How can you say that Matthew 24:30,31 is a description of the Rapture, when it is a picture of Jesus' second coming back to earth?
Matthew 24:30-31 is speaking of the King's return to earth at the close of the Tribulation. It says they shall see him coming in the clouds. That won't happen with the Rapture. So how can you say that Matthew 24:30,31 is a description of the Rapture?
Let us look closely at some verses, comparing Matthew 24:29-31 with Revelation 6:12-17:
Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And 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. (Matthew 24:29-31)There is a clear parallel between Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17. Soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal, unbelievers will run and hide, having seen the face of Jesus on His throne in the air, knowing that God's wrath is imminent. It will begin with the opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1). It is when the world sees Jesus in the air that He will gather and catch up His believers at the Rapture, thereby protecting them from the wrath to come. This will not be a "secret" and "silent" event. Would Jesus not have described, in detail, one of the greatest and most important events in human historyóthe Rapture of believers? I believe He would have, and I believe He did so in Matthew 24:30,31.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. ... The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. ... Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the 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 their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:12,13,15-17)
All of the events of Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17 will take place soon after the opening of the Sixth Sealówhich will not be at the end of the 70th Week, because the Seventh Seal will have yet to be opened, followed by the seven Trumpet Judgments. The seven Seals will be opened; then, chronologically, the Trumpet Judgments will take place.
Jesus will not return to earth after the opening of the Sixth Seal but, rather, when the Seventh Trumpet is blown (Revelation 11:15-17). This immediately nullifies the possibility that Matthew 24:30,31 is a picture of Jesus' second advent (bodily descent) to earth, nor is it a Post-tribulation Rapture event. (See Are the Sixth Seal events at the very end of the 70th Week?) If Matthew 24:30,31 depicts Jesus' second advent to walk on the earth, then the events of the Seventh Seal, plus six of the seven Trumpet Judgments, must take place between 24:29 and 24:30. It it like trying to cram a whale into a fish bowl and makes no sense at all.
Moreover, making an assumption that the second advent of Jesus, back to earth, will occur right after the opening of the Sixth Seal is completely ignoring the clear, chronological sequence of events, with no breaks, from Revelation 6:1 to 10:7. The latter verse (10:7) describes how the Seventh Trumpet is about to be blown, which will be coincident with Jesus' return to earth at the end of the 70th Week.
On the other hand, assuming that a Rapture will take place prior to the beginning of the final seven years (such as in Revelation 4:1,2) forces a chronology and sequencing of Revelation that is completely "out of whack" and illogical, with "parenthetical sections" being inappropriately cut and pasted into other locations, where they do not fit. (See Brief Chronology of Revelation.)
Now, compare Matthew 24:30,31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, the latter which clearly is a Rapture passage:
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And 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. (Matthew 24:30,31)These are parallel passages as well. There is nothing in either Matthew 24:30,31 or 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 indicating that Jesus has returned to earth, only that He is in the clouds and that His elect believers will be gathered and caught up to be with Him. Once again, these things will take place soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal, not at the very end of the 70th Week when Jesus will return to earth.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17)
You believe that Matthew 24:30,31 is a second advent event, and you believe that no one will see Jesus coming in the clouds at the Rapture, because these are things that the "pre-trib" view of the Rapture teaches, and you simply have accepted them. Yet there is nothing in Scripture, that I have read, indicating that the Rapture will be a "silent, invisible" event which will take place with no warning and with no signs preceding it. That concept is one which is assumed by "pre-tribbers," because they mistakenly believe that the Rapture can happen at any moment and that it will take place just prior to the onset of the 70th Week.
I do not subscribe to these concepts at all. Not only do I believe they are completely wrong, I also believe these notions give believers a false hope that they will be removed before the trials and tribulations of the 70th Week take place, which is not the case.
I recommend that you consider making a change in your rapture view, even though it would be a gigantic, if not traumatic, step. As such, you probably will not choose to do it. I did it almost 20 years ago, and it was distressing, because I truly wanted to believe in the "pre-trib" view. But I am glad I took the time to study all of the rapture views carefully and make what I continue to believe was an appropriate change. I would prefer to be mentally, emotionally, and psychologically prepared for the hard times and persecution to come, which I do believe are on the immediate horizon, rather than not to have anticipated these things before they suddenly are upon us.
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