During the great Day, at the consummation of world history as we know it, two things happen.
Jesus is coming back to collect all His people. Not just the people living at that time, but all people who lived throughout the entire world history insofar as they have entrusted their lives to God. They are brought back to life on this awesome day. In the Bible this is referred to as the first resurrection.
It is this great Day that Paul is looking forward to:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Interestingly, Paul does not expect to receive his crown on the day he dies. He will not receive it until the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, along with all the others who have been looking forward to this same Day. Also, Peter speaks of an inheritance that is kept for the people of God and which they receive, not at the moment of death, but when the Day arrives:
"And when the Chief Shepperd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away" (1 Peter 1:3-9 & 5:4).
On this Day God’s huge crowd, from all nations and tongues, will meet Jesus 'in the air'. From that moment on, they will be with Him forever. Read about it in: John 14 : 3 | I Corinthians 15 : 52-53 | Philippians 3 : 20-21 | 2 Timothy 4 : 7-8 | I Thessalonians 4:16-17.
This reunion will not take place on the renewed earth, as there is no new earth yet at that time. The new heaven and earth will be installed later, after a period of a thousand years has passed. Why God inserts thousand years before His final judgement and the beginning of the new world? Go to [God's people gain insight into world history] to find out.
Note that all the dead people from world history, who have turned away from God, remain in their graves on this Day. They come into the picture after the thousand years have passed [a new beginning].
What happens to the people living at this time, but who choose not to be part of the worldwide community of Jesus? They have a big problem.
“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of his wrath has come, and who is able to stand” (Revelation 6:15-17. See e.g. also Isaiah 2).
They will not be able to stand [go to: a desolate earth].
Thus, after the glorious and astonishing Day when Jesus returns as the King of kings, the world population is reduced to zero. The total community of God has been taken of the scene. The rest of the world's population did not survive the confrontation. The earth will be left completely empty and desolate for a period of a thousand years.
However, the Day of Jesus’ return is not quite the end of history. It is the beginning of the end. A period of [1000 years] passes before world history as we know it finally ends. At that time follows a second resurrection:
“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:5).
These rest of the dead refers to all the people in world history who have rejected God but chose to live their live all by themselves. They have no part in the first resurrection from the dead, which takes places at Jesus 2nd coming, but will come back to live during this second resurrection event. Following the second resurrection God pronounces a final judgment [a new beginning & the final judgement].
On the one hand, a final judgement sounds terrifying, and it is, because people are getting lost. On the other hand, it's wonderful that there is Someone who can bring everything to light as it really is through the complete maze of lies in our history. How else could God make all things new and prelude the coming of His eternal, perfect Kingdom?
The idea that there is going to be a 'secret rapture' of the church, before the visible return of Jesus on the great Day, has taken root in wide circles of the (western) church. According to this teaching, God will at an unexpected moment, in silence, remove all Christians from the world. One moment they are there, the next moment they disappeared from the scene. Numerous books, films and discussion evenings have been inspired by this theory. But is it in line with the Bible?
The idea of a 'rapture' is closely related to dispensation theology. According to this doctrine, world history is divided into a number of periods. Since the coming of Jesus, God paused His plan for literal Israel, and has inserted a time for the church. We currently live in this in between period. In the future God will resume His plan with the Jewish people (go to [490 - Israel] for extra info). But before He does, He will first take the church off the world stage, through a mysterious rapture. After this event, all kinds of things will happen, including a great tribulation for the Jewish people and the start of a thousand-year 'kingdom of peace' in which literal Israel will be the center of world politics. Important texts that supposedly support this theory are Luke 17:34 and I Corinthians 15:51-52 and I Thessalonians 4:15.
It is noticeable that the rapture is characterized as a secret and silent event. You just have to read a few sentences further in the same texts which are supposed to support this idea, to find the exact opposite of a silent event:
The supposed secret rapture of the church, before the great Day arrives, is not in line with the Bible. There is nothing secret about the coming of Jesus.
The idea that people who are left behind on earth after the supposed rapture will get a second chance can even mislead people. We wait for the glorious return of Christ and nothing else. It is important for everyone to be prepared for that event.
A popular idea associated with the rapture is that the end times will not begin until after this rapture has taken place. This is mainly based on Paul's 2nd letter to the Thessalonians. Paul speaks here of 'the man of lawlessness' and about something that still hinders him:
“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (II Thessalonians 2:6-7).
The explanation given in the dispensation doctrine is that the Holy Spirit, who lives in the church, is no longer present after the rapture. Only then can the lawless one (the antichrist) be given free reign. But give this a second thought. How could the people who are left behind ever find God again, if the Holy Spirit is no longer there to show them the way? And why does Paul, who so often writes openly about the Holy Spirit, suddenly speak here in veiled terms? That makes no sense whatsoever.
The reason is simple. Paul was well aware of Daniel's prophecy, which states that the 'horn-power' would rise out of the Roman Empire [1260 years V-dominance]. He therefore knew that the Roman state and the emperor would have to give way to this new power. He says that the man of lawlessness will be revealed ‘in his own time’. He could explain this verbally to the Thessalonians ("Don't you remember that I told you these things while I was still with you?” vs. 5), but to put it in black and white was of course a huge risk. That is why he speaks in veiled terms: “you know what it is and there is 'someone' that withholds”. Paul says: you know what I'm talking about. Paul is talking about the Roman Empire, it’s emperor, and about the new superpower that would arise from it (although he of course did not yet know who or what this would be). The letter to the Thessalonians was interpreted in this way also by the early church fathers.
Ironically, the idea of a secret rapture stems from the writings of the lawless one Paul was referring to. The theory that an antichrist suddenly appears on the scene during a seven-year end-time was introduced by the Jesuit order in the context of the Counter-Reformation (16th century). It was a smart move, a lightning rod, to divert attention from Rome. Later it seeped into the Protestant world through John Darby (Assembly of the brethren, 19th century) and became extremely popular. Go to [1260 years of V-dominance] for more information about this interesting development.
In Psalm 104 : 3 a typical Hebrew parallelism is used, in which the clouds and the wind are combined with the 'angels' of God. They are used interchangeably in the imagery language. It is noteworthy that during His ascension Jesus is hidden from the view of His disciples by a cloud and immediately afterwards two angels join them (Acts 1). The fact that Jesus comes on the clouds has nothing to do with the weather forecast but means that He is coming together with a huge army of angels. Several other places in the Bible confirm this view, for instance:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matthew 25:31). See also Luke 9:26 and II Thessalonians 1:7.
This will truly be the most spectacular day of history!