Those who hold what is called the “dispensational” interpretation of prophecy, teach that the Second Coming of Christ will be in two stages: first, the RAPTURE (his coming for the saints), and then later the REVELATION (his coming with the saints). The interval between these two events is generally regarded as seven years (Daniel’s 70th week). During this time, according to this view, the Antichrist will make a seven-year covenant with the Jews in which he will allow them to offer sacrifices in a rebuilt temple at Jerusalem. But then after three and a half years, he will break his covenant and place an idol (the abomination of desolation) in the holy of holies of the temple. The Jews will refuse to bow and a great persecution will result — the time of Jacob’s trouble. Finally, at the close of the tribulation period (the end of the age), Christ will return in power and great glory.
In the chapters that follow, we shall have occasion to examine all of these things in the light of the Scriptures — the tribulation, the abomination of desolation, the 70th week, Jacob’s trouble, the Antichrist, etc. But for now, we shall look at the first point in the dispensational outline: the rapture. Those who hold that the Second Coming of Christ will be in two stages, believe that verses such as Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him”, refer to the REVELATION — his coming in open power and glory. The RAPTURE, on the other hand, is presented as a quiet, invisible, and secret coming of Christ for his church. The following quotations from dispensational writers are representative of this interpretation:
“Quickly and INVISIBLY, unperceived by the world, the Lord will come as a thief in the night and catch away His waiting saints.”1
“His appearance in the clouds will be veiled to the human eye and NO ONE WILL SEE HIM. He will slip in, slip out; move in to get His jewels and slip out as under the cover of night.”2
“[The rapture] will be a SECRET appearing, and only the believers will know about it.”3
“It will be a SECRET rapture — QUIET, NOISELESS, sudden as the step of the thief in the night. All that the world will know will be that multitudes at once have gone.”4
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