Last time I posted we discussed the doctrine of the Post-Tribulation Rapture and how that didn’t line up with Scripture. In this post, which will
be broken up into at least two posts due to the amount of matter on this subject, we will be discussing the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and why it is the only Rapture doctrine that lines up with what the Scriptures say. We will also be discussing the Tribulation a little in order to further understand why the Pre-Tribulation doctrine is the only one that makes sense.
Our next several posts after the discussion on the Rapture will be about the Tribulation, what will happen during it, who the key players will be, etc. The Tribulation is a horrible event that you will only be able to avoid by accepting Jesus as your Savior now, before the Rapture occurs. Once the Rapture has happened, there will be a chance to still become a Christian and choose an eternal destiny with God and those loved ones and friends of yours taken in the Rapture rather than the choice of siding with the “Father of Lies” and damning your soul for eternity to be separated from everyone and from God.
Once again my thanks goes to Jack Kinsella of the Omega Letter
for the majority of the information contained within. For further information regarding the Rapture, a completely fascinating online and downloadable ebook that discusses the world-wide vanishings that will occur in the future can be found at Hal Lindsey’s website. The book is appropriately entitle "Vanished". It is available to download for any denomination/donation amount. Just follow the link
and it is the second book available on that page.
Also, if you are looking for further information you may want to check out such websites as Harpazo.net
, Prophecy Central
and (my personal recommendation) RaptureReady.com
So, let’s jump in to the discussion on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the Tribulation and see what conclusions can be drawn about its validity and how it lines up with the Scriptures and what the prophets of old foresaw as long ago as over 2,500 years. It’s going to be an interesting ride. In order to soak it all in you might want to go ahead and take breaks from reading it in order to avoid overload b/c there is a whole lot to discuss.
What is the purpose of the Tribulation period? That should go a long way toward helping us to understand whether or not the Church will be Raptured before the Tribulation Period, out of it, or after it.
We begin with the Prophet Daniel. Daniel was given a vision of history as it would unfold. Daniel foretold the rise and fall of three great empires and the rise, fall and revival of the last great world empire -- that of Rome. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." Daniel 9:24
The Hebrew prophet Daniel was given a complete outline of Israel’s future history, broken into subdivisions of time of seven years each. In Hebrew, “shabua”, translated as “week” in Daniel 9:26, is a ‘week of years’, in much the same way the Greek system is in use today. A ‘decade’ denotes ten years in the way a ‘shabua’ or ‘week’ denotes a period of seven years.
Daniel was told by the revealing angel that “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” [Daniel 9:24]
In this verse, we see a six-fold purpose to be accomplished in Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks” or 490 years. First, to finish Israel’s sin – the rejection of the Messiah at the First Advent. Then there is a skip forward in time to His Second Advent, at which time, an end will be made of sin, reconciliation will be made for Israel’s iniquity, everlasting righteousness will introduced to Israel, Israel’s Scriptures will be vindicated by the fulfillment of all prophecy and finally, the return of Christ at the conclusion of the war of Armageddon, at which time He will be anointed and will take His seat at the Throne of David.
The angel went on to lock in the time. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks . . . And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:” [Daniel 9:25, 26].
Beginning at a specific point in history and moving forward in time from there, the angel said that after sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years, the Messiah shall be cut off [killed] but not for Himself [He was blameless].
History records only one decree that authorized the rebuilding of the city. “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king . . . I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. [Nehemiah 2:1, 5]
According to modern dating research, the 20th year of the Persian king Xerxes would have been 444 BC. The reference to the ‘month of Nisan’ with no reference to the day indicates the first day of the month. Using the Hebrew calendar, the first day of Nisan, BC 444 corresponds to the modern date of March 5. Counting forward 483 years from 444 BC to AD 33 is 477 years. But BC 1 and AD 1 are the same year, so deducting that year leaves us with 476 years. Four hundred seventy-six years times 365.24219879 days is 173,855 days. Jesus was crucified on March 30, AD 33, so there are an extra 25 days to add to the equation, giving a grand total of 173,880 days. (Calculations courtesy of "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell)
So, from the going forth of the commandment on March 5, BC 444 until March 30, AD 33 was exactly 173,880 days divided by 360 day lunar equals exactly 483 years.
Daniel 9:26 goes on to say that after Messiah is ‘cut off but not for Himself’, “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city.”
Within a generation of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, General [and future Emperor] Titus of Rome led his legions into Jerusalem where the city was sacked and the Temple utterly destroyed.
The ‘people’ identified by the angel to Daniel are proved by history to be the Roman Empire, currently embodied by the European Union. The ‘prince’ of that ‘people’ is the antichrist.
As an aside, according to the Jewish historian [and eyewitness] Josephus, the Romans burned the Temple so completely its ornate gold fixtures melted and ran between the stones of the Temple.
To recover this rich booty, the soldiers dismantled the Temple, stone by stone, fulfilling Jesus' prophecy of a generation before; “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” [Matthew 24:2].
The coming prince of Daniel 9:26, the antichrist, kicks off the Tribulation Period – and starts the clock running -- with an event as historically definite as was Artexerxe’s Decree. According to Daniel 9:27, the antichrist ‘confirms a covenant’ between Israel and her enemies. This ‘covenant’, or treaty, is confirmed as an agreement of seven year’s duration. [Not coincidentally, the exact length of the Tribulation Period – Daniel’s 70th Week].
The Book of Daniel says that from the signing of that treaty until it is broken by the antichrist is three and one-half years [time, times and a half’ (Dan 12:7)]. To further confirm it, from the breaking of that treaty at the midpoint until the return of Christ is precisely 1260 days – three and one-half years.
We have already seen the precision with which God counted down sixty-nine weeks of years. One week remains. There is no reason to think God has fired His accountant.
So, logically, anyone familiar with the Scriptures who observes the breaking of the treaty with Israel by antichrist could know exactly, to the day, when Jesus was to return.
But wait! What about what Jesus Himself said of His coming? He said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” [Matthew 24:36].
Clearly, He could not have been speaking of the same event that could be so easily calculated. Is this a contradiction?
According to 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4, there is a secret return of Christ, the one of which Jesus spoke.
Paul writes, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This secret Advent, in which the Lord comes for His Church in the air, is not the same event as the one in which He puts His foot upon the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two [Zechariah 14:4] Paul’s description of the Lord’s coming has Him coming in the air, not touching down to earth.
Paul is referring to what is commonly called the Rapture of the Church. Since this secret Advent’s timing cannot, according to Jesus, be calculated, it cannot be the same event as the Second Coming. That Triumphant Return can be calculated precisely one minute after the antichrist signs the 7-year treaty.
Since the Tribulation Period is the time of ‘Jacob’s Trouble’ – Daniel’s 70th Week, it is a time reserved for Israel, not the Church. Remember, it is to make ‘reconciliation for sin’ and to ‘bring in everlasting righteousness’.
For the Church during the Church Age, those goals were already accomplished at the Cross.
But the Tribulation Period is the final week of the Age of the Law. The Temple will be in full operation and the Mosaic Law in full force. The Church Age is concluded with the antichrist’s treaty.
Given the current situation in the Middle East, some kind of confirmation of a seven year agreement [like Oslo] is an absolute necessity, either to prevent all out war or at the conclusion of any such war.
Bible prophecy says it will happen. The Bible also says it begins a time of judgment against Israel and the Gentile world. The Church was already judged at the Cross.
Here’s what it all means, boiled down into a single sentence. At some point before that treaty is signed, Jesus Christ will descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of an archangel, and all those living who placed their faith in Christ will be snatched away, to be forever with Christ.
That treaty could happen at almost any moment. And that means the Rapture of the Church is even closer. What a time to be alive!
The Tribulation's purpose is to give Jews and Gentiles one final opportunity to repent of their ways, trust Jesus for their salvation and be transformed into the new creation before the Books are closed on them forever.
Note several things. First, our scapegoat, upon Whom all our sins were carried away and our names were written into the Book of Life.
Second, the penning of our names into the Book at salvation is part of our transformation into a new spiritual creation. Like a moth into a butterfly, a Christian's spiritual transformation is permanent.
One cannot, by an act of his own will, revert back to his old spiritual form, whether Jew or Gentile, anymore than one can become an angel. All four are distinct and different from one another.
Third, the Tribulation Period is the 'time of Jacob's Trouble' -- a last chance for Jews and Gentiles to turn to Christ and be saved. All three books are open. Those who enter into the Tribulation are those whose names are currently written into the Book of 'In-Between' -- unregenerate Jews and Gentiles.
One can accept Jesus and have one's name written into the Book of Life, as the Bible says the Tribulation saints and martyrs will do.
It is also a time during which one can write his name into the Book of Unrighteousness by accepting the Mark of the Beast.
The Church, having already been written into the Book of Life, has no role to play in the Tribulation Period. The Bible says that God will 'seal' 12,000 of each of the 12 tribes of Israel as His chosen evangelists during the Tribulation (Revelation 7) who will carry on the work the Church does during the Church Age.
We find then, a number of truths confirmed. First, our eternal security. One cannot revert back to his or her previous spiritual state, since, at regeneration, the old man no longer exists to revert back TO.
Instead, "he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Second, it is obvious that the Church not only has no role to play during the Tribulation, but it plays no role. The task of the Church is given to the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
Third, the Tribulation Period is the time when the Book of 'In-Between' is opened. Rosh Hashanah is the Feast of the Trumpets, and the feast concludes with the blowing of the last trumpet.
After Rosh Hashanah, there is a ten-day period during which one has an opportunity to have his name registered in the Book of Life before the Day of Atonement when the Books are closed for the Day of Atonement.
The Body of Christ is already recorded in the Book of Life. All our sins were atoned for before the last trumpet sounded. To the Church, all the Books are already closed. We don't belong. A pretribulation Rapture isn't a 'great escape' for the Church, it is an utter necessity to the Plan of God moving forward.
Without a Pre-Trib Rapture, the purpose of the Tribulation Period reverts from a final opportunity to write one's name in the appropriate Book to a period of indiscriminate judgment inflicted on a trusting Church, who by virtual of irreversible spiritual transformation, cannot possibly benefit from the 'last chance' period between the 'last trump' and the Day of Atonement on the plains of Megiddo at the Second Coming.
In fact, if one moves the 'last trump' into the middle or to the end of the Tribulation, it no longer has an discernible purpose apart from punishing the inhabitants of the earth indiscriminately.
Think of it this way. If the purpose of the Tribulation is to punish the wicked, it seems like a case of overkill, since the wicked are already slated for eternal punishment. On this side of the Tribulation, God doesn't punish evildoers on earth.
As far back as David, believers lamented, "how long shall the wicked triumph?"
(Psalms 94:3) Psalms 73 asks the same question, before answering it in verse 17: "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end."
If God reserves punishment for the wicked until eternity on this side of the Tribulation Period, why would He design a seven year period that, apart from a last chance at redemption, constitutes a special, dual punishment for one wicked generation out of all generations in human history?
Bottom line: Salvation is an eternal condition that begins at that point when one trusts Jesus. Once becoming a new spiritual creature, the old one no longer exists to revert back to, even if one were so inclined.
Those who are saved are written in the Book of Life. Those in the Book of Life have no further need of a last opportunity at atonement during the Tribulation Period.
The work of the Church during the Tribulation Period is carried on by Jewish evangelists chosen and sealed by God for that purpose.
The Church has no purpose assigned to it during the Tribulation, apart from being martyred, which makes Paul's admonition to 'comfort one another with these words' [of the Rapture] somewhat meaningless.
Without a period between the last trumpet and the Day of Atonement, there is no opportunity offered for those whose name is written in the 'Book of In Between' to choose either the Book of Life or the Book of the Unrighteous. "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMP: for the trumpet SHALL sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:52 )
The 'mystery' must happen first, before the Tribulation can begin. And NOW, Paul's admonition finds a context: "Wherefore, comfort one another with these words." (1st Thessalonians 5:18)
To make the above more concise for our purposes, here is a quick review of the salient points:
1. 'Weeks' refer to 'weeks of years' - 70 7 year periods equalling 490 years using the Hebrew 'shabua' or 'heptad' the way we use the Greek 'decade' in our culture to divide years into groups of ten years each.
2. The angel specifically said this period was for Daniel's people (Jews) and Daniel's holy city (Jerusalem).
3. Within this time frame six things will be accomplished; 1) finish the transgression, 2) make an end of sin, 3) make reconcilation for sin, 4) bring in everlasting righteousness, 5) seal up the vision and prophecy and 6) anoint the Most Holy.
All of these are clearly directed at Israel. Points 1-3 were settled for the Church at Calvary, points 4-6 take place at the end of the Tribulation, after the 2nd Coming, with the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom.
The first 69 weeks --483 years, concluded with the Messiah being 'cut off, but not for Himself" (Dan 9:26). Then there is a pause in God's Plan for Israel while He turns His attention to the Church. Daniel is told the 70th week opens with the antichrist 'confirming a covenant between Israel and the many' (Daniel 9:27)
Daniel indicates the Tribulation Period is for Israel's national redemption. That theme is picked up by Zechariah 12-14 and is further outlined in Revelation Chapters 4-20.
Jeremiah says it is the 'time of Jacob's trouble'. "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of JACOB'S TROUBLE,
(emphasis mine) but he shall be saved out of it." (Jeremiah 30:7)
"For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished." (Jeremiah 30:11)
There is also a second group of people that go through the Tribulation. "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." (Revelation 3:10)
Note the phrase, 'them that dwell upon the earth'. We find it six other times; Rev. 6.10, 8:13, 11:10; 13:8; and 17:8.
In 8:13 a threefold woe is pronounced against them because of the final three trumpets, which are to come.
They are the ones who gloat over the death of the two witnesses in 11:10; and worship the beast from the sea in 13:8.
In 13:14 they are the individuals who are deceived by the beast from the land into making an image of the first beast.
The earth dwellers gaze in wonder at the scarlet beast in 17:8, while 13:8 and 17:8 adds that their names are not written in the Book of Life.
By contrast to the 'earth-dwellers', Jesus says of the Church in His prayer at Gethsemane; "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:16)
Clearly, since the Tribulation period is the time of Jacob's Trouble, was pronounced upon Daniel's people and Daniel's city, and its purpose is to accomplish for Daniel's people in the last days the same thing accomplished for the Church at the Cross, the Tribulation period is for the Jews.
Just as clearly, according to Jesus, it is also to judge the earthdwellers whose names are not written in the Book of Life.
If there is a purpose for the Church in the Tribulation Period, there is no express mention of that purpose in Scripture, although Scripture is clear regarding both Jews and 'earth-dwellers'. And the 'earth dwellers' can't be the Church, since their names are not written in the Book of Life.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10, specifically at verse 10: "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
What 'wrath to come'? Romans 8:1 says I am already delivered from being condemned to hell. "There IS therefore NOW no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. . " Romans 8:1
Now skip forward to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9. (v3) "For when THEY shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon THEM, as travail upon a woman with child; and THEY shall not escape."
(Note the pronouns 'they' and 'them') (v5) "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: WE are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let US not sleep, as do others; but let US watch and be sober."
(Note the change -- 'they'- 'them' become 'we'- 'us') (v7) "For THEY that sleep sleep in the night; and THEY that be drunken are drunken in the night."
(v8) "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation."
Ok - let's stop here. There is clearly a distinction between Jews, 'earth-dwellers' and 'us' -- the Church. Now look up at verse 8's reference to 'the hope of salvation'.
What does that mean -- 'hope' of salvation? Salvation from what?
My salvation comes with an iron-clad guarantee, signed in Blood. I don't 'hope' for salvation -- I am saved now.
Clearly, taken in context, the 'hope of salvation' referenced by Paul can't be salvation from hell.
But salvation from the 'wrath to come' is indicated by the context and consistent with the doctrine that says "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them from my hand." (John 10:28)
And the 'wrath to come' is the Tribulation period - the time of Jacob's Trouble.
The argument for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church is consistent with Scripture.
As we progress, keep in mind that the salient point is not so much 'when' as it is "Who" is coming.
In Part Three we discussed the doctrine of Dispensationalism
. We view unfolding prophecy through the systematic theology of Dispensationalism because, without rightly dividing the Word, prophecy makes no sense.
For example, Jesus said the Comforter would remain with the Church until He comes. Yet the only reference to the Holy Spirit during the Tribulation is Revelation Chapter 7 when Jewish evangelists are miraculously 'sealed' (indwelt) by the Holy Spirit the way Church Age believers are now. That indwelling gives the Jewish evangelists 'power' to preach.
Together with 2 Thessalonians 2:7 we see the Restrainer is taken out of the way, saying that once that is accomplished, "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." (v8)
If the Church goes through the Tribulation, then Jesus' promise of a Comforter until He comes needs rewriting to say, "I will send you a Comforter Who will stay with you until you need Him most, and then you are on your own for seven years."
Without an understanding of the divisions between the Dispensations, (like the Church Age and Daniel's 70th Week) prophecy is contradictory.
Jesus promised the Church in Matthew 16:18 that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
But we then read in Revelation 13:7 "And it was given unto him (the religious beast) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them."
Which is it? Do we prevail, or does the antichrist? Apart from Dispensationalism, the two statements contradict.
But if the Church Age is over and the Tribulation period is the time of 'Jacob's Trouble' and judgment against 'them that dwell upon the earth' rather than for the Church, then Scriptural harmony is restored.
As I pointed out in Part Two, the major problem with the Mid-Trib view is that it fails to explain what role the Church plays in the time of Jacob's Trouble -- even the first half.
The major problem in the Post-Tribulational view as discussed in Part Three adds to that problem the problem of mathematics.
Revelation 13:15 says of those who do not worship the beast and accept his mark that he would "cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed".
So we see two kinds of people in the Tribulation period. Those who take the mark and those who are killed. When the Tribulation is over, where are the living believers who get Raptured?
For there to be believers left to Rapture, they will have to escape the antichrist's global positioning surveillance systems, satellite thermal imaging systems, police and military dragnet, unable to buy or sell, living in caves for seven years.
And the antichrist is unlikely to follow the same civilized rules of engagement Washington must observe today to avoid global condemnation.
We conclude the Pre-tribulation Rapture scenario is the view that is most harmonious with Scripture, particularly when given the added dimension of actually watching the preparations unfold before our very eyes.
But our faith isn't in WHEN Christ comes, it is in the fact that Christ IS coming soon. And the Rapture Debate is one more evidence of that fact.
Notice that the debate isn't over whether or not the Lord will come in this generation. For most, that is not even an issue.
A century ago, they were debating over whether He was coming at all. Today, we're fighting over His coming within a seven-year time frame.
Regardless of what you believe concerning the timing of the Rapture, the soon coming of the Lord is proved by the fact such a debate exists at all. And no matter what you believe about the timing of the Rapture, and no matter who turns out to be right in the end, the important thing to remember is WHAT we are debating.
We are living in the last generation in history. There are people reading my words -- right now -- who will never, ever die in the traditional sense, but will be caught up bodily to be with the Lord.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words" - 1Thessalonians 4:18
Ok, so I will let you chew over what you have just read for a few days and then we’ll get back in to the discussion of the Scriptural evidences for a pre-Trib Rapture.
I began this series with the intent, not to change anybody else's view, but to explain why I hold to the view that I do.
In the end, it’s not going to matter WHEN we are called home because all people who have put their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord of their life will be going home at the same time. The Rapture will happen when it happens and nobody will know for sure who was right until it doesn't matter any more anyway.
My purpose was not to argue FOR a Pre-Tribulation Rapture so much as it was to clearly outline what I believe and why I believe it.
It is my hope and prayer that if you are reading this right now and do not have Jesus as your Savior, that you will start thinking about what is to come and make that decision in honesty and humility because that is the only way to escape the wrath of God which is to come.