The Day of the LORD
What is It? When is It?
Table of Contents
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul associates the parousia of Christ and the gathering of Elohim's people (the rapture) with the onset of the day of the LORD (hereafter called the Day of Yahuwah):
Concerning the coming of our Master Yahusha Messiah and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of Yahuwah has already come (2 Thessalonians 2:12)
Most expositors understand this text as suggesting that the rapture of the church at the coming (parousia) of Yahusha inaugurates the day of Yahuwah. For this reason, dispensational pretribulationists insist that the day of Yahuwah includes the time of great tribulation spoken of by Yahusha. Yahusha himself, however, said that his coming and the gathering of his elect will happen after the time of tribulation. This confusion regarding the day of Yahuwah must be cleared up so that we might fully understand the meaning of Christ's and Paul's teachings. Our present task, then, is to explore the nature of the day of Yahuwah to discover what it entails and when it begins.
The Old Testament prophets are in agreement as to the dual nature of the day of Yahuwah. That day is portrayed as the time when the Lord will personally take vengeance on his enemies and the time when he will bring salvation to his remnant people. Isaiah speaks to this end when he encourages Elohim's frightened people to
be strong, do not fear; your Elohim will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you (35:4).
Joel also revealed this twofold aspect of the day of Yahuwah when he described how
the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahuwah. And everyone who calls on the name of Yahuwah will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance (2:31,32).
These two Scriptures depict the day of Yahuwah as both a day of dread and vengeance and a day of deliverance. Old Testament writers seem to emphasize the aspect of judgment, though, because the act of salvation necessitates an act of judgment. They are like the two sides of a coin. The judgment of the enemies of Elohim, viewed from the perspective of the righteous, is an act of salvation for the people of Elohim.
Isaiah relates in vivid terms the terror of that day for the enemies of Elohim:
Wail, for the day of Yahuwah is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man's heart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame (Is.13:6-8).
The fright of that day is also described in other places with adjectives such as darkness, wrath, anger, dread and cruelty (see Is.2: 10-21; 13:6-13; 34:2,8; Amos 5:18-20).
The prophetic book of Zephaniah illustrates for us an example of the salvation aspect of the day of Yahuwah:
On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your Elohim is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (3:16,17).
These texts and many others we could have quoted provide adequate evidence that there is this twofold purpose of the day of Yahuwah. But what makes this day such an unusual time of terror and anguish and also of great salvation? The correct response is that the very presence (parousia) of the Lord himself makes this day peculiar. The Lord's personal coming to earth brings terror to those who have rebelled against him, and salvation to those who are waiting for him. Isaiah 35:4 says, "Your Elohim will come, he will come with vengeance." And three times in chapter 3, Isaiah sees people going into the rocks and holes "from dread of the Lord, and the splendor of his majesty" (3:10,19, 21). The phrase, "splendor of his majesty" suggests that the Lord's personal presence is what causes men to fear.
The New Testament abounds with promises of the bodily coming and presence (parousia) of the Lord Yahusha to bring vengeance and salvation. In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds the church that Elohim "will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled... this will happen when the Lord Yahusha is revealed from heaven in blazing fire" (1:6,7). In Titus 2:13, Paul describes the blessed hope as "the glorious appearing of our great Elohim and Savior, Jesus Christ." And John writes about the visibility of Christ's appearing: "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him" (Rev.1:7).
So then, both the Old Testament and New Testament attest to the twofold nature of the day of Yahuwah. It is the time of judgment and the day of salvation which Christ will execute at his personal appearing and presence (parousia) when he descends out of heaven.
The debate between pretribulationism and posttribulationism focuses on the period of great tribulation and whether the day of Yahuwah includes or follows this prophetic period of time. Pretribulation proponent John Walvoord concedes that there is "evidence that the day of Yahuwah begins at once at the time of the translation of the church."(p.175) Paul's discussion of the day of Yahuwah in 1 Thessalonians 5 following his exhortation concerning the rapture at the end of chapter 4 brings Walvoord to conclude that "the same event that translates the church begins the day of Yahuwah."(p.175)
Pretribulation rapture theologians defend their view that the day of Yahuwah includes the period of great tribulation by contending that since the wrath of Elohim falls during the tribulation, and since the saints will not see the wrath of Elohim (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:9), then the church must already have been evacuated (raptured) from the earth. But this logic is faulty. For even if the wrath of Elohim comes down during the great tribulation (we'll grant this for the moment), this does not prove that the church will not be on the earth. Elohim's people can still be on the earth without being touched by Elohim's falling wrath. The scenario which is more compatible with biblical history suggests that the church remains on the earth as Elohim's wrath falls but is providentially protected from that wrath. Two pertinent precedents illustrate this scenario.
First is the example of the children of Israel who were held captive in Egypt. When Pharaoh refused to let them go, Elohim poured out ten plagues of his wrath on Egypt. But none of these plagues touched Israel! Second, Yahusha compared the coming of the day of Yahuwah to the time of Noah: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37). But although Elohim poured out his wrath on the earth, destroying all who were in it, Noah never actually left the planet! He was divinely protected from this outpouring of wrath. It seems more credible that Elohim will repeat this method of protection for his church when he pours out his wrath during the great tribulation, than to believe he will remove the church from the earth. Thus, the pretribulation argument that the church must be gone during the tribulation fails to convince the careful expositor that the day of Yahuwah includes the great tribulation. (For an enlightening discussion of Elohim's wrath and the tribulation, see Kimball, pp.69-91)
There is, however, compelling evidence in the Bible to convince us that the day of Yahuwah begins after the great tribulation. The prophet Joel foresaw the heavenly and earthly upheavals which will precede the day of Yahuwah
I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahuwah (2:30,31).
Yahusha quoted these words of the prophet in his discussion of his coming (parousia) so that no mistake would be made about the timing of that day. After listing the activities of the coming time of distress, in which the abomination that causes desolation would appear and many would turn away from the faith, Yahusha said,
Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken' (Matthew 24:29).
And then he went on to say that at that time he would come back to earth on the clouds and with a trumpet call would send his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the globe.
The reader should pay close attention to the words in these two passages which give indication of time and sequence. Joel announces that the heavenly disturbances occur before the day of Yahuwah. And Yahusha authoritatively asserts that these same shakings of the heavenly bodies occur after the great distress of those days.
From these two Scriptures alone, those events are placed in chronological order for us. First comes the great tribulation. Then are seen the cosmic disturbances in the skies. And following this, the day of Yahuwah comes when Yahusha appears in the clouds to consummate the age.
When faced with the embarrassing task of responding to the obvious implications of Joel 2:30,31, pretribulationists usually try to sidestep or outright ignore the plain teaching of the prophet. In his popular book, The Rapture Question, author John Walvoord's only comment on Joel is that "what is meant here is not that the day of the LORD will begin after these wonders in heaven, but that it (i.e. the day of Yahuwah) will come to its climax when the judgment is actually executed"! (p. 218) Incredible as it seems, most pretribulationists find it more convenient to believe that Joel didn't really mean what he wrote rather than to believe and proclaim the simple, straightforward message of the prophet!
Contrary to the claims of pretribulation rapture theologians, this passage in Joel, plainly interpreted, tells us that the day of Yahuwah follows the colossal disturbances in heaven, which, according to Yahusha, will follow the great tribulation. The serious interpreter must believe the simple, straightforward statements of the Bible. And if we do so, we can be sure that the day of Yahuwah begins at the posttribulation parousia of Yahusha, and that the rapture of the church is a posttribulation hope for the believer.
Paul's first Thessalonian epistle is also explicit as to when the day of Yahuwah will come. After a brief discourse on the order of events at the rapture, Paul takes up the subject of when the rapture will occur:
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of Yahuwah will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:1,2).
Here, Paul compares the arrival of the day of Yahuwah to the coming of a thief in the night. Since we have already established that the rapture marks the beginning of the day of Yahuwah (and pretribulation rapture advocates and posttribers alike hold to this interpretation), then a survey of texts utilizing the thief in the night metaphor promises to hold valuable insights about when these events will take place.
In Matthew 24, Yahusha teaches that the great tribulation is followed by heavenly wonders (i.e., cosmic irregularities) and then by his coming on the clouds. All would agree that the coming spoken of there is a posttribulation event and a part of the day of Yahuwah. Yahusha then describes the uncertainty of the time of his posttribulation parousia by saying that "no one knows about that day or hour.... Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (24:36,42). And next, Yahusha compares the secrecy of the day of his posttribulation return with the coming of a thief in the night.
Some pretribulation rapture advocates have confused this metaphor, which Paul borrows in 1 Thessalonians 5 from the lips of Yahusha, with the idea of a pretribulation rapture. The metaphor, taken by itself, might suggest that the rapture could occur at any time, since the coming of a thief is unannounced. And if this metaphor were the only indication of when the rapture will occur, then we might conclude as pretribulation rapture advocates do. But the thief in the night metaphor is always set in a posttribulation context everywhere it is found in the New Testament.
The text of Matthew 24,25 which compares the coming of Yahusha to the coming of a thief in the night has nothing to do with a purported pretribulation rapture. Yahusha never said anything about a pretribulation rapture in the Olivet Discourse. pretribulation rapture advocates also claim that the posttribulation coming of Christ can not be a surprising event because, they say, men will know when he is coming by the signs immediately preceding it. But Yahusha is saying just the opposite of that here in Matthew 24.
The Lord Yahusha described his parousia as happening after the great tribulation. And it is in this context that Yahusha compares his coming to the coming of a thief in the night. The focus of the metaphor is on the surprise and suddenness of his coming. To those not expecting him, it will overtake them by surprise. But to those who understand the prophecies, and who watch and wait for him, it will not overtake them like a thief in the night. The intention of the exhortation to keep watch is to encourage the disciples to be prepared for Christ's posttribulation parousia.
The apostle Paul, after Yahusha, compares the coming of the day of Yahuwah to a thief in the night (see 1 Thessalonians 5:1,2). Paul has borrowed this figure of speech from the lips of Yahusha, and like a good exegete, he has not pulled it out of context (as pretribulation rapture advocates have done). The meaning and context of this metaphor are the same in Paul's writings as they are in the sayings of Yahusha. So, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the rapture, explaining that "about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of Yahuwah will come like a thief in the night" (5:1,2).
The reason Paul did not need to tell them about the "times and dates" of his coming is that Yahusha had already made it crystal clear that a time of great tribulation must take place before his posttribulation coming like a thief in the night (see Matthew 24). The Thessalonians were very much aware, it seems, of Yahusha teaching on that subject. Paul was merely reminding them of Yahusha's words as a means of encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:7,8,11).
The apostle's exhortation to remain alert and self-controlled in view of the coming of the day of Yahuwah would have been meaningless if the Thessalonians were not going to see the day, but were to be raptured before it arrived. However, if they were to see with their own eyes the arrival of that day, then there is a very practical need to be alert and self-controlled. Kimball perceptively explains this need of constant preparedness:
Paul continues to elaborate upon the theme of Christ's return which he had introduced in the previous chapter. He now focuses upon the constant need for spiritual vigilance and sobriety "lest that day (the day of the Lord, verse 2) should overtake you as a thief" (verse 4). He assures us that "that day" will not overtake us as the sudden intrusion of a thief providing we remain watchful and alert. It will be a day of unexpected terror for those who are asleep and drunken; but it will not be such for Christians because of our constant state of preparation, expectancy, and alertness. It will be both a day of salvation for Elohim's people, and a day of wrath for the ungodly (verse 10). (The Rapture, pp.158,159)
That the thief in the night metaphor speaks of Messiah's posttribulation coming is further supported by Paul's explanation of it in 1 Thessalonians 5:3: "While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." pretribulation rapture advocates assume that the 'destruction' in this verse refers to the calamities which occur on earth during the 7 years of great tribulation prior to Christ's posttribulation appearance. So they conclude that this verse lends support to their notion that the day of Yahuwah begins with the pretribulation rapture of the church. But this explanation does not square with the rest of the facts found in the Scriptures.
First, we have already shown from Christ's testimony that the day of Yahuwah begins after the great tribulation. And second, the term destruction is used in the New Testament with reference to the judgment of unbelievers which takes place at Christ's posttribulation parousia. In 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Paul speaks about the return of the Lord in glory with his powerful angels. In this clearly posttribulational context, the ungodly "will be punished with everlasting destruction" (1:9).
The destruction, therefore, associated with the day of Yahuwah is inseparably linked with the posttribulational coming of the Lord. Paul's portrayal of that day as a time of peace and safety followed quickly by sudden destruction fits most naturally with the scenario of the glorious, posttribulational appearing of Christ which the Old Testament prophets so dramatically depicted.
The thief in the night metaphor is also used by Peter who speaks of these posttribulation events with an application to the church. Peter instructs his readers
that the day of Yahuwah will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and Elohimly lives... (2 Peter 3:10,11).
Peter's portrayal of the day of Yahuwah sounds nothing like John's description of the great tribulation. In John's account in the book of Revelation, a series of warnings are given to earth's inhabitants for the expressed purpose of getting their attention focused on Elohim so they might repent (see Revelation 16:9,11). But the judgment in 2 Peter is total destruction of planet Earth.
Furthermore, Peter links the end of the present earth with the hope of the church. As do Yahusha, Paul and the prophets, Peter is speaking of the finality of the judgment on the earth at the posttribulation return of Christ. In view of this judgment to come, believers need to be living "holy and Elohimly lives" (3:11) because "we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth" (3:13).
William R. Kimball points out the similarity between Peter's understanding of the day of Yahuwah and Paul's discussion of the same, noting that
this text harmonizes perfectly with Paul's correlative statements involving the "day of the Lord" in I Thessalonians, chapter five. Both refer to the "day of the Lord." Both texts associate it with a time of awesome judgment. And both texts insert a cautionary statement for Christians to be prepared for that approaching day. What is more, Peter concludes his statements by reminding his readers that Paul includes the same truths in his epistles (verses 15,16). Both Peter and Paul were obviously on the same eschatological wavelength regarding the truths associated with the "day of the Lord." (The Rapture, p.162)
Furthermore, there is evidence in the book of Revelation that the day of Yahuwah begins with the posttribulation coming of Christ. But first, a few things need to be said about the structure of the book of Revelation. This apocalyptic work is not a chronological listing of "tribulation" events. For example, just because an event is located in the middle of the book does not necessarily imply that it will occur in the middle of the tribulation. On the contrary, Revelation was written in typical Semitic style, in which complex events are dealt with by a series of regressions. So, the only way to know at what point in time a given prophecy will actually be fulfilled in history is to compare that scene and the vocabulary associated with it with other similarly worded scenarios found elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures.
Since the term day of Yahuwah is not found in the book of Revelation, we must look for other indications to locate it. Many pretribulation rapture advocates actually think they see the day of Yahuwah from Revelation 6 to the end of the book. One writer argues that
it is quite clear, for instance, that the fourth seal described in Revelation 6:7,8 - where one-fourth of the earth's population is destroyed - is not at the end but in the earlier phase of the Great Tribulation. Certainly the destruction of one fourth of the population would qualify as the day of the Lord for the earth. (Walvoord, p.223)
It appears that the above mentioned pretribulation advocate is convinced that the fourth seal is part of the day of Yahuwah because it fits his own preconceived notion of what the day of Yahuwah will be like, rather than on the evidence of the text. Surely, such an arbitrary and self-serving method of determining when the day of Yahuwah occurs in Revelation must be rejected as repugnant!
On the contrary, the day of Yahuwah is not in view at all in the fourth seal. It is not until the opening of the sixth seal that there are any contextual clues that the writer is referring to the day of Yahuwah. When the angel opened the sixth seal,
there was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth.... The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place (Revelation 6:12-14).
It is easy to see that these are the same heavenly disturbances which Yahusha said would occur immediately after the great tribulation at the time of his coming and at the onset of the day of Yahuwah (Matthew 24:29-31). So, the sixth seal, not the fourth, marks the end of the tribulation period and the breaking forth of the day of Yahuwah.
Confirmation of this is found in the next two verses in Revelation 6. At the sight of the great heavenly wonders, the people of the earth call out to the mountains and to the rocks, "fall on us," as they hid themselves among the caves and rocks. This calls to the reader's mind a prophesy in Isaiah 2:19:
Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty when he rises to shake the earth.
We noted earlier that this passage is a description of the parousia of Christ. This personal appearance (parousia) of the Lord for judgment is horrifying for those who have rejected Christ, causing them to flee into the holes of the earth.
Following the vision in Revelation, John saw a large multitude of people "who have come out of the great tribulation" (7:14). So it seems that with the opening of the sixth seal, the great tribulation comes to an end and the day of Yahuwah breaks onto the scene.
The sounding of the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11 provides further evidence that the day of Yahuwah and the rapture of the church are posttribulational. John heard loud voices in heaven, saying,
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever" (vs.15).
Then the twenty four elders said to Elohim, "you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great - and for destroying those who destroy the earth" (11:17,18).
There are five important considerations to make with regard to the seventh trumpet which will support our conclusion about the posttribulational rapture of the church. First, we know the seventh trumpet marks the end of the tribulation because it announces the beginning of Christ's reign in the "kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ."
Second, Elohim's plan for the universe is accomplished with this trumpet. John wrote earlier that "in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of Elohim will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets" (Revelation 10:7). Paul describes this mystery in Ephesians 1:9,10:
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment -- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
The mystery of Elohim which, according to Paul, will "be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment" "will be accomplished" at the seventh trumpet, according to John. Furthermore, Paul leaves us no room for misunderstanding what this mystery is. It is the complete accomplishment of Elohim's will when Christ becomes Lord of all things in heaven and on earth. Clearly, the seventh seal marks the beginning of the reign of Christ at his glorious posttribulation parousia.
Third, in both Revelation 11 and in 1 Corinthians 15:51ff., the symbol of the final trumpet is used to signal the completion of the mystery. The seventh trumpet in Revelation 11 inaugurates the kingdom and the "last trumpet" in 1 Corinthians 15:51 announces the resurrection/translation event. While it may be admitted that there is no proof that John had Paul's last trumpet in mind here in Revelation 11, it is still more than a coincidence that the Holy Spirit prompted both writers to use the final trumpet symbol to depict the fulfillment of those activities associated with Christ's posttribulation coming.
Fourth, the phrase, "the time has come for judging... and for destroying" suggests that the seventh trumpet begins the day of Yahuwah. As was mentioned above, Paul spoke in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 about the day of Yahuwah coming like a thief in the night. And he said that destruction would come suddenly on those who walk in darkness. And again, in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians, Paul said of the wicked persecutors that Elohim "will punish those who do not know Elohim... with everlasting destruction" (vs.8,9). And of the man of lawlessness, Paul says that Yahusha "will destroy (him) by the splendor of his coming" (2:8) at the parousia of Christ. The destruction of the ungody is an act of judgment which is enacted at Christ's posttribulation advent.
And fifth, the phrase, "the time has come... for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name" has clear overtones of Paul's message that Elohim will "give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels..." (2 Thessalonians 1:7). Paul has made it clear that the time of giving relief and reward to the saints is at the time of the posttribulational parousia of Christ. pretribulation rapture advocates place the rewarding of the saints during the 7 year tribulation after the alleged pretribulation rapture, while the church is in heaven. But this is a contradiction of the plain statement of Scripture here in Revelation 11 that at the seventh trumpet Yahusha will reward all those who are deserving of such.
When all five of the above considerations from Revelation 11 are taken together, the unbiased reader will concede that the book of Revelation, in harmony with the sayings of Yahusha and with the writings of Paul and Peter, teaches only a posttribulation parousia of Christ, a posttribulation rapture of the church, and a posttribulation day of Yahuwah.
One final observation from John's visions seals our conclusion. Twice in this apocalyptic, John uses the thief in the night metaphor. The first occurrence of it is in the form of an exhortation to the church of Sardis. Yahusha rebuked these believers because they were "dead." He admonishes them to "wake up" (3:2). The words "wake up" translate the Greek word greegoreo, which Yahusha and Paul used as an exhortation to believers in view of Christ's sudden posttribulation parousia and the day of Yahuwah. Yahusha said to his disciples, "keep watch" (Gr. greegoreo, Matthew 24:42), and Paul echoes, "let us be alert" (Gr. greegoreo, 1 Thessalonians 5:6).
Then Yahusha went on to warn the church at Sardis, "But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you" (Revelation 3:3). It seems like it could not be more clear that this warning to stay awake, or be alert is given to the church, not in view of an alleged pretribulation rapture, but in view of the posttribulation parousia when Yahusha will appear unexpectedly and sudden destruction will overtake those not ready.
The second occurrence of the thief in the night metaphor comes between the pouring out of the sixth and seventh bowl of Elohim's wrath. Yahusha says again, "Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake" (Gr. greegoreo, Revelation 16:15). This blessing is clearly an echo of Christ's earlier warning to the church of Sardis. Those who "stay awake" and are "watching" for the return of Yahusha will not be overtaken by his sudden coming.
Then, when the seventh bowl is poured out, a voice calls out, "It is done" (Revelation 16:17). This corresponds with our previous discovery that at the seventh trumpet Elohim's mystery is accomplished. So the reminder just prior to the seventh bowl, "Behold, I come like a thief" is quite appropriate because at the seventh bowl, the mystery is finished, Christ returns like a thief in the night, and Christians are raptured to meet their Lord.
Even if all of our preceding findings about the day of Yahuwah were inconclusive, the plain statement Paul makes in 2 Thessalonians 2 is sufficient evidence alone to conclude dogmatically that the day of Yahuwah does not include the events of the great tribulation, but begins at the posttribulation parousia of the Lord: Responding to some reports saying that the day of Yahuwah had already come, Paul warns,
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
It is quite apparent that this rebellion and the revelation of the man of lawlessness are events which occur just prior to Christ's posttribulation parousia. Yahusha listed these two events in Matthew 24 as part of what must take place before he returns in glory. No doubt Paul was familiar with this saying of Yahusha in Matthew 24 and reiterates this fact to the Thessalonian believers to prove that the day of Yahuwah had not yet come.
Kimball delineates the importance of this text in the whole argument for the posttribulation rapture, noting that
in this passage, Paul links the parousia of Christ, "our gathering together unto him," and the "day of Christ" as the same event. But this text clearly places these interrelated events after the appearance of antichrist and a time of spiritual defection, rather than before or during, as pretribulationists would contend by their designation of the terms "day of "Christ" and "day of the Lord." (The Rapture, p.157)
Furthermore, he explains,
Paul makes it quite evident that the ..."day of the Lord" cannot occur until these preceding events have been fulfilled - namely the apostasy and the manifestation of antichrist who will persecute the church. (Ibid, p.157)
So, Paul understood and taught that the day of Yahuwah is that time after the great tribulation when Messiah will come on the clouds, suddenly like a thief in the night to those not expecting him, to gather his watching saints, judge the wicked, and set up his everlasting kingdom.
The Old Testament prophets were clear with regard to the dual nature of the day of Yahuwah. It is a time of deliverance for Elohim's persecuted people and a time of dreaded judgment on the Elohim-less unbelieving nations. The day of Yahuwah is when Elohim will personally return to give to everyone as his works deserve. The New Testament further testifies that Messiah Yahusha will come to earth personally to repay retribution to unbelievers and rest to those who trust in him.
Yahusha cited words from the prophet Joel to make clear that the day of Yahuwah would follow an unprecedented time of great tribulation. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul teaches that the day of Yahuwah will come as a surprise to those not expecting Christ to appear, but, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, we who know him can expect to see him coming for us after the man of lawlessness is revealed and the other events of the tribulation are completed.
The pretribulation rapture theory does not make good sense of Paul's argument in the Thessalonian epistles. Although pretribulationists recognize the connection between the rapture and the day of Yahuwah, they misinterpret plain indications that Christ's coming will occur after the tribulation. By comparing the teaching of Christ, Paul, Peter and John, we can clearly see that the New Testament holds out only a posttribulation rapture. Hopefully, the reader who wants to be true to the Scriptures can now judge for himself that the posttribulation rapture theory has a great weight of Scriptural evidence to commend it.
Written by David M Rogers
Updated December 2007