The truth about the Rapture!!!
Why do I believe in the pre-trib rapture? Frequently I am asked to explain or defend the end-time view of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. For that topic, lots of Bible verses, readings and references rattle around in my skull. I can extract each like a Powerball out of an air machine and present it to the inquiring mind, but never in a linear, comprehensive manner in which I particularly appreciate. And so, this article is my attempt to organize my brain on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.
Taking It to the Bedrock
My belief that there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church stands on the bedrock of the following foundational tenets:
A) The Bible is the Word of God
The 66-book canon called the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible message to mankind, explaining His purposes and plans for the ages (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). No other document can be reliably trusted, nor remotely reach the bar for the requirements of authentication that the Bible attains to so easily.
B) The Bible is to be Interpreted Literally
God means what He says and says what He means. God wants His creations to know His will plainly. While God does indulge in picturesque descriptions and parables, an explanation almost always follows or context is provided for explanation. Spiritualization of text, therefore, has no proper place in interpreting Scriptures. Any eschatological viewpoint must then be thrown out if it is based on the reader’s desire to spiritualize the Bible into whatever ethereal meaning they desire. Take the Bible for its plain sense meaning.
C) The Church and Israel Are Separate Entities
Israel is not the Church and the Church is not Israel. A believer in Christ becomes a member of the Church, whether Jew or Gentile (Rom. 1:16), but a member of the Church does not become a form of spiritual Israel. God’s promises to Israel as a people and nation (see next tenet) are not the same as for the Bride of Christ, the Church.
D) A Literal 1000-Year Millennium
The Bible describes a future, literal 1000-year time period. The Greek word “chilias” for “one thousand” appears six times in Revelation 20, clearly marking the time period as having 1000 literal years. The purpose of this time period is for Jesus Christ to have an earthly kingdom from which to base His rule and to fulfill His promises (Gen. 13:14-17; 15:5,18-21; 2 Sam. 7:16-19; Isa. 10:21-22; 11:1-2; Jer. 23:5-8; 30:22; 31:31-34; Ezek. 11:18-20; 34:24; 36:24-28; Mic. 7:19-20; Hos. 3:5; Rom. 11:26-29).
E) A Literal 7-Year Tribulation
An upcoming time period has been set aside for God to pour out His wrath upon the evil of the world, to regather Israel back into its land, to force Israel to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, and for the Messiah to return and fight for His believing remnant (Deut. 4:26-31; Isa. 13:6-13; 17:4-11; Jer. 30:4-11; Ezek. 20:33-38; Dan. 9:27; 12:1; Zech. 14:1-4; Matt. 24:9-31). This time period begins with a covenant between Israel and the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27). The length of the Tribulation is seven years long, described in a variety of ways as “one seven” year block (Dan. 9:27), “times, time and half a time” (Rev. 12:14), consisting of two “1260 days” periods (Rev. 11:3), or two “42 month” periods (Rev. 11:2; 13:5).
F) Jesus Will Return Again to Earth
The Bible says Jesus will physically return again to earth (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19). Jesus returns is to defeat His enemies, set up His throne, restore Israel, rule with “a rod of iron” and share His authority with those who overcame in Him (Mat. 19:28; 25:31; Acts 1:3-6; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21).
G) The Bible Teaches About a Rapture
1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of an event called “the Rapture”, Latin “rapio,” Greek “harpazo,” which means “to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out.” “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.” Paul states that the concept of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this Age (1 Thes. 4:18). Other references on the Rapture are Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.
These bedrock statements about the Bible and its interpretation provide the foundation in which to analyze the followig reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.
1) The Bible describes the Rapture and Second Coming as different events.
The Bible must see the Rapture (Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18) and the Second Coming (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19) as separate events, because when the verses are compared they describe two very different scenarios:
- Rapture — believers meet Christ in the airSecond Coming — Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to meet the believers on earth
- Rapture — Mount of Olives is unchangedSecond Coming — Mount of Olives is divided, forming a valley east of Jerusalem
- Rapture — living believers obtain glorified bodiesSecond Coming — living believers remain in same bodies
- Rapture — believers go to heavenSecond Coming — glorified believers come from heaven, earthly believers stay on earth
- Rapture — world left unjudged and living in sinSecond Coming — world is judged and righteousness is established
- Rapture — depicts deliverance of the Church from wrathSecond Coming — depicts deliverance of believers who endured wrath
- Rapture — no signs precede itSecond Coming — many signs precede it
- Rapture — revealed only in New TestamentSecond Coming — revealed in both Old and New Testaments
- Rapture — deals with only the savedSecond Coming — deals with both the saved and unsaved
- Rapture — Satan remains freeSecond Coming — Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss
Since the Rapture and Second Coming clearly are different events that do not occur at the same time, this would rule out a Post-Tribulation Rapture scenario.
2) The Rapture is described as occurring at any time without warning.
Jesus stated in Matthew 24:42,44 to “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Not only do believers in Christ not know when to expect Him, but the Father Himself seems to have left Jesus out on the exact time His Son is to return. As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” These and other verses (Mat. 24:36,42,44,50; 25:13; 1 Thes. 4:18; Tit. 2:13; 1 Jn. 2:28; 3:2-3) indicate that Jesus’ arrival will come when nobody expects it.
The Second Coming, on the other hand, is preceded by many events, such as the rise of the Antichrist (Rev. 12:13-17; Zech; 13:7-9), a treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple (Mat. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3-4; Rev. 11:1-2), as well as plagues and judgments and persecutions destroying most of the world’s population (Rev. 6-18). The Book of Revelation reports these events as occurring during the 7-year Tribulation, which Revelation reveals precede the Second Coming.
Because the Rapture could happen at any moment and without warning and the Second Coming is preceded by so many signs, then the Rapture and Second Coming must be different events. The Rapture has to occur before the seven years’ worth of signs, because Christians are called to look for the Lord’s return rather than signs such as the Antichrist’s arrival. Once the signs begin, then the seven year countdown begins towards its end with Christ’s return at the Second Coming.
Jesus’ imminent return dismisses any of the other viewpoints related to a rapture that occur within or at the end of the Tribulation.
3) The Rapture and the removal of the “Restrainer” occur at the same time.
In 2 Thessalonians, the church at Thessalonica was afraid due to a false report that they had entered the Day of the Lord (Tribulation) and had somehow missed the Rapture. The Apostle Paul assured them that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force would be taken away so that the Man of Lawlessness could be revealed.
Because the revealing of the Antichrist coincides with the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation starting with his peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), then the Restrainer has to be removed before the Tribulation. As the Holy Spirit also works in salvation (Jn. 16:8-11; 1 Jn. 5:7) during the Tribulation, then it is the Church that must be the Restrainer that is removed. Therefore, the Rapture and the removal of the Church must coincide, and at the beginning of the seven years.
4) The Tribulation is for Israel’s redemption.
Jeremiah 30:7 describes the Tribulation as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” — “How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.”
In the Book of Matthew, whose primary audience is the Jews, Jesus explains to his Jewish followers what life will be like during the Tribulation. Also, Revelation 12 describes picturesquely a woman who gives birth and has to flee due to persecution during the Tribulation. The context shows the woman is Israel. And again, the Battle of Armageddon is the world against Israel. Two-thirds of the Jewish people will be killed from these battles. These texts and others show that the Tribulation is meant for the redemption of the Jewish people.
Why are the Jews the object of persecution during the Tribulation? For one, Satan hates the Jewish people for giving the world the Scriptures and the Messiah, as well as he wishes to thwart God’s promises to the Jews (see Bedrock #4). Secondly, the Jews have to be so desperately brought low that they finally call out to their Messiah “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mat. 23:39; Lk. 13:35). The Tribulation, then, is used for Israel’s redemption which also results in the punishment of the wicked. The Church does not fit into this scenario, and are left out of the purposes of the Tribulation. They would need to be removed — caught up — before the Tribulation begins.
5) The Tribulation is not for the Church.
The Tribulation is God’s wrath upon the unbelieving world, and not for those who are saved from Christ’s resurrection to the Rapture — called the Church. Yes believers have suffered all throughout human history, but there is a special time (just like the Flood) set apart called the Day of the Lord for God’s wrath. Christians suffering and the Tribulation/Day of the Lord are different.
True believers in Christ during the Church Age, represented by the Church of Philadelphia, are promised in Revelation 3:10, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” He also states in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:9 states, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” Ephesians 5:6 states, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” Colossians 3:4 states, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Again and again, Scripture states the Church is not meant to endure God’s wrath.
6) God’s wrath involves the whole 7-Year Tribulation.
The view that the Rapture will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation is based upon 1 Corinthians 15:52 which states that the Rapture will occur at the blowing of “the last trumpet.” This Mid-Tribulation Rapture view then declares this trumpet to be the last of the seven trumpets in Revelation 11 that is blown at the mid-point of the Tribulation. Why of the 114 references to trumpets in the Bible these two are identified as one and the same only defies sound Bible study. The context clearly shows the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is blown for believers whereas the seven trumpets of Revelation 8, 9 and 11 are sounded for unbelievers. The Revelation trumpets therefore can have no relevance for the Church.
The Pre-Wrath Rapture view has the Church raptured just before the bowl judgments (Revelation 16) that occur during the last quarter of the Tribulation. The bowl judgments are the only judgments this view considers to be the wrath of God, leaving the Seal and Trumpet judgments as wrath from man and Satan. But, isn’t it Jesus Himself who breaks the seals that launch each of the Revelation 6 seal judgments which occur at the beginning of the Tribulation? Also, the seven angels who blow the trumpets that initiate each of the trumpet judgments are given their trumpets at the throne of God (Revelation 8:2). And, Revelation 15:1 states that the bowl judgments at the end of the Tribulation finish the wrath of God, not begin His wrath.
Because these judgments are initiated by Jesus Himself at the beginning of the Tribulation, the whole Tribulation must be God’s wrath, which the Church is exempt from.
7) The Old Testament and Revelation leave the Church out of the Tribulation.
The focus of the Tribulation — to pour out God’s wrath on the earth just like the Flood (Isa. 24:22; Zeph. 3:8; 1 Thes. 5:3; 2 Thes. 2:12) and to bring the Jewish people to accept Jesus as Messiah (Mat. 23:39; Lk. 13:35) — is addressed by the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation to the unbelievers and the Jewish people. In any biblical content concerning the Tribulation/Day of the Lord, the Church cannot be found.
The whole concept of the Church was a mystery to the Old Testament prophets. They focused on the nation of Israel. The Book of Matthew is written to the Jewish people, whom Jesus is addressing in Matthew 24. In the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 cover the Church Age, but then there is no mention of the Church until after the Tribulation/Day of the Lord chapters 6-18. In Chapter 19, the Church returns to the texts and can be found, not suffering, but celebrating with Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and preparing to return with Jesus to earth.
8) The Church is busy elsewhere during the Tribulation.
While the 7-year Tribulation is occurring, the Bible records the Church will be busy with three events. None of the three have to do with suffering on a world being destroyed.
The first event the raptured Church will participate in is a judgment by God — the Judgment of the Just. This judgment on works is not to determine eternal destiny, but to determine degrees of reward (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 19:6-9).
The second event is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This feast celebrates the spiritual marriage of Christ’s Bride — the Church — to her Savior. Revelation 19:7-9 shares this wonderful celebration, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.'”
The third event follows the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and is the Church’s preparation to follow the King of Kings into the Battle of Armageddon at the conclusion of the Tribulation. This event is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19:11-21). Revelation 19:14 identifies the Church in their “fine linen, white and clean,” which was given to them during the first event — the Judgment of the Just. The Church and angelic forces follow the King of Kings into His Second Coming to the earth, but only Jesus Himself will engage in battle and with mere words defeats the nations in siege against Jerusalem.
9) There needs to be sheep to separate from the goats.
If the Church is raptured at the end of the Tribulation, receives their glorified bodies, and then immediately u-turns back with Christ for the Second Coming as the Post-Tribulation Rapture view holds, then what believer in Christ will be available for the Sheep and Goats Judgment of Matthew 25? The only people left on earth would be unbelievers, called goats. No believer — sheep — would be available for God to put into the sheep category.
Since those who are in glorified bodies will be like the angels in that they aren’t given in marriage or reproduce (Matt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25), then a believing, unglorified, human remnant must make it into the sheep category and go on to produce the nations during the Millennial reign of Christ (Ezek. 43:13-27; Isa. 19:21; Isa. 65:20-22; Rev. 20:7-10). This would mean that people would need to come to Christ during the Tribulation yet after the Rapture to produce this Millennial population.
10) The Bible shows God rescues the righteous from His wrath.
Being a Christian means having to endure suffering and trials at the hand of man (Jn. 16:33; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thes. 3:3; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). But, the Bible has many examples of those who put their faith in God are exempt from God’s wrath. Noah and his family were removed from the Flood waters that in God’s wrath were used to judge and cleanse the earth. Lot and his wife and two daughters were made to leave Sodom and Gomorrah before God burned the towns up with fire and sulfur. Rahab’s family was set apart when Joshua’s army invaded Jericho.
Could believers be miraculously protected during the Tribulation, like the Israelites were during the plagues on Egypt? Yes, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists from Revelation 7 and 14, for instance, will be divinely protected. But, the slaughter of believers during the Tribulation will be so massive that they are certainly not under any special protection (Rev. 7:9-17; 20:4).
11) The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is not too new to discount.
Some will argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just “too new” to be considered viable. Critics will point to the origin of the modern Pre-Tribulation view and credit John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) with its founding. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.
The Early Church fathers’ such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.
Biblical truth is determined by Scripture, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. When Augustine began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid’s Latin Codex Amiatinus (ca. 690-716), and Brother Dolcino wrote statements that distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming.
When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off beginning with the Reformation in the 1400 and 1500s, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby (1818) were precursors to John Darby in support of the view. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history.
I just want to point out the different verses for the 2 separate events, if it were one event it would totally contradict each other!
John 14:1-3, Romans 8:19, 1 Cor 1:7-8, 1 Cor 15:51-53, 1 Cor 16:22, Phil 3:20-21, Phil 4:5, Col 3:4, 1 Thess 1:10, 1 Thess 2:19, 1 Thess 4:13-18, 1 Thess 5:9, 1 Thess 5:23, 2 Thess 2:1, 1 Tim 6:14, 2 Tim 4:1, 2 Tim 4:8, Titus 2:13, Heb 9:28, James 5:7-9, 1 Peter 1:7, 13, 1 Pet 5:4, 1 John 2:28- 3:2, Jude 21, Rev 2:25, Rev 3:10.
2nd Coming Passages…
Daniel 2:44-45, Daniel 7:9-14, Daniel 12:1-3, Zech 12:10, Zech 14:1-15, Matt 13:41, Matt 24: 15-31, Matt 26:64, Mark 13:14-27, Mark 14:62, Luke 21:25-28, Acts 1:9-11, Acts 3:19-21, 1 Thess 3:13, 2 Thess 1:6-10, 2 Thess 2:8, 1 Peter 4:12-13, 2 Peter 3:1-14, Jude 14-15, Rev 1:7, Rev 19:11-20:6, Rev 22:7, 12, 20.
Now study these scriptures on your own so you can see the difference in them!
15 Contrasting Events of the Second Coming.
Rapture/Blessed Hope Glorious Appearing
Christ comes in air for His own Christ comes with His own to Earth
Rapture/translation of all christians No one translated
Christians taken to the Father’s house Resurrected saints do not see the Father’s house
No Judg. on earth at Rapture Christ judg’s. inhabitants of the earth
Church taken to heaven at rapture Christ set’s up His kingdom on earth
Rapture imminent/could happen any moment Glorious appearing cannot occur for at least 7 years
No signs for Rapture Many signs for Christ physical coming
For believer’s only Affects all humanity
Time of Joy Time of mourning
Before the day of `wrath (Trib) Immediately after tribulation (Matt 24)
No mentions of satan Satan bound in Abyss for 1000 years
The Judgment seat of Christ No time or place for Judgment seat
Marriage of Lamb His bride descends with Him
Only His own see Him Every eye will see Him
Tribulation begins 1000 year Kingdom of Christ begins
Questions answered about why believe in the the pre-tribulation Rapture.
Does the Rapture mark the beginning of the Tribulation?
No, the Bible does not state anywhere that the Tribulation begins with the Rapture. I believe the Rapture could occur months or even years before the Tribulation begins, although it is likely to occur near the beginning because the Tribulation is the time of the pouring out of God’s wrath, and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 says that Jesus will “deliver” His Church “from the wrath to come.”
Another reason for believing the Rapture is likely to occur near the beginning of the Tribulation is because 2 Thessalonians 2 says that the Antichrist cannot be revealed until a “restrainer” is “taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7). I believe that restrainer is the Holy Spirit working through the Church. Thus, when the Church is removed, the Antichrist will be unleashed, and the Tribulation will begin.
The prophet Daniel indicates that the starting point of the Tribulation will be a “covenant” that the Antichrist will arrange for Israel that will evidently guarantee the nation’s peace and enable the Jews to rebuild their Temple (Daniel 9:27).
Why isn’t the Rapture specifically mentioned in Revelation?
The book of Revelation implies a pre-Tribulation Rapture without specifically mentioning the event. In chapter 4 verse 1, John sees a door open in the heavens and he is raptured to Heaven in what appears to be a symbolic type of the Rapture of the Church. In Revelation 19:11, John sees the heavens opened again, and Jesus descends on a white horse, with the Church accompanying Him (Revelation 19:14). Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation focus on the Church, but there is no more mention of the Church until the end of the book (Revelation 22:16). From chapter 4 through chapter 21, there is only mention of “saints,” which would be those who accept the Gospel during the Tribulation.
The Bible never specifically defines the timing of the Rapture by tying it to any other event like the re-establishment of Israel or the rebuilding of the Temple. Even its proximity to the Tribulation is inferred rather than definitely stated. That’s because the Rapture is an imminent event that could occur at any moment.
There are strong scriptural inferences that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins. A couple of those are found in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse as recorded in Luke 21. Jesus stated that when the end time signs “begin to take place,” we are to look up, for our redemption will be drawing near (Luke 21:28). Note that the redemption will come not at the end of the signs, but as they begin to take place. Jesus then added that believers should pray earnestly that they might “escape” the great tribulation that is coming upon “all those who dwell on the face of the earth” (Luke 21:36).
In this regard, Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 that believers are waiting for “His Son from heaven… that is, Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” And Jesus told John to write to the church at Philadelphia, representative of faithful Christians, that “because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
Isn’t a mid-Tribulation Rapture inferred in Revelation?
Some people think so. They point first to 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 which says the Rapture will occur at the blowing of the “last trumpet.” They then point to Revelation 11:15 where the seventh and last trumpet of the trumpet judgments is blown. Since this seventh trumpet appears to be blown in the middle of the Tribulation, after the Antichrist kills the two witnesses, the argument is that this must mark the time of the Rapture.
There are several problems with this argument. In the first place, there is nothing in the Bible that identifies the seventh trumpet of the trumpet judgments in Revelation as the “last trumpet” of 1 Corinthians 15. The assumption that the two are the same is just that — an assumption. It is a shaky assumption because the trumpets of Revelation are announcing judgments that are aimed at unbelievers. They don’t have any relationship to believers.
Now, there is a trumpet that the “last trumpet” of 1 Corinthians 15:52 can be identified with. It is the “trumpet of God” which 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says will be blown when the Rapture occurs. With that in mind, consider the fact that the last trumpet of the trumpet judgments in Revelation 11:15 is not identified as the trumpet of God but as the trumpet of an angel.
The second problem with the mid-Tribulation Rapture concept is that the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11 really doesn’t relate to the middle of the Tribulation at all. Its blowing triggers a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation to the proclamation that “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Another thing to consider is that 1 Corinthians 15 was written about 45 years before the book of Revelation. Thus, it seems logical that the reference to a “last trumpet” must refer to something in the Old Testament that the Corinthian church would have been familiar with. That would most likely have been the trumpet referred to by both Joel and Zephaniah — the trumpet that will be blown before the Day of the Lord’s judgment (the Tribulation — see Joel 2:1 and Zephaniah 1:16).
Can an argument be made for placing the Rapture near the end of the Tribulation?
Some have tried to do this, arguing that the wrath of God is not poured out until the end of the Tribulation. This is concept is called the “pre-wrath Rapture.”
The cornerstone of this concept is that the terrifying events during the first half of the Tribulation are due to the wrath of Man and Satan, and not to God. Since the Church is only promised protection from the wrath of God, the Rapture will not occur until near the end of the Tribulation when God will pour out His wrath on the world.
This concept raises a serious theological problem because it questions the sovereignty of God. It assumes that Man and Satan can act apart from God’s will, when the fact of the matter is that neither can do anything God is not willing to permit. The Bible often portrays God carrying out His will through evil persons or nations. One of the classic examples is when He allowed the evil nation of Babylon to discipline Israel by destroying Jerusalem and the Temple and by carrying the surviving Jews away into captivity. It was an action that prompted the prophet Habakkuk to ask why God would punish those who are evil with those who are more evil (Habakkuk 1:13).
Any carnage wrought by Man or Satan during the Tribulation will still constitute the wrath of God. They will simply be His instruments. The Bible says God sits in the heavens and laughs over the plots and deeds of evil men, not because He does not care, but because He has everything under control (Psalm 2:1-6). The point is that He has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all evil to the triumph of His will in history. That’s why the psalmist wrote that “the wrath of man shall praise You [God]” (Psalm 76:10).
I think it is also important to note that when God pours out His wrath, He does not always do so directly. One of His most common ways is to simply back away from the nation or person and lower the hedge of protection around them. This is clearly spelled out in Romans 1:18-32. That passage says that when people rebel against God to the point that they begin to worship the creation rather than the Creator, God “gives them over” to the evil in their hearts. In other words, He just steps back and lets evil multiply. The passage further states that if they still refuse to repent, He steps back again and “gives them over to degrading passions.” And if they persist in their rebellion and sin, He finally “gives them over to a depraved mind” at which point the society destroys itself. Such destruction could be viewed as the wrath of Man, but it is really the wrath of God working through Man.
There is another serious problem with the pre-wrath Rapture concept. It relates to the fact that all the wrath of Revelation is specifically portrayed as the wrath of God. Where do the seal judgments originate? The answer is from the throne of God as Jesus opens each seal of the scroll that was in the Father’s right hand (Revelation 6:1). And where do the trumpet judgments originate? The same place — from the throne of God (Revelation 8:2). When we arrive at the bowl judgments in Revelation 15:1, we are told that with them, “the wrath of God is finished.”
Another problem with the pre-wrath concept is that it does violence to the chronological order of Revelation. The seal judgments are viewed as the wrath of Man and Satan, occurring during the first half of the Tribulation. The trumpet and bowl judgments are considered to be the wrath of God. They are lumped together at the end of the Tribulation. There is no justification for putting the trumpet judgments at the end of the Tribulation. They are clearly placed in the first half of the Tribulation in the chronological layout of the book of Revelation.
One final problem with the pre-wrath concept of the Rapture is that it disputes the fact that there is no purpose for the Church being in the Tribulation. The Tribulation is the 70th week of Daniel, a time devoted to God accomplishing His purposes among the Jewish people, not the Church.
Couldn’t God just protect believers during the Tribulation? Is it really necessary to remove them from the earth?
Yes, the Lord could provide believers with supernatural protection. In fact, He will do precisely that when He provides saints who are present in the Tribulation with protection from the stings of the demonic locust attack that will be part of the trumpet judgments (Revelation 9:4).
But God’s promise to the Church during the Tribulation is not one of protection, but one of deliverance. Jesus said that when the signs pointing to the Tribulation “begin to take place,” believers are to look up because their “redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). He also urged believers to pray that they might “escape all these things” (Luke 21:36).
There really is no purpose for the Church to be present during the Tribulation. It is a time of the pouring out of God’s wrath upon those who have rejected His grace, love and mercy. There are some who argue that the Church must be “purged” during the Tribulation to purify it. But to me, this idea is absurd. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us of all our sins. That is an accomplished fact for those who have put their faith in Jesus (Ephesians 5:26-27). Furthermore, the concept of purging the Church during the Tribulation converts the whole period into a Protestant version of purgatory. It also violates the wedding imagery that the Bible uses to describe the relationship between Christ and His Church. Jesus is not going to beat up His Bride for seven years and then marry her!
Some who believe that the Church will go through the Tribulation often point to the example of Noah and his family. They were left on the earth as God poured out His wrath, but they were protected by the Lord. But this example ignores the fact that Enoch was raptured out of the world before the flood began (Genesis 5:24). I believe Enoch is a symbolic type of the Church and Noah and his family are a type of the Jewish remnant that will be protected through the Tribulation until the day that the Messiah returns.
Aren’t those of you who believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture a bunch of escapists who are not willing to suffer for the Lord?
There is nothing wrong with being an “escapist.” Noah was an escapist and so was Lot. And Jesus said that when the end time signs begin to appear, we are to pray “to escape the things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
Certainly we are called to suffer for Christ (Romans 8:17). And anyone who truly stands for Jesus in this world will be persecuted (John 15:19). We are assured that as believers we will suffer tribulation in this world (John 16:33), but we are promised that we will be exempted from the great tribulation that will one day come upon all the world (Revelation 3:10). By Dr. David Reagan
A look at the verse in Rev which states God will take believers “out of” the hour of testing.
10“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
By Dr. Grant Richison.
Proofs that it IS a pre-trib rapture!
Proof #1: Revelation 19:11-21 doesn’t mention a resurrection.
The rapture is a resurrection of those “in Christ” (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Isn’t it a little bit odd that in Rev. 19:11-21, which is the clearest picture of the second coming of Christ, there is no mention of a resurrection? The rapture will be the biggest event since the resurrection of Jesus where hundreds of millions of Christians will be resurrected and translated, yet there isn’t any mention here. Don’t you think it deserves at least one verse? The rapture isn’t mentioned because it doesn’t happen at the second coming.
Proof #2: Zechariah 14:1-15 doesn’t mention a resurrection.
This is an Old Testament picture of Jesus returning to earth at the second coming. Again, no mention of a resurrection.
Proof #3: Two different pictures are painted.
In the Old Testament, there were two different pictures painted of the Messiah—one suffering (Isa. 53:2-10, Ps. 22:6-8, 11-18) and one reigning as King (Ps. 2:6-12, Zech. 14:9,16). As we look back on these scriptures, we see they predicted two separate comings of the Messiah—the 1st coming as a suffering Messiah and the 2nd coming (still future) as a reigning King.
In the New Testament, we have another picture added. Again, we have two pictures painted which don’t look the same. These two different descriptions of Jesus’ coming point to two separate events we call “the rapture” and “the second coming.”
Proof #4: The Known Day and the Unknown Day
Concerning the return of Jesus, the Bible presents a day we can’t know and a day we can know. Matthew 25:13 says Jesus will return at an unknown time, while Revelation 12:6 says the Jews will have to wait 1,260 days for the Lord to return. The 1,260 days begins when the Antichrist stands in the Temple and declares himself to be God (Matt. 24:15-21, 2 Thess. 2:4) This event will take place at the mid-point of the seven year Tribulation (Dan 9:27). The Antichrist has authority to rule for 42 months, which is 1,260 days (Rev. 13:4) and will be destroyed by Jesus at His second coming (Rev. 19:20, 2 Thess. 2:8). The known and unknown days must happen at different times, meaning they are two separate events.
Proof #5: A door open in heaven (Revelation 4:1)
The door in heaven is opened to let John into heaven. We believe John’s call into heaven is prophetic of the church being caught up at the rapture (see proof #6). In Revelation 19:11, heaven is opened again, this time to let the armies which are already in heaven out. This is the Church, which has been raptured at a previous time, following Jesus out of heaven at the second coming.
Proof #6: “Come up here.” (Revelation 4:1)
A voice called for the apostle John to “Come up here,” and immediately he was in heaven. This could be a prophetic reference to the rapture of the Church. The words “Come up here” are spoken to the two witnesses who are killed in the middle of the Tribulation, who are resurrected and ascend into heaven (Rev. 11:12). Therefore, the phrase “Come up here” could mean the church is raptured in Rev. 4:1. The word “church” is mentioned 22 times in Rev. 1-3, but is not mentioned again until Rev. 22:17.
Proof #7: The 24 elders have their crowns.
After John is called up into heaven, he sees the 24 elders with their crowns (Rev. 4:4-10). We know that Christians will receive their rewards (crowns) at the rapture (2 Tim. 4:8, 1 Pet. 5:4). We will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:14). The elders couldn’t receive their crowns unless the resurrection (rapture) has taken place.
Proof #8 Holy ones are already with Jesus in heaven (Zech. 14:5, Rev. 19:14)
The armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, follow Jesus out of heaven at His second coming (Rev. 19:14, Zech. 14:5, Col. 3:4). These are not angels because Rev. 19:8 tells us the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. In order to come out of heaven we first have to go in, indicating a previous rapture.
Proof #9: Kept from the hour of testing (Rev. 3:10)
Revelation 3:10 says we will be kept out of the hour of testing which will come upon the whole earth (the Tribulation). Some have wrongly believed “keep” means to keep through, or protect through the Tribulation. Suppose you approach a high voltage area with a sign that says, “Keep Out.” Does that mean you can enter and be protected? No, it means you are forbidden from entering the area. But this verse also says He will keep us from the hour of testing. It is not just the testing, but the time period. If a student is excused from a test, he still may have to sit in the class while others take the test. But if he is excused from the hour of testing, he can go home. The Church will be called home before the hour of testing.
Proof #10: Angels don’t resurrect people when they gather them for judgment.
When the angels are sent forth to gather the elect at the second coming (Matt. 24:29-31), some have wrongly interpreted this as the rapture. There is one huge problem with this interpretation. If we are resurrected at this time, why would we need angels to gather us? In the resurrection, we will be like the angels (Matt. 22:30), able to travel in the air at will. Obviously, these people who are gathered are not resurrected, therefore it can’t be the rapture. No one would claim the wicked are raptured at this time, yet Matthew 13:39-41, 49 says the angels will not only gather the elect, but also the wicked. This gathering is not a resurrection.
Proof #11: Both the wicked and the righteous can’t be taken first.
First Thessalonians 4:13-17 says the righteous are taken and the wicked are left behind. Matthew 13:30, 49 says the wicked are taken first and righteous are left behind. This points to two separate events, the rapture and the second coming.
Proof #12: Jesus returns from the wedding.
When Jesus returns to earth at the second coming, He will return from a wedding (Luke 12:36). At the rapture, Jesus is married to His bride, the Church. After the wedding, He will return to earth.
Proof #13: Jesus will receive us to Himself, not us to receive Him (John 14:2-3).
Jesus said He would prepare a place for the Church in heaven, then He would come again to receive us to Himself. Why would Jesus prepare a place for us in heaven and then not take us there? At the rapture, He will come to receive us to Himself, “that where I am (heaven), there you may be also.” If the rapture occurred at the same time as the second coming, we would go up to the clouds and then immediately come back to earth. That would contradict John 14:2-3.
Proof #14: The one who restrains is taken out of the way.
In 2 Thess. 2:6-7, Paul says “the one who restrains will be taken out of the way” before the Antichrist can be revealed. We believe this refers to the rapture because the Church is clearly the biggest obstacle to the Antichrist becoming a world ruler.
Proof #15: The separation of the sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-46)
If the rapture occurred at the second coming, why would the sheep and the goats need to be separated immediately after the second coming? A rapture at the second coming would have already separated the sheep and the goats. With a Pre-Tribulation rapture, the people saved after the rapture will need to be separated after the second coming.
Proof #16: Who will populate the Millennium?
If the rapture occurs at the second coming and the wicked are cast into hell at that time, who will be left to populate the millennium? Only people in their natural (non-resurrected) bodies will be able to have children (Matt. 22:30). With a Pre-Tribulation rapture, the people saved after the rapture who are alive at the second coming will populate the earth during the Millennium.
Now some people have quoted the Verse in Rev 3:12 “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go no more out and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God which is new Jerusalem which cometh down out of heaven from my God and I will write upon him my new name”
The word overcomes has been taken out of context by saying that it means overcoming like enduring til’ the end yet it is not endure but conquer/victorious. The word is “nikon” 3529 in greek. Meaning to conquer/victorious, WHO are the overcomers and what does it mean to overcome. Let’s look at 1John 5:4 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world and this is the victory that overcometh the world even our faith”
The word overcometh here is the same greek word in Rev. “Whatever is born of God (born again believers) overcomes the world and this is victory”. The word overcomes in Rev and 1 John means be born again or a believer.
I believe we agree that the book of revelation lays out a chronological time line of events. Something else that I want to bring to your attention is that in Rev 7…the 144000 are sealed (Jewish people). And right after this John sees a multitude from the Great Tribulation. Now this is NOT the middle of the tribulation period the middle (3.5 years into the trib) is not until’ the 2 witnesses are martyred (Rev 11 right before the 7th trumpet). It makes sense because the 2 witnesses will preach for 3.5 years from the very beginning of the trib til’ the middle of it (they are killed and resurrected)when the abomination of desolation sets himself up in the temple to be worshiped. Now chronologically all this is fitting together, right? Let’s more on to my point…How in the world would we be raptured in the 7th trumpet or so called last trumpet (which I must point out scripture says that Jesus comes back with the trumpet of God, the 7th trumpet id NOT the trumpet of God but the trumpet of an angel) if John already saw us (supposedly the church for those who believe we will be here through the trib) in heaven in Rev 7? Do you see this contradiction? Were we raptured, when the bible says “multitude from the great tribulation” right after the 6th seal or during the 7th trumpet which there is no indication is the “last” trumpet ( and the trumpet of an angel)…make up your minds people!!! Do you see how the bible would contradict itself when you stand for mid-post tribulation? Do the research!!!
- Dispensationalist Premillennialists (such as many Evangelicals, especially in the United States) hold the return of Christ to be in two stages. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 is seen to be a preliminary event to the return described in Matthew 24:29-31. Although both describe a return of Jesus in the clouds with angelic activity, trumpets, heavenly signs, and a gathering of the saints, these are seen to be two separate events, the first unseen, and the second public. The majority of dispensationalists hold that the first event immediately precedes the period of Tribulation. (See chart for additional Dispensationalist timing views)
- Amillennialists (such as Roman Catholics, and others), Postmillennialists (such as some Presbyterians, and others), and Historic Premillennialists (such as Calvinistic Baptists, and others) hold that the return of Christ will be a single, public event. All passages regarding the return of Christ, such as Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, Revelation 1:7, etc, describe the return of Jesus in the clouds amidst trumpets, angelic activity, heavenly signs, a resurrection, and a gathering of saints. Although some (such as some Amillennialists) take this event to be figurative, rather than literal, these three groups maintain that passages regarding the return of Christ describe a single event, and that the “word of the Lord” cited by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 is the Olivet Discourse which Matthew separately describes in Matthew 24:29-31. Although the doctrinal relationship of the rapture and the Second Coming are the same in these three groups, Historic Premillennialists are more likely to use the term “rapture” to clarify their position in distinction from Dispensationalists.
Last but not least. The two witnesses are ministering on earth for 3.5 years, they are killed mid-point the tribulation. After this the abomination of desolation set’s himself up int he temple to be worshiped. Now if the “church” was here how in the world would Christ catch ANY of us by surprise while we see the Prophet Elijah and another witness (some believe to be moses)…walking the streets of Jerusalem and being supernaturally protected? Umm it would be a little hard not to be expecting Christ!
From: The Lion and Lamb Ministries.