The Beginning of the Day of the Lord
Not only is it a question of great importance but it is also a very easy question to answer, especially if you keep in mind what signs must occur before this Day takes place. As we have discussed, two of the signs that will occur—which will be easily recognized—are that the moon must be turned to blood and the sun will be darkened.
When is the moon turned to blood and the sun darkened? Look at what Revelation 6:12–14 says:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
The passage from Revelation above tells us that the moon is turned to blood and the sun is darkened after the sixth seal is opened. Thus scripture plainly tells us that the Day of the Lord occurs after the sixth seal is opened. Notice also at this time that the stars fall as figs after being shaken of a mighty wind; and every island and mountain is moved as a result of the whole earth being shaken.
So if the sixth seal must be opened before the Day of the Lord, that means that the first five seals must also be opened before the Day of the Lord. Before we get back to our discussion of what event starts the Day of the Lord we will consider these events, which precede the Day of the Lord.
The Events Preceding the Day of the Lord
“The four horsemen of the apocalypse,” as detailed in Revelation 6, symbolically represent the first four seals. It is hard to know for certain what exactly these seals entail because their descriptions are partially in symbolic language. However, a careful examination of Revelation 6 leads to the probable scenarios listed below. I would also like to add that the scriptures indicate that the start of each seal occurs in chronological order. They may overlap in duration or effect, but they occur chronologically.
1. First seal
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. (Rev. 6:1–2)
The first seal is represented by a conquering warrior riding a white horse. Notice that the warrior has a bow, but the text does not mention that he has any arrows. This leads me to believe that possibly this conquering force will accomplish the takeover without war and will be of a political and or religious nature, and most likely involve deception. I also believe that this takeover is global, rather than regional as some have suggested, because the symbolism does not specify a place. Thus, by implication, we can assume this involves the entire world. Several commentaries agree with this analysis.
Overall, the white horse and its rider are vivid representations of a powerful, aggressive, victorious force running unrestrained over mankind. Like a knight in armor or a soldier in full dress uniform, the first horseman appears to the eye as glorious and noble, but its intent is to kill, destroy, and subdue its enemies. Its white façade is deceptive, concealing a deadly, unholy purpose.
Thus, the white horse and his rider symbolize the spirit of conquest and militarism. . . . Economic power, propaganda, the use of religion, diplomacy and political shrewdness are also part of successful conquest.
Scripture makes it clear that, during the end times, there will be a world religion and government. I believe this conquering warrior most likely represents the takeover of the world by these entities, undoubtedly involving deception. Look at what one “New Age” pastor said about the coming religious deceptive takeover of the world:
The twenty-first century is the final stretch of the history of mankind. Not much time remains before the Second Coming. During this short period of time, God will bring into fulfillment all of the promises that have yet to come to pass. One of the most important of these is the New World Order under the banner of righteousness.
Some think the rider of the white horse is the antichrist. I disagree with this assessment, for the antichrist is only allotted 3.5 years to reign at the end of the 70th Week, not at the beginning. The antichrist will, however, eventually rule the world through the New World Order system. We will discuss this in detail later in the book. The takeover of the world religiously and or politically by the New World Order, represented by the white horse and rider of the first seal, are the antithesis of the true and righteous world religion and government that will be started after the Lord Jesus Christ rides the white horse out of heaven when He establishes the millennial kingdom.
2. Second seal
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. (Rev. 6:3–4)
A fiery red horse represents the second seal. The rider of the red horse is given power to remove peace from the entire earth. The result is that people will kill one another on a scale never previously seen. This seal undoubtedly involves war and could be the infamous WWIII, and or it could involve total anarchy within countries where gangs, thieves and hoodlums would rule the streets. The great sword probably represents the fact that many will be killed during this time. The red color of the horse most likely represents the blood that will be spilled as a result. While it is true that we are experiencing wars and riots in various places throughout the world now, the distinguishing factor in this event is that peace will be taken from the entire world, and thus death will spread to the entire planet. In fact (as we will see in the fourth seal), up to one-quarter of the earth’s inhabitants will be killed as a result of famine, war, and disease. This has never happened before in the history of the world.
3. Third seal
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. (Rev. 6:5–6)
The black horse represents the third seal. The rider of this horse has a pair of balances in his hand. One of the ancient (and even modern) uses of balances is to measure out food. The phrase, “a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny,” indicates that grains and possibly other foods will become very expensive. This could be caused by food shortages due to crop failures and/or a worldwide economic crisis. The average worker in the apostle John’s day made about a penny a day. Thus, these verses indicate that one measure of wheat will cost a whole day’s wages. Normally a penny would buy from sixteen to twenty measures of wheat. By today’s standards, figuring the average worker in the United States earns $8 per hour, a half-loaf of bread would cost $64. The second part of the phrase, “see thou hurt not the oil and the wine,” indicates that this affliction will not affect beverages made from grapes and oil, probably olive oil. Thus, if this affliction only affects some food items and not others, this would indicate that the most probable cause would be crop failures from drought, floods, and/or disease. The word used for the color black is mevla: “Of clothing used in mourning . . . as the color of evil.” Here the color black speaks of death from this worldwide famine.
4. Fourth seal
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. (Rev. 6:7–8)
A pale horse represents the fourth seal. The word translated “pale” has an explicit meaning in Greek and can be best described by the color gangrenous green—like a corpse in an advanced state of decay. This is a fitting color for the horse that depicts death. One fourth of the world’s population will suffer death by the sword, hunger, plagues, and even attacks by wild animals or diseases spread by them. This extraordinary death count may be the culmination or result of all the first four seals put together, or it may represent the number who die from this seal alone.
5. Fifth seal
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Rev. 6:9–11)
The fifth seal gives a clear picture of what it entails. Those holding the testimony of Jesus during this time will be persecuted and martyred for the cause of Christ.
In summary, to the best of my knowledge, based on the language employed in the passages above, the first six seals will most likely entail the following:
First seal (white horse): Establishment of a world religion and or government through deception.
Second seal (red horse): War and/or anarchy on the earth.
Third seal (black horse): Famine due to crop failures and/or a worldwide economic collapse.
Fourth seal (pale horse): Death of one-quarter of the world’s population by various means, possibly culminating from the first four seals.
Fifth seal: Persecution and martyrdom of saints.
Sixth seal: Great earthquake, sun darkened, moon turned to blood, stars fall, heaven departs as a scroll, and every island and mountain moved.
As already stated, since the moon is turned to blood before the Day of the Lord, and the moon is turned to blood during the sixth seal event, then the events associated with the first six seals as listed above will also occur before the Day of the Lord.
Now that we have established that the Day of the Lord will occur after the sixth seal is opened, and we have examined the events and signs that will occur before the Day of the Lord, we will come back to our original question posed in the beginning of this chapter—What will be the event that starts this great period of time? It is a very important event, but I am not going to tell you what it is outright. First, I am going to see if you can discover it for yourself.
The Day of the Lord and its alternative term, the Day of Christ, are both listed in Thessalonians and reveal to us what will occur in connection with the beginning of the Day of the Lord. Read carefully the next two passages and answer the question: What event is associated with the Day of the Lord or the Day of Christ?
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (1 Thess. 4:15–5:2)
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (2 Thess. 2:1–2)
What event is Paul referring to in these verses that he says will happen at the Day of the Lord—the Day of Christ? What event comes as a thief in the night? “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Lk. 12:39–40). What event were the Thessalonians afraid that they had missed because they thought they were now living in the Day of the Lord period? In both passages Paul is referring to the rapture; and it is clear from these passages that the event that is associated with the Day of the Lord is the rapture! 1 Thessalonians 4:15–5:2 describes the rapture and then goes on to make the association of the rapture with the Day of the Lord.
Let me put the two parts of 1 Thess. 4:15–5:2 together so you can see this more clearly:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. . . . For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
This passage indicates that the rapture occurs at the Day of the Lord event. In 2 Thessalonians, the rapture is again described, but here it is called the Day of Christ: “By the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him . . . the day of Christ.” Here, clearly the rapture is called the Day of Christ. The phrase “the Day of Christ” is synonymous with the phrase “the Day of the Lord.” Many church fathers agree.
It should be said that the formula, “The day of Christ,” occurs in our translation in 2 Thess. 2:2, but that all the church fathers who quote the text have, “day of the Lord.” The same is all but universally true of all the manuscripts. Thus the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the latter reading, and we may add, the internal evidence apparently requires this reading.
Both of these passages in Thessalonians tell us that the rapture will occur in the time period known as the Day of the Lord. Thus, it stands to reason that since the Day of the Lord, or the Day of Christ, occurs after the opening of the sixth seal, and the rapture occurs as part of the Day of the Lord, then the rapture must also occur after the opening of the sixth seal!
Let me now present a formal proof of this fact. For purposes of our proof, we will use the following symbols and meanings.
Using those symbols, we can then create the following logic statements and proof:
This logically proves that the rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened.
Unless you are familiar with logic proofs, you probably did not understand the statements and conclusion. So let me explain it more fully:
Statements 1, 2, and 3 are scriptural facts. In Statement 1, if you replace the D with the R, and the B with the S, which you can do by the mathematical law of substitution— because D & R and B & S happen at the same time—then you arrive at Statement 4, which says that R > S—the rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened. Thus, the three scriptural truths (the rapture occurs during the Day of the Lord, the moon is turned to blood after the sixth seal is opened, and the Day of the Lord occurs after the moon is turned to blood) logically lead us to conclude that the rapture occurs after the moon is turned to blood. Let me put the logic into symbols.
Deductive reasoning is an argument to establish that a statement is absolutely certain. An argument is valid if the reasoning proceeds logically from the premises to the conclusion. An argument is sound if it is valid and the premises are true. 
We have used deductive reasoning to prove that the statement “the rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened” is absolutely certain. This argument is valid because it proceeds logically, as shown above, from the premises to the conclusion. The argument is sound because it is valid, and the premises (that the rapture occurs during the Day of the Lord, the moon is turned to blood after the sixth seal is opened, and the Day of the Lord occurs after the moon is turned to blood) are true. There is no way around it. The rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened. Thus, scripture clearly tells us that the rapture will not occur before the start of the last seven years—the 70th Week—or what is commonly called “the tribulation.” The rapture will, however, occur during the 70th Week, after the sixth seal is opened and simultaneous with the beginning of Day of the Lord. Let’s state it one more time:
The rapture occurs during the Day of the Lord.
The moon is turned to blood after the sixth seal is opened.
Therefore the rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened.
Still others object to this reasoning, saying that the rapture is not part of the Day of the Lord, but happens before the Day of the Lord and not during it. However that is not what scripture indicates in Thessalonians and many stanch pre-trib commentators believe that the rapture is part of the Day of the Lord:
He must explain what he means by “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him” or else the solution to the problem cannot be grasped. Episynagoges (“being gathered”) defines what part of the parousias (“coming”) Paul has in mind. This is the great event he has described more fully in 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17—i.e., the gathering of those in Christ to meet him in the air enroute to the Father in heaven. This begins the day of the Lord. . . . He had told them that the coming of the Lord to gather his saints into heaven would initiate both the tribulation and the day of the Lord. They were promised immediate “rest” (1:7) and glorification with Christ (1:10), not increased persecution. . . . Despite their “persecutions and trials” (1:4) these Thessalonian Christians were not living in the day of the Lord as they had been erroneously told. A right understanding of “being gathered to him” reveals that they could not be so enmeshed, because for them Christ’s parousia will antedate the awful period to come. In fact, their “being gathered to him” will be the event that signals the day’s beginning.
Also, as discussed earlier, and expounded upon by Mr. Keathley—a pre-trib author—2 Thessalonians 2:2 clearly tells us that the rapture is part of the Day of the Lord and is the event that starts it, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, “the day of Christ.” Therefore, in reference to the logic proof: If the premises are valid and the argument is sound, then the proof stands—the rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened. In fact, many other scriptures confirm this.
But before we examine this fact, let me discuss an emotional aspect of this discussion. The realization that the rapture will not occur until after the sixth seal is opened will probably scare you; that is a natural reaction that is to be expected. Let me state, however, that it is neither God’s nor my intention to scare you. God does not want you to be afraid, and neither do I. Remember, He loves you more than you can imagine. He will take care of you better than any loving father takes care of his children. Even though these things may be scary to you, you must know the truth, for “the truth will set you free” (John 14:6). Would you rather know a hurricane was coming your way so you could prepare, or would you rather have it come upon you unawares? In the same way, God wants you to know what will transpire so you can prepare and not be caught unawares. We will devote a couple of chapters to these issues later in the book. But for now let’s continue our discussion and confirm the fact that the rapture will not occur until after the sixth seal is opened.
You can find confirmation of the fact that the rapture will not occur until after the sixth seal is opened in many places in scripture. Look, for example, at Rev. 6:12–17:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains. And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? [italics mine]
Take note of the italicized portion and ask yourself why the people cry, “Hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne?” Simply, the text tells us that they want to hide because they have seen the face of God. They want to hide because Jesus has come to the clouds and is visible for all to see, and the rapture has occurred; and men are scared to death because the Day of the Lord—the great day of His wrath—has come upon them.
In other words, they had an epiphany! Yes, when Christ comes to the clouds for his bride, He will be visible for all to see just as He foretold “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mt 26:64). And upon seeing Christ, those who are not raptured will experience an epiphany. That is, they will have “a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.” They will realize that Jesus is God and they have been wrong in following the antichrist. As a result, they will cry out; “hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.”
This passage confirms that Christ will come after the opening of the sixth seal and will rapture His church. Then the wrath of God will be poured out upon mankind. Remember our definition of the Day of the Lord? It is primarily a day of wrath. After the rapture, the wrath of God will begin. The use of the aorist tense in the phrase “For the great day of his wrath is come” confirms that the great Day of His wrath—the Day of the Lord—has started after the opening of this seal and the occurrence of the rapture, and also confirms that the Day of the Lord/Christ referred to by Paul was in reference to the rapture.
This scenario is clearly seen in other parts of scripture, too. Another passage that clearly confirms this fact is Matthew 24:29–31:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The first thing I would like to bring out about this passage is that it begins by saying “after the tribulation of those days.” Thus, the events talked about in the passage all occur after the “tribulation period” during the 70th Week of Daniel. The “tribulation period” entails the first six seals, which includes the sorrows of the first four seals, plus the great tribulation, which begins at the fifth seal. It does not refer to the entire 70th Week; we will discuss this more in detail later in this book.
The passage also says that, after this time of tribulation, the sun will be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. From our previous discussions, we know that these signs in the sun, moon, and stars occur before the Day of the Lord. We have also determined that these signs will occur after the opening of the sixth seal. The passage goes on to indicate that after these signs, “then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This is a description of the rapture when Jesus comes through the clouds and all the Christians are gathered together and caught up with the Lord, and all the earth sees Him and mourns.
This passage again confirms and summarizes that the Day of the Lord and the rapture occur during the 70th Week of Daniel, after the tribulations of the first five seals, and after the occurrence of the signs in the sun, moon and stars, which Revelation 6 says will occur after the opening of the sixth seal.
Some erroneously believe that because this event occurs at the sound of the trumpet, this event occurs at the last of the seven trumpet judgments. That is not correct. The triple sign of sun, moon, and stars clearly places the event described in the passage—the Day of the Lord—at the sixth seal. By the way, the trumpet referred to above is most probably in reference to the trumpet blown during the feast of Rosh Hashanah, which we will discuss in more detail later.
These scripture passages clearly confirm that the beginning event of the Day of the Lord is the rapture of the church, which occurs after the opening of the sixth seal. Just in case you are not convinced, here are more scriptures that confirm this. Look at how beautifully this passage from Mark 13 mirrors the exact chronology of events that we have been talking about thus far:
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations . . . And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. But when ye shall see the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains . . . for in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days . . . But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. (Mark 13:5–26)
Notice in the above passage, the sequence of events aligns exactly with the prophetic timeline that has been presented thus far. In the beginning of the passage, we see wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, and troubles that align with the first four seals. Then we see the persecution that will take place during the fifth seal. After the persecution we see a description of the Abomination of Desolation and associated events. Then, in the last part of the passage we see the sixth seal events and the rapture.
Take notice that, like Matthew 24, this passage places the rapture after the Abomination of Desolation. The abomination occurs near the middle of the 70th Week. Thus, this passage firmly places the rapture as occurring after the middle of the 70th Week and after the first six seals.
We also see this timing reflected in the Old Testament in a passage in Isa. 26:19–21, which talks about the rapture:
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. [The resurrection of the dead at the rapture] Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity [The Day of the Lord]: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
This passage places the resurrection of the dead, which occurs at the rapture before the outpouring of God’s wrath, at the Day of the Lord.
And yet another Old Testament passage brings out this timing:
And he [antichrist] shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain [performs Abomination of Desolation and rules the world from Jerusalem]; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble [the great tribulation], such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. [rapture and resurrection of the dead] (Dan. 11:45–12:2)
This passage clearly shows that the Abomination of Desolation will be followed by a period of great tribulation, then the resurrection and rapture. Taken together, these passages further substantiate that the persecution of saints by the antichrist during the great tribulation will be followed by the resurrection of the saints at the rapture when the Day of the Lord begins.
Here is another scripture passage that confirms this scenario:
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. (Rev. 7:1–4)
In Revelation 7:1–4, notice the phrase “after these things.” This indicates that this event chronologically follows the sixth seal events in Revelation 6. In this passage, we see two groups of people. One group is the 144,000 Israelites who are sealed to be God’s ambassadors on earth after the saints have been raptured. The passage also says, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” This indicates that the 144,000 will be sealed before the wrath of God is poured out during the trumpet and bowl judgments, which will severely “hurt” the earth and those who live on it. In the second part of the chapter, we see a group of people in heaven with white robes.
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands . . . And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. [italics mine]
In verse 13, the elder asks John who these people are. John did not know, so the elder gives him the answer. They are those who came out of great tribulation. They are the raptured saints of God, raptured out of the great tribulation, which starts after the opening of the sixth seal.
70th Week, Three Time Periods
As already mentioned there are three distinct periods of difficulty during the 70th Week of Daniel: 1) sorrows or tribulations, 2) the great tribulation, and 3) the Day of the Lord. The first four seals constitute sorrows:
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matt. 24:4–8) [italics mine]
The great tribulation starts when the antichrist comes to power. It will include the fifth seal and the beginning part of the sixth seal.
When ye therefore shall see the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:). Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains. Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house. Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matt. 24:15–22) [italics mine]
As already discussed, the rapture occurs at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. So the fact that there are saints in heaven who came out of the great tribulation, as told to us by Rev 7:13, supports the fact that the rapture occurs after the opening of the sixth seal, at the end of the great tribulation. It is comforting to note that the passage above says that the Lord will shorten the days of the great tribulation for the elect’s sake. God will cut the time of the great tribulation short for the sake of His people who are living during this terrible time. See the chart entitled “The Afflictions of the 70th Week” for a pictorial representation of these facts.
Luke 17 also brings out very clearly the timing of the rapture. It irrefutably places it after the Abomination of Desolation.
In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Luke 17:31–36) [italics mine]
Here we notice the phrase “in that day” and “in that night.” These phrases are referring to a period of time, namely the great tribulation. It starts with the Abomination of Desolation—at which time Israel is told to flee to the wilderness—and ends with the rapture. The Abomination of Desolation is referred to as happening in “the day,” and then the rapture “at night.” No matter how you look at it, the use of these chronological phrases, “in that day” and “in that night,” irrefutably places the rapture after the Abomination of Desolation.
The Harmony of Scripture
Look at how beautifully scripture harmonizes to show and confirm the scriptural truths we have been talking about: (Sorry these did not reproduce well here, they are better in the book.)
In summary, scripture clearly and undeniably shows us that the Day of the Lord is a period of time in which God’s wrath is poured out upon mankind. There are several signs that precede this event to let us know that the time is approaching. Those signs, which must occur before the Day of the Lord, combined with the teaching in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, which equates the rapture with the Day of the Lord, irrefutably place the rapture as occurring after the start of the sixth seal. As we have seen there are many scriptures that confirm this chronology. Thus, scripture clearly indicates that the rapture occurs simultaneously with the beginning of the Day of the Lord after the opening of the sixth seal.
 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 499.
 J. B. Smith, A Revelation of Jesus Christ (Scottdale, Penn.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1961), 321.
 Ron Tagliapietra and Kathy Pilger, Geometry for Christian Schools. (Greenville, S. C: BJU Press, 2000), 182–183.
 Many post-trib adherents agree with the logic and conclusion that the rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened. However, they place the occurrence of the sixth seal at the end of the 70th Week by claiming that the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments overlap. This notion is easily shown to be false by realizing that scripture presents the seal, bowl, and trumpet judgments as proceeding chronologically. Also, Rev. 7:2–3: “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”—tells us that the earth and sea cannot be hurt (which happens in the trumpet and bowl judgments) until after the sealing of the 144,000. The sealing of the 144,000 happens after the rapture and the sixth seal. Therefore the trumpet and bowl judgments cannot occur until after the sixth seal is opened. Thus the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments cannot overlap. There are some pre-trib adherents that also agree that the rapture occurs at the sixth seal but place the sixth seal at the start of the 70th Week. This notion is also shown to be false by realizing that one of the signs that must occur before the Day of the Lord—as previously discussed—is that the antichrist must set himself up as god, which occurs at the Abomination of Desolation, which happens near the midpoint of the 70th Week. Thus the opening of the sixth seal and the Day of the Lord must occur after the midpoint of the 70th Week. Joel 1:15,16 supports this fact and clearly shows that the Day of the Lord occurs after the sacrifices are stopped at the abomination of desolation. “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?”
 Many pre-trib commentators agree that the rapture is part of the Day of the Lord: Coffman, Matthew Henry, La Haye, to name a few.
 J. Hampton Keathley, III, Th.M., Correction Concerning the Day of the Lord, Part 1.http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1696#P336_80025
 Technically, the rapture itself is not referenced in the Old Testament. Paul clearly tells us that the rapture was a mystery only revealed to him (1 Cor. 15:51). However, we know from other passages, such as 1 Thess. 4:16–17, 5:2 and Matt. 24:30–31, that the rapture occurs at the same time as the resurrection. Therefore, because the resurrection is mentioned in the Old Testament, by inference, we can place the rapture there.