Since his fall after creation, Satan has been the usurper on the throne of this world. Jesus called him the prince of this world. Paul called him the god of this world. By God's permissive will, Satan has struggled to wrest permanent control of this world from the hands of God. As we come to the book of Revelation this struggle comes to a climax and in verse seven we see the forecast triumph of Christ as He comes to crush Satan. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
"Behold He cometh with clouds", this is the moment of final triumph as Christ returns to judge the world. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory"
(Mathew 25:31-32). Christ's second coming will be in two stages.
THE SECOND STAGE of His coming brings judgment, and following that, righteousness is restored to the earth, and His glorious rule over this world begins.
THE FIRST STAGE of Christ's Coming involves the rapture of the church. The word rapture is not found in the Bible, but the word is used to convey a truth that is found in scripture. The idea of being "caught up" or snatched away. "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up---" (1 Thess. 4:17).
The first stage of Christ's coming precedes the tribulation period, it is viewed in Revelation 4:1 The Church Age is presented in Revelation, chapters 2 & 3. John begins in Revelation 4:1, "After this," After what? After the church age is completed. Notice the rest of 4:1, it is a perfect description of the rapture with John participating in it. "....I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."
REMEMBER the book of Revelation, with the exception of chapter one, is a prophecy of future events. "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (Revelation 1:3).
REMEMBER also, that John actually saw (viewed) these events, which were yet future in John's day. "Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw" (Revelation 1:2). God put John in a divine time machine and allowed him to view the whole tribulation period and things that followed it.
SO UNDERSTAND, that in Rev.4:1, John views the yet-to-come rapture and sees himself actually participating in it, as he actually will in a yet future day.
UNDERSTAND FURTHER, after Rev.4:1, the church is not seen on earth again until it is seen coming out of heaven with Christ at the end of the tribulation period in Revelation 19:11-14.
Compare, "Behold He cometh with clouds," Rev.1:7 with Dan.7:13, "Behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of Heaven". Compare also with Matthew 24:30, "coming in the clouds of Heaven." We see the church leaving for heaven in the clouds of heaven and returning later to earth in the clouds of heaven. Between Revelation 4:1 and Revelation 19:11, the tribulation period takes place on earth,and the church is not present. This is clear evidence of the pretribulation rapture of the church.
In Revelation 3:10, we have the promise that the church will not go through the tribulation period. "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
The reason the church will not go through the tribulation period has nothing to do with what we might want or desire. It has solely to do with the plan and purpose of God.
Remember Revelation 1:7 is speaking solely of the second stage of the second coming, "His glorious appearing," and not the rapture.
John continues in vs.7, "and every eye shall see Him," the whole world will be aware of His Coming - what an awesome moment it will be!
Then John says, "they also which pierced Him." Israel's eyes will finally be opened. "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (Romans11:25). Israel will recognize at last, that Christ is their Messiah after all. Then, they will cry out in sorrow of heart, the Christ we crucified, the one we have rejected, He is our Messiah after all.
See that grief prophesied in Zechariah 12:10-14, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart."
This is one of the great purposes of the tribulation period, to bring Israel through the fires of affliction and judgment, to bring them to the point of recognition and repentance. "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God." (Zechariah13:8,9).
John continues in verse 7, "and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." At that time a rebellious world will finally be brought face to face with their judge, Christ, whom they have rejected. The wailing, will be from anguish of the judgment that they know is about to fall. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (Mt.25:31-33). And verse 41, " Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
John closes the verse with "even so, Amen." It is not that John is rejoicing in the fact that the world will be judged when Christ comes, he is just saying that such judgment is well deserved and Christ will be vindicted and glorified.
One moment after the rapture, there will not be a single believer on the earth. I remind you also that at the end of the seven years of tribulation, there will not be an unbeliever alive on the earth (Mat.25:41). There will be, however, a great multitude of believers to go into the millennial kingdom, saved during the tribulation period and surviiving it. Another multitude will be saved during the tribulation, they will be martyred. They will be raised from the dead and rule and reign with Christ in the millennial age.
We may appear at times, to the world to be on the losing side, but we have read the last chapter of the book and we know the final outcome! Herein lies the patience of the saints.