By Dr. David R. Reagan
Promise of Victory #1: The Rapture
Our first promise of victory is the Rapture of the Church. This is an event that is often confused with the Second Coming, but they are not the same. A careful study of the Scriptures reveals that the return of Jesus is going to be in two stages: first the Rapture, and then the Second Coming.
The fact that these two are separate events can easily be demonstrated. For example, there are only two detailed descriptions in the New Testament of the return of Jesus. Only two! One is in 1 Thessalonians 4 and the other is in Revelation 19. If you will look at those in detail, you will find something very interesting. The two passages are as different as night and day, which raises a major theological question. The two passages describing the return of Jesus have absolutely nothing in common except that they both focus upon Jesus Christ. And, they could not be any more different.
For an example, let me show you how different they are. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears in the heavens. He does not come to earth. In Revelation 19, Jesus returns to the earth.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears in the heavens for His Church. In Revelation 19, He returns to the earth with His Church.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears as a deliverer to deliver His children from this wicked world, but in Revelation 19 He returns as a warrior to pour out the wrath of God.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Jesus appears in grace. In Revelation 19, He returns in wrath.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, He appears as a Bridegroom for His Bride the Church, but in Revelation 19 He returns to earth as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
How then can these two passages be reconciled? Well, I believe that the only way that they can really be reconciled is to conclude that they are talking about two different events. Therefore, the Second Coming of Jesus is going to be in two stages: first the Rapture, and then later the Second Coming.
Incidentally, this reconciliation solves another problem, for the Bible says repeatedly that the return of Jesus is imminent, in that is it can happen at any moment. But, how can it be imminent if there is only one future coming? If you only believe in one future coming, what’s called the Second Coming, then the return of Jesus is not imminent.
Imminent means it can happen at any moment. But, if you only believe in the Second Coming and don’t believe in the Rapture, the return of Jesus is not imminent. There’s no way in the world He could come back today. And why’s that? Because there are prophecies that have to be fulfilled.
Here’s the point, if there is only one future coming, then the Lord’s Return in not imminent because there are many prophecies that must be fulfilled before He can return to earth. There’s a whole passel of them, as we say in Texas. I’ll just list you a few:
1. There must be seven years of Tribulation.
2. There must be the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
3. There must be the revelation of the Antichrist.
4. There must be the killing of the Two Witnesses.
5. The desecration of the Temple by the Antichrist.
6. The institution of the Mark of the Beast.
7. The salvation of the Jewish remnant.
All of those are things that must happen before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The point again is this the only way the Lord’s return can be imminent is for there to be a Rapture that is separate and apart from the Second Coming, and which can occur any moment without the fulfillment of any prophecies.
This reconciliation solves another problem, in that the Bible says that no one can know the date of the Lord’s return (Mat. 24:36,42). No ands, ifs, or buts about it. There are a lot of sincere people who think they do know when the Rapture will occur, but they don’t truly know.
The Bible does say that we can know the day of the Lord’s return at His Second Coming, though. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this or not, but here is the problem — the date of the Second Coming can be calculated precisely. It will be exactly 2,520 days or seven prophetic years, that is 360 days to a year, from the day the Tribulation begins. From the moment when the Antichrist signs that treaty guaranteeing the peace of Israel, you can count down 2,520 days until Jesus will return. We can know the exact date of the Second Coming.
Therefore, the statement about not knowing the date must apply to the Lord’s appearing in the Rapture and not in the Second Coming. So, when we hear talking about how you cannot know the date, we are talking here about the Rapture. We are not talking about the Second Coming.
Again, the solution is two future comings — first the appearing of the Lord for His Church at the Rapture, and then the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.
Promise of Victory #2: The Second Coming – By Dr. David R. Reagan
This brings us to the second great prophetic event of triumph that we can look forward to. Boy, what a day this will be! That is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The Bible says Jesus will return to this earth at the end of seven years of great Tribulation. He will return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem from which He ascended into heaven. This will occur when the Jewish people have come to the end of themselves as a result of the persecution they experienced in the Tribulation, motivating them to turn their hearts to God. That is one of the fundamental purposes of the Tribulation.
There are several purposes, but one is to bring the Jewish people to the end of themselves so that they will no longer look to the United States or anybody else, but they will turn their hearts to God because that’s the only person they will have to turn to.
When Jesus comes, we are told, the remnant of the Jews will look upon Him whom they have pierced and they will weep and they will mourn as over the loss of an only son. They will look upon Yeshua and they will cry out, “Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai,” which means, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” A great remnant of the Jewish people will be saved on that day. In fact, Jesus said He would not return until the Jewish people are willing to say, “Baruch haba b’Shem Adonia.”
At that point Jesus will speak a supernatural word and the Antichrist and his forces will be destroyed in the Valley of Armageddon. There is no such thing as the Battle of Armageddon. It doesn’t exist. Jesus doesn’t send some army out against the Antichrist and his armies. He just speaks a supernatural word. After all, this is the One who spoke and the whole universe came into existence. Jesus will speak and the Antichrist and his forces will drop dead. Their tongues will melt in their mouths, their eyeballs in their sockets, and their skin will drop off. It’s no wonder that the Valley of Armageddon will be filled with blood as deep as a horses bridle for a distance of 200 miles. There’s going to be hundreds of millions of people in that valley when Jesus Christ speaks.
Jesus will then resurrect the Old Testament saints. You see, the Old Testament saints are not a part of the Bride of Christ. When the Rapture occurs, that’s for the Church. The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Old Testament Saints according to Daniel 12 will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation at the Second Coming of Jesus. They will be resurrected as will the Tribulation martyrs, and they will receive their glorified bodies at that point.
Jesus will then judge all of those who are still left alive at the end of the Tribulation — both the Gentiles and the Jews —All left alive will be judged at the Sheep-Goat Judgment. The saved will be allowed to enter the Millennium in the flesh, but those who are not saved will be consigned to death and to Hades.
God’s Promises of Victory: The Millennium – By Dr. David R. Reagan
Promise of Victory #3: The Millennium
This brings us to the third great triumphal event that Christians should be looking forward to, and that is the Millennial Reign of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Bible says that those of us who are in our glorified bodies — the saved — will reign with Jesus Christ over the flesh for a 1,000 years, during which time the earth will be flooded with peace, righteousness and justice. Jesus will be serving in Jerusalem as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. David in his glorified body will be serving as the King of Israel. We in our glorified bodies will be scattered all over this earth to reign over different peoples from around the world.
Jesus said that there is going to be degrees of reward depending upon your faithfulness to Him in this life. He said I will put one person over one city, another other two, another over five, one over 10, and so forth. Some of you will be mayors. Some of you may be governors. Some of you may be presidents of nations. We are promised to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ over this earth. Everybody in a position of reigning authority will be a person in a glorified body. That could include not only the people in administrative positions, but judges and also teachers.
I can hardly wait for the Millennium to come because every teacher on planet earth will be a person in a glorified body. Everything will be taught out of the Bible. Everything! We will teach mathematics. We will teach geology. We will teach history. We will teach it all out of the Bible.
There will be no one there to say “Separation of Church of State,” because there will be no separation of Church and State. Praise God! Do you know what there will not be? There will be no Texas Legislature or United States Congress, because Jesus will give the law, and not some legislature. There won’t be any lobbyist or any people of that nature, because Jesus will give the law and He will see to it that the law is enforced.
Boy, what a time that’s going to be! No wonder the earth is going to be flooded with peace, righteousness and justice.
During the Millennial Kingdom, God is going to fulfill some promises that He has made. When I first began to believe the Bible for what it literally said, I could grab hold of those promises.
You see, I grew up in an Amillennial Church, which is a church that said that Jesus is never going to come back to this earth and there’s never going to be a Millennial reign. To them it was all just nonsense. But, when I started believing the Bible for what it said, the first struggle I had was why in the world would Jesus want to come back and reign on this earth? Why not just do away with it and let’s all go to Heaven and it will be over with? I had a real struggle with that.
The more I studied Bible prophecy the more it became clear that we have to have a Millennium for a number of reasons. One of them is that God has made promises that He must fulfill because God is a God of His Word. The only way He can fulfill those is through the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
1) To Jesus — Firstly, for example, God has made some promises to Jesus Christ. He has promised to Jesus that a day is coming when He is going to receive the honor and glory and power that He should have received the first time He came. Instead, the first time Jesus came He was spat upon, He was crucified, He was mocked, and He was scourged. But, at Christ’s return, He is going to receive honor, glory and power. That’s going to happen during the millennial reign of Jesus.
Boy, what a time the Millennial Reign is going to be! Isaiah describes it best, though there are many descriptions of it in the Bible, both Old Testament and New. Here is one of Isaiah descriptions, “Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed for the Lord of host will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and His glory will go forth before His elders.” Jesus is going to be glorified and honored as He should have been at the First Coming.
Here’s an underwriting of Christ’s glory in the New Testament from 2 Thessalonians 1. Paul writes, “Jesus is returning to be glorified in His Saints on that day and to be marveled at among all who have believed.” Jesus is coming to be glorified. He is coming to receive majesty and glory. God’s going to keep that glorious promise during the Millennium.
2) To the Creation — Secondly, God has made some promises to the Creation. God has promised that He will restore the Creation to its original perfection. Repeatedly in the Hebrew Scriptures, the promise is made over and over again that one day God will redeem His Creation.
Again, I grew up in a Church that taught me that one day Jesus is going to come back and then the whole universe is going to blow up. We will then live in an ethereal world forever as disembodied spirits floating around on clouds playing harps. I sure couldn’t get excited about that.
That’s not what the Bible teaches at all! The Bible teaches that God loves His creation. He created it perfect. He wants to return it to that perfection. It teaches that Jesus died on the cross not only for you and me and for our sins, but that Jesus died on the cross to make it possible that the whole of Creation can be redeemed.
Do you remember that once a year when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies he would walk in there and he would put the blood on the Mercy Seat? This was a symbol that one day the Messiah would die and His blood would make it possible for the grace of God to cover the law of God which was under that Mercy Seat.
But, did you ever notice it says the High Priest stepped back and sprinkled the blood on the ground? Most people never notice that. He sprinkled the blood of the ground. What was that? A symbol it was, a prophecy that the Messiah was going to die not only for the sins of mankind, but die to make it possible for all of Creation to be redeemed. God is going to do that during this particular time.
There are many Scriptures that talk about the redemption of Creation. For example, Isaiah 11 talks about how the wolf will dwell with the lamb and how the lion will eat straw with the ox. There will no longer be any poisonous animals. There will no longer be any meat eating animals. A man will live in perfect peace and harmony with nature and the animal kingdom will live in peace and harmony with itself.
Here’s an affirmation of this fact in the New Testament. Peter stands before the Sanhedrin Council in Acts 3, and Peter says to these men who crucified Jesus and who could crucify him, “Repent in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send Jesus Christ the appointed for you whom heaven must receive (where He is now) until the period of the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times.”
There’s going to be a time for the restoration of all things, and that’s going to occur during the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ.