Theories that speculate on Christ's appearing - pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation - all fail to factor in Peter's prophetic quote on Pentecost. Peter prophesied:
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Acts 2:20, 21)
On this day, the first day of the church, Peter prophesied about the future salvation of the church. All prophecies about Christ's appearing for the church are in harmony with this prophecy. God's equation for the church is heralded by those in the church: Peter plus Paul plus John equals a pre-wrath rapture of the church. What follows are summaries that address both the salvation of the church and Israel.
PROPHECIES OF THE PRE-WRATH RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
When the suns turns black and the moon turns blood red (Acts 2:20, 21; Joel 2:31, 32a; Rev. 6:12), and "the last trumpet" sounds (1 Cor. 15:51, 52) on the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:23, 24), Christ will appear in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 6:16) after the sixth seal opens (Rev. 6:12). The sky, filled with the church (1 Thess. 4:16, 17), shall roll up to Heaven (Rev. 6:14). The church will be gathered before the throne of Christ (Rev. 7:9-17), and death shall be swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:54-57; Isa. 25:8; Hos. 13:14). This divine intervention marks the beginning of the "day of the Lord" (1 Thess. 5:1, 2; Acts 2:20, 21) which commences when the sixth seal opens - which is before the seventh seal opens (Rev. 8:1), and before the first trumpet of wrath ever sounds (Rev. 8:6, 7). Thus, the church is saved from the wrath to come (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Thess. 5:9, 10). When the "day of the Lord" arrives, it will bring the fulfillment of prophecy to all three groups of people on the planet: the Gentiles, the Jews, and the church (1 Cor. 10:32). Thus, when the sixth seal opens, John is given three distinct fates for each group of people: the Gentiles, Rev. 6:15-17; the Jews, Rev. 7:1-8; the church, Rev. 7:9-17.
DIVINE REVELATION: THE CHURCH
There are prophecies all throughout the Old Testament that do not apply to the followers of Moses and the Law, but to those who would follow Jesus and the grace he brought. The apostles quoted these prophecies to show the fulfillment of prophecy and what shall be fulfilled. Peter's prophecy on Pentecost is one example. He gave us two celestial signs: the sun turns black and the moon turns blood red. There is only one other place in the New Testament that Christ gave this revelation: the Book of Revelation.
I [John] watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. (Rev. 6:12, 13)
This prophecy applies to the followers of the Messiah, just like Peter's prophecy. Those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved when the sun turns black and the moon turns blood red.
The Book of Revelation is the only chronological presentation of end-time events. All prophecies that are given about the appearing of the Messiah drop right into the chronology of Revelation.
THE DAY OF THE LORD: THE CHURCH
The "day of the Lord," which arrives with dramatic celestial and earthly signs, will also arrive like a "thief in the night."
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thess. 5:1, 2)
There will be no announcement made as to when this glorious "day of the Lord" shall unfold; it will occur suddenly, arriving like a "thief in the night." Here, Paul prophesied about time ("times and dates"), not signs.
HIS APPEARING FOR THE CHURCH:
THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
God followed his calendar of holy days (feasts) during the first coming of Christ, and he shall follow it at the time of the appearing of Christ. The Hebrew calendar marks seven holy days, four of which were fulfilled in Christ's first coming. He was crucified on Passover, entombed on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits, and Christ sent the Spirit on the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). The next holy day to be fulfilled is the Feast of Trumpets. Paul made reference to it when he referred to "the last trumpet."
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. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Cor. 15:51-53)
"The last trumpet" sounds on the Feast of Trumpets. It is the only holy day that begins with a celestial sign: the lunar signal of the seventh new moon on the Hebrew calendar (which typically occurs in September). The Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh HaShanah, is also referred to as the "Feast of the New Moon," for it is the only annual feast of God that commences with a lunar sign.
PETER, PAUL, JOHN & GOD'S CALENDAR
This connection between the prophecies of Peter, Paul, John, and God's (Hebrew) calendar are unmistakable: the blood-red, seventh new moon will signal the pre-wrath rapture of the church on the Feast of Trumpets, as well as the commencement of the "day of the Lord." At the sound of "the last trumpet" on an unknown year during the Feast of Trumpets, our Lord shall descend from Heaven and the followers of Christ shall be harvested from the earth to Heaven's throne.
Note: In ancient times, Jewish religious authorities had to wait until the new moon was actually seen by reliable witnesses. Thus, the authorities did not know when the Feast of Trumpets would actually commence; they did not know the day or hour.
For additional details on this subject of His appearing, I invite you to read four articles on this site:
Prophecy: The Seven Holy Days
Revelation: The Church and Israel
The Day of the Lord: The Church and Israel
First Corinthians: The Hidden Wisdom of God
PROPHECIES OF ISRAEL'S SALVATION
Following the wrath, which includes the fulfillment of Daniel's (Dan. 9:27) seventieth "seven" (3.5 years of God's prophets (Rev. 11:3), and 3.5 years of Satan's prophets (Rev. 13:4, 5, 11)), the sun will turn dark and moon will turn dark (not blood red) (Mark 13:24; Matt. 24:29). The great trumpet (not the last trumpet) will sound (Isa. 27:12, 13; Matt. 24:31), and the followers of Christ will descend with Christ from Heaven (Rev. 17:14; 19:11-21; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; 2 Thess. 2:8; Jude 14, 15; Isa. 66:15, 16; Joel 2:10, 11; Joel 3:14-16; Zech. 14:3-5). This is the Apocalypse, and the battle of Armageddon follows (Rev.16:16; Rev. 19:14-21). With this divine intervention, Christ will fulfill the prophecies given in the Holy Land (Matt. 24:15-31; Mark 13:14-27). In these prophecies, Christ referenced prophetic statements about Israel given by Daniel (Dan. 12:1), Isaiah (Isa. 13:10-13), and Moses (Deut. 30:3-5). The context of Christ's prophecies in the Gospels is God's judgment (the seventh seal), and the time of unequaled distress (with the Antichrist). This is the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7, 8)-which culminates in Israel's deliverance, as foretold by the Old Testament prophets (Joel 2:32b; Joel 3:17, 18; Isa. 14:1-3).
THE PROPHET JOEL: THE CHURCH & ISRAEL
It is the prophet Joel who makes plain the following distinction: Those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved when the sun turns black and the moon turns blood red (not dark); Israel will be saved when the sun turns black and the moon turns dark (not blood red).
What follows is Peter's quote from Joel on Pentecost about those who call on the name of the Lord:
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Joel 2:28-32a)
In his quote, Peter stopped right in the middle of verse 32 because the rest of Joel's prophecy didn't apply to the followers of the Messiah, but to the followers of Moses.
Joel's prophecy goes on to say the following about Israel's salvation:
[F]or on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors
whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2:32b)
In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations
and divided up my land. . . . Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, "I am strong!" Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O Lord! Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow-so great is their wickedness! Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her. (Joel 3:1, 2; 9-17)
Blessings in Christ,
Dr. William Ayles