Q. Why did Jesus speak of raising up those who believe in Him on the last day? Doesn’t the rapture come at least 7 years before the last day? Also, is the New Jerusalem populated only by the Church, or will Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have residence there. It’s difficult to believe they will live on the new earth but have no permanent home in the Eternal City.
A. If you look carefully, you’ll find that Jesus spoke only of the 2nd Coming. He never taught about the Rapture. In fact the very first clear teaching on the Rapture was given by Paul over 20 years after the resurrection, and then it was only for the Church (1 Thes. 4:16-17). Jews who became believers before the age of the Church began will be resurrected at the time of the 2nd Coming (Daniel 12:1-2) along with those who come to faith after the Church is gone (Rev. 20:4).
As for where they’ll live, this is why it’s so important to understand the difference between Israel and the Church. In the Old Testament Israel was promised that one day God would come to live with them forever in the Promised land. According to Ezekiel 43:7 this will be fulfilled at the beginning of the Millennium.
On the other hand, in the New Testament the Church was promised that one day we would go to Heaven and be with Jesus. (John 14:1-3) For the Bible to be accurate, both promises have to come true. What we think of as Heaven is really the New Jerusalem.
John 14:2 says it will be in Heaven at the time of the rapture, but according to Rev. 21:2 it will descend to the vicinity of Earth after the 2nd Coming. Rev. 21:27 tells us that only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will live there. The Lamb’s Book of Life is the list of those who are in the Church.