The Timing of the Rapture

First of all, I want to say that I am pro pre-tribulation rapture. Pro pre-trib in the sense that I would greatly prefer to not endure any of the tribulation, however there is a certain passages in the Bible that cannot be ignored. The pre-tribulation rapture view is largely popular and preached by most churches and televangelists throughout this country, but does Scripture support it? I’m not going to present the pre-trib rapture view, as it is widely known and held by most rapture believing Christians. I am also not going to point out the problems with this view. Like I stated earlier, I am differently pro pre-trib rapture, but we must not adopt a view because it is what our itchy ears want to hear. We must search God’s Word with an open heart and allow Him to reveal His truth to us.

The verse most often used in support of the rapture is 1 Th 4:15-17 “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” Now let’s do something most pre-tribbers don’t do. Turn the page and read 2 Th 2:1-4 “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him . . . Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” This is clearly the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ referred to by Jesus in Mathew 23:15 and by Daniel in Daniel 9:27, 11:31 & 12:11. This passage clearly states that there will not be a secret rapture of the Church prior to the revealing of the antichrist.

Now, most pre-tribulationists agree that the tribulation will last seven years and that the antichrist will be revealed at the three and a half year mark. If this is true (and I believe that it is) the rapture cannot occur prior to the seven year tribulation. Daniel tells us that God’s holly people will endure three and a half years of tribulation, Daniel 7:25 “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a year, two years and half a year.” Jesus tells us in Mathew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Now most pre-tribulationists believe this to mean that the tribulation will be a short period of time; seven years. Why did Jesus not say for the sake of everyone those days will be shortened? If the elect are raptured prior to the tribulation, why is it for their sake it is cut short? Maybe, just maybe, the days will not be cut short for everyone, but only for the elect, as stated by Daniel, to three and a half years.

Pre-tribulationist may say that I am confusing the Church and Israel. That Jesus’ warning in Mathew 24 was for Israel and not the Church. Jesus was not speaking to the crowds or Pharisees, but to his disciples. Mathew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” The world will not persecute Israel because of Jesus, but the Church. The world may hate and persecute the Jews, but it is not because of Jesus. No, the you Jesus is referring to is the Church. Once we understand that the you Jesus is addressing is the Church, we can see that Jesus is warning us of the tribulation that is to come. Revelations, Mathew 24, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians harmonize perfectly together if we do not force a pre-tribulation rapture point of view. Mathew 24:15 “So when you (the Church) see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ as spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Paul was addressing the Church at Thessalonica, who were Christians and Jesus was addressing his disciples, who were Christians. Both Jesus and Paul state that the Church will see the antichrist revealed.

I’m not stating that the Church will endure the wrath of God. 1Th 5:9 “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If we look at Revelations chapter seven, we see that the Church is raptured prior to the pouring out of God’s wrath. Rev 7:2-14 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. . . After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. . . And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” I believe this is the rapture of the Church and takes place at the same time 144,000 Jews are sealed, after the opening of the sixth seal, but prior to the opening of the seventh seal which is the beginning of God’s wrath. An argument can be made that we are currently between the fifth and six seal. It is easy to show that conquest, war, famine, death and martyrdom of saints have taken place in the past, so why make a point of it in Revelations if it was not a future event? I believe the opening of the first seal to be the beginning of the tribulation. It is a time of war, famine, death and persecution of the Church the likes of which have never been seen before. I know this may not be of great comfort and like I stated before I am differently pro pre-tribulation, but we cannot ignore a verse like 2nd Thessalonians:3 because it does not fit into the pre-tribulation view. In fact Paul warns us not to be deceived in any way for the rapture will not occur until the antichrist is revealed. If we believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, are we being deceived? If we are not prepared to endure the first half of the tribulation, how will we be able to “hold firmly till the end our original conviction”?

Most pre-tribbers would say that the mid-tribulation view does not allow for Jesus to return like a “thief in the night”. Paul tells us in 1Th 5:4 “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” Now I’m not saying that the headlines in the paper will read “New World Leader to declare himself God next Tuesday”, but we need to be able to interpret the signs of the Lord’s return. Jesus, admonishing the crowd for not understanding the time of the Messiah, said in Luke 12:56 “Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” The rapture will take the vast majority of the world by surprise, but we as Christians should be ready, awake and sober waiting for our Lord who rescues us from the wrath to come.

What do YOU think?

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Comments

  1. John,

    why do you describe the destruction of the temple as the great tribulation?
    I have never understood it as such but rather, the fullfillment of Jesus words that within a generation the judgement of God would befall Jerusalem. Matt23
    Isnt it a result of the Jews unfaithfulness rather than the great tribulation?

    God bless,

    Pete

    • I’m not claiming to understand these things, however I described the events surrounding the destruction of the Temple as “great tribulation” because Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” This “great tribulation” to which Jesus referred was to begin after the disciples’ flight from Jerusalem, when Gentile armies besieged the city. Furthermore, Jesus said there was never to be another tribulation in the world like it.

    • Kingdom Seeker says:

      Something we should probably understand about tribulation in the bible is that there are two tribulation periods. One for the end of the church age and the other for the end of the Millennium ie for Israel. As for the first tribulation Our Lord Jesus comes to ‘rescue’ his body or bride and in the second tribulation The Father comes for the Son called prince of princes by Daniel 9:25. These things are written in various books like Ezekiel from chapter 36, Daniel, Revelations, Luke, Matthew< Zechariah etc What I would say is that the tribulation has been deliberately designed by Almighty God for a purpose. Please read Daniel 11:35 and Daniel 12:10. It is for the purpose of refinement for us.
      Think about this: The number of the man will be 666. what does it mean? 6 is the number of man, and since 6 is repeated three times, 3 stands for complete or completion. So it means man will be operating at his best. Remember the authority Adam was given at the garden, it never fully enjoyed it for Satan came early and lied to man. When Adam gave in and did what the devil wanted of him, he sort of cast his vote for the devil and that gave him authority or liberty God had given him. You see, it is a spiritual protocol that you eat the flesh of him in whose authority you operate.
      That is why we partake the holy communion- the flesh and blood of Him in whose Name we live and have our being. And consequently on the other side of the divide the feed on human flesh and blood for it was spoken by The Ancient of Days Gen 3:14...." and will eat dust all the days of your life..." Dead men equal to dust especially so are those who are spiritually dead. Satan operates by the authority Adam was given for God does not revoke His gifts or calling.Rom 11:29
      If by then men will bring down fire from the heavens, something that up to now has been the preserve of the few godly men, then consider those that the Lord calls 'gods' in Psalms and in whom the Son has been revealed as in Romans 8:23 and also who will have attained maturity in the Lord, and know for them to be overcome Satan has to have special permission. Study the book of Daniel well.
      And remember that Our Lord is coming and it will not be the end of the world as such but the end of the worldly order that has been since ADAM FELL. The old law as in Gen 8:22 will be replaced by Gal 3:22 and the priesthood will revert Judah.The sons will worship in spirit and in truth, for the birth pains are for the ushering in of the 'adopted sons'
      Take courage.

  2. This is an interesting debate. I can’t help but add my two penneth worth.

    I was taught that there would be a secret rapture whereby Gods people would be suddenly removed from the earth leaving the remainder to face the tribulation.
    I never felt comfortable with this teaching, but accepted it because those who (supposedly) knew better told me it was true.
    It is clear to me now that Jesus will return in glory and every eye will see him. He will NOT come in secret.

    In looking at pre and post trib. end time scenarios, it is important to define the “great tribulation” as separate from general tribulation which has, is, and will come upon Gods people. My view is that we had better be prepared for what will happen lest our courage and faith fail in the last days causing us to surrender our lives to the beast.
    Pre-tribulationism is one of many deceptions to have overtaken the church. Dispensationalism, and manifest sons of God theology are some others.
    Jesus warned us to beware of such deceptions.

    The danger of pre trib theology is that the church will not know what has hit it. The trend towards comfortable middle class prosperity lifestyles has seriously endangered the souls of millions of believers.
    As to how these deceptions have arisen, the answer is that the devil has been out to destroy from the beginning. He is a liar and the father of lies.

    In some instances, I believe that deceptive doctrine has been introduced to the church by workers of iniquity in order to further the movement towards a luciferian one world government.
    Other cases of the church taking hold of dubious theology are undoubtedly due to the onslaught of demonic powers which follow a genuine outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The warnings to us to test the spirits and be not deceived are many. Yet there is a reckless abandonment of common sense leaving many true believers open to receiving doctrines of demons. This is, in my opinion the reason for many revival movements stalling after just a short time.

    The answer to the powers of darkness overtaking the church, is the cross. We must hold unswervingly to the power of Christ’s death and resurrection in us.
    The power of darkness is growing upon the lives of millions each day but that does not mean that Gods people are left behind. We will do exploits in His name.

    Praise the Lord, Hallelujah.

  3. I dropped the pre-trib theory many years ago in favour of the post trib view. How ever I must add that I have this “feeling” that many aspects are still veiled to us. Perhaps the current latter rain revival will influence the churches perception of the second coming and events revolving around the second coming. I have huge problems with their (latter rain) eschatology, but maybe the church can learn a few things from their enthusiasm of getting into the spirit realm. Sadly they enter without heeding the many warnings in scripture concerning deception.
    Basically what I’m trying to say is that as we approach second coming the (true) church is going to grow spiritually (intimate, dynamic, living relationship with the Lord Jesus), not in the eyes of the world. I don’t see in scripture that the church will conquer the world politically and then hand it to Jesus. I have a sneaky suspicion that the churches entry into the full glory of God may happen in a similar way what it happened to Jesus. Ie. By way of the cross and resurrection. If we love the Lord Jesus and are truly filled with His Spirit we will not fear death. After all death is the doorway into His unhindered eternal presence.
    Chances are there will be and is a huge world wide revival. But Scripture also indicates that there will also be an apostasy. 2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    My understanding of eschatology is vague, but of this I am confident that God has it in control. He is building and purifying His church and in due time He will come and fetch her to himself.

  4. I posted this 9 months ago and not one person has commeted on it. Am i right, wrong or totally misguided? If I am wrong on this, please point out my mistakes. If it makes sense to you, let me know. I worry that we may not see the end times coming because we think we will simply disappear one day and not have to deal with it. Why did the Lord decide to put it in the Bible if it was not important for us to understand? I’m not saying this time is at hand, but that we should be watchfully for it.

    • I don’t understand eschatology like I should, but my present considerations are these: when Jesus talked about “great tribulation” He was describing events surrounding the destruction of the Temple. Jesus called these calamities “the days of vengeance” in which “all things that are written” would be fulfilled. The destruction of the Temple occurred in AD70, having been preceded by the signs of famines, earthquakes, wars and false Christs (antichrists) exactly as Jesus predicted. There was a falling away. Israel became desolate, and Jerusalem shall remain trodden under foot by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. This was the “time of Jacob’s trouble”.

      Of course the church had to endure those events, but Jesus told the early church these days would be cut short for her sake. He only told them to pray it didn’t take place in winter. And the church has been looking upwards ever since, knowing her redemption can now come at any hour.

      In making these predictions, Jesus was answering two questions: about the destruction of the Temple and about His coming. Not even Jesus Himself knew the day nor the hour of His coming, nor the angels in heaven, only the Father. That’s why, in answering the two questions, He was not able to give an indication of what span of time might transpire after the destruction of the Temple and before His return. He was able only to say, “After this (after the destruction of the Temple and of the city) begin to look up, for your redemption draws nigh”. He could only describe this time span as “the times (years) of the Gentiles” during which “Jerusalem shall be trodden under foot by Gentiles”. Intrinsically and prophetically then, there were no remaining events yet to take place following the destruction of the city before His coming could appear. And that’s the day we’ve been living in for the past 1,938 years since AD70. Jesus can now come at any time!

      As you can see, this view doesn’t merely answer the pre or post trib question: it eliminates the very question itself. Nevertheless I’m not concluding anything yet because as Paul said, “If a man thinketh he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know”.

      • My question is how do you explain the Book of Revelations? Was it written prior to AD 70 and if so, why does John not address the Church in Jerusalem? Do you believe that most of the events in Revelations have already come to pass? Has the Book of Daniel been fulfilled?

        • I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. My previous post was not therefore a point of view but just a series of thoughts which still need answers.

          Was Revelation written pre AD 70? In my mind, in order to date the book of Revelation we should be looking nowhere else for evidence besides the text itself. In chapter 17 verse 10, John seems to say that the sixth of seven kings was alive at the time of writing. If so, and if you can identify the king, then perhaps you can come up with an approximate date. Other than that, the only evidence that exists is extra-biblical and questionable at best, and not something a doctrine can be based on.

          I don’t know why John was not asked to write to the churches in Jerusalem. Could it have been because the whole church at Jerusalem had already been scattered except for the Apostles? (Acts 8:1) But John does seem to make the city of Jerusalem the subject of some of his major prophecies in the book of Revelation (Revelation 11:8, 18:24)). Futurists (who believe the Great Tribulation is all about Israel) also need to come up with an answer to that question.

          I don’t know whether most of the book of Revelation, the Olivet discourse, and the book of Daniel have already come to pass. Of course, I believe the second coming of Christ has not come to pass yet. I do find it interesting to consider the possibility that much of it is now history. But neither am I willing to discount the possibility that they could be speaking primarily of things yet to come in the future.

          • Random response, quickly given.

            John lived to be 90 or so. Revelation was written toward the end of his life. I believe it would have been after the fall of Jerusalem.

            The churches written to were all in Asia Minor. Their placement or perhaps historical information, has led some to say the churches were identified in the order of a mail route back then.

            It is my belief most of Revelation has not come to pass. It does take the book of Daniel and places things in a chronological order.

            How do these insights affect the discussion if they are accurate?

            Blessings and Peace,

          • I don’t have a clue!

            I’m not aware of anything in the text of the Book of Revelation that indicates John wrote it toward the end of his life. But even if he did, the Bible doesn’t tell us John lived into his nineties. You would have to rely on extra-Biblical and questionable sources for that information. Therefore I’d be reluctant to assert any interpretation that hinges on the date of its writing.

            To answer your question though, I guess it could be said that if no part of the Book of Revelation describes the great tribulation which befell Jerusalem during AD 67-70, then either the Olivet discourse includes completely different subject matters to the book of Revelation, or else the Olivet discourse also deals entirely with the future and had nothing at all to say about the destruction of the Temple in AD70.

            It’s difficult to imagine the Olivet discourse had nothing at all to say about the destruction of the Temple (circa AD70) since that was the very event the disciples had asked Jesus about!

            And if the subject matter of the Book of Revelation is entirely different to that of the Olivet discourse, then The Revelation must be different to the subject matter of the Book of Daniel too – because Jesus links the subject matter of His Olivet discourse with the Book of Daniel. At this stage in my thinking I’d much rather try to see the three as being linked in some way!

            Unfortunately therefore, the most I can do at this stage is let the texts speak for themselves (without relying on extra-Biblical information such as the dating of Revelation) and refrain from drawing conclusions that cannot be made – and simply apply diligently what I understand so far.

            What I understand so far is Jesus is coming soon – very soon – and He shall reward us if we endure and overcome.

            Even so, come Lord Jesus!

          • “What I understand so far is Jesus is coming soon – very soon – and He shall reward us if we endure and overcome.”

            Amen brother! When Jesus said “watch and pray” he was telling us to watch ourselves that we would be about our Father’s business at the coming of the Lord, which would come as a thief in the night. So many sit around watching current events, or societal trends and are not actively about our calling.

            Blessings and Peace,

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