By Rev. Bill Lee-Warner
One of the keys to understanding biblical truth is to have a proper method of interpretation or hermeneutic, part of which is to compare Scripture with Scripture. Some people who contact our ministry want to frequently take one single passage of Scripture and build their doctrine upon it, rather than considering all of what Scripture has to say about the subject. This principle is certainly true when it comes to the events of the end times.
The Rapture is very clearly mentioned in the Old Testament in Daniel 12:2: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.” When we look at the context of this verse and then compare it with other Scripture, we can clearly see that this verse is speaking of our being gathered up to Christ at His coming just as it is detailed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.
In Daniel 12:1, Michael, who stands guard over Israel, will stand aside (the word “arise” [NASB] is an idiom that conveys an arising to allow someone or something to pass by or through) and then Jeremiah 30:7 will be fulfilled: “Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s distress, but he will be saved from it.” This is exactly what the Apostle Paul is speaking of in 2 Thessalonians 2 when he says that before the day of the Lord begins the lawless one will be revealed– when the one (Michael) who restrains him will stand out of the way. This happens at the mid-point of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:27). Then in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, He tells us exactly the sequence of events to take place just before the Rapture. Jesus tells us that after the lawless one — the abominator — is revealed “there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matt. 24:21). This is exactly what Daniel has said in 12:1, “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” This time spoken of in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21 is the worst time that the Jews and the elect (saints) will ever experience. Now the context of Matthew 24 is directed toward the elect and the context of Daniel 12 is directed toward the nation of Israel, therefore this difficult time, as bad as it will be, will not be the worst time ever on the earth. That degree of severity is reserved for when God pours out His wrath in the Day of the Lord judgment.
Jesus goes on to say “and unless those days had been cut short no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short” (Matt. 24:22). This is what Daniel is saying in the last part of 12:1: “and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.” Both passages are talking about the day yet future when the lawless one (Antichrist) persecutes the woman (Israel) and her offspring (the saints) in Revelation 12:13, 17 and 13:7. Then Christ, with the sign of the end of the age and the sign of His coming, appears in the clouds, and we are caught up to meet Him and be with Him forever (Matt. 24:27-31).
Immediately following the Rapture, God begins the Day of the Lord’s wrath on those who remain, and as Daniel says in 12:2, they experience “disgrace and everlasting contempt.”