Jesus Himself stated that He would appear “on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” and that “all the nations of the earth will mourn” when they see Him (Matthew 24:30). Furthermore, He stated that He “will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (24:31).
The aforementioned events, which will be part of the main resurrection and Rapture phenomenon, will not occur at the very beginning, nor at the very end, of the 70th Week (commonly, but erroneously, referred to as the “tribulation” period). Rather, they will take place during the cosmic and global upheavals, which will transpire subsequent to the opening of the Sixth Seal of the heavenly scroll, as described by Jesus (Matthew 24:29) and by John (Revelation 6:12-14).
I believe the events immediately following the opening of the Sixth Seal probably will take place about a year prior to the end of the 70th Week (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4—see The Seventh Year) and will be followed, chronologically, by the appearance in heaven of a great multitude of raptured believers (Revelation 7:9,10). Then, the opening and onset of the Seventh Seal: the Day of the Lord will be imminent. The extraordinary phenomena described by Jesus in Matthew 24:30,31 parallel Paul’s clear descriptions of the Pre-Wrath Rapture event in 1 Corinthians 15:52,53 and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17. (See The Rapture for a detailed analysis.)
The Pre-Wrath Rapture will take place on a Rosh haShanah = Feast of Trumpets, in prophetic fulfillment of the first fall Hebraic feast. On this day (or, traditionally, for two days), a series of shofar or trumpet blasts is heard (Leviticus 23:24). It will be at the sounding of the “last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52) in that sequence of blasts that the Rapture will occur. Only the Father knows on which day or hour that this will occur (Matthew 24:36). The “last trumpet” should not be confused with the Seventh Trumpet (Revelation 11:15-18).
Now, backing up a bit, due to the gigantic earthquake and the intense “cosmic disturbances” (visible changes in the sun, moon, and stars) of the Sixth Seal period, vast numbers of people on the earth, recoiling in sheer terror, will be hiding in caves and under rocks (Revelation 6:15). They will see, and want to hide from, “the face of him who sits on the throne” (6:16). They will mourn (Matthew 24:30) because they will have been left behind to face the looming wrath of God. (This is not the same as the mourning done by those in Jerusalem for the suffering of their Messiah, Jesus, when He returns to earth at the end of the 70th Week—Zechariah 12:10b).
In light of Jesus’ description of His future appearance in the clouds—resembling lightning flashing from the east to the west (Matthew 24:27)—I believe that the people in all the nations of the world will see Jesus as He materializes, suddenly, in earth’s atmosphere, during the turbulence of the Sixth Seal events (Revelation 6:16). As the world sees Jesus the Lamb, on His throne in the clouds, saved believers will be caught up to be with Him in the clouds. Then this same enormous multitude of raptured believers—from every nation, tribe, people and language—will be seen standing in front of Jesus, seated on the same throne, soon thereafter in heaven (Revelation 7:9,10).
By no means will this Rapture be a “silent and invisible” event, as advocated by those of the “Pre-Tribulation” Rapture persuasion, where the people left behind will wonder what happened to the people who suddenly will have disappeared from sight. (In case there is a Mid-Tribulation Rapture, of a “firstfruits” segment of believers, it very well may be a “silent and invisible” event, with no signs immediately preceding it.) When Jesus indicated that the day and hour of His coming (in the clouds) will be unknown to anyone other than the Father (Matthew 24:36), He was not implying that this was an ever-imminent event that could happen at any moment, with no forewarning whatsoever (see day and hour unknown), nor was He indicating that there would not be clear manifestations of His atmospheric arrival when it happened.
Jesus will appear in the clouds above the earth
See the The 70th Week and Extensions: “Pre-Wrath” Rapture chart showing the timing of the Pre-Wrath Rapture, along with passages in Revelation (as well as a few passages from other books of the Bible), and when I believe they will occur during the 70th Week.
- to gather believers, both dead and alive, to be with Him at the Rapture, as well as
- to cause unbelievers to be aware that the wrath and vengeance of God is about to be discharged upon the earth during the “day of vengeance” period—which will commence when the Seventh Seal is opened.
Soon after the Pre-Wrath Rapture takes place on a Rosh haShanah = Feast of Trumpets, four angels will be standing by (Revelation 7:1), ready to blow out the first four devastating Trumpet Judgments upon the land, sea, and trees of the earth (7:3, 8:6-12). The four angels will be told not to harm the land, sea, or trees until a seal is placed on the foreheads of 144,000 members from the twelve tribes of Israel (7:3-8).
In ancient Israel, it was on Yom Kippur = Day of Atonement that the fate or destiny of every person was sealed for the following year. Since Yom Kippur is soon after Rosh haShanah (only nine days later), it seems likely that it will be on this day when the 144,000 will receive the seal of the living God (Revelation 7:2,3), thus protecting and preserving them through most of the “day of vengeance” to come, about a year in length (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4).
Some believe that this group of 144,000 is symbolic, rather than literal, and that its members are representative of the Church or of some other segment of Gentile believers (such as a specially “anointed” class of Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example). I disagree completely. As emphasized early in this commentary, I feel it is important to distinguish between symbolic and literal passages in Revelation; and I never have seen any convincing explanation why these are not, literally, 144,000 members from the tribes of Israel, as the passage indicates.
Thus, during the 70th Week, there will be 144,000 Israelites who will revere God and will keep His lawful commands in the Torah, yet not (initially) acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah. Once the global Rapture event has taken place (soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal), these descendants of Jacob from twelve tribes, who will have seen “the face of him who sits on the throne” (Revelation 6:16), will understand that Jesus is the true Messiah (Christ).
These 144,000 will receive the seal of God on their foreheads (Revelation 7:3,4) to be servants of the Almighty. Evidently, they will glorify and be representatives of His until, as a group, they are caught up collectively to heaven at some point near the end of the 70th Week (14:1-3—see 144,000 caught up). Evidently, this will not be long before Jesus returns to tread the winepress of the wrath of God.
After this, John saw in heaven,
...a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:9-12).
John was told, by one of the elders, that those in white robes had come out of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:13,14). In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus pointed out that if the days of the Great Tribulation were not “cut short” (by the opening of the Sixth Seal and subsequent Rapture event), “no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
Those in this great multitude will be saved believers in Jesus Christ, previously both dead and alive, Gentile and Jewish. They will have been removed from the earth, via the Pre-Wrath Rapture on a Rosh haShanah = Feast of Trumpets, during the events of the Sixth Seal. These raptured believers will be in heaven, with their palm branches and rejoicing before the Lord (Leviticus 23:40; Revelation 7:9-12). This will be in fulfillment of the final fall Hebraic feast, Sukkot = Feast of Tabernacles, which begins two weeks after the Feast of Trumpets. John added,
Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:16,17).
Seventh Seal: the Day of the Lord
Commonly, but I believe erroneously, the entire 70th Week is referred to as the “Day of the Lord” (as well as the seven-year “tribulation period”). On the contrary, I believe that the Day of the Lord period—at the beginning of which God’s righteous, vengeful wrath will start to be unleashed upon the earth—will not commence until well after the middle of the 70th Week.
The main resurrection of believers and the Rapture event will occur soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal. Then, chronologically, the Seventh Seal will be opened, beginning the Day of the Lord epoch—during which the initial period, the “day of vengeance,” will be dreadful and terrifying. Just as a standard Hebrew day begins with darkness that is transformed into light, the “day of vengeance” will be the “dark” portion of the Day of the Lord, which ultimately will give way to the “light” portion after the Second Advent (bodily descent) of Jesus back to earth.
In The Rapture commentary are included most of the following items, demonstrating a chronological order of events:
- a covenant involving Israel;
- the possible onset of the 70th Week according to God’s Hebraic calendar rather than according to man’s Gregorian calendar;
- the cessation of sacrifices and offerings just prior to the second half of the 70th Week, followed immediately by the abomination that causes desolation (Daniel 9:27bc), as referenced specifically by Jesus, inside of a “holy place” located in Jerusalem at that time (Matthew 24:15);
- the public revealing of the “man of lawlessness” (or Antichrist), who will exalt himself over everything that belongs to God (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4), blaspheming and slandering God and exercising his authority for 42 months (Revelation 13:5,6)—that is, the second half of the 70th Week;
- the beginning of the Great Tribulation period (Matthew 24:9,10,21), which will incorporate at least the Fourth and Fifth Seals (Revelation 6:7-11);
- a gigantic earthquake, shaking the whole earth, followed by unprecedented cosmic tumult, where the sun and moon will turn dark and the earth and heavenlies will be shaken, all of which will begin with the opening of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12,13);
- the Pre-Wrath Rapture event, following the appearance of Jesus (Son of Man, Lord, Lamb) in the clouds/sky (Matthew 24:30,31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; Revelation 6:16); and then
- the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:9-13, 34:8; Ezekiel 30:1-3; Joel 2:1,2,10,11, 2:30,31; Amos 5:18,20; Zephaniah 1:14,15,18; Acts 2:19-21; Revelation 6:17, 8:1–10:7, 11:6-19, 14:1–18:24), which will be initiated by the opening of the Seventh Seal. This will not be merely one 24-hour day but, rather, a much longer span of time.
The initial stage of the Day of the Lord—the dreaded “day of vengeance”—apparently will last approximately a year (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4): the seventh year of the 70th Week. During this time, the majority of the devastating wrath of God will be poured out upon the earth, initially as the Trumpet Judgments (Revelation 8:6-13, 9:1-21). During the First through Fourth Trumpet Judgments, much of the earth will be devastated or destroyed and countless people will die.
The Fifth Trumpet Judgment, alone, will last five months (Revelation 9:1,5,10). The Sixth Trumpet Judgment will result in a third of mankind being killed by fire, smoke and sulfur (9:13-18). The Seventh Trumpet will mark the physical return of Jesus to earth, to rule and reign and to judge (Revelation 11:15-18). This final judgment will encompass the seven final plagues: Bowl Judgments. The entire time of God’s wrath (Trumpet Judgments and Bowl Judgments) will be followed by the greater portion of the Day of the Lord period: the Millennium—a glorious era (Isaiah 11:10) and utopia, continuing for another thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).
A typical Hebrew day, beginning at sunset, starts with darkness. After sunrise, the day becomes light. Likewise, the Day of the Lord will begin with the darkest, most terrifying time in human history: the “day of vengeance.” This will be followed by a bright, glorious epoch of time, the Millennium, which will commence after Jesus’ second advent (bodily descent) back to earth.
Just after the opening of the heavenly scroll’s Seventh Seal, there will be an eerie period of complete “...silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1), much as a typical day begins quietly and peacefully. (If this silence also is apparent on the earth by a cessation of Sixth Seal disturbances, Israel and the world may even think that “peace” finally has arrived.) But I see this as the “quiet before the storm” or the “eye of the hurricane,” with the worst destruction yet to come.
Zephaniah said, “Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near” (Zephaniah 1:7a). Other Old Testament prophets also may have predicted this unearthly silence (Isaiah 41:1a; Amos 8:3b). After this silence, from John’s futuristic point of view, “there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:5b), signaling that the real disturbances were about to ensue.
The seven angels who will “blow out” the seven Trumpet Judgments may or may not be the same seven angels which represented the seven churches (Revelation 1:20), about which John wrote in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of Revelation. John also saw four angels prior to the sealing of the 144,000 (7:1). These four angels will be responsible for sending judgments which directly and adversely will affect the land, trees, sea, rivers, and atmosphere of the earth (8:6-12). Apparently, the two witnesses will be responsible for bringing down some of the judgments and plagues (11:3-6).
Unlike what occurred during the first several seals, where no supernatural intrusion was evident, the Trumpet Judgments clearly will involve supernatural (angelic) intervention, as directed by God (Revelation 8:2). This is yet another indication that, whereas the Trumpet Judgments (and, later, the Bowl Judgments) will be God’s wrath patently being dispensed upon the earth, the events encompassed by the first six seals will not be instances of punishment, via God’s wrath.
John wrote of seeing an eagle, flying in midair, which called out,
Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels! (Revelation 8:13).
As will be seen, the three “woes” are important in understanding the ongoing chronology of Revelation. Clearly, the “other three angels” are those who will blow out the final three Trumpet Judgments:
The First Woe (Fifth Trumpet Judgment) will result from an attack of demonic locusts, which will emerge from a supernatural pit known as the “Abyss” after a fallen “star” is given the key to unlock its shaft (Revelation 9:1-3). The fallen “star” may be Satan, who will have been hurled out of heaven by Michael and his angels (12:7-9).
- The First Woe will occur after the blowing of the Fifth Trumpet (Revelation 9:1a, 9:12a).
- The Second Woe will occur after the blowing of the Sixth Trumpet (9:12b,13, 11:14a).
- The Third Woe will occur after the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet (11:14b,15).
This is the same Abyss into which a legion of demons once begged Jesus not to cast them (Luke 8:31), thus indicating that the Abyss is an abode of captivity for demons, and it will be literal demonic beings which will emerge from it. This very well may be the same demonic locust army that the ancient prophet Joel described (Joel 2:1-11). Interestingly, the period of time that people will be tormented, 5 months (Revelation 9:10), is the same length of time that the waters of Noah’s Flood covered the earth: 150 days (Genesis 7:24), which equals 5 Jewish months of 30 days each.
Once the First Woe (Fifth Trumpet Judgment) has taken place, the Second Woe (Sixth Trumpet Judgment) will be imminent (Revelation 9:12,13). The Sixth Trumpet Judgment will involve the release of four angels, who will be in charge of killing a third of mankind, via two hundred million mounted troops (9:15,16). I believe that these mounted troops will be supernatural in nature; there is nothing to suggest that they will be a natural human army, especially considering their grotesque appearance (9:17-19). It is logical and reasonable to believe that this is a literal description.
Up to this point in John’s heavenly vision (Chapters 4–9), the accounts of these future events have been sequential, as written. It is clear that, chronologically, the Third Woe (Revelation 11:14) will take place after the Second Woe. However, in John’s written transcript, there is a definite change in venue in the interesting passage between the end of the Sixth Trumpet events and the beginning of the Seventh Trumpet events. Following the plagues of the Sixth Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 9:13-21), there is a chronological continuance through Revelation 10:1-11. However, Revelation 11:1-13 must be taken out of the ongoing chronological sequence, as is described in the next section.
a mighty angel
John saw a mighty angel (Revelation 10:1). I believe this is Jesus in angelic form (see a mighty angel). He is holding a little scroll (10:2a); and it previously was seen that only Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, was worthy to take and open the scroll (Revelation 5:4,5). The scroll appears “little” because all seven seals will have been opened by that time, with all but a tiny portion of the scroll unrolled.
Up to this point, Jesus’ demeanor will have been as a Lamb (Revelation 5:6,7)—more passive than assertive. Now, however, Jesus’ disposition is seen to be more like a Lion (10:3a), seeming to indicate that He will be taking a more active roll in what is yet to transpire.
The mighty angel (Jesus) is observed to announce that
in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets (Revelation 10:7).
In a letter to the Ephesians, Paul previously had explained what this “mystery” is:
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:9,10).
Also, Paul wrote this:
In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that, through the Gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:4-6).
Paul also told the Romans that he did not want them to be ignorant of this “mystery” (Romans 11:25). He said this after he had explained, in detail, how believing Gentiles have been “grafted” into the “tree” of Israel and that much of unsaved Israel, ultimately, will be “regrafted” into their own tree (11:13-24)—see grafted and re-grafted. In yet another place, he made a reference to this same mystery to the Romans—“the mystery hidden for long ages past...that all nations might believe and obey him...” (16:25,26).
This mystery of the ages—that Gentiles in Christ are co-heirs of the ancient promises God made to Israel—ultimately will come to pass when Jesus, the Messiah of both the Israelites/Jews (descendants of Jacob) and the Gentiles, physically returns again to earth, and all things will be under one head: Christ. This will be accomplished as the Seventh Trumpet is about to be sounded (Revelation 10:7):
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Thus, there is a continuous and unbroken chronological description of the entire 70th Week from Revelation 6:1 through 10:7. The fact that the angel tells John to “eat” the little scroll, which John does (Revelation 10:9,10), indicates that virtually all of the information contained in the scroll about the entire 70th Week has been read and is complete. Again, the scroll is seen to be “little” because all seven seals of the scroll will have been removed, and the unrolled scroll will be tiny.
John reported that the scroll tasted sweet in his mouth but turned sour in his stomach. Perhaps this is because Jesus’ Second Advent to earth, at the end of the 70th Week, will be a “sweet” event; but there will remain the “sour” effects of the Bowl Judgments (perhaps the tiny portion of the scroll remaining to be opened) yet to transpire after His return.
Nonetheless, as the Seventh Trumpet is about to be blown (Revelation 10:7), John is told to “prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings” (10:11, 11:9). That is, John would prophesy again, from another perspective, concerning a period of time—specifically, the second half of the 70th Week—about which he already had prophesied and which ends with the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet and Christ’s return to rule and reign (11:15-17). Thus, this is the first break in the chronological narrative, at 10:7, since 11:1 returns again to the middle of the 70th Week.
the two witnesses
Prior to a traditional Jewish wedding in ancient times, two witnesses (or groomsmen) would slip over to the bride’s house to announce the groom’s arrival (see bridegroom and bride). Likewise, there will be two witnesses who will precede Jesus’ coming at the Rapture for His Bride, the Church (see Bridegroom and Bride). John wrote about these two witnesses (Revelation 11:3-12), who will prophesy for 1,260 days (that is, for 42 months or 3½ years).
These witnesses may be (literally) Elijah and either Moses or Enoch. If so, I lean toward Elijah and Moses, since they were the ones who appeared to Peter, James, and John at Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3). This transfiguration may have been a foreshadowing of Jesus’ glorious reappearance at the end of the age, with Elijah and Moses returning to earth to point to this event. Furthermore, it was prophesied that God would send the prophet Elijah prior to the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5).
It also is possible that the two witnesses will be two people who embody the “spirit” of prophecy (as Elijah did) and the “spirit” of the law (as Moses did). After all, an ordinary man, John the Baptist, was the “Elijah” who came (Matthew 11:12-15), even though he was not recognized as such (17:10-13). James wrote that Elijah caused it not to rain on the land for three and a half years (James 5:17). Evidently, this will happen again. While the two witnesses are prophesying on the earth, the following will occur:
If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want (Revelation 11:5,6).
Note that these specific phenomena (fire, water turning into blood, and plagues) are among those included in the Trumpet Judgments (Revelation 8:7,8b, 9:17,18,20). Furthermore, Moses was associated with turning water into blood (Exodus 7:19-21), along with bringing other plagues to Egypt, and Elijah caused there to be no rain in the land (1 Kings 17:1). The two witnesses will be able to do the same things (Revelation 11:6), although on a much grander scale.
Concerning Moses, after he went up on Mount Sinai to meet the Lord, he was a so long in coming back down that the Israelites lost confidence in him and had Aaron build a golden calf for them to worship (Exodus 32:1-4). As a result, God struck the people with a plague (32:35). This may be a foreshadowing of Moses’ going up to heaven and then returning back to earth, whether literally or figuratively, with plagues afflicting people after his return.
timing of the 1,260 days
Those who firmly embrace the “Pre-Tribulation” timing of the Rapture event (that is, a Rapture taking place prior to the 70th Week), and who also believe that the two witnesses will appear prior to the appearance of Jesus at the Rapture, are compelled to deduce that the 1,260 days (or 3½ years) of Revelation 11:3 are the first half, rather than the second half, of the 70th Week. In their view, the two witnesses will appear, then the Rapture will occur, then the 70th Week will begin, with the two witnesses prophesying and bringing plagues upon the earth (11:6) during the first half of the 70th Week.
The assumption (albeit, incorrect) that these plagues will take place during the first 3½ years is taken as “evidence” that God’s wrath will occur during the entire 70th Week of “tribulation” and, therefore, that the “Pre-Tribulation” Rapture must happen before the 70th Week begins. In The Rapture commentary, however, I demonstrate that the Rapture event will not take place until well into the 70th Week—at some point after the Sixth Seal has been opened—and as late as one year prior to the end of the seven-year period (see The Seventh Year).
It seems evident, then, that the two witnesses will appear and begin prophesying by the middle of the 70th Week, when the Great Tribulation will ensue. One of the things about which they will be prophesying to people is the impending Second Coming of Jesus in the clouds and deliverance via the Rapture. Proclaiming this vital message will be an attempt to convince people to embrace Jesus as the true Christ/Messiah and Savior of the world, so that they can avoid the approaching Day of the Lord’s wrath (Revelation 6:17), which will commence with the First Trumpet Judgment (8:6,7).
Once the Day of the Lord period has begun, the two witnesses evidently will be the agents used to call down some or all of the Trumpet Judgments upon the earth, as demonstrated by the fact that, after they are killed,
The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth (Revelation 11:10).
At the end of the 70th Week, they will be overcome and murdered by the beast that has come up from the Abyss, only to be resurrected 3½ days later—after which they will be caught up (raptured) into heaven (Revelation 11:7,11,12). Immediately following this, the Seventh Trumpet will herald the return of Jesus Christ back to earth to rule and reign (11:15-17).
In the section a mighty angel, it was seen that when the Seventh Trumpet is about to sound, “the mystery of God will be accomplished” (Revelation 10:7). The Seventh Trumpet will sound at the end of the 70th Week, signaling that Jesus, the Messiah of both the Jews and the Gentiles, has returned physically to earth to rule and reign and to judge (11:15-18).
Those who adhere to a “Post-Trib” view of the Rapture event believe, due to Paul’s use of the term “last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52) and “trumpet call” (1 Thessalonians 4:16), that the primary Rapture must occur at the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, concurrent with Jesus’ Second Advent to walk on the earth. I disagree with this premise (see disputes with Post-TR). Although I do believe that a “catching up” of some believers probably will occur at the end of the 70th Week (Revelation 14:14-16), I do not believe that this will be the primary Rapture event. The latter will have occurred subsequent to the opening of the Sixth Seal, but preceding the opening of the Seventh Seal (see Pre-Wrath Rapture).
Incidentally, it should be noted that, in Jewish tradition, the final shofar blown on Rosh haShanah is called the “Last Trumpet.” However, the shofar blown at Yom Kippur is referred to as the “Great Trumpet,” even though Yom Kippur follows Rosh haShanah. In this sense, then, the Great Trumpet actually is the “final” or “last” eschatological trumpet that is blown.
In the section three Woes, it was shown that the “Third Woe” (Revelation 11:14) will take place at some point after the Seventh Trumpet is blown. Although there will be “flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm” (11:19) at this time, these will be only relatively minor manifestations of the Third Woe.
Predominantly, the Third Woe will be the series of seven Plagues or Bowl Judgments (Revelation 15:1,7,8, 16:1-21), which will be poured out after Jesus physically returns to earth at the end of the 70th Week and soon after the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet. Therefore, the seven Trumpet Judgments will be encompassed within the Seventh Seal, and the final plagues: Bowl Judgments will be incorporated within the Seventh Trumpet Judgment.
As has been described, Revelation 11:1-19 is a brief review of the second half (42 months or 1,260 days) of the 70th Week. Likewise, Revelation 12:6–14:20 is yet another succinct chronological and sequential restatement of the second half (1,260 days) of the 70th Week.
In most of Chapters 12-14, John makes another restatement of the second half of the 70th Week (just as he did in Chapter 11). Initially, however, two “signs” are seen—a “woman” and an “enormous red dragon” (see battle in heaven)—seeming to indicate that they are not literal but, rather, are symbolic of other things that were present in the world long ago.
A “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” is seen (Revelation 12:1). According to a dream of Joseph, a son of Jacob/Israel (Genesis 37:9,10), these represented the first family of Israel: Jacob (the “sun”), Joseph’s mother Rachel (the “moon”), and Jacob’s twelve sons (the “twelve stars”). Israel was the “embodiment” of the Law/Torah, which consists of God’s eternal commandments, rules, and guidelines. Prophetically, the ultimate fulfillment of Revelation 12:1 may have been the sign in the sky: September 23, 2017.
John noted that the woman “gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter” (Revelation 12:5). Loosely speaking, this “son” could represent Judah, since Jacob (also named “Israel”) prophesied that his son Judah would be associated with the “scepter”—a symbol of governance, rule, and law (Genesis 49:10).
More specifically, the son of the woman—and the Son of God—who came into the world was Jesus Christ (1 John 4:14,15). He is the descendant of Judah who will rule the nations “with an iron scepter” when He returns (Revelation 19:15). Satan (the red dragon) attempted to destroy the woman’s son (Jesus), via crucifixion. However, Jesus—the descendant of Judah “who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter”—was resurrected and taken up to God’s throne in heaven (Revelation 12:4b,5).
But, in addition, those who overcome the temptations, enticements and seductions of world, and who submit to the will of God, will rule with an iron scepter, along with Jesus (Revelation 2:26,27). Those who are not genetically Israelites but who understand that they have been spiritually grafted into the “olive root” of Israel (Romans 11:17) are, collectively, a son of the woman, Israel. Perhaps, then, these faithful believers in and followers of Jesus might be “snatched up to God and to His throne” (Revelation 12:5) prior to the 1,260-day Great Tribulation. Conceivably, this could be a Mid-tribulation Rapture event.
In a sense, this “woman” is the earthly city of Jerusalem, since the Israelites were the embodiment of the woman, and their primary dwelling place was Jerusalem. Jerusalem was considered to be the “wife” or “bride” of God (Jeremiah 2:2); however, she was an “adulterous wife” (Ezekiel 16:32). Therefore, the New Jerusalem, the capital city of the new heaven in the eternal realm, will become the perfect “Bride” of the Lamb of God when it comes out of the new heaven (just as Eve came out of Adam)—after a new heaven and a new earth have been created (Revelation 21:1,2,9,10) by God (see old and new Creations). Within the New Jerusalem will dwell “those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27).
Incidentally, this “woman” is not symbolic of Christianity, Catholicism or the Church, a view which is embraced by some Christians. The Church did not “replace” Israel; rather, it was grafted into Israel. At a future time, Israel (Zion) will receive all of the blessings promised to her millennia ago by God (Isaiah 45:17, 51:2,3,16; Jeremiah 50:4,5; Ezekiel 36:1–37:28).
The woman, as embodied by a remnant of her Israeli “offspring,” will flee into the desert, to be protected by God, for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:6)—that is, for the last 3½ years of the 70th Week. Just as God reserved and protected a remnant of Israelites who were true to Him in the day of Elijah (1 Kings 19:18), so He will protect a remnant in the future. This endangered remnant, fleeing the land of Judea (probably mostly Jews), parallels what Jesus spoke about in His Olivet Discourse:
So when you see standing in the holy place “the abomination that causes desolation,” spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress [great tribulation], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:15-21).
As shown in abomination that causes desolation, the fleeing of people from Judea will take place in the middle or midst of the 70th Week. (It cannot be assumed that everybody in Judea will flee; many may not heed the warning.) Jesus indicated that they will flee to the mountains; John said that they will flee into the desert. Many Bible scholars suggest that they will flee to a place in the mountainous-desert area of western Jordan (perhaps to the rocky, “fortified city” of Petra, accessible to Israelis as part of the Israeli-Jordanian peace accord of October 26, 1994). Wherever they go, it will be a place which God will have prepared for them, and He supernaturally will take care of them there for 1,260 days.
John wrote, “The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert...” (Revelation 12:14). Some believe this is an indication that a large airplane or some other flying structure will take the people to their destination. Yet, after the Israelites had left Egypt, God said to Moses, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4). Thus, it may be that “two wings of a great eagle” is a figurative phrase indicating a supernatural deliverance or rescue, directly by God, who parted the Red Sea for the ancient Israelites to pass through (14:13-31).
Other than the fleeing remnant, the remainder of the woman’s “offspring” are “those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus”—that is, other Jews (those obeying God’s Law in the Torah), as well as Christians (those testifying about Jesus) who have been “grafted into” Israel (Romans 11:17-19)—see grafted and re-grafted. They will be pursued by the “red dragon” (Revelation 12:17), who is described next.
battle in heaven
An “enormous red dragon” also is seen (Revelation 12:3). The dragon is symbolic of the devil, or Satan (12:9a). A war will ensue in heaven at some point thereafter. The great archangel Michael and his angels will fight against and defeat the dragon (Satan) and his angels, hurling them permanently out of heaven and onto the earth (12:7-9). It may be that Michael initially will throw Satan out of heaven, while over some period of time Michael’s angels will cast out Satan’s angelic forces.
Unlike what commonly is believed, Satan presently has access to heaven, just as he did in the day of Job (Job 1:6, 2:1). Satan does not presently reside in heaven; he simply has right of entry into heaven, where he accuses people before God (Zechariah 3:1). However, in the middle of the 70th Week, Satan will be booted out of heaven permanently—and he will not like it.
Michael is the angelic “prince” who always has been the special protector of Israel (Daniel 10:21, 12:1a). In 12:1a, it is seen that Michael will “arise”—in Hebrew amad, which actually means to “stand aside,” “stand still,” “desist,” or “be inactive.” (See other examples of amad.) In 12:1b is a statement that closely parallels a statement made by Jesus in His Olivet Discourse:
There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then (Daniel 12:1b).
It is at this time that “great distress” during the Great Tribulation will begin. Following Michael’s active ejection of Satan out of heaven (thereby ending any future admittance into heaven by Satan), Michael will step aside and desist from helping Israel for the remainder of the 70th Week.
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21).
Then Satan, knowing that his “time is short” and “filled with fury” (Revelation 12:12c), will set out to cause the greatest distress or tribulation the world has known up that point in its history. A remnant of the woman will be protected from Satan for 1,260 days (12:6) = “time, times and half a time” (12:14) = 3½ years.
power of lawlessness
The archangel Michael presently protects Israel, for the most part, from enemies (both natural and supernatural) who would like to do that nation harm. In that sense, Michael restrains Satan and his angels from being successful in utterly annihilating Israel (in particular, Jews). Satan would like to destroy Israel and all Jews, because Israel is God’s chosen nation and the Jews are God’s chosen people. In the middle of the 70th Week, Michael will be in charge of casting Satan and his angels out of heaven and onto the earth. Then Michael will be “taken out of the way” and will “step aside” (amad) from protecting Israel against the satanic forces of evil.
At that time, “the woman” (a remnant of Jewish Israelites) will flee to a mountain-desert area (Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6) for protection. “The dragon” (Satan) will pursue and try to overtake her (the fleeing Israelites), but this remnant of Israelites will escape—enraging the dragon and causing him to go off to “make war” against those (orthodox Jews) who “obey God’s commandments” and those (Messianic Jews and Christians) who “hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12:13-17).
It is Michael, as Israel’s protector, who is the one presently holding back Satan’s “secret power of lawlessness.” This is the restrainer, the one to whom Paul referred when he wrote,
And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed... (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8a).
man of lawlessness
After Satan has been unsuccessful in overtaking the remnant of Israelites who have fled (most likely to Petra to be protected by God for 1,260 days or 3½ years), he will look over the sea of humanity (Revelation 13:1a) to find someone he can influence—and very likely possess—to bring distress on the rest of those who are not protected.
The “antichrist spirit” (1 John 4:3) will be translated into the “man of lawlessness”—the same man who will have confirmed the false covenant involving Israel, put an end to sacrifice and offering in Jerusalem in the middle of the 70th Week, entered a “holy place,” and set up the abomination that causes desolation (Daniel 9:27c; Matthew 24:15). At that time, this “lawless one” (the Antichrist) will be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:8) to Israel and to the world. He will be directly associated with “a beast,” as described by John (Revelation 13:1b).
Beasts in Scripture are seen to be kingdoms or nations. They also may be considered to be powerful beastly fallen angelic beings who, throughout history, have exercised a predominant ruling influence over nations and geographical areas of the earth, such as the princes of Persia and Greece (Daniel 10:13,20b,21b). (Although not a “beast,” Michael is the angelic prince and protector of Israel—12:1a.)
the first beast
The first “beast” described by John, with “ten horns and seven heads” (Revelation 13:1bc), actually represents the final kingdom of this world which will arise on the earth (see John’s beast out of the sea and ten toes and horns). This beast is the same as the fourth beast described by Daniel, which also had ten horns (Daniel 7:7—see Daniel’s fourth beast).
Daniel also saw an eleventh horn, which came up among the ten, with “eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully” (Daniel 7:8). This eleventh horn represents the Antichrist (see the eleventh horn: Antichrist), who very well may be possessed by Satan. Some also have suggested, instead, that the Antichrist will be incarnated by another fallen angel, Abaddon/Apollyon (Revelation 9:11). In any case, as spokesman and “king” of his ruthless, beast-like kingdom, the Antichrist himself will behave as a beast, beginning at or near the middle of the 70th Week.
Daniel and Paul described this man as follows:
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time [that is a year, years, and half a year = 3½ years] (Daniel 7:25).
John confirms these accounts and gives more information about this man:
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple [or shrine], proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months [3½ years]. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:5-8).
This “man of lawlessness” will become the walking manifestation of the “antichrist” spirit, also described by John:
Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22,23).
After the “man of lawlessness” has put an end to sacrifice and offering in Jerusalem, then has set up the abomination that causes desolation in the “holy place,” this man (as the “Antichrist”) will do the following:
...every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world (1 John 4:3).
- set himself up as “God” inside the temple [shrine], denying that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God,
- speak against, blaspheme, and slander the one True God and other holy inhabitants of heaven,
- overcome and persecute Jews and Christians for the final 3½ years of the 70th Week, and
- be given Satan’s authority (Revelation 13:2b) over every tribe, people, language and nation.
the second beast
The second “beast” described by John, with “two horns like a lamb,” will “exercise all the authority of the first beast on his behalf” and “make the inhabitants of the earth worship the first beast” (Revelation 13:11,12). It may be that this beast, with two horns like a “lamb,” will seem to have peace-like qualities, at least outwardly. The embodiment of this beast may be one person or perhaps two people (“horns”) speaking as one. Just as the Holy Spirit has multiple facets (Revelation 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, 5:6), the second beast also may be multiple in nature.
If the second beast turns out to have multiple facets, perhaps the two “horns” will be leaders of two religious denominations or faiths. Or, conceivably, they could be leaders with Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish affiliations or backgrounds. But it would seem likely that they would be defectors from, or not genuine representatives of, their respective faiths, as they will point to the Antichrist as the Christ and/or as God. Potentially, they even could be the second beast’s substitutes or “versions” of the two witnesses of Jesus.
Whether the second beast is one person or a conglomerate of two entities, it will set up an image in honor of the first beast (Revelation 13:14). Perhaps this will parallel the image of gold set up by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:1-7). That image was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. Of course, it was three-dimensional, so it also would have been six cubits deep. There also were six instruments (horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes) calling people to fall down and worship the image. Interestingly, here is a possible link to the number of the beast: 666 (Revelation 13:18). This image will be worshiped (13:15), just as the image set up by Nebuchadnezzar was worshiped (Daniel 3:7). It even is conceivable that this image will be the abomination that causes desolation, which will be set up in the “holy place” (Matthew 24:15).
The personification of this second beast is referred to as the “False Prophet.” Just as the true Trinity is composed of
the end-time false trinity will be composed of
- the Father,
- the Son (Jesus Christ/Messiah), and
- the Holy Spirit, who always exalts the true Christ,
- the Antichrist (false christ/messiah), and
- the False Prophet, who will point people to the false christ.
As Paul described,
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
As noted by John, the False Prophet will “perform great and miraculous signs” and, accordingly, will deceive the people of the earth (Revelation 13:13,14a). As a result, many will believe in the counterfeit miracles and feel compelled to accept the “mark” or “number” of the (first) beast on their right hands or foreheads (13:16)—which, unfortunately, will be a grievous choice for anyone who does so (14:9-11).
Some have pointed out a connection between 666 and Islam, indicating that 666 may be an encryption for “In the Name of Allah.” Plausibly, then, an Islamic or pro-Islamic authority in the world could dictate that no one can buy or sell anything unless he/she has taken the mark (Revelation 13:17), demonstrating an allegiance to Allah and Islam.
144,000 caught up
John saw that, not long before the end of the 70th Week, 144,000 Israelites will be redeemed from the earth and caught up to Mount Zion in heaven (Revelation 14:1-3; Hebrews 12:22). These are the same 144,000 sealed for protection (7:3-8), immediately following the Pre-Wrath Rapture event, after the opening of the Sixth Seal but prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal.
This group of 144,000 from the tribes of Israel, having received a seal of protection on their foreheads (Revelation 7:3,4), will be guarded from harm while they remain on the earth during much of God’s wrath after the Seventh Seal is opened. Then they will be taken up to heaven and, I feel, will be the firstfruits (Revelation 14:4c) of subsequent Messianic Jews who will believe.
Presumably, the 144,000 will spread the word to descendants of Jacob around the world that it is their Messiah, Yeshua/Jesus, Who appeared in the clouds of earth’s atmosphere (after the opening of the Sixth Seal); and this will cause many of them to accept Jesus as Lord. After the 144,000 have been caught up and away into heaven, there will be further urgings and warnings by angels to repent and come to God. Those who accept the Lord either will be caught up to heaven at the very end of the 70th Week, or else they will be part of the final dispersion and regathering in the final harvest of the earth (Revelation 14:14-16).
Near the very end of the 70th Week, there will be warnings and prophetic forecasts announced loudly by three angels. Flying through midair, they will speak to everyone who lives on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people:
- The first angel will proclaim the eternal Gospel message (Revelation 14:6) about Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation. The warning will be for all to fear God, to give Him glory, and to worship Him as Creator—because the final “hour” of His judgment will be forthcoming and imminent (14:7). Revelation 14:6,7 is a parallel passage to Matthew 24:14, as the Gospel will be given to the whole world before the end comes, essentially as the final opportunity for people to repent and come to God. I believe that all who acknowledge God in these ways, at this time, will be caught up to be with Him (14:14-16) before the final plagues: Bowl Judgments are poured out upon the earth (15:1,6-8, 16:1-21). Up to the very end of the 70th Week, God will exhort people everywhere to repent, accept Him as Lord, and thus be saved—before it finally is too late.
- The second angel will alert the world of the impending destruction of Babylon the Great (Revelation 14:8), which is “the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth” (17:5). Babylon the Great may be representative of the false religious system (arguably, Islam) and dominating worldwide political order permeating the earth during the final half of the 70th Week (promoted by the second beast or False Prophet, on behalf of the first beast or Antichrist—13:11,12,15).
- The third angel will warn everyone that whoever worships the first beast (who will be the incarnation of the antichrist spirit) and his image (Revelation 13:14b,15), and who receives the beast’s mark on the forehead or hand (13:16-18), “will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath” and will be tormented “for ever and ever” (14:9-11).
secondary rapture events
I believe that the Pre-Wrath Rapture, occurring subsequent to the opening of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17), will be the main Rapture event during the 70th Week. Moreover, I also feel that there will be subsequent rapture (“catching-up”) events, until the very end of the 70th Week, when Jesus will return physically to earth. Also, there may be a Mid-Tribulation Rapture event for a certain segment of believers, in the middle of the 70th Week, as much as 2½ years prior to the Pre-Wrath Rapture.
The 144,000 from the tribes of Israel will be sealed for protection (Revelation 7:1-8) soon after the Sixth Seal Rapture has taken place (see 144,000 sealed). John saw the 144,000 caught up, near the end of the 70th Week. Presumably, they were seen immediately after their rapture into heaven (14:1-5).
As noted before, in John’s restatement of the last 3½ years of the 70th Week, the two witnesses clothed in sackcloth, who will prophesy for 1,260 days during the second half of the 70th Week (Revelation 11:3), later will be killed (11:7). After 3½ days, they will be caught up (raptured) into heaven, while their enemies look on (11:11,12).
At possibly the very same time as the two witnesses are being caught up, there will be a larger group who will be caught up (“harvested”) at the end of the 70th Week (Revelation 14:14-16), just prior to Jesus’ physical return to earth to destroy the enemies of Israel and Jerusalem. (I agree with those of the “Post-Trib” persuasion who point to this as a catching-up event. However, I maintain that the Pre-Wrath Rapture, rather than the harvest of believers at the end of the 70th Week, will be the principal Rapture event.)
Previously, John had described the return of Jesus to earth to reign (Revelation 11:15), just after (or possibly concurrent with) the catching up of the two witnesses to heaven (11:11,12). Since John restated the second half of the 70th Week in Chapters 12-14 (from a different perspective as he did in Chapter 11), we might expect to see another description of the appearance of Jesus at the end—which we do.
The Son of Man (Daniel 7:13a), Jesus, is seen seated on a white cloud, and He will gather a final harvest of people from the earth (Revelation 14:14-16). At first glance, this appears similar to Jesus’ description of the appearance of the Son of Man on the clouds (Matthew 24:30,31); however, the two are separate events occurring at different times, probably about a year apart (see The Seventh Year). Jesus’ next appearance for us, which He described in Matthew 24:30,31, will occur after the opening of the Sixth Seal; this will not be at the end of the 70th Week (see Sixth Seal and Seventh Bowl). Jesus’ Second Advent (bodily descent) back to earth and His trampling of the winepress of God’s wrath, described by John in Revelation 14:14-16,20, will occur concurrently with the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet (Revelation 11:15-17), which will be at the very end of the 70th Week.
Jesus’ depiction, in Matthew, is of the Pre-Wrath Rapture event—the first phase of His Second Coming—where His angels will gather a great multitude of saved believers (both dead and alive) to be with Him, at some point after the opening of the Sixth Seal. On the other hand, John’s description, in Revelation, is of Jesus’ Second Advent to walk on the earth—the second phase of His Second Coming—where Jesus Himself will harvest a second, final multitude of believers from the earth, at the end of 70th Week. The latter will happen in association with the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet and can be considered to be a secondary, “Post-Tribulation” Rapture event, since a larger one already will have occurred.
Upon His return to earth, Jesus also will be harvesting Jews and other Israelites from nations around the world and bringing them to Israel:
Some feel that the aforementioned verses are indicative of Jews returning since 1948 to the modern-day nation of Israel. However, it is only when Israel’s Messiah returns that the following will be true; these things have not happened, nor will they happen until Jesus returns:
- The Root of Jesse (Jesus) will stand as a banner for the people (Isaiah 11:10,12).
- God Himself will reach out, gather, and assemble the scattered people (Isaiah 11:11,12).
- The righteous Branch (Jesus) from the line of David will reign as King (Jeremiah 23:5), and people from the nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor Him (3:17).
- No longer will Israel have malicious neighbors (Ezekiel 28:24), and the people will live in safety after God inflicts punishment on their neighbors who have maligned them (28:26).
- God’s sanctuary (the millennial Temple), in which Jesus the King (Zechariah 14:9) will dwell, will be standing (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
- Israel will know the Lord their God because He no longer will hide His face from them, and He will pour out His Spirit upon them (Ezekiel 39:28,29).