Eschatology Theology

Christ’s Return and the Rapture

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ today on December 25 I want to share a few thoughts about the future return of Christ that could occur at any moment.

I am a dispensationalist who believes in the pretribulational rapture and premillennial reign of Christ. Yet, I hold these views lite and loose. They are not points worth arguing and causing disunity within the body of believers. Lots of people smarter than me hold contrary views and I respect those who do.

Often we hear people say, “Christ could come at any moment” or “I’m ready for Christ to come back.” Yet, what does that mean about our beliefs about Christ’s return and the end times? Doesn’t the book of Revelation describe seven years of tribulation of plagues, sores, earthquakes, hail, fires, and other events that indicate judgement which all occur before Christ returns in Rev 19:11?

While there are various views on the return of Christ, here are six reasons I believe Christ will return for his people before the seven years of tribulation begins.

Christ Return and the Rapture

Photo Credit: “Waiting for the Word”

I. THE CHURCH IS ABSENT IN REVELATION 4-19[ref]These reasons for the pre-trib rapture is adapted from Mark Hitchcock’s book, The Endwhich is a great reference book for end-times events.[/ref] 

First, the church seems to be absent from the narrative of Rev 4-19. The Greek word for church, ἐκκλεσια, is used nineteen times in Rev 1-3, zero times in Rev 4-19, and one time in Rev 20-22. While it is not good to argue from an “absence of evidence” it does strike me that if the church was on the earth during the time of the Tribulation (Rev 4-19) there would be mentions of it. But, there are none in Rev 4-19. 

Bible Eschatology Revelation

The War of Armageddon (Rev 16:12-21)


A. Past Lessons & Review

B. Text of Rev 16:12-21

“12Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl onto the great Euphrates River and its water dried up. This prepared the road for the kings of the east. 13Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs come out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. 14For they are demon spirits making signs which go out to the kings of the whole earth to gather them for the battle of the great day of the Lord, the Almighty! 15Behold! I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and keeps his clothing, so that nakedness does not walk around and people see his nakedness. 16The demonic spirits gathered the kings and their armies to the placed called in Hebrew, ‘Armageddon.’ 17Lastly, the seventh angel poured out his bowl on the air. And I heard a loud voice coming out of the temple from the throne saying, ‘It is done!’ 18Then there was lightening, roaring, thunder, and a great earthquake. The earthquake was so great and severe, that one of that magnitude had never been felt by man before. 19The great city was split into three parts and the cities of the Gentiles fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God and gave her the cup of wine of his angry wrath. 20Every island disappeared and no mountain was found. 21Then great hailstones that weighed 100 pounds each were coming down from heaven onto people. So people slandered God from the hailstone plagues because they were the most severe of his plagues.” (Rev 16:12-21)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek Text[/ref]

The Sixth and Seven Seals and War of Armageddon of Rev 16.12 to 16.21

Photo Credit: Matthias Gerung

C. General Remarks

“Those who fall under judgment here are those who have been given every chance to repent, and have refused. They have chosen to go down with the monsters rather than to suffer and be vindicated with the lamb. In the language of chapters 17-22, they have chosen the way of the harlot rather than the way of the bride.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 146)

“Though we are not able to immediately understand all the details of these dramatic judgments, the unmistakable impression of the Scriptures is that the whole world is being brought to the bar of justice before Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no escape from divine judgment except for those who receive the grace of God in that day of faith in Jesus Christ.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 251)






“Numerous interpretations have been offered for this bowl judgment. Some have been farfetched, and the historical school has in the past attempted to identify this battle with a previous major world conflict. But the most natural explanation is the best, which is that this judgment actually dries up the great Euphrates River, thereby preparing for an invasion from the East.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 245)

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A. The Euphrates Dries Up (v. 12)

Καὶ ὁ ἕκτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν Εὐφράτην, καὶ ἐξηράνθη τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα ἑτοιμασθῇ ἡ ὁδὸς τῶν βασιλέων τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου.

“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl onto the great Euphrates River and its water dried up. This prepared the road for the kings of the east.” (Rev 16:12)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek Text[/ref]


1. The Great Euphrates River

The river is called the “great river . . . Euphrates” in Gen 15:18; Deut 1:7; Josh 1:4.

Two Old Testament prophecies seem to predict this future event of the drying up of the Euphrates River:

  • “The LORD will make a dry path through the gulf of the Red Sea. He will wave his hand over the Euphrates River, sending a mighty wind to divide it into seven streams so it can easily be crossed on foot.” (Isaiah 11:15, NLT)
  • “They will pass safely through the sea of distress, for the waves of the sea will be held back, and the waters of the Nile will dry up. The pride of Assyria will be crushed, and the rule of Egypt will end.” (Zechariah 10:11, NLT)

2. Kings from the East

Eschatology Soteriology Theology

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Gospel and Hell

This is my final post in the summary doctrine series. Today we look at what it means for people to respond to the Gospel and what happens to those who do or don’t accept the Gospel message. Like my other posts, I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide.

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Gospel and Hell
Gustave Dore’s “New Jerusalem”

Response and Eternal Destiny. Article #10. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.


A. The Gospel Message

Eschatology Theology

A Summary of the Doctrine of Christ’s Return

Throughout my summary of Christian doctrine series this is perhaps my favorite study. Today I am providing a summary of the doctrine of Jesus’s return which is also known as “eschatology.” Like normal, I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide:

A Summary of the Doctrine of Christ Return
Photo Credit: Gustave Doré’s “The Last Judgment”

Christ’s Return. Article #9. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.         


I believe in the pretribulational rapture of the church, seven literal years of Tribulation, and the literal premillennial reign of Christ on earth.

A. Pretribulational Repture