The Stages of The End Times

(A shorter version of this post.)

I wrote a section for Christians about “The End Times” in the Bible study I wrote.  But I wanted to write a shorter, easier-to-understand version for everyone else.  With all the hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic activity, “cash-less” technology, terrorism, martyring of Christians, people’s rebellion against God and everything He stands for, disease epidemics, the technology to put little radio transmitters into people’s hands containing their information (and now there's electronic tattoos), the various celestial events, a fast-approaching “one-world system,” a brewing civil war, a brewing world war, the events surrounding Israel and Jerusalem, the search for a new "peace plan" in the Middle East, the events in Syria, etc., it seems like a good time to post this.

And no … contrary to a popular “prophecy,” I do not think the world will end with a large planet crashing into us.

Oh, no … it’s so much worse than that!  Or better!  Depending on whose side you’re on.

And to all those scoffers who say "None of this has anything to do with the end of the world" or "There is no 'end of the world' and Jesus isn't coming back again," I would like to ask you ...

"Are you so sure!?!  Are you so sure that there isn't a supernatural world out there?  That there isn't a God who will someday do exactly what He said He'd do in His Word?  That He isn't moving and working in this world and about to bring this time to an end?  Are you so sure!?!  Even if the end doesn't come in our lifetime, it will come someday - in our own lives and for the world as we know it.  Are you prepared to face the truth?  Will you find the truth before it's too late?"     

Alright, onto “The End Times”…

I believe we are fast approaching the time of Jesus’s return.  Far too many factors are lining up for it to be too far off in the future.  I'm 43 right now, and I've been studying this subject since I was a teenager ... and I've never seen so many "signs" showing up on the scene at the same time.  

Of course, I could be wrong.  But I think we are nearing the end of life as we know it.  I think Jesus will return to collect His people soon, the true believers.  Soon could be tonight … or soon could be 10 years from now or more.  I don’t know.  But every day I pray that today is the day.    

My husband thinks we’re not there yet, that things have to get a whole lot worse first.  But I think that while they might get worse first (and probably will), they don’t have to get worse first.  It’s possible that it could be anytime now.  And that is my hope.  (My personal, I-really-have-no-idea guess is that it will be within a few years or so.)  

Whatever the timing is, here is my best guess (educated speculation) on how I think things will happen.  (I will not add “I think …” to everything, but know that it’s what I mean to say.)  Just tuck all this in the back of your mind, in case it starts to look familiar:

Okay, so here is my quick overview of “the end times,” starting with …  

1.  The rapture:

I believe that the next event on “the end times” schedule is the rapture of true believers.  This is when Jesus takes the believers out of here in the twinkling of an eye.

1 Cor 15:51-52.  “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”  (See also 1 Thess 4:15-17)

God will remove His faithful people and the Holy Spirit … and the world will be left to itself to face the Anti-Christ’s rule, to make their final decisions about whether they want to side with Jesus or Satan, and to face God’s wrath which will be poured out on the earth.  

This is the “thief in the night” coming (different from the visible coming of Jesus later), which will happen when it’s like “the days of Noah.”  There is speculation about what “the days of Noah” looks like, but I think it includes a world-wide rebellion against God, flagrant disobedience to His ways, an apathy towards God and truth, mocking those of the Christian faith, and failing to take any warnings seriously.  So very much like right now!    

I believe that after the rapture, many, many people will come to faith in Christ because they will finally understand and believe that Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  And this group of believers is “the great multitude” who is taken out later in the tribulation, before the next set of judgments start (the trumpets).   

After the rapture, those left on earth will then enter the tribulation as the seals begin opening sometime after the rapture.  But it doesn’t have to start right away.  There could be an amount of time before the seals open.  (Personally, I think there will be at least a little time before the seals start opening while the world reorganizes itself and gathers its bearings after having millions of people disappear.) 

(For more on the rapture:  "Will There Be A Rapture?" and "What Will The Rapture Be Like?")

2.  Seals 1-4 and the start of the tribulation: 

Sometime after the rapture, the seals start to open (Revelation 6).  Seal 1 is a rise in false christs (or just one particular “leader” who offers peace – the rider on the white horse with a bow but no arrows, the Antichrist).  Seal 2 is war.  Seal 3 is famine.  Seal 4 is death by sword, famine and plague, and wild animals.  (My guess is that seals 2-4 are a natural fallout of the rapture, a result of millions of people vanishing and the panic/distress it would cause.)   

I’m not sure if the seals are at the beginning of the 7-year tribulation or sometimes before it, or if the seals are actually going on now but will simply increase as the tribulation gets closer.    

Of course, over history, we have seen the same kinds of things that will happen during the seals: false christs, war, famine, etc.  But I think these things will increase drastically after the rapture.  Evil will run rampant once all believers and the Holy Spirit are removed. 

But the next event after seals 1-4 (and the rapture, of course) is … 

3.  The Signing of the Treaty:

The definite start of the official 7-year tribulation (the “trib”) is when a “7-year peace treaty” is signed between the Anti-christ (AC), Israel, and other leaders, as seen in Dan 9:27, sometime during or after the opening of these first 4 seals. 

I believe that during these seals and the early part of the trib when the peace treaty is signed, the AC hasn’t yet been given supreme authority to rule.  He is just one of a group that signs this treaty, trying to bring the world together.  (It’s not hard to imagine this happening, if you think of the chaos that would happen after millions of people vanish.)

The rise of the Anti-christ is seen in Dan 7:19-25.  He is the “little horn” who will rise to power, surpassing the 10 “kings” that were already in power and then subduing (over-throwing?) 3 of them.  Most likely these 10 kings are those who head up the various parts of the world (or just the European/Middle East areas), to bring the world under this peace treaty.  And then the AC subdues 3 of them and eventually rises to supreme power.  

4.  Breaking the Treaty and the 5th Seal: 

Daniel 7:25 says that the “saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.”  That’s a year, two years, and half a year.  So for three and a half years, he will wage war against believers and Israel.  I think this is after the first four seals. 

I believe that for part of the first half of the trib, the AC is ruling along with the other “kings,” under that peace treaty.  And then about halfway through the 7-year trib, the AC breaks the treaty, turns on the “kings” and turns on Israel.  He assumes supreme authority and sets up the “abomination that causes desolation” (Dan 9:27, Matt 24:15, *2 Thess 2:3-4) in the Temple and starts to martyr believers.  This mass martyrdom is the 5th seal.  It ushers in a time of great distress for Israel, specifically, and for believers everywhere (Matt 24:9-25).

[At some point, the AC receives the “fatal wound” that had been “healed” (Rev 13:3).  And he is now Satanically-empowered and people are astonished and follow him, believing him to be a god.  This may be at the 5th seal, when he sets up the “abomination,” proclaiming himself to be god and martyring those who worship the true God.  Or this “fatal wound” and Satanic-possession may happen some other time, such as when he sets up the image that can talk/kill and issues the number of the beast (Rev 13:15), which I think comes at a later date than the 5th seal.  I’m not sure yet.  I haven’t quite figured out the time frame for some of these events.]

The 5th seal is when John sees the souls of the martyrs under the altar as they cry out for God to avenge their blood.  I believe these are martyrs of the tribulation.  And God says that these martyrs will have to wait a little longer to see justice poured out, after the rest of the martyrs (of the last half of the trib) are killed by the AC.

(*See the Additional Note at the end of this post for why I think 2 Thess is not about the rapture, but rather it tells us about the AC's rise to power during the trib and the coming of Jesus at the end of the trib.)

5.  Seal 6: 

Sometime in the midst of this martyrdom, the 6th seal is opened.  This is when there is a great earthquake, the sun turns black, moon turns red, stars fall to earth, the sky recedes like a scroll, and every mountain and island is moved from its place.  Then the people hide in the rocks, crying out and asking the rocks to fall on them and to hide them from the Lord’s great day of wrath.  (Rev 6:12-17)  

This is also described in Matthew 24:26-31.  It says that after the cosmic events, the sign of the Son of Man appears in the sky and all the nations mourn.  (This is when they cry to the rocks to fall of them.)  And they mourn because they just witnessed the . . .

6.  The Visible Coming of Jesus:  

As the cosmic events happen, Jesus returns physically, visibly, to take out the “great multitude” - those who became believers after the rapture.  According to Matthew 24:30, all people will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in power and great glory. 

I think Jesus “coming on the clouds” is the “sign of the Son of Man” that appears to everyone, making them terrified, running to the rocks, mourning because they missed the truth all along.    

Many Christians think that the “celestial signs” precede the rapture, so they watch the sky closely, thinking that every time the moon looks red or there’s a solar eclipse that the rapture is coming.  I, however, don’t think these signs happen before the rapture.  I think the rapture happens earlier - suddenly and with no warning - and that these celestial signs happen during the tribulation, before the “great multitude” is taken out when Jesus comes back visibly to gather them at this 6th seal.  (Or there could be a double fulfillment - one before the rapture and one at the 6th seal.) 

The people who are still here after the rapture, after the seals start opening, after the signing of the peace treaty, after the AC sets up the “abomination” in the Temple, and after the martyring of Christians should be looking for these cosmic signs. 

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  (Luke 21:28)     

This “great multitude” that Jesus takes out of the earth is seen around God’s throne, wearing white and holding palm branches, in Rev 7:9.  As it clearly says, they are those “who came out of the great tribulation.”  They are not raptured believers.

(For other “visible coming of Jesus” passages, see Matthew 24:30-31, 2 Thess 1:7, 2 Thess 2, and Joel 2:30-32.  These refer to the great trib and/or the cosmic events and Christ’s visible second coming.) 

This multitude includes all those who became believers after the rapture.  They will be spared from the next set of judgments, when God’s wrath is poured out on those who stubbornly refuse and reject Him.  By this time, things will be so supernatural that it will be clear to all people who God is and who Jesus is.  And so when people make a decision to choose Jesus or reject Him they are doing it in full knowledge of the Truth.

Also at this time, after the multitude is taken out, God leaves 144,000 Jewish people on earth to be witnesses, sealed with the seal of God on their forehead. 

Note that during the church-age, believers are given the Holy Spirit inside of them as a seal (Eph 4:30 says we were sealed with the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption.  I believe that day is the rapture.).  But in the trib, people are sealed with the name of God on the forehead (Rev 9:4).  This further confirms that the church-age believers and the Holy Spirit are taken out before this time.  God does things differently in the tribulation. 

The rest of the people who did not get taken out with the great multitude are still in the midst of the AC’s 42-month reign, and they all go into the . . .

7.  The Trumpet Judgments: 

Trumpets 1-6 are in Rev 8 and 9.  This is the “dreadful day of the Lord.”  It is a time to punish and pour out His wrath on those who refused Him. 

It includes a third of the earth burning up, a “huge mountain”  (asteroid?) crashing into the sea which turns a third of it to blood, a “blazing torch” (poisonous comet?) crashing into the rivers and poisoning those who drink the water, a third of the sky’s light turning dark (a consequence of the impact of the asteroid and comet?), demons in the form of locusts tormenting people, and four angels sent to kill a third of mankind with fire and smoke and sulfur.  And yet, according to Rev 9:20-21, even with all these events, wicked mankind still won’t repent or turn from their wicked ways.     

I wonder if during this time sometime is when the AC creates the image that can talk and issues the mark of the beast, 666.  It could have started earlier, but the Great Multitude wasn’t described as being victorious over the beast’s image, name, or number.  But the next group taken out is, in Rev 15:2.  This is why I think that the number and image might not be introduced until after the great multitude is taken out. 

Who knows . . . maybe it’s the fact that the great multitude was taken out that causes the AC to introduce this new system of keeping track of people and controlling them?  Plus, at this point, the AC would be Satanically-empowered and able to perform “wonders and miracles.”  So it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine an image being created that can talk and kill.  (Anyone seen the video of the hologram of Turkey's President?  Hmm?  I wonder.  Could a hologram be this End Times image that talks?  And there's one Christian online who is absolutely convinced that Turkey's president is the Antichrist.  I have no idea what to make of that, but after seeing the hologram ... one can only wonder.)  

And, after witnessing Jesus coming back for His people, there would be no more wondering if Jesus was real or not.  People will know that if they take the mark (my guess is it's one of those chips they are putting in people's hands or maybe an electronic tattoo like this), they are pledging allegiance to the Anti-christ, to Satan.  So they cannot claim, “Oops, I didn’t know that was the mark of the beast.  I didn’t know there was an Anti-christ.”  It will be crystal clear.  And their decision to choose Jesus or Satan will be deliberate. 

Either way (whether the image/number started earlier or not until the trumpet judgments), there will be more martyrs during this time under the image/number of the beast.

8.  The Two Witnesses:  

Sometime during all this, God places two witnesses on earth who have supernatural abilities.  They can stop it from raining, turn water to blood, send fire out to destroy those who come against them, and strike the earth with any plague they want.  But when they finish their testimony, they will be killed (by Satan?  The Anti-christ?), and people will celebrate their death, sending presents to each other like it was a holiday.  But after their dead bodies lie in the street for three days, they will rise against and be taken to heaven.

9.  The 7th Trumpet and The Harvest: 

When the 7th trumpet is blown, John basically hears the message that “Christ has begun his reign.”  I think this trumpet ends the AC’s 42 months of reign, because it is now Christ’s turn to reign.  And then we read in Rev 14 about the Harvest.  This is when those who came to faith during the trumpets are harvested with a sickle-swing (Rev 14:14-16). 

They are taken out before the next set of judgments (the bowls, aka vials) start.  And we see them standing before the throne with harps in Rev 15.  They are the ones who “had been victorious over the beast and his image and number.”  (Rev 15:2-3)  After they are taken out, the rest of the people on earth go into … 

10.  The Bowl Judgments (Vials) - the winepress of God’s wrath, meant for the destruction of Babylon. 

These bowls are poured out very quickly, one right after the next.  Sores on those that worship the beast, water turning to blood, the sun scorching people, darkness over the beast’s kingdom.  The 6th bowl is when the Euphrates dries up and the evil spirits go out to gather the people for battle at the 1st Armageddon.  The 7th bowl is when John hears, “It is done” and there is a storm and the biggest earthquake, the great city splits in three, there’s 100 lb hail, the cities collapse and mountains fall.  Then comes . . .

11.  Jesus’ Coming for the 1st Armageddon: 

This is when Jesus returns to defeat his enemies the first time and to start His reign on earth during the 1000-year millennial kingdom.  He comes this time not on clouds with angels to gather His people, but on a white horse with the armies of heaven (most likely including the raptured believers and angels) to defeat His enemies at the 1st Armageddon.  (Rev 19:11-21, Zec 14) 

At this time, the devil is bound and prevented from roaming the earth and causing problems for 1000 years.  After this 1st Armageddon but before the 1000 years is . . .

12.  The Resurrection of the Dead Martyrs of the Tribulation:  

We read about them in Rev 20:4-6.  They “had not worshipped the beast or image or received his mark.”  The dead martyrs are resurrected to reign with Christ 1000 years on earth, along with others who are on thrones and given right to judge (Rev 20:4).  (Interesting point: Verse 4 says these martyrs were beheaded.  Hmm?  I wonder ... Which group of people are known for beheading their victims, particularly Christians?)    

These martyrs are specifically those who did not worship the beast – this makes them tribulation martyrs.  And so I think that those martyred during the church-age (before the trib) went up in the rapture, when the dead in Christ rose first, before the living.  Then comes . . . 

13.  The 1000-year Messianic Kingdom on earth:

Okay, so now we have the beginning of the 1000-year earthly reign of Christ (Rev 20), when Satan in bound.  This is the time when things are peaceful and Israel is again blessed and stands out as a leader and as God’s treasured people.  The lion lies down with the lamb, the person that dies at 100 years old is considered young, etc.  There is peace and long life. 

Obviously, there are humans procreating on the earth during this time, so there must have been some people on earth who didn’t get destroyed by the bowls and who didn’t worship the beast and who escaped being martyred, but who didn’t become believers early enough to be taken out with the harvest in Rev 14:14-16.  (And this may or may not include the 144,000 Jews who were sealed in Rev 7 and those who were supernaturally protected on earth during the trib in Rev 12:14.)     

At the end of the 1000 years comes . . . 

14.  The 2nd Armageddon:  

Satan is released and he goes out to gather his troops for the 2nd Armageddon, the battle to end all battles.  But this battle is won by fire coming down from heaven and consuming the enemies that have gathered against Israel and the Lord.

And then there is . . .


15.  The Great White Throne Judgment:

This is when the dead (who are not the tribulation martyrs or dead believers that were resurrected earlier) are resurrected to face judgment.  So the last people to rise (after the battle that ends the millennium) are all the living and dead who have not been judged yet.  They go to the Great White Throne judgment. 

I’m guessing that these are all the people of the 1000-year earthly kingdom and all the unbelieving dead from all time, because the dead believers from before the 1000 years would either have been taken up in the rapture (1 Thess 4:16-17) or, if they were martyrs, they would have been included with the resurrected martyrs.

And all of the dead unbelievers and the dead from the 1000 years and those that are still living during the 1000 years are all judged according to their works, and God separates His sheep from the goats.  The goats go to the lake of fire and the sheep go to the new heaven and new earth. 

16.  And then the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, and a new heaven and new earth is created. 

Only those who have overcome and whose names are written in the book of life (showing that they have a right standing before God) are left to inherit the new heaven and the new earth.  There is no one else left.  Everyone else will be thrown into the lake of fire.   (Rev 20:15)  This is when the old order of things passes away (Rev 21:1-4) and God restores everything to the way it’s supposed to be.  There is no more sun, death, sin, or tears, as He wipes every tear from their eyes, for even Satan and death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the Great White Throne judgment – Rev 20:10-14. 

Yes, this was the short version, my brief explanation of how I understand the end times. 

“So why should all of this matter to us?” you ask.

Because it’s real.  Because it’s coming.  Because He's coming again.  And soon.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.”  (Revelation 22:20)

[Click here when you have time to listen.  To really listen.  You owe it to yourself, to your eternal soul, to listen to this song at least once and to really think about what it says.  (And click here for one more, one that deeply touched my heart.)  What do you have to lose?] 

*Additional note:

I think 2 Thess gives us another glimpse of the AC assuming complete control and elevating himself above God.  

Many Christians think 2 Thess 2:1-3 is saying that the rapture (our "being gathered to him") can't happen until the "rebellion" occurs (or "falling away" as some versions say) and "the man of lawlessness is revealed."  They say the rapture can't happen until there is a great falling away of people from the church (apostasy) and until the Antichrist reveals himself for who he really is - which could either be when he signs the treaty (but remember that he is just one of many at that point, I think) or half-way through the tribulation when he enters the temple (which means the church goes into the trib and is raptured out halfway through, making this a pre-wrath rapture).

HOWEVER ... I have begun to think it doesn't mean what we thought it meant.  

A proper understanding of 2 Thess hinges on one thing ...

Which "day" is Paul talking about in 2 Thess 2:3 when he says "that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed"?

If "that day" is the rapture (our "being gathered to him," in verse 1) then the rapture can't happen till the rebellion occurs and the AC is revealed.

But I don't think "that day" is the rapture.  I think it's the "day of the Lord" (spoken of in verse 2) - a reference to the tribulation when God starts pouring out His wrath on His enemies, ending in Armageddon.

It's not saying "the day of our gathering to him (the rapture) can't happen until the Antichrist is revealed."  It's saying that the "day of the Lord" can't happen until the AC is revealed.

From what I can tell, Paul is writing to Christians who were afraid that the rapture happened, that they missed it, and that they were now entering the "day of the Lord," God's judgmental wrath.  

But Paul is encouraging them that they didn't miss the rapture and aren't in the day of God's wrath ... because the "day of the Lord" (when His wrath is poured out during the trib) can't happen until the "rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed."  He's saying, "You don't see the rebellion or the man of lawlessness, so don't worry.  You didn't miss the rapture, and you are not in the tribulation."

[The wording of 2 Thess 2:1-2 is different in various versions.  The NIV says, "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ 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 the Lord has already come."  This "concerning the coming ... and our being gathered" almost makes it sound like they had asked Paul when the rapture is going to happen, and so Paul answers by telling them that the "day of the Lord" can't happen until the AC is revealed, making it sound like the day of the Lord is about the rapture.  

But the King James has an interesting way of wording it:  "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind ... as that the day of Christ is at hand."  The way this is worded makes me read it in a very different way.  This sounds like, "I am pleading with you, brothers, by reminding you of God's promise to send Jesus back again and gather us to Him, to not be worried that you are somehow in the tribulation."  The "by the coming ... and by our gathering together unto him" sounds like Paul is using this as a reminder to calm them down, to plead with them to not be alarmed that they missed the rapture and are now in the trib.]  

And he goes on to comfort them some more in 2 Thess 2:13-15 by reminding them that they are saved, so they should stand firm and hold to what they've been taught.  To me, this (along with the verses before it) sounds like he's differentiating between what will happen to God's enemies and what will happen to believers.  It's like he's saying "The day of the Lord will come on those who are against God, and eventually the Antichrist will be destroyed.  But I'm thankful that you are saved and that this doesn't apply to you.  So take heart and remember what I told you in the first letter - that God has promised to spare you from the coming wrath (1 Thess 1:10, 5:9)." 

[Note:  I wonder if the "rebellion" is not the great falling away from the church (although that is predicted to happen, too, in 1 Tim 4:1 and 2 Tim 4:3-4), but if the rebellion of 2 Thess 2:3 is the Antichrist's rebellion against everything related to God and against the treaty he signed with Israel.  And this is when he is "revealed."  The rebellion is the revealing.  And the rebellion is further described in the very next verse where the AC "opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God ... so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God."

Or if the "rebellion" does mean a great apostasy of the church, it could be when many people fall away from the Bible's Truth to follow the Antichrist.  Either way, I think it happens after the rapture, not before.]        

So why am I convinced 2 Thess refers to the trib and Jesus's coming at the end of the trib, and not to the rapture?

1.  In 2 Thess, the people are asking about ultimate justice, when God will pay back those who trouble them.  This starts happening in the trib when God pours out His wrath on His enemies, and it ends with Armageddon.  2 Thess is referring to the time of ultimate justice being dished out, the "day of the Lord."  

And why do I think the "day of the Lord" refers to the trib?   

1 Thess 5:2 says that the "day of the Lord" will come like a thief in the night.  The "thief in the night" is also a reference to the rapture (I believe) in Matthew 24:42-44, when "one is taken, the other one left."  One will be raptured, the other left.  The rapture ushers in the "day of the Lord," when God removes His people and His Spirit and begins pouring out wrath on those who are left.  The rapture comes like a "thief" for believers, so we have to be always watching and always ready ... but the day of the Lord comes like a "thief" on unbelievers.  They will not see it coming.  They will think they've got "peace and safety" (1 Thess 5:3) but the end (destruction) will unexpectedly come upon them and wash them away.  

Also Joel 1:15 talks about the "day of the Lord" and how it will come "like destruction from the Almighty."  The day of the Lord is not a reference to the rapture, but to the "day" He pours out destruction on His enemies.  The tribulation.  

And Acts 2:20 also refers to the "great and glorious day of the Lord."  It says it will start after the sun is turned to darkness and the moon to blood.  This is at the 6th seal of Revelation, during the trib, when Jesus comes back visibly to take the tribulation saints out and to start pouring out His judgments (trumpets and bowls) on His enemies.  The "day of the Lord" is the tribulation time, and the "great and glorious day of the Lord" starts at the 6th seal of the trib.  The "day of the Lord' is all about the trib.  And 2 Thess 2:2 is basically saying that the "day of the Lord" clearly hasn't come because the Antichrist hasn't been revealed (which happens in the trib) ... so the rapture couldn't have happened either because the rapture precedes the day of the Lord.     

2.  Also, 2 Thess 1:7 talks about Jesus returning from heaven in blazing fire and with His angels.  This could be referring to His coming at the 6th seal, where He sends His angels to collect the tribulation believers.  Or it could be referring to when Jesus returns for Armageddon with the armies of heaven (which is believed to include the raptured church and angels).  Either way, it's after the rapture, during the trib.

Furthermore, Rev 19:12 says that when Jesus comes back again for Armageddon, He comes with "blazing fire" in His eyes.  This could be the same "blazing fire" seen in 2 Thess 1:7, which means it's talking about His coming at Armageddon.  (And 2 Thess 2:8 talks about Jesus overthrowing the lawless one with the breath of His mouth.  This happens, I believe, in Rev 19:15 where the Lord destroys His enemies with the sword of His mouth.  Further evidence that 2 Thess is referring to Armageddon.)  

If I am right, then 2 Thess is saying that the "day of the Lord" (the dishing out of ultimate justice) can't happen until after the Antichrist rebels and is revealed (or until people rebel from the Truth to follow the Antichrist and he is revealed for who he is).  And according to 2 Thess 2:7, the AC won't be revealed until the restrainer is taken out of the way.  I believe this is the Holy Spirit.  And when the Holy Spirit is removed from earth (along with those whom He inhabits, the true believers, the rapture), then the AC will be revealed.

These are just my thoughts on it.  Some food for thought.

Previous "end times" post:  Will There be a Rapture?

Next "end times" post:  What Will the Rapture Be Like?   

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