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Revelation 2–3 and the Timing of Our Departure

Last year, I came across an excellent article written by Robert L. Thomas entitled "The 'Comings' of Christ in Revelation 2–3," which was published in The Master's Seminary Journal (Fall 1996). Similar to a previous post, where I cited the timeliness of Michael Svigel's work on Revelation 12 and the Rapture of the Church, Thomas' work adds further insight in regard to the timing of the Church's departure and the beginning of Jacob's trouble. If you want to access the article for yourself, here is a link to find a copy online.

For those who want a review, here is the abstract, or synopsis of the article:

Six of the seven messages of Christ in Rev 2–3 contain references to His coming. In three instances He promises to come and deliver His faithful from persecution, and in three He threatens to come and judge the unfaithful. In all six His coming is imminent, whether for deliverance or for judgment. The only way this can happen is for the deliverance—the rapture of the church—and the judgment—the beginning of Daniel's seventieth week—to occur simultaneously. The two chapters provide three more passages that refer to His coming indirectly. The forecast in these too is for His return at any moment. A survey of other NT passages reflects the same dual imminence for the two events. The phenomena surrounding these predicted comings lead inevitably to the conclusion that Christ's return for His church must be pretribulational, because this is the only way to explain satisfactorily how the two future events can be simultaneous."

Thomas draws out further evidence from the book of Revelation that our rescue and departure from the earth occurs in tandem with the onset of the Tribulation period. This insight is another case of it's-right-under-our-noses-but-we-didn't-see-it. I had never even considered how Jesus' statements in the seven letters were illogical if we did not understand His imminent return to include a simultaneous rescue of believers (Rev. 3:10) and judgement against unbelievers (Rev. 2:16, 22-25). It's a simple yet profound insight which confirms what some of us already know and firmly believe about the sudden removal of the body of Christ immediately prior to, or concurrent with, the start of Daniel's 70th week (Rev. 12:1-5).

The letters to the seven churches must be interpreted in light of the book as a whole [a good rule of thumb for any serious study of a book of the Bible], and one can argue that the theme verse of the book is Rev. 1:7. You see the phrase "He is coming..." repeated and emphasized throughout, including chapters two and three. "He is coming" is the heartbeat and pulse of the book. But the question has always been, "When?" (Matt. 24:3; Acts 1:6). Well, Jesus has already told us what to look for, and He even said to look up, because there would be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars (Lk. 21:11, 25).

Given what has been uncovered and unsealed at this point in time, we are now able to see the great sign presented in Rev. 12. This is a great sign that heralds the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of Jacob's trouble. It looms before us and has been scrutinized meticulously...and it's not going away (see Gary's previous post here for a thorough run-down).

Recently, I read through Daniel Matson's latest summary (here), and I am in agreement that we are on high watch for the September 20-23 range around the Feast of Trumpets this year. Couple his findings with Gary's post "2017 to 2024 Tribulation Theory," and you have yourself ample evidence to get in gear, because our time is short. Really short. Based on the information gathered so far, if the Resurrection/Rapture of the Church occurs around the Feast of Trumpets, then there is likely to be a brief interim [possibly one or two months] until the official start date of the 70th week (October/November 2017). Overall, this rough timeline coheres with Thomas' assessment that the thief-like return of Christ includes both a simultaneous removal of the Church and the onset of His judgment against the nations (if, by simultaneous, we mean around the same time and don't split hairs over days, hours, minutes, seconds, etc.).

Of course, when it comes to interpreting specific signs and watching for the return of Christ, there will be scoffers. This is to be expected; even among our clan. Let 'em scoff, however. But, you, hold on to what you have. Don't doubt or waver in regard to what He has already revealed to you:

What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops" (Matthew 10:27 ESV).

I've often asked myself, "Why would anyone not take these signs seriously, especially a tried and true believer in Jesus?" Aside from common misunderstandings regarding the dispensations in Scripture, flagrant false teaching, and spiritual maturity issues, I am directed to Jesus' statement to the disciples in Matt. 11:14, where He interprets an Old Testament prophecy in light of current events at that time, "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come," and then His familiar admonition, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 11:15 NASB).

The term "accept" comes from the Greek word dechomai, which has a range of meanings: to accept, receive, welcome, etc. Notice how accepting, receiving, or welcoming God's revelation is synonymous with "hearing." You'll find this same concept in John 6:60, where many of His disciples turned away, because the truth was obscured by their unbelief (c.f. John 6:64). Consequently, the threat of heart-hardening and unbelief is not just a problem for so-called unbelievers and unhinged apostates. It is a real threat to born-again believers as well (Heb. 3:12-13).

So, brothers and sisters, let's remain alert and watchful, not wavering or doubting any longer. What Christ has revealed to us in our private, personal study, we should proclaim from the rooftops. And I am exhorting myself as well...blessed, now, are those who hear, for the time is near (Rev. 1:3).
Post A Comment


  1. Great, timely post... and one I needed to hear this evening. The doubts in my heart have often obscured the truth. Let it not be.

  2. Thanks for sharing this good article. I did my thesis on Revelation 2-3, so this is interesting. I believe the final 5 churches are proven to exist at the Rapture, and some that are corrupt without believers are shown to be cast into the Tribulation, where the faithful are seized/taken to God's Throne. Yes, simultaneous events and I hadn't thought how that proved the one event. Thanks for the link to my summary article, too! I will share this...Blessings saints!

  3. Another great article by the Unsealed.org team! For anyone looking for good, solid information on the what the Bible has to say about Christ's return, this is a good place to start.

  4. This morning I had something happen concerning the number 17. For some reason I felt led to look up the meaning of the number 17 in the Bible - It means 'overcoming the enemy' and 'complete victory'. Is it coincidence that you are speaking of Christ's return in 2017?

    This was found on the site:- http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/17.html

  5. Thank you for sharing, Brenda. I don't think this is a coincidence, if by "coincidence," we mean "just-so-happens" without the will and direction of our Creator God. I just heard a message this morning on Romans 8:31-39, a passage referred to in the link you posted about our complete victory in Christ.

    Also, I touched on the significance of the Feast of Trumpets in a previous article and discovered that "overcoming the enemy" and our "complete victory over death" are a part of Paul's statement in 1 Cor. 15:51-58; see here: http://www.unsealed.org/2017/02/the-three-final-gatherings-one-if-by.html

  6. I agree that there may be a slight pause between our rapture (quite possibly to be at the feast of trumpets) and the signing of the covenant which officially begins the 70th week.

    In fact, we have biblical precedence for this in reverse.

    Jesus' triumphant procession on palm Sunday 32 AD effectively PAUSED the 70 weeks at the end of the 69th week.

    Jesus ascended into heaven in the clouds 47 days later, 40 days after his resurrection. After he ascended, two angels told the disciples - This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. (Acts 1)

    The rapture, is like this same way. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 we meet Jesus in the clouds. When Jesus comes to finish restoring Israel's kingdom and RESTART the clock ticking on the 70th week.

    The second coming is UNLIKE the way they saw him go. The second coming is on horseback, with armies behind him, flaming eyes and a sharp sword, coming in fury. (Revelation 19:11-21)

    If we make the assumption the second coming fulfills Yom Kippur Oct 13 2024, then this date minus 2520 is November 19, 2017 and I would expect the covenant signing to be then following this argument. This isn't exactly 47 days between feast of trumpets and this date (it's 57 from Sept 23), but it's within a similar range. Of course, our musings don't make them correct, but this does seem logical and could play out.

    1. Actually the gap would be a parallel 57 days using this timeline:

      Palm Sunday 70 weeks clock PAUSE

      +57 days to Pentecost, Birth of Church and coming of indwelling Holy Spirit (+7 days to resurrection, +40 days to ascention +10 days to Pentecost)

      CHURCH AGE, clock on PAUSE

      (Theory) Sept 23, 2017 Rapture of church, Holy Spirit indwelling REMOVED with church

      +57 days to (possible) covenant signing Nov 19 2017. Clock RESTART

      +2520 days of 70th week - Yom Kippur 2024 Oct 13.

      All theoretical, but the math seems to work out in parallel.

  7. Dear brother Jeff, I want to note the timeline also given in Revelation 2-3 when Jesus speaks of His coming to the churches of Thyatira (2,25), to Philadelphia (3,11) and Laodicea (3,20). When I was reading this, I had also the impression that Jesus emphasizes every time the imminence of His coming. So, at the time of the Laodicean church age (= today!) the imminence is MOST accentuated. How can then there be people saying this could be not important or could be a matter of linguistic style if every IOTA is important to mention in the word of God? Blessings to you all, Corinna from Germany

  8. Great observation, Corinna! I see what you are saying about Jesus' statements of His return getting stronger as the Church age progresses—right up until our Laodicean era, where He is at the door! Thank you for sharing. Keep standing firm in the faith and seeking to wake up others in Germany. Blessings to you, sister.

  9. The timing of our departure.
    According to the prophecy, the Rapture is preceded by a supernatural "warning sign" event that occurs 40 days prior to the Rapture. The "warning sign" to watch for is called 'the dead in Christ rising' and it occurs on the Jewish Feast of First Fruits which is celebrated in the spring of the year.
    In fact, the way the prophecy reads, it is the presence of the Christian Church that is hindering King Abdullah from finishing the peace covenant with the Jew's at this time, and it is the Rapture that removes that hindering force; allowing peace to prevail.
    In the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Church at Thessalonica, he told them that before the Rapture would occur an event would take place that would leave no doubt of the impending Rapture. He told them to watch for "the dead in Christ to rise first"!

    I Thes. 4:16
    For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

    This is an event that will mimic an event that took place at the time of Jesus' resurrection and is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, and verses 52& 53.

    Matt 27:52,53
    27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which were dead arose,

    27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

    Known dead people will be brought back to life in a 'spiritual' body and appear to living people in Jerusalem. That is the Gospel account of what happened the first time, and it is what Paul is empathically explaining to watch for this time.

    Additionally the Gospel records, that after Jesus raised from the dead He remained on earth for 40 days and then He ascended into heaven. Paul is explaining that this is the same sequence of events that will take place at the time of the Rapture of the Church. He is demonstrating that the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is indisputably linked as a foreshadow to the Rapture of the Church. And, because the Church is called the Body of Christ this is said to be the 'Body of Christ' going up into heaven in both instances.

    Paul is also saying that from the time the 'dead in Christ' raise from the dead this time, they will stay on earth for 40 days [just like their predecessors did in Matthew 27: 52,53] and then they will be Raptured along with those that are a live and waiting for the 40th day to arrive. The living are waiting for the 40th day because they knew the warning sign had taken place 40 days prior.

    And lastly, Paul sets the timing for both the 'dead in Christ to rise' as well as the Rapture when he says that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the Jewish Feast of First Fruits and ascended 40 days later. That interpolates into the 'dead in Christ' will rise this time on the Jewish Feast of First Fruits and the Rapture of the Church will happen 40 days later. And all that comes together to say that the WARNING SIGN for the Rapture of the Church is the 'dead in Christ' rising on First Fruits!

  10. There is quite a bit of confusion over 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

    4:013 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
    4:014 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
    4:015 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
    4:016 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:
    4:017 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.
    4:018 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

    1. One might ask, if God is going to bring with Him the those who sleep in Christ then why are the Dead in Christ rising in the first place?
      The only thing that makes scene to me is the note above Matthew 27: 52,53.
      And to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.



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