Q. In your article “Pentecost and the rapture of the Church” you sate: “But we are admonished to learn from Israel’s history (Rom. 15:4) and be aware of the times and seasons so that we should not be caught by surprise as events marking the end of the age unfold (1 Thes. 5:4). For we will not all sleep (die) but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Cor. 15:51-52)”
Isn’t this the exact thing that will happen at the coming of Christ? In Matthew 24:30-31 and Luke 17:24, and also Rev. 6:12-17. So then how can you say the the rapture will be before all these things? Isn’t the rapture and the coming of Christ one thing? they’re both supposed to happen at the sound of the last trumpet. Isn’t the trumpet mentioned above in 1 Cor. 15 the same one mentioned in Matthew 24? And the resemblance in the words used “in a flash in the twinkling of an eye” with the coming of the Son of Man like a flash of a lightning. Don’t these mean the same thing? In a moment ? So then is the coming of the Christ the same as the rapture of the church?
A. Matt. 24:30-31 takes place after the Great Tribulation ends and the trumpet call gathers His elect (the Church) from all over Heaven for their return to Earth. Luke 17:24 speaks about the 2nd coming lighting up the sky from one end to the other, hardly a secret event like the Rapture where a bunch of people disappear and no one knows where they went. Rev. 6:12-17 describes earthquakes throwing such a great amount of dust and dirt into the atmosphere that it blocks out the sun’s light. The conditions it describes are very similar to the effects of a magnetic polar reversal. (There’s one scheduled for 2012.)
Trumpets often accompany the appearance of God or of His judgments. For instance a trumpet sounded when He came to Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19:16 to give them the Law. The Feast of Rosh Hashanna is also known as the Feast of Trumpets. And the Feast of Tabernacles lasts for a week and at the end they blow “the last trumpet.” There are 7 trumpet judgments in Revelation. The trumpet in 1 Cor 15:51-52 is the same as the trumpet in 1 Thes. 4:16, the Rapture verse, because both describe a resurrection of some and an instantaneous change of others.
The Lord promised to rescue us from the time of His Wrath (1 Thes 1:10) His wrath begins in Rev. 6 so we have to be gone before then.
The biggest differences between the Rapture and the 2nd coming are that the Rapture is a secret unscheduled event where Jesus comes for His Church to take us to Heaven (John 14:1-3) and the second coming is a scheduled public event where He comes with His Church to Earth. (Rev. 17:14)