Reasons Why the Church
Will be Caught up BEFORE the Tribulation.
DON E. STANTON
first is, because Y’shua, Jesus the Messiah Himself, promised the
EXEMPTION FROM THE TRIAL
“Because you have kept
the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you out of (Greek - out
of) the hour of trial which is about to come upon the whole world, to
try those who live on the earth. I am coming quickly.” (Revelation
consistent this verse is with the blessed hope - the Master’s
promise to come again and receive His people to Himself. (John 14:3)
may ask, “How can we say this promise is for all the churches,
and not only for the Philadelphian church?”
seven messages given in chapter 2 and 3 of Revelation are undoubtedly
for all churches throughout this 1970+-year period. Whenever the message
is needed, then it should be heeded. This is why each message ends with
the words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says
to the churches.”
Each message was given to meet a very particular need in each of the
churches named, but each message also comes to us today - to meet us
in our particular needs.
Book of Romans was written for our teaching, not only for the Romans.
And the promises given in Thessalonians are given for our sake also,
and not merely for the first century Thessalonians. Likewise with the
the message to Philadelphia the Master speaks about the worldwide trial
- not a trial only for that assembly in the ancient city of Asia minor.
It is clear the Lord intends this promise for believers who are in fear
of the world-wide Tribulation, of which He warned in Matthew 24:21.
some will say, “why do you take the promise of keeping in 3:10,
and not take the promise of 2:10: “Be faithful until death, and
I will give you a crown of life.”
do indeed take that promise also! And believers in many parts of the
world are holding to this promise at this very moment. Other promises
are given in these seven messages also; but there are two references
that are specifically referring to the Tribulation - Rev. 3:10 and Rev.
first promises “keeping from” or “out of” the
trial; the second promises tribulation for false Christianity:
will cast her (Jezebel) upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit
adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent to her
deeds.” (Revelation 2:22)
Master has given Jezebel time to repent (verse 21), but she does not
want to repent. She is therefore to be cast into great tribulation.
Those who are involved in an apostate system, but who do repent, are
given the promise that they will not be cast into Tribulation. The keeping
from the Great Tribulation is thus offered to those who do repent.
the counter-argument says that God will keep His people in the Tribulation,
not out of it.
doubt Y'shua will sustain, in miraculous ways, the great number of believers
who are saved in the first half of the Tribulation and who will be living
on earth during that time.
the promise of the Master to His Bride is not that He will keep us in
the hour, but out of the hour of trial.
the promise is not that He will keep us from trials - believers have
plenty of trials and persecutions at the present time - but that He
will keep us from the hour - the period of the trial.
argue that the preposition used in Rev. 3:10 is “from.”
But the Greek word used is ek, which means "out of." It is
literally, “I will keep you out of the hour of trial.”
verse that promises deliverance, is given at the end of the Lord’s
prophecy on the tribulation upheavals.
keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may be accounted worthy
to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand
before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
the Lord doesn’t say, “pray that you will be worthy,”
but “be accounted worthy.” We could never expect to escape
because of our own worthiness; but if we are in Christ, then we are
counted worthy, because we have been justified through faith, on the
basis of His precious blood.
we have such comforting promises given by our Master, our Bridegroom,
we are not wrong in expecting to escape the Great Tribulation.
If the Tribulation were only persecution of the saints, then we would
not expect to be kept out of it, because Y’shua said that in this
world we would be persecuted. But the Tribulation is nothing less than
THE WRATH OF GOD
The main purpose of the Tribulation
is judgment for the world. The Great Tribulation is the climax of man’s
6000+-year dispensation upon earth. During that time, mankind has been
in rebellion against the Almighty. While many have responded to God’s
voice, and have been saved and blessed, the majority of the world has
habitually gone its own way. Now time is up! It is time for God to settle
the score! It is time to purge the earth!
And yet, even in the Tribulation,
God is willing to save. That period is also called “the Day of
Jacob’s Trouble,” because it is a time when YHWH will smelt
the hardened nation of Israel, and turn its people to Y’shua the
Messiah. This smelting will prepare them for His Kingdom.
Several promises given to
the church assure us that we will be saved from the wrath of God; including
“For God has not destined
us to suffer His wrath, but to receive salvation through our Master,
Y’shua the Messiah.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
In the context Paul is speaking
about the coming of the Messiah, and “the Day of YHWH” -
the day of darkness.
“Much more then, having
now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through
Him.” (Romans 5:9)
“... you turned to
God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His
Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead - Y’shua, the One
delivering us from the wrath that is coming.” (1 Thess. 1:9-10)
“The Lord knows how
to rescue the godly out of temptation and trials, and how to keep the
unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” (2 Peter
Some may reason that these
verses refer to the future wrath - the lake of fire. But if we cannot
believe these promises regarding deliverance from all wrath of God,
then how can we accept that He will indeed keep us even from the lake
Some will argue that the
Tribulation is not the wrath of God, but it is the wrath of Satan against
believers. That period is indeed a time of increased demonic activity,
and of intense persecution. But it’s much more; it’s the
period of the wrath of God, as is seen in many passages describing the
(See Isaiah 13:6-13, Zephaniah 1:14-18). Also ...
“Surely the day is
coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer
will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze, says
YHWH of Hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”
Revelation also is so definite
that it is God’s wrath coming upon the whole world.
“They called to the
mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the Presence
of Him (the Almighty) who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of
the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath has come; and who is able to
stand (before it)?’” (Revelation 6:16-17)
The judgments under the 6th
seal are, the sun turning to blackness, and the moon to blood; the stars
falling to the earth, and a great earthquake. We cannot say these things
are the wrath of Satan. Rather, it is clearly written, it's the wrath
of the Lamb. It's the Great Day of His Wrath.
Knowing that the Saviour
has taken our sins away completely and that He has set us free from
condemnation, the promises above are very precious indeed. If we are
true believers, they give us much assurance, for we know that what He
has promised, He will definitely fulfil.
A third reason why the church
will not go into the Tribulation but will be caught up prior to that
time, is because the Scriptures present the coming of the Lord as ...
AN IMMINENT HOPE
means, “impending” or “something that could happen at
any moment.” The return of the Bridegroom has always been an imminent
expectation of believers right down through the church age.
promise to return to receive His people, in John 14, implies a constant
imminent possibility, for in the absence of any indication of the actual
time of the event, we are left expecting it at any time.
if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and receive
you to Myself, so that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3)
If the Rapture
is to take place only at the end of the Tribulation, as Post-Tribulationists
teach, then we could not say that the Master may come at any time. But
it is not merely the Pre-Tribulationists who say the Master may return
at any tick of the clock; Y’shua Himself, in teaching about readiness,
said He may return at any time.“You
too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not
expect Him.” (Luke 12:40)
Matthew 24, the Master teaches about His return in great glory at the
end of the Tribulation, and about the gathering of the “elect”
(believing Israel) to the land and the Kingdom. Then in the parable of
the Fig Tree, Y’shua says that He is near, right at the door! But
no-one knows the day or the hour of His return. Many will be taken away
in judgment, others will be left to enter the kingdom.
concluding that section of the prophecy, the Master exhosts His people
to be faithful and ready.
be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Master is coming .
. . for this reason you also be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at
an hour when you do not think He will.” (Matthew 24:42,44)
else could these disciples believe except that the Master could return
at any time?
nearness and imminent possibility of the Master’s return is taught
by James, John, Peter and Paul.
says: “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Master is near.”
says; “Abide and continue in Him, so that when He appears, we may
have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1
John says: “... when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall
see Him just as He is. And every one who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies
himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)
the Rapture is presented as a purifying hope. And it becomes a purifying
hope, more and more, as our expectation of the imminent return increases.
Now if John had said, “Look! After the Tribulation we shall see
Him, therefore comfort one another with these words,” we might possibly
respond by saying, “I hope the Master doesn't come very soon. I
hope I die at least seven years before He comes.”
sure, if the church, the Bride of the Lamb, was to go through the Great
Tribulation, the loving Bridegroom would not hold back the information.
The Master did tell the church at Smyrna. “You will have tribulation
ten days.” (Rev. 2:10). And that church did experience severe persecution.
Y’shua also warned us believers that the world will hate and persecute
us. He never covered up this fact in an effort to keep us from worrying
about coming trials. No!
A BLESSED HOPE (EXPECTATION)
Paul also warned that we
will suffer with Christ (Romans 8:17). But he certainly does not warn
us that we must endure the Tribulation. Rather he says;
“... live sensible (self-controlled), upright and godly lives
in this present age, awaiting and looking for the blessed hope - the
glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Y’shua the Messiah.”
Paul says that believers
had turned to God, “to wait for His Son from Heaven.” He
“Let us not sleep as
others do, but let us be alert and sober . . . For God has not destined
us to suffer His wrath, but to receive salvation through our Master,
Y’shua the Messiah.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6,9)
In the context of the passage
(1 Thes. 4:13 to 5:11), it is clear that Paul was speaking about the
Rapture. Again in 1 Corinthians 1:7 and Philippians 3:2-21, Paul speaks
of “eagerly awaiting” the return of the Master.
Peter says: “YHWH is
not slow concerning His promise ... but is patient toward you ... what
kind of people ought you to be, in holy and godly behaviour as you look
forward to and earnestly desire the Day of God.” (2 Peter 3:9,
Peter does not say anything
anywhere to suggest the Lord won’t come until after the Tribulation.
But He does say that in the last days there will be mockers! (2 Peter
There is no verse that says,
“Get ready for the Tribulation.”
We are told that in the world
we will have tribulation - that is, persecutions, trials and troubles.
“You have been distressed by various trials, that the proving
of your faith . . . may be found to result in praise, glory and honour
at the revelation of Y’shua the Messiah.” (1 Peter 1:6-8)
There is nothing about the
Tribulation period in this passage. “Various trials” are
not the Great Tribulation.
Trials, we all know, are
a part of the believer’s life, so that we might reach on to maturity.
But if someone says the church must go through the Great Tribulation
so that it might be purified during that time, then we must ask, what
about the church that is already in heaven - the greater part of the
church? These believers have escaped the Tribulation, so why should
the end-time believers of the church not also escape it ?
There is no verse in Scripture
to say exactly when the Rapture will take place. But there are verses
to say exactly when the Master will be revealed with His angels - that
is, at the very end of the Tribulation.
Some say the Rapture will
take place at the time the Beast and the False Prophet are destroyed.
But to say the Rapture must
take place on that day, is to say the Lord can’t come any day
before then. But as you look into Revelation 19, there is no hint of
a Rapture associated with that Revealing. The counter-argument says
that there is a Resurrection at least mentioned in Rev. 20:4, which
occurs after the Battle of Armageddon. True, it is a resur-rection;
and it is very clear who the resurrected ones are:
“Then I saw thrones, and sitting on them were those to whom authority
to judge was given. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
because of their testimony for Y’shua and because of the Word
of God - these had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not
received his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands. They came
to life and reigned with the Messiah for the thousand years.”
That is the resurrection
of martyred believers from the Tribulation. There is nothing to suggest
that these resur-rection believers are caught up in the clouds to meet
the Lord. And there is certainly no mention of living saints caught
up at the same time. So the Rapture is not implied in that passage.
Furthermore, this resurrection happens after the battle of Armageddon,
and after the Lord’s revealing - not during the Master’s
return in glory.
If the Rapture is set for
the middle of the Tribulation, the people living at that time would
be able to know exactly the day of the Lord’s coming - they would
simply calculate 3 ½ years from the start of the 7-year covenant.
Or if the Rapture is scheduled
for the end of the 7 years, then it would simply be a matter of counting
7 years (2520 days) from the revealing of the man of sin and the start
of the covenant.
A post- or mid-Trib Rapture
then, does away with the imminent expectation of the Lord’s call.
But Y’shua said:
“You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when
you do not expect Him.” (Luke 12:40)
Now let us consider...
THE DISPENSATIONAL ASPECT
Some enemies of the Pre-Tribulation
Rapture try to brand dispensationalism as the hallmark of prophetic
apostasy. But that is as unfair as it is false. Dispensational teaching
is consistent with God’s revelation to us, and we cannot ignore
it if we would “rightly divide the Word.”
Dispensationalism is the
teaching that there are a number of different ages in human history,
such as the age of Innocence (before the Fall), the Antediluvian age
(before the Flood); and that God has worked in various ways in each
age, or dispensation. There is, however, a continuity line running right
through the ages.
True, there are extreme forms
of dispensationalism, just as there are extreme forms of every doctrine
- which are false. Certainly it is wrong to compartmentalize every portion
of Scripture, and make it apply to one age only. We cannot say that
only some sections of Scripture are relevant to us in our time. But
we can say that certain portions were intended, primarily, for specific
The Word may be applied differently,
according to the stage of God’s dealing with His people, although
basic principles are unchanged.
As an extreme example; do
we allow our child to play alongside the cobra’s hole because
the Scripture says the child shall play by the hole of a cobra (and
not be harmed)? (Isaiah 11:8). That passage is clearly referring to
the Millennial kingdom - the Age of Glory that has yet to come. There
is, no doubt, also a spiritual application of this verse for this present
God has led His people, step
by step. As greater light has been given, greater responsibility and
maturity has been expected. In the age of law, men got away with polygamy
(having more than one wife.) And sometimes we wonder why, for it is
very clear that God will not tolerate that in this age. Why? Because
we are under a new covenant.
The law said, “An eye
for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” And even though that law
might appeal to our carnal sense of righteousness, we know that we are
now under a higher law - the law of the Spirit of life and love in Christ
The plan of Salvation is
one main theme running through all the ages. But surely it is clear
that although sacrifice was required in all ages after the Fall, the
requirements have not been the same in all ages. The patriarchs, Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob did not have the full sacrificial system as was introduced
during the Dispensation of Law. Nor are we, in this present age, required
to fulfil that sacrificial system. We have the perfect Sacrifice, the
Lamb of God who was slain once for all.
There is indeed a very real
difference between the age before the cross (the Dispensation of Law)
and the present age, (the Dispensation of Grace.)
That difference must be admitted,
otherwise, while confessing we believe in the unity of the Bible, we
would be confused as to just what applies to the church.
Calvary brought an end to
the Old Covenant. We are now under a New Covenant. The Aaronic priesthood
and the Mosaic system, including animal sacrifices, were done away with.
What remains of the Law, and what has been carried over into the New
Covenant, is, of course, the principles and precepts of God.
This does not mean that the
Old Testament is irrelevant for the church; and it does not mean that
the New Testament will be obsolete for the people living in the Millennium.
God’s revelation has been progressive down through the ages, and
it abides for ever. (1 Peter 1:25)
The Old Testament is preserved
as a major part of the Scriptures, and it formed a foundation for the
further revelations given in the New Testament.
Both Old and New Testament have important messages for people living
in the Tribulation, as well as for us. Take for example, Matthew 24:9-27,
which speaks of Tribulation conditions. Although it has instruction
for us at present, the prophecy is primarily for the Jews living at
The context itself makes
this clear. Luke 21:28, on the other hand, which tells us to look up
“when these things begin to take place,” is no doubt a promise
of coming redemption for believers at the end of the church age.
We need to keep in mind that
there are three distinct groups - the Jews, the Greeks (Gentiles), and
to the Church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32), and that the LORD works
out His urposes for each, in His own way and time.
The Tribulation is not part of the Age of Grace
When we carefully study the
period of the Tribulation, we see that this is not a part of “the
Age of Grace” - the Age of the Church. It is neither a part of,
nor a conclusion of, the present dispensation in which the Master is
gathering out of all nations a people to comprise His Bride and Body.
The Tribulation rather, is
the long-delayed period of seven years that concludes the "70 weeks"
(490 years) that has been allotted for the nation of Israel. (Daniel
9:24-27). It is called the time of Jacob’s Trouble. (Jeremiah
It is the period when God once more calls His covenant nation to repentance,
causing them to embrace their long-rejected Messiah. He will thus deliver
them from the bondage under the Law which has had them shackled for
so many centuries.
(The Law was necessary, of
course, as a “schoolmaster” to teach them the ways of God,
and to bring them, in due time, to Christ.) (Galatians 3:24)
Israel rejected the freedom and salvation that is in Y’shua the
Messiah, when they said, “Away with Him.” But God, who is
rich in mercy, did not annihilate that nation as He did with some, such
as the Amalekites. Rather, He planned, in “the fullness of time,”
when “the times of the gentiles” would be fulfilled, to
bring Israel to the Fountain where “sins are washed away.”
But until the fulfilment of the Times of the Gentiles, Israel would
wander in the wilderness - for a second time. The first desert journey
was in the Sinai - for 40 years. Israel’s second wilderness experience
- in a very dry “wilderness of bones,” is one that has lasted
for 1,900 years. (Ezekiel 37)
And the great majority of
the people of Israel today - both those in the land and those amongst
the nations, are still in that spiritual wilderness.
But now, as the church is
nearing completion, God is calling His ancient people “to enter
the land” - not only the land of Israel, but “the life of
promise” as described by Ezekiel:
“And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life,
and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, YHWH,
have spoken and done it,’ declares YHWH.” (Ezekiel 37:14)
The Great Tribulation is
the period in which God will purge Israel, and bring “one third”
through the fire. (Zech. 13:8-9)
At the same time, the Tribulation
is “the trial to come upon the whole world.” (Rev. 3:10).
Indeed, it is nothing less than the wrath of God coming upon this rebellious
generation. (Revelation 6:15-17). But the Tribulation is not a purgatory
for the Body of the Messiah.
THE “70 WEEKS” OF DANIEL
me explain why the Tribulation is part of a completely different dispensation
to the church age.
prophecy, chapter 9:24-27, it is clearly revealed that “70 weeks”
are allotted to Israel and the holy city, to make atonement for sin, to
bring in everlasting right-eousness, and to anoint the most holy place.
This prophecy will be completely fulfilled when Messiah begins to reign.
weeks” are weeks of years, not weeks of days; i.e., each week is
seven literal years. The first 69 “weeks” (483 years) started
from the decree to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, which was given by the
Medo-Persian ruler, Artaxerxes in 445 B.C. It ended with the triumphant
entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem, a few days before He was “cut
off” - that is, crucified.
“one week” (seven years), was not fulfilled after the 69th
week. And it has never been fulfilled. The 70th week has been put on hold
for this 1970+-year period, while God is calling out of all nations, a
people for His Name - a Bride for His Son.
When the Bride,
which is also called the “Body of the Messiah,” is complete,
the Bridegroom will take this body of believers to the Father’s
House. God will then take up His specific program with Israel once more
- during the 70th week. Thereafter He will bring in ever-lasting righteousness.
why God has suspended the 70th week, and “stopped the clock”
as far as Israel is concerned, is because;
1. Israel has not been ready to receive the Messiah.
2. The Master must call out a people for His Name - the Bride - out of
all the nations, so that she might take her place alongside the King when
He reigns over the whole restored world. After the Bride is complete.
Israel will be saved, purified and prepared to become the centre of the
world, and a blessing to all the earth.
of the 70 weeks of Daniel is very important to our understanding of the
Tribulation and God’s dealings. Indeed, it is from Daniel’s
prophecy that we know the Tribulation lasts for seven lunar years. (7
x 360 days). The Book of Revelation does not specifically say how long
the Tribulation lasts, but it does speak of 1,260 days (the witness of
the two prophets - ch 11); 1,260 days (the nourishment of the woman -
ch. 12); and 42 months (the reign of the beast - ch. 13.)
If we ignored
Daniel’s prophecy, we would not know if the Tribulation will be
3½ years, 7 years, or 10½ years.
Now if we accept
and place significance on Daniel’s prophecy, we must accept the
fact that there has been a long 1,970+ years parenthesis between the 69th
and the 70th weeks.
means brackets ( ). A parenthetical period is a period that is inserted
into another period, but which, although it may form a part of the whole
program, is itself a separate period altogether.
We may illustrate the church age in brackets like this:
69 “weeks” 1 “week”
483 years 7 years
do not accept our interpretation for the 70th week at all. They claim
the 70th week was fulfilled immediately after the 69th week, without a
break - 3½ years after Calvary.
of the Rapture - Before, in the Middle, or After the Tribulation - does
not concern A-millennialists as they completely reject a 7-year Tribulation
at the end of the age.
As the 70th
week has still to be fulfilled, it is clear that the church age must be
a parenthetical period. Otherwise there would be no justification for
a delayed 70th week.
It is not logical
for the 70th week to be part of the parenthesis, while being part of the
We might have
brackets within brackets, but we cannot have a period in the parenthesis
and outside at the same time. This is the diagram that would be drawn
by the Mid-Trib. and the Post-Trib. views.
( — ) —
483 years ( 1970 + + + 3½ ) 3½
———— ( ———)
483 years ( 1970 + + + 7 years)
If you put
the church in the Tribulation, then you may as well put Daniel’s
prophecy into the archives.
aspect, and particularly the prophecy of the “70 weeks” supports,
and demands, that the Bride of Christ be removed from the scene before
the 70th week.
The next reason
why I believe the Rapture will take place before the seven years is because
of the . . .
TOTAL LACK OF EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE CHURCH IS ON EARTH DURING THE TRIBULATION
are emphatic that the church will go through the Tribulation because the
book of Revelation speaks of saints on the earth during the 7 years. A
Post-tribulation-ist says, “that proves the church is in the Tribulation.”
But it doesn’t!
We affirm that there are saints on earth during the seven years, but we
emphatically deny that they are members of the church. They are, in fact,
a body called Tribulation Saints - people who will come to Y’shua
and be saved in the first half of the Tribulation. (Revelation 16:9 &
11 suggests that no-one repents in the second half.)
often reject the teaching that Israel, the church, and the Tribulation
saints are different bodies. They claim, like A-millennialists, that the
church is “spiritual Israel.” But we reply, “No! Spiritual
Israel is the believing part of the nation of Israel.”
It is true
that we believers are called the children of Abraham. We are his seed
by faith, not by physical descent - unless we are Hebrews. Remember, even
Abraham was not a part of “spiritual Israel!” He died even
before Israel was established.
is part of the Household of God, even as spiritual Israel is, but that
does not make us Israelites. (My brother and I belong to one household,
but that does mean that my brother and I are one body, does it?)
Some who maintain
that the church is not a new body, but is a continuation of the spiritual
Israel, like to cite “the church in the wilderness” (Acts
7:38). But this is a shallow argument. The word ‘church’ (ekklesia
in Greek) simply means ‘assembly.’
There was indeed
an “assembly in the wilderness,” but there's no way it can
be called “the church, the Bride of the Lamb.” Messiah’s
church was still future. In Matthew 16:18, Y'shua said, “Upon this
rock I will build My church.” This new Body was begun at Pentecost.
shows that the church is a new body - a body composed of both Jews and
Gentiles. It was previously a mystery but it is now revealed - a new body,
a Bride, a special companion for the Son of God; a mystical body composed
of believers from Pentecost to the Rapture; a people with a heavenly calling,
who belong to a heavenly city - the New Jerusalem - in the Father’s
from this present age share that heavenly calling with us. But Israel,
as a nation, is one with an earthly inheritance - a kingdom that is to
come in the renewed world. Israel is destined to be a blessing in the
midst of the earth. (Isaiah 19:24)
The Bride of
Christ shares in the Millennial reign, of course, but not as a nation
on earth. Her place is in the palace of the King; it is the New Jerusalem
that comes down out of heaven, and is positioned above the earth. (Revelation
ask, “How can people be saved if the church is taken away?”
It is God who saves, not the church! He will pour out His Spirit (Joel
2:27-32). He will also send two witnesses to prophesy in Jerusalem (Rev.
11:3-12). He will raise up and seal 144,000 Messianic Jews in that period.
(Rev. 7:3-8). They will be Spirit-filled evangelists like the apostles.
There will also be millions of Bibles available after the Bride has been
caught up. For a short time, before the Bible-burning begins, the Scriptures
will fall into the hands of those left behind, and people who are anxious
to know what has happened, will read them, and many will believe, and
Church is in Heaven during the Tribulation
In the first five chapters
of Revelation the church is mentioned many times. In chapters 2 and
3 we see the seven progressive stages of the church on earth; but then,
in chapters 4 & 5, we see the redeemed in heaven.
“And around the throne
were twenty-four thrones; and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders
sitting, clothed in white garments; and they had crowns of gold on their
heads . . . and they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take
the scroll, and to open its seals, for You were slain, and have redeemed
us to God by Your blood out of every tribe, language, people and nation.
You have made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over
the earth’.” (Revelation 4:4, 5:9-10)
There has been a lot of debate
about the identity of the 24 elders - some insisting that they are angelic
elders rather than redeemed, glorified human elders. But the fact that
they are sitting on thrones, with crowns upon their heads, indicates
that they are elders of the universal church, for we read:
“We shall also reign
with Him.” (2 Timothy 2:12)
Again Paul says, referring to the church ...
“The saints shall judge
the world,” “and if the world is judged by you ...”
(1 Corinthians 6:2)
The Master earlier told His
“You will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
We would certainly call the
twelve apostles, elders, wouldn’t we? And it may be that Y’shua
has chosen 12 other elders to judge the gentile nations.
The fact that they are already
crowned, also indicates that the Judgment Seat of Christ (where the
church is evaluat-ed, and given rewards - crowns) has already taken
place. And as the Bride - the church - is one body, we would expect
the members to be judged at one and the same time.
Notice also, seven times
in Revelation 2 & 3 (before the Rapture), we read, “He who
has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches.”
But in Revelation 13:9, during the Tribulation, and we read, “If
anyone has an ear, let him hear.” The church is missing.
In Revelation chapters 6
to 19 - the Tribulation period - there is no mention whatever of the
Bride on earth.
But in chapter 19, (before
the Revealing of Christ), the completed Bride is seen in heaven, prepared
and already glorified - in fine linen, bright and clean. It is written,
“the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (v.8)
The fine linen here is not
referring to the imputed righteousness of Christ with which we are already
clothed, but in this context, it is the tested, spiritual works of the
believers - the gold, silver and precious stones that have passed through
the fire of the Judg-ment Seat, and that have proven worthy. (1 Corinthians
The Marriage of the Lamb
will be held before the resurrection of the Tribulation martyrs of
Rev. 20:4, which indicates the Church and the Tribulation believers
are two separate bodies. So this passage adds to the evidence that the
Bride is caught up to heaven before the Tribulation. Certainly she is
in heaven before the Lord returns to earth at Armageddon which is at
the end of the Tribulation.
CONTRAST: THE RAPTURE AND THE RETURN
the Rapture and the Return to earth are one and the same event, and
that it takes place at the end of the Tribulation. We do not believe
this is possible, because of major differences between the two events.
The Rapture and the Return
are both part of the Second Coming of Christ, true!
But they can be satisfactorily
explained, only by describing them as two stages.
Notice the differences :
the Tribulation the Lord meet the saints in the air.
the Tribulation The Lord descends to the Mt. of Olives, and the surviving
remnant are gathered before Him on earth.
living saints are caught up without dying.
is no catching up to the sky.
saints (the Church) go to the Father’s House withthe Master.
Tribulation saints are are ushered into the kingdom on earth.
judgment of the world begins.
judgment is concluded.
Rapture is imminent.
Return, predictably, follows the reign of the Beast.
Rapture is a ‘mystery’- not revealed in the O.T.
Return was revealed by
several OT prophets.
Rapture concerns only the saved.
Return concerns both
saved and unsaved.
Restrainer is taken out of the midst; which allows the
conspiracy of Satan to proceed.
conspiracy of Satan is
goes forth with
great wrath to destroy
Rapture is an exclusive promise
to the church.
Return is promise for
taken to heaven.
taken to Hell.
revealed to church. Rom 8:18
revealed to the world
with the church. 1 Thes 3:13
elect of Israel gathered.
restored. Acts 4:21
will notice that these two events are always dealt with separately. The
translation of saints is never mentioned in any passage dealing with the
return after the Tribulation. And neither is the return to earth mentioned
in the passages dealing with the Rapture. (John 14:1-3. I Thess. 4:14-17,
I Cor. 15:50-57)
may argue that the Rapture is pictured in Matthew 24:30-31, but this
passage is dealing with the Messiah’s Revealing when He returns
to earth to establish the Kingdom.
“... and they will
see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY (Dan 7:13) with power
and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call
and they will gather together His elect (His chosen people) from the
four winds, even from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew
These verses may fit the
interpretation of A-millennialists who believe the return of the Master
completes God’s program for the world with a general resurrection,
and the destruction of the planet. But as A-millennialists do not believe
in a future kingdom on earth, nor in the seven-year Tribulation, their
arguments and views do not arise in our present discussion on the timing
of the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation.
The above verses mention
the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds, the trumpet sound, and the
gathering of God’s elect, which, at first may appear to be the
Rapture. But it's not so! It is a different event.
In this passage there is
no catching up of the saints, and there’s no going to the Father’s
House. Neither is there a resurrection mentioned, but there is a tremendous
gathering which is accomplished by the angels.
At the Rapture, however,
the angels are not called upon to gather the church. There is simply
the voice of the arch-angel. 1 Thess. 4:16 says the Lord comes with
the trumpet. In 1 Cor. 15:52, it says the last trumpet will sound. But
there is no reference to angels gathering the believers.
The difference is that the
Rapture before the Tribulation catches the church up to the clouds and
to the Father’s House; but the Return of Christ to earth after
the Tribulation, gathers His saved Tribulation people into the Millennial
kingdom. It is most presumptuous to say these are one and the same event.
Some say the word “elect” in Matt. 24:31, proves this is
the church that is gathered after the Tribulation. Not so! The word
“elect” (Heb. bachir; Gk eklektos) means “chosen.”
In one place the Lord Jesus Himself is called the elect (1 Peter 2:6).
In another, the elect refers to angels (1 Tim. 5:21). In other places
the elect refers to the church, or to certain individuals; and it also
refers to the saved ones from the Tribulation.
Another argument that comes
up from the Matthew 24:31 passage, is “the trumpet argument.”
In 1 Cor. 15, we read of the Resurrection and Rapture, at the sound
of the last trump. According to the trumpet argument, Matthew 24:30-31
proves that the Rapture is not before the Tribulation.
There are also mid-Tribulationists
(those who believe the Rapture takes place in the middle of the seven
years), who insist that the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15 is the
also maintain the last trump is the 7th trumpet, but they say that this
seventh trumpet sounds at the end of the Tribulation.
It is presumptuous to identify the trumpets like that. The seven trumpets
of Revelation are trumpets of judgment, whereas the “last trump”
of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is a trump of summons.
The last trump that Paul
speaks about, is the summons or call to the church - the trumpet sound
of God. The seven trumpets of Revelation on the other hand are trumpets
given to angels - to announce God’s wrath.
In studying the details of
the seventh trumpet in Rev. 11, we read nothing of a rapture or resurrection.
But we read only of an anticipation of the kingdom of God. But more
important, the seventh trumpet certainly does not end the tribulation
- there are still seven bowls of wrath to be poured out upon earth,
including the battle of Armageddon.
The last trump is the last
summons of a particular event. Throughout the church age, trumpets have
been sounded, heralding the coming of the Lord.
Today the Messiah’s people are sounding trumpet warnings, but
the last trump is the summons, the call - “Arise Beloved - and
H A Ironside has explained
the familiar military expression of the last trumpet. “When a
Roman camp was about to be broken up, whether in the middle of the night
or in the day, a trumpet sounded. The first blast meant, 'Strike tents
and prepare to depart.' The second meant, 'Fall into line,' and when
what was called 'the last trump' sounded, it meant, 'March'.”
The "trumpet arguments"
can be a very noise exchange, and if guns were used instead of trumpets,
I guess most of the prophecy teachers would be looking forward to the
Resurrection, rather than the Rapture.
THE ORDER OF EVENTS
The scheduled order of events
for the church requires a time period between the Rapture and the Revealing.
The following order is essential so that the Bride can be glorified,
and revealed as the Wife of the Lamb, when He is revealed in glory.
“When the Messiah, who is our life, is revealed, then you also
will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)
i The Rapture
ii The Bema
Seat (The Evaluation - the Judgment Seat of Christ).
1 Corinthians 3:12-15.
Here the believers’
lives are evaluated. The “gold, silver and precious stones”
represent that which is truly spiritual in their lives. The believer’s
carnality - the “wood, hay and straw” - is purged by fire
so that he stands perfected in Christ, and glorified.
“And whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called,
these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
iii The Marriage
of the Lamb and the Bride
The Bride, having passed through the Bema Seat, is now in a perfect
condition to be presented to the Messiah as His glorified wife. All
taint has been removed. All tears are wiped away. (Rev 21:4). Not a
blot, or spot, or tear remains to mar her glory.
“Bright and clean fine
linen was given to her to wear; for the fine linen is the righteous
acts of the set-apart people of God.” (Revelation 19:8)
The Marriage then takes place, and the status of the Bride is changed
from “Betrothed” to “Married.”
iv The Revealing
The Bride is revealed, not as the Messiah’s betrothed, but as
His glorfied wife during the revealing of the King of Kings. (Rev 21:9-11.
The Pre-tribulation rapture allows the Master to receive the remnant
of His Bride from on earth, unite them with the ‘dead in Christ,”
take them to the Father’s House, evaluate, reward and array them
in glorious dress, and formally present them to Himself; and, after
the marriage, to manifest them with Himself in glory at His return -
when “every eye will see Him.” (Revelation 1:7)
A Post-tribulation rapture
which sees the Rapture and the Revealing as the one and same event,
does not allow time for the Bema Seat and Marriage of the Lamb.
And if it is replied that
the Bema Seat and the Marriage takes place in the skies immediately
after the Rapture, then that argument itself implies there are two stages
in the second coming. (But Post-tribulationists ardently reject any
idea of two stages.)
A serious fault in the Post-tribulation
view is that it leaves believers expecting death and resurrection, and
not the hope of the Rapture, for very few will escape martyrdom in the
“He (the Beast) was
given power to make war with the set-apart people of God (the Tribulation
followers of Y’shua), and to overcome them.” (Revelation
The Tribulation saints, definitely
have the specific promise of resurrection (Rev. 20:4). But the church
has the specific promise of being caught up without dying. (1 Thess.
THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS
Another important point. In Matthew 25:31-46 we read of the judgment of
the nations after the Master returns to the earth. The surviving people,
both sheep and goats - saved and unsaved - are brought before Him, and
are then separated.
But if the Rapture
took place at the end of the seven years, that itself would be a separation,
so that there would then be no need to divide sheep from goats - for only
goats would have been left behind (unless you insist on a partial rapture!)
Matthew 25 also
indicates that the sheep and goats are still in their natural bodies.
How is it that the sheep are still in that condition if the Rapture has
just taken place?
No, the sheep
here are Tribulation saints, not the church.
THE SUBJECTS WHO REPOPULATE EARTH
Another problem with the
Post-tribulation view is that it does not leave any believers on earth
to inherit the kingdom. If all believers are caught up and glorified
after the Tribulation, who would be the subjects in the kingdom on earth?
All the goats (unbelievers)
will be cast into outer darkness. And the glorified believers will not
repopulate the earth, for they now have the spiritual bodies that do
not procreate physical children. Clearly the destination of the Church
is the Heavenly City. (John 14:1-3. Rev 21)
The heavenly Jerusalem is
“the palace” from which the Messiah, with the Bride at His
side, rules over the millennial kingdom.
The believers (the sheep) who enter the kingdom (Matthew 25:34), are
Tribulation believers, not the church.
Of course, Post-Tribulationists
may bring up various counter arguments, and we might keep on countering
counters, like barristers in a court of law, until it comes to a stage
where one is duelling over the box and not over the treasure.
THE TRIBULATION IS NOT A TYPE OF PURGATORY FOR THE CHURCH
Some people imagine the church
should go into the Tribulation because it has become worldly, or lukewarm,
and therefore it should be purged or cleansed during the seven years.
No so! This would be making the Tribulation a type of purgatory.
And why should the final
generation of the church be singled out for purging in the Tribulation?
And why should all believers be consigned to that purging?
Y’shua, the Lamb of
God, has already made purification of sins - He has already purged His
people by His atoning blood. (Hebrews 1:3)
The church stands justified through faith in the Saviour, on the basis
of the precious shed blood of the Lamb. There is no condemnation to
those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
The time of testing by fire
of the works of believers is at the Judgment Seat of Christ - not in
THE RESTRAINER MUST TAKE THE CHURCH AWAY BEFORE THE MAN OF SIN IS REVEALED
There has been a lot of debate
on the passage in 2 Thessalonians 2, which speaks of the coming of Y’shua
our Master, the Day of the LORD, and the subsequent revealing of the
Man of Sin.
“And you know what
is restraining him (the Man of Sin) now, so that he may be revealed
at the proper time. For the mystery of iniquity and lawlessness is already
at work; but He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of
the way (or out of the midst). And then the lawless one will be revealed
whom the Master will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to
an end by the glory of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8)
We identify the Restrainer
as the Holy Spirit, for He is the only One who restrains the evil plan
of Satan. And He does that largely through the presence of the church
in the world. Believers are called “the salt of the earth.”
Some have tried to identify
the Restrainer as the Roman Emperor, or the Roman Empire. In that case,
the Man of Sin should have been revealed when they passed away.
Others say that the Restrainer
is the present order, or government, which will be violently thrown
down by the new world order. But which present government or ruler could
be truly called, “The Restrainer”?
It is the Holy Spirit who
is certainly holding back the conspiracy of Satan; and He will continue
to do so until He is taken out of the midst. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent,
but He can certainly withdraw His restraining influence.
But how could the Holy Spirit withdraw His Presence, or His influence,
from the church that He permanently indwells as the Temple of God? He
must take the Church away.
The Holy Spirit is like Eliazer
in the story of Isaac, who escorts the Bride to the heir, who is waiting
on the outskirts of his city. (Genesis 15:2, 24:1-67). Y’shua
is waiting in the sky as the Holy Spirit escorts the Bride to the Heir
of all things, on the portals of Heaven
Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit
is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2, and this is further evidence
that confirms the Pre-tribulation Rapture.
Some argue that the Rapture
can’t take place before the Tribulation because 2 Thessalonians
2:3 says the Rapture will not take place unless the Man of Sin is revealed.
But that is not what the passage says.
The prophecy makes it clear
that the Day of the LORD (the Tribulation) will not take place unless
the Man of Sin in revealed. And verses 6-8 are saying, the Man of Sin
will not be revealed until the Restrainer is taken out of the midst.
So the order of events is ...
Rapture (the Restrainer removed)
ii The Revealing of the Man of Sin
iii The Day of the LORD (the Tribulation)
A question is, “Is
there an interval between the Rapture and the Day of the LORD?”
Quite possibly. There was
an interval between the end of the 69th week of Daniel (9:27), and the
commencement of the church age at Pentecost - about 54 days. So it is
possible there could be some days in between the Rapture and the time
Antichrist is revealed.
It is possible, however,
that the Man of Sin will be revealed immediately after the Rapture.
The revealing of the Man of Sin takes place with the signing of the
7-year treaty. And the Tribulation, (the 70th week of Daniel) begins
from the date the treaty actually comes into force.
OLD TESTAMENT TYPES
Testament types confirm the Pre-tribulation Rapture. Y’shua the
Messiah said, ‘As the days of Noah,’ and ‘as the days
of Lot,’ so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
1. Enoch, the
man of God who was caught up to heaven before the flood, is a picture
of the church which will be taken away before the Tribulation.
2. Noah, and his
family, are a type of Israel which is preserved through the time of wrath.
3. Lot and his
two daughters, who were caught away from Sodom before the fire fell, are
a type of the church who will be caught up before this world burns in
AMBASSADORS MUST BE WITHDRAWN
are ambassadors for Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
All born again
believers have become citizens of Heaven, and are ambassadors for the
King of Glory.
Before a war
or a pending major disaster, a country’s ambassadors must be recalled
to their own country.
Pre-tribulation Rapture teaching is based on a literal interpretation
of Scripture. In fact, this is the only view which allows a literal interpretation
of all OT and NT passages on the Tribulation.
It is not based
on natural desires to escape suffering and the terrible time of wrath,
but rather, it is based on the principle of sound interpretation of the
Word of God.
Rapture, we believe, harmonizes the relevant passages, without strained
arguments. It does not confuse the Church with Israel and the nations,
and God’s dealings with each of them.
the differences between the chastening of the LORD, and the wrath of God;
the age of grace, and the 70th week; the provision for exemption for the
Bride, and the preservation of saints in the Tribulation.
We do not claim
that we have produced faultless “arguments,” but we do believe
that this is a consistent and balanced interpretation, that gives God
the glory, and that presents the Rapture as the imminent and . . .
HOPE, which is both purifying, and a constant comfort for all who eagerly
await the Master’s return.
Y'shua the Messiah is coming soon!
(1 Corinthians 16:22)
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The One who is coming will come, He
will not delay