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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

When will the Rapture Occur? (1 Thessalonians)

1 Thessalonians has become one of my favorite books of the Bible. Not only does Paul tell us what the Rapture is, he tells us when it will occur. His whole message is, "if you are a follower of Jesus, you don't have to worry about seeing the 7-year Tribulation."

Four times in this letter Paul indicates that believers will not see the 7-year Tribulation, also known as the wrath of God and the Day of the Lord. Let's take a look at these passages:

(1) In 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul encourages these believers in regard to how they are living out there faith and waiting for Jesus to appear from heaven. Does Paul say, "Hey you are going to have to go through a horrible time of Tribulation but then Jesus will come?" No! Paul says, "keep waiting for Jesus who rescues us from the wrath to come." That "wrath to come" is the 7-year Tribulation period.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

But some will say that the first half of the Tribulation is not the wrath of God and so Jesus won't rapture the church until the end of the first half of the 7-year Tribulation. That's absolutely false! Here are 3 reasons why the Rapture has to happen before the 7-year Tribulation begins.

First, read the description of the first half of the Tribulation in Revelation 6-10. Does that sound like it's an easy time? No way. Jesus, Himself, kicks off this 7-year Tribulation by opening seals and unleashing His wrath on this world.

Second, we are told in Revelation 6:15-17 that the Seal Judgments, the first of three sets of Tribulation judgments, are the wrath of God:

Revelation 6:15-17 [15] Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; [16] and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; [17] for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Third, Daniel 9:24-27 gives us the timeframe of the 7-year Tribulation. First we are told that 70 "weeks" (70, 7-year periods) were decreed. Next we are told 69 of those 70 "weeks" were completed when Jesus came and was crucified. That leaves one "week" remaining. But what we need to understand is the purpose of this 7-year "week:"

Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity.

What is the transgression they will have to "make reconciliation for?" Rejecting God and turning away from Him. Specifically rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and Lord. Everyone who is alive at that time who has not repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, will go through the 7-year Tribulation in hopes that God's time of wrath will cause them to repent of their sins and be saved.

So then the question is, why would believers who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus' sacrifice go through even a nanosecond of the 7-year Tribulation period? Wouldn't that mean Jesus' death on the cross wasn't enough to atone for our sins? Wouldn't that mean that Jesus lied when He declared "It is finished?" (John 19:30)

These are three reasons why the entire 7-year Tribulation is the wrath of God.

Now, let's look at the last three places in 1 Thessalonians where Paul says believers will not experience the 7-year Tribulation:

(2) Paul describes what the Rapture will be like and then says, comfort one another with these words. Would it be comforting if there was a "but you will have to go through part of God's wrath first?" No way! Look at how Paul describes the Rapture:

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

(3) Paul compares believers (you and we) with unbelievers (they) and makes it clear it is the unbelievers who will experience God's wrath, not the believers:

1 Thessalonians 5:2-5 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness.

(4) Paul started this letter saying that Jesus "rescues us from the wrath to come" and then he ends the letter saying believers are not "destined for wrath."

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you have repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus as your Savior and the Lord of your life, Scripture tells us that you will not experience even a nanosecond of the 7-year Tribulation.

Jesus has no intention of having His bride go through His wrath that He died on the cross to save us from. Isn't that good news!!

Dear Lord, I am so thankful you put it on my heart to thoroughly study every book of the Bible that focuses on End-Times Prophecy over the last 3.5 years. Now I understand your wonderful plan for those who are trusting in You. Not only are You saving us from eternal wrath but also from the wrath You will unleash on this world to help the last hold outs see their need for a Savior and finally submit to You as their Lord. I pray many will make that decision, even today. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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