The four events that I am interested in are:
- the rapture will occur,
- Seven years of great distress on earth will happen
- a big war will then take place when Jesus personally comes back to earth,
- Jesus reigns on earth for 1000 years.
Now what I wanted to know is: Will they occur before we meet the Lord?
Do you have any scripture to point to that would suggest that Jesus intends to even set foot on the earth again? Anything that would suggest that he would stay for 1000 years? That Jesus intends to fight a physical war? Or that there is even going to be a rapture? All these concepts are found in books written by man, but it is actually hard to find anything like them in scripture.
According to I Thessalonians 4:16-17, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."
That passage alone says that when Jesus comes, the dead in Christ rise and all in Christ who are still alive will meet the Lord in the air; basically, saying that Jesus will not even set foot on the earth. Then all the righteous, both living and dead, will be with the Lord. If they are going up and they are with the Lord, that implies that the Lord is not only not setting foot on the earth, but he won't stay here. He and his people are leaving.
According to I Corinthians 15:52, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed." According to Paul then, it will happen so fast that it is comparable to the twinkling of the eye. All of this happens on the last trumpet. The dead will rise and this is not a slow resurrection that lasts even days, much less centuries. Tying the two passages above together, we have Jesus coming, a trumpet sound, the dead rising -- and it all happens in less than a second.
II Peter 3:10-12 says, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!"
That does not say that there is an intervening 1007 years. When he comes, he takes his people and everything: the earth, the sky -- everything is completely destroyed. There is a raising of the dead, but there is no rapture where some people are left to live and fight for 1000 years. There are no years of tribulation. There is only the day of judgment.
So getting back to what Peter said in II Peter 3:11, "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness?" It is a great question to ponder.