" 2 Cor. 7:4. Because 2 Thess. 2:1-3 tell us that the Rapture is after the Antichrist's appearance, Christians must prayerfully prepare for the possibility of going through the Great Tribulation.
Coming Like A Thief
In 1 Thess. 5:2-3 we are told that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying 'peace and safety', destruction will come on them suddenly". The popular interpretation of these verses is that Jesus can surprise the church at any moment by returning to secretly rapture them. This belief comes from neglecting to read the verses which follow on. 1 Thess 5:4 says, "But you brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief". We can see from this verse that it is not Christians who will be surprised by the Lord's return but the UNSAVED. 1 Thess 5:5-8 continue on to say that believers are sons of light and do not belong to the darkness, which is sin. The brothers are told not to be like those who are asleep, in darkness, but to be alert and self-controlled ... that is, keeping from sin. Those who remain faithful in Christ will not be surprised by His return and Jesus' letter to the Sardis church confirms this.
Speaking to the Sardis church, in Rev. 3:1-3, Jesus said, "you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead [in sin]. Wake up! ... But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know at what time I will come". Clearly, this confirms that it is the unsaved who will be surprised by Jesus' return, while they are enjoying the darkness of their sin. They will not be raptured but left on the earth to endure God's wrath. Faithful believers will be raptured and escape this wrath as promised in 1 Thess 5:9 which says, "God did not appoint us to wrath". Rev. 17:14 says that those with Jesus "will be his called, chosen and FAITHFUL followers".
Regarding people saying 'peace and safety' (1 Th. 5:3), note that it is not Christians but the UNSAVED who are saying this and they will be destroyed.The present situation in China is an example of what it may be like at the end. In China, the vast majority are enjoying peace and safety while the Christian minority is being heavily persecuted. When the Antichrist rules, Christian and Jewish minorities will be persecuted worldwide while the world's majority won't care about their suffering, just as they don't care about the 500 or so Christians being killed daily at present, in 2009. Most people in China are enjoying a normal lifestyle and this type of scenario could well exist after the Antichrist breaks the peace treaty ... Christians will be suffering great tribulation under his rule while the world is saying 'peace and safety'. Also, the world cares very little about the Jews and are caring less each day as they blame Israel for the Middle East's problems and will be happy to see them destroyed in the hope that it would bring about peace and safety.
In Matt. 24:25, Jesus warned us about the time of the end. He said, "See, I have told you ahead of time" and in Matt. 24:22 He said that the days of the great tribulation would be cut short for the sake of the elect. This is when He raptures those eagerly waiting for Him and "comes like a thief in the night" to destroy those who oppose Him (Matt. 24:29-31).
So, the churches need to WAKE UP! and prepare for the possibility of facing great persecution. You and I may well live to see the Antichrist and I urge all believers to "be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph. 6:10-11). After the appearance of the Antichrist, Rev. 13:10 says, "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints". Only the Lord can keep us from falling and carry us through persecution and possible martyrdom so we have an enormous need to abide in Him and call upon Him for the strength to remain faithful.
From the above table we can see that after the Antichrist appears there will be great tribulation. During this time many will fall away from the faith. Then the sun/moon sign will appear and then Jesus will return to rapture the saints and pour out His wrath during the DOTL, beginning with the Trumpets of the 7th Seal. 2 Thess. 2:1-3 also state that our gathering to Him (as well as the rebellion) will not occur until after the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) is revealed. Click here for a chart which compares 1 Thess. 4-5, Matt. 24-25 and Rev. 6-8.
The following chart and text examine the verses in Luke 17:24-36 which are entirely about the day Jesus returns like lightning. I start with Matt. 24 to show the timing of the verses in Luke 17:24-36.
Point 3 on the chart is Matt. 24:21, the Great Tribulation, and then after the tribulation …
Point 5 (Matt. 24:27, 30) says that Jesus will appear like lightning - Luke 17:24 is the parallel verse.
Now let's follow the verses in Luke 17 which describe Jesus' return AFTER the Great Tribulation.
Points 6 and 7 (Luke 17:26-29) describe the sudden destruction of sinners in the days of Noah and Lot then …
Point 8 (Luke 17:30) says that it (the destruction) will be just the same when Jesus returns. Also …
Point 9 (Luke 17:31-33) says that “ON THAT DAY” no one should look to earthly things but to remember Lot's
wife because …
Points 10 and 11 (Luke 17:34-35) say that “one will be taken and the other left” and this is the Rapture.
So, AFTER the Great Tribulation, Jesus will return like lightning to rapture believers and to destroy sinners.
Will Christians go through the Great Tribulation? Click here for my YouTube videos
on the Rapture. Updated 19 July 2012
Matt. 24:5, 24
False Christs. The Antichrist is peaceful at first.
Rev. 6:2 - 1st Seal
White horse and rider who is given a crown.
Wars , nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom.
Rev. 6:3-4 - 2nd Seal
Red horse to take peace from the earth.
Famines and earthquakes.
Rev. 6:5-6 - 3rd Seal
Black horse bringing famine.
Matt. 24:15 The Antichrist The abomination of desolation set up in the Temple.
Rev. 6:7-8 - 4th Seal
Pale horse with Death and Hades. Power over 1/4 of the earth to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts.
Matt. 24:9-13, 15-22 Great tribulation Severe persecution and many fall away from the faith.
Rev. 6:9-11 - 5th Seal
The martyrs in heaven want revenge but are told that the number of martyrs must first be complete - then God’s wrath will begin.
Matt. 24:29-31 Sun darkened and the moon not giving its light.
Jesus returns. The Rapture - Angels gather the elect
AND The DOTL begins- The nations mourn as the Son of Man appears with power and great glory.
Rev. 6:12-17, Rev. 7:9-17 - 6th Seal
The sun turned black and the moon turned red (also Acts 2:20).
A great multitude from out of the Great Tribulation are in heaven.
God's wrath begins - People in caves and rocks hiding from the wrath of the Lamb because the great day of God's wrath has come.
Michael arises from protecting Israel.
Michael defeats Satan and hurls him to the earth.
The Restrainer, the one who holds back, is taken out of the way. (2 Thess. 2:7)
a time of unequalled; worldwide distress.
a time of worldwide distress such as never before.
THEN the dragon, Satan, is furious and, through the Antichrist, pursues Israel.
a time of lawlessness.
(2 Thess. 2:9-12)
(Click herefor "The Return Of Jesus", an article about the timing of Jesus' return)
Will Christians go through the Great Tribulation? Well firstly, are the Great Tribulation and the Day Of The Lord the same event? Everyone agrees that the Day Of The Lord (DOTL) will be a time of God's wrath but when will it occur? Is it at the same time as the Great Tribulation? The following verses show them to be separate events.
Matt. 24:21 tells us about.......................................................................The Great Tribulation
then AFTER the Great Tribulation
Matt. 24: 29 says that there will be a......................................................Sign In The Heavens (sun dark, moon red etc)
Acts 2:20 also tells us about that Sign In The Heavens
and says that AFTER that sign will be....................................................The Day Of The Lord.
Clearly, the Great Tribulation and Day Of The Lord are different events separated by a Sign In The Heavens.
The Great Tribulation is not God's wrath but the Devil's wrath, through the Antichrist, and it is BEFORE the Sign In The Heavens. Believers will go through the Great Tribulation because Jesus will not return until after the Sign In The Heavens (Matt. 24:29-30). Rev. 12:12-17 speak of the Devil's wrath (fury) against Israel and Christians during the Great Tribulation.
The Day Of The Lord, which is AFTER the Sign In The Heavens, is a period associated with God’s wrath. During this time God will deal with sinners as Isa. 13:9 says, “See, the day of the Lord is coming - a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger - to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it”. However, believers will escape this wrath by being gathered (raptured) into the Lord’s presence (Matt. 24:30-31). 1 Thess 1:10 tells believers "to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath" and 1 Thess. 4:17 says that Christians “who are still alive and are left will be caught up ... in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air". So, it is clear that believers will be raptured before the Day Of The Lord and escape God’s wrath. Click here for a PDF.
Another point which makes it clear that The Great Tribulation and The Day Of The Lord are separate time periods is the fact that the Antichrist will exalt himself above everything during The Great Tribulation (2 Thess. 2:4) while Jesus alone will be exalted during the Day Of The Lord (Isa. 2:12-17).
The following table compares Matt. 24 with Rev. 6-7. Both passages show the Antichrist appearing then the Great Tribulation then the Sign In The Heavens then Jesus returning to gather the elect and to destroy sinners in the DOTL.
All these similarities take coincidence beyond its limits. Obviously Paul and Jesus are speaking of the same event - Jesus will return once, cutting the Great Tribulation short, to gather His people and then pour out His wrath on those left on the earth. Click here for a PDF of this chart.
This chart shows the flow of events as:
1) The Antichrist ………………………………... at Point 1.
2) The Great Tribulation ………………………… at Point 3.
3) Jesus appears like lightening ………………….. at Point 5.
4) The Rapture and the Day Of The Lord ……...... at Points 8 to 11.
Rescuing the righteous and then destroying the sinners was the pattern in the days of Noah and Lot and Jesus said, in Luke 17:30, that it would be the same it when He returns. Click here to download a PDF of Luke 17 And The Rapture.
The following chart shows that Jesus' return in Matthew 24 and the Rapture teachings of Paul in 1 Thessalonians are speaking of the same event - there are no less than sixteen similarities between Matt. 24-25 and 1 Thess. 4-5.
Who is the Restrainer of 2 Thess. 2:7? There is good evidence to believe that Michael, Israel's protector (Dan 10:21 and 12:1), is the Restrainer as the following chart shows. Click here to download this chart and the Matt. 24 & 1 Thess. 4-5 comparison chart.
End Times Gospel Chart. The following Chart compares the end times passages in Matt. 24, Luke 21 and Luke 17. The purpose of this chart is to show that when Luke 21 and Luke 17 are put side by side they merge and are parallel to Matt. 24. However, only Luke 21 shows the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Starting at Point 4, in Luke 21:20-24 Jesus said that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Jewish people would be taken as prisoners to the nations until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled. This began in 70AD.
Next, Luke 21 skips past the times of the Gentiles to Point 9 where Luke 21:25-26 speak about the sign in the sun, moon and stars. After this sign, Jesus returns to destroy Israel's enemies and end the times of the Gentiles..
Next, Point 10 is Jesus' return and this point is common to all three passages. Luke 21 basically ends at this point but Luke 17 continues with more details of Jesus’ return. So, we can see that Luke 17 begins where Luke 21 ends and together they parallel Matt. 24 except that Matt. 24 does not mention the destruction of Jerusalem.
Some say that Matt. 24 has been fulfilled even though Jesus has not yet returned. They say that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and the Abomination Of Desolation in Matt. 24:15 are the same event. However, Luke 21 shows two separate periods of distress. The first was in Israel in 70AD (Luke 21:20-24) while the second period is for the whole world (Luke 21:24-27, 34-36) and they are separated by the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24).
1) Luke 21:20-24 speak of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and Luke 21:23 says, “There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people”. The term “this people” always refers to Israel so this distress period was for the nation of Israel.
2) Regarding the other period of distress, Luke 21:24-27, 34-36 talk about this time of trouble and Luke 21:35 says that “it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth”.
From this we can see that there are two separate periods of distress in Luke 21. One for the Jews in 70AD and another, yet to come period, for the whole world during the Day Of The Lord. Click here to download this End Times Gospel Chart.
Click here to download this entire article as a PDF.
Click here for "The Return Of Jesus", an article about the timing of Jesus' return. Click here for the article on Luke 17:24-36. Click here for a chart showing the striking similarities of 1 Thess. 4-5, Matt. 24-25 and Rev. 6-8 plus the Restrainer chart. Click here for the End Time Sequence Chart.
The Rapture Question Answered, Plain & Simple, by Robert Van Kampen, is a very well written and well researched book on the PreWrath Rapture. I highly recommend it.
Robert Van Kampen has another End Time prophecy book, called The Sign, which is very comprehensive.