So where does Jesus place His coming and gathering of the church in relation to the great tribulation? Matthew 24 is where we go for the answer. He places it after the great tribulation, which He says is cut short for the sake of the elect, the chosen of God. (See verses 15-31.)
I know, I know...some will say that this passage does not apply to the church. But my question to you then is, do the scriptures bear this out?
Let's do a bit of digging, are you with me?
- Mt. 24 and Mk. 13 are both passages that refer to the presence or coming of Christ. Another way of putting it, these passages refer to His return. Both say this will happen after the great tribulation.
- From 1 Cor. 15:22,23 we understand that at the presence/coming of Christ, or at His return, the resurrection occurs. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming."
- From 1 Th. 4:13-18 we understand that at the presence/coming of Christ, there is a catching away of believers, the dead in Christ rise first (resurrection) and those who are alive and remain (remain can also be translated "survive") are then caught up together with them in the clouds.
- Hop on over to Daniel 12:1,2. "And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake (resurrection), these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt."
- John 6:40 is also a resurrection reference. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." The "last day" would coincide with the "end of the age" which Jesus teaches on in Mt. 24. In Matthew 28 Jesus said He would be with His disciples until the end of the age/the last day. From Mt. 24 we see that it is at the end of the age when He returns. His return cuts short the great tribulation against the elect and then He gathers the elect...