What About Imminence, can Jesus really return at any time?
Imminence is another popular teaching of the Pre-Tribulation rapture theory. This
is the false notion that from the day of Pentecost, there is no event that is prophesied
to precede the return of the Lord; that He could come any moment and the Rapture
could take place at any time from the first century until now.
It is clear that the arrival of the Lord Jesus will, as He tells us, be like a thief
in the night, suddenly and unexpectedly, but these warnings are meant for unbelievers,
not for believers who will know when He is near.
“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.” I Thessalonians
However, it is clear that no one will know the exact day and hour.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,
but the Father alone.” Matthew 24:36.
The Bible never says no man will know the year
But nowhere does the Bible say that no man will know the year of Christ’s return,
contrary to what many Pre-Tribulation advocates teach. Their false teaching takes
the statement that no man can know the day and adds their own personal interpretation
to it, leading to a fabricated, unbiblical doctrine that denies we can know the year.
Suddenness is not imminence
The Bible never uses the word imminent to describe the Rapture. Suddenness is not
imminence. The Rapture will happen suddenly and quickly when it does happen, like
a thief in the night. and no man will know the exact day or hour. This doesn’t make
it perpetually imminent. Imminence means that an event is certainly about to happen.
Nothing can be imminent for two thousand years.
“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy
of this book.” Revelation 22:7.
The Rapture will be imminent only when “all these things” of the Tribulation begin
to take place
“So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at
the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these
things take place.” Matthew 24:33-34.
“This generation” is the generation that will be here when all the things of the
Tribulation begin to take place. Until then, “imminent” is not a term that can be
used to describe the Second Coming and Rapture before the Tribulation actually begins.
There is absolutely nothing that must occur before Jesus returns?
The Apostle Paul must not have gotten that memo:
“Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure
or be disturbed by either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to
the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you,
for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness
is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called
god ad object of worship so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying
himself as being God.” II Thessalonians 2:1-4
Clearly stated by Paul here is the fact that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to Him will not come until the apostasy comes first and
the man of lawlessness is revealed, exalts himself above all gods and takes his seat
in the Temple as God. It just cannot get any more clear than this. This is a simple,
straightforward statement of Scripture that the coming of Christ and the Rapture
will not take place until the apostasy occurs and the Antichrist is revealed and
seats himself in the Temple to declare himself God. No one has to speculate or read
anything into this Scripture; it is stated very plainly.
A list of some of the events that were prophesied to take place before the Second
Coming and Rapture:
1. Peter would live into old age (John 21:18)
2. Paul would take the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15) and witness in Rome (Acts
3. The Church at Smyrna (in 95 A.D.) would have tribulation for ten days (Revelation
4. The Gospel would be preached to all the world, (Matthew 24:14, Acts 1:8) which
means the whole planet would have to be explored and evangelized, which wasn’t completed
until the late 20th century
5. The birth pains of the Tribulation would begin (Matthew 24:8)
6. The Antichrist would appear (Matthew 24:15, II Thessalonians 2:1-4)
7. The Great Apostasy would occur (Matthew 24:10, II Thessalonians 2:1-4)
8. The world wide persecution of the Church would become severe (Matthew 24:9)
9. The Abomination of Desolation would occur (Matthew 24:15, II Thessalonians 2:1-4)
10. The Temple will have to be rebuilt for the Abomination of Desolation to take
place, which means that the Jews will have to be in control of the Temple Mount,
which means that the Jews would have to return to the land of Israel and secure sovereignty
over Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15), which didn’t happen until 1967.
11. Earthquakes, famines, plagues and great signs from the heavens (Luke 21:11)
A secret, invisible return of Jesus?
Our challenge is to find where a invisible return of Jesus is taught in the Scriptures.
I’ll save you some time; there is no Scripture that says there will be an invisible
return of Christ. Not even one that might be interpreted that way. The return of
Christ is only described as glorious, loud, and witnessed by all the world.
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the
archangel, with the trumpet of God...” I Thessalonians 4:16.
“...The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming
fire...” II Thessalonians 1:7.
“...Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God
and Savior Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13.
In fact, the Scriptures actually warn Christians about being fooled by false rumors
of a secret coming that is not visible to everyone. His return will be seen from
east to west.
“Behold I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the
wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe
them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west,
so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:25-27.
Jesus will return in the same way as He ascended into heaven according to Acts 1:9-11.
“He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their
sight... ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who
has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have
watched Him go into heaven.’”
The Lord’s ascension was not invisible, so it is certain that His return will not
be invisible either, but every eye shall see Him.
The sudden disappearance of Christians?
Not in the Bible either. The Scriptures describing the Rapture never mention that
believers are suddenly going to disappear without the rest of the world seeing them
or realizing what is happening. I Corinthians 15:51-52 is usually given as proof
but this passage only describes the instant change of our bodies, not the actual
rising into the air.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
in a moment, 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.”
Every single person in the world will see Jesus when He comes on the clouds and will
realize exactly what that means in terms of impending judgment.
“...And to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus
will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire...when He comes
to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who believe.”
II Thessalonians 1:7,10.
It is clear that Paul is telling the Church to expect relief from their afflictions
when the Lord Jesus is revealed with His mighty angels, not secretly coming without
visible glory. If this Scripture were referring to a post-rapture return, then the
Church would have long been in heaven with Christ and certainly would not need relief
from any afflictions. How can Jesus be glorified in His saints on that day if the
saints are invisible to the world as they joint Him in the air?
“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him
in glory.” Colossians 3:4.
The Church will also be revealed when Christ is revealed in glory, because every
will eye will see Him and obviously see the raptured Church as well.
The Tribulation is the judgment and wrath of God?
Many Pre-Tribulation teachers refer to the Seven Seals as judgments even though the
Bible never calls them that. They also insist that God will not allow us to experience
His wrath, which is certainly true.
“For God has not destined us for wrath...” I Thessalonians 5:9
But the wrath of God is not poured out until after Christ comes and the Church is
gathered into heaven, and this does not occur until the Seventh Trumpet. The Tribulation
is not the wrath of God, but the, “...hour of testing, that hour which is about to
come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10).
The Seven Golden Bowls of God’s Wrath (notice only the Bowls are called wrath) officially
begins the judgment of God on the world but this doesn’t happen until after Christ
appears, the Rapture takes place, and the Tribulation is over. Testing by definition
cannot be not judgment or wrath. Judgment always comes after a test. Some of the
most Godly believers, such as Job, were tested with tribulation.
Christians will be kept from tribulation and suffering?
Those who teach a Pre-Tribulation Rapture are usually adamant that Christ would never
allow His Bride to go through such such trouble and suffering as the Tribulation.
But is this teaching Biblical at all?
“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated
by all nations because of My name.” Matthew 24:9.
“Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you
for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you; but to the degree
that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation
of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” I Peter 4:12-13.
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is going to cast some
of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for
10 days. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation
The Bible does not teach imminence, or an invisible return, or an instant rapture,
or that the Tribulation is the wrath and judgment of God. These are all unbiblical
teachings that contradict the written Word of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ will return to reveal Himself to all the world and resurrect
the dead in Christ and rapture us believers who are alive; visibly, gloriously, loudly,
on the clouds in flaming fire with His mighty angels when the Seventh Trumpet sounds
at the end of the Tribulation.