Home > Theology and Eschatology > The Revelation of Jesus Christ and the Rapture of the Church

The Revelation of Jesus Christ and the Rapture of the Church


1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

And there it is.  Two of the — if not the — most popular “rapture” passages in the entire Bible.  Yet when many Christians read about the timing of the “rapture” at the “last trump” they are either unaware, or because of an already preconceived assumption on this very subject, refuse to even consider if the “last trumpet” of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is a direct reference to the 7th and last trumpet that John describes in the 10th chapter of Revelation. But why? Admittedly, even I was not aware of the significance of Revelation 10 for many years, but am now more than convinced that we can corroborate through the context of text that this is indeed the last trumpet that the Apostle Paul wrote about to the church in Corinth.

For a moment, if you will, toss aside any preconceptions you may have on the timing of the rapture and approach the text as if it were for the first time.  Approach it with the heart of a Berean so that together we may search the Scriptures. In this way, let us now begin to pay particularly close attention to the details surrounding the mighty angel as he begins to sound the 7th and last trumpet in Revelation 10:

Revelation 10:1,3a,7, “And I saw another mighty angel COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow [was] upon his head, and his face [was] as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire … And cried with a LOUD VOICE, as [when] a lion roareth … in the days of the voice of the SEVENTH angel, when he shall begin to SOUND, the MYSTERY of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

Notice the words I have emphasized above and tell me:  Does it not stand to reason that John is describing a direct parallel with what the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, two of the most popular passages in the entire Bible?

1 Thess 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall DESCEND FROM HEAVEN with a SHOUT, WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, and with the TRUMP of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” *and* 1 Cor 15:51-52 reads, “Behold, I shew you a MYSTERY; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMP: for the TRUMPET shall SOUND, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

In Revelation 10 we have:

  1. A “mighty angel” coming down from heaven
  2. Crying out with a loud voice
  3. The seventh and last trumpet begins to sound
  4. And the “mystery” of God is finished once the last trumpet begins to sound

In 1 Thess 4:16-17 and 1 Cor 15:51-52 we have:

  1. The Lord coming down from heaven with the voice of the Archangel
  2. With a shout
  3. Comes with the ‘last trump’ of God
  4. The Mystery: The dead are raised and we are changed in the twinkling of an eye

I do not believe that this is just some mere, yet astounding, coincidence.  In fact, if we examine the text even more closely we’ll begin to discover something very significant regarding the identity of the “mighty angel” of Revelation 10 that many of us will easily miss the first time we read the text.

In Revelation 10:1 notice how this “mighty angel” comes down from heaven “clothed with a cloud.”  Why is this important?  In the whole of Scripture the only One in the eschaton of time described in this manner is Jesus Christ during the Second Coming.   He is said to be “coming on the clouds” or “coming in a cloud” (Matt. 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62, Luke 12:27, Rev. 1:7, Dan 7:13). Even when Jesus ascended to Heaven “he was taken up; and a cloud received him” (Acts 1:9).  Additionally, in 10:1 we also read that “his face was like the sun,” which should remind us immediately of Revelation 1:16-17 where the One who calls Himself “the first and the last” is described by John as having a face “like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”  Who could this be?

In Revelation 10:2 we find another significant clue, and this is one that I myself missed the first time I looked at Revelation 10 more closely.  In verse 2 John tells us that this mighty angelwas holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand.”  This is extremely interesting for two reasons.  First, the only other mention of a scroll being opened in Revelation before this is in chapter 5 where a scroll with 7 seals could not be opened by anyone — presumably anyone created given the context — because “no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it” (5:3).  Considering the Semitic styling of Revelation, John was Jewish and would have understood what this meant and it upset him a great deal, causing him to weep.  But then one of the elders says to John, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” (5:5).  There is no question here regarding the identity of the One who is worthy to open the book, the One described in the very next verse appearing as “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (5:6).  Obviously, this is Messiah, Jesus.   Second, we gain an extremely important insight into this picture when we consider what it means from a Hebraic perspective and why it would have caused John to weep:

Usually scrolls were made of sheep skin from the underbelly or later on papyrus. But this scroll is not just any scroll. It has writing on BOTH sides. The ONLY other scroll ever mentioned in the scriptures to have writing on both sides (scrolls were only written on one side, always) was the stone tablets that Moses brought downfrom Mt Sinai that Yahweh had written by His Own Hand! Exodus 32:15. Therefore it is a fact that this scroll Yahweh is holding in his right Hand IS the Torah! The marriage contract, the Ketubah! Now, according to the ancient Hebrew marriage ritual, who was the only person that had authority to open and read the ketubah?  Yes, the Groom. [1]

If this scroll is in fact the Ketubah, why is this significant?  Find out the meaning of the 144,000 and the great multitude here.  Jesus even alluded to the marriage union in John 14:1-3 when stating that He would receive us unto Himself.  See here.

Next, in Revelation 10:3 we read that “he gave a loud shout like the ROAR OF A LION.”  This is yet again another significant clue in my opinion, for we know that Christ is the One who roars at His coming. Jeremiah 25:30 says that, “‘The LORD will roar from on high, And utter His voice from His holy habitation; He will roar mightily against His fold. He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes, Against all the inhabitants of the earth.” In Hosea 11:10 we read, “They shall walk after the LORD: he shall ROAR LIKE A LION: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.” Joel 3:16 says, “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD [will be] the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” Amos 1:2 says that “The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.” 1 Thess 4:16 says that “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven WITH A SHOUT, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

Now, although this next clue is found in 10:1 I wanted to save it for last.  It is the “rainbow upon his head.”  The only other reference to a rainbow in Revelation is in 4:3 when John describes the throne of God.  Significantly, aside from the very last book of the Bible, the only other time a rainbow appears in Scripture is in the first book of the Bible in Genesis 9:13-14. In the Genesis account, the rainbow is seen in the aftermath of the global flood sent forth by God in order to remove sinful and evil-minded man from the earth. [2]. As the rainbow symbolizes God’s promise to never again destroy the earth through a flood, we are reminded by Peter that the next time judgment comes it will not come by a flood, but by fire. In 2 Peter 3:3-7, we read:

“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

“Where is this coming he promised?”   There is their answer.

Judging from what we have learned from above we can ascertain both exegetically and hermeneutically that the “mighty messenger” that John sees coming down from Heaven (often translated as “angel”) in Rev 10:1 is in fact a direct reference to Jesus Christ.  But make no mistake about it, this is not just some regular, ordinary, created ‘angel’.  It is very important to first be aware that the word “angel” simply means “messenger” and although this term normally refers to a created being, this is NOT always the case.  The Angel of the LORD, for example, (i.e. the Messenger of YHWH in the Old Testament) often speaks as God, identifies Himself with God, and claims the prerogatives of God [3] because He is God.  When the Lord appeared to others in “human” form in the Old Testament this was called a Theophany (though I personally prefer the term Christophany, even if prior to the incarnation). Thus, just as we see the Christophanic/Theophanic angel in Old Testament Scriptures, and the terminology used throughout Revelation by John is redolent of the prophetic texts of the Old Testament, the “mighty messenger” of Revelation 10 is an appearance of the Christophanic/Theophanic angel as well.

When we contextualize and compare Scripture with Scripture we can often re-examine the text and discover from the text additional insights or details we hadn’t considered before, and Revelation 10 is a prime example.  It’s like watching one of your favorite films a second or third time and seeing something you hadn’t the first time around.  Only better.  As 2 Timothy 3:16 declares, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” and since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, the Bible is therefore ultimately written by God alone, although through the pens of men. As such, when the Spirit of God inspired Paul to write about the “last trump” (1 Cor 15:52) and the “trump of God” (1 Thess 4:16), the Holy Spirit of God who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) also knew full well that John would later be given the Revelation of Jesus Christ which would identify precisely what it was that Paul referred to in his epistles to the churches in Thessalonica and Corinth.  And as we can see from above, John’s description of the seventh and last trumpet of Revelation reveals Christ descending from Heaven.  It reveals the gathering of His elect.  It reveals the rapture of the Church.

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