As I’ve shared before, most of my life I believed in what is known as the “post-trib rapture.”
“Why should we escape?” I would ask. (In today’s vernacular, it might sound like, “Why are we such special snowflakes?”) While I turned this part of me off for several years, I still believed the Church would be tested during the seven-year tribulation, face the mark of the beast, have to endure to the end to be saved, and should prepare to hide in the woods with extra jugs of water, first-aid supplies, and well-preserved food.
(The movie The Road illustrates what I imagined this apocalyptic time to be like. Interestingly, it came out in 2009 and was set ten years in the future.)
Before I go on, it’s important to say that when I talk about the “before” and “after” of my doctrinal transformation, I do so with humility. I’m not sitting here thinking I’m more enlightened or wise than those who believe differently, and I hope this is evident in my words. I pray that sharing what the Lord has shown me through Scripture will provide a fresh invitation, if needed, to re-visit this topic, re-evaluate beliefs and doctrine, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I believe that most who take this seriously are, like me, more concerned with truth than with “being right” and have probably studied this intensely for years. I respect that and am sure there is much I can learn from you.
Truth and comfort
I also want to offer a simple and clear message of comfort. Many in the body of Christ are anxious about world events, confused about prophetic timelines, uncertain and afraid. My hope is to present a Scriptural study that the Lord will use to settle the hearts and minds of those who need it.
Many are excited right now about this upcoming Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets and Israel’s New Year. It will occur around Sept. 10-11, 2018. The Apostle Paul tells us that the Lord’s appearing will be “at the last trump,” and traditionally, the Feast of Trumpets is the feast that “no man knows the day or hour” because it is based on the sighting of the New Moon by two witnesses in Israel. If the sky is cloudy and the New Moon is not seen, the feast is not declared yet. If God delays the New Moon, or somehow does not allow the witnesses to see it, the feast is not declared. I’m not an expert on the feasts and do not know if the Lord will appear to receive us to Himself during the Feast of Trumpets or another time, but I don’t know that He won’t, either. So as always, I watch.
I love studying prophecy. I am passionate about eschatology, but I’ve come to realize that the more I know, the less I know. So I come humbly, knowing for sure only Christ Jesus and Him crucified. (1 Cor. 2:2) When it comes to prophetic things, we see through a glass darkly. There is so much we simply won’t or can’t know until world events continue to unfold and the Holy Spirit confirms the prophetic fulfillments through Scripture. With that said, I do believe Scripture is clear on what will happen to the Church in these last days. We may not know exactly when, but we know it is very soon—mere moments or mere days away.
Not a salvation issue
As I move forward, I want to be clear about this. While I firmly believe that a “pre-tribulational rapture” is the clear teaching of Scripture, it is not a salvation issue and I love and respect my brothers & sisters who believe differently. I hope this article encourages you and gives you something to bring to the Lord in prayer, but we need to remember that the most important thing to get right is the gospel. We are saved because Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4) and gave us the free gift of eternal life. We believe Him and put our trust in His blood. This is THE most important message of all, more so than rapture timelines. We can lovingly disagree on the interpretation of prophecy, but the gospel is another matter. I am full of fierce love for it and will humbly contend for it as long as I live. Believing the true gospel is literally a matter of life and death, but not so with eschatology.
I love how Scripture is full of prophecy and that it pleased God to furnish us with wisdom and revelation about the last days. This is not an exhaustive study, and there are many more passages that support this, but the Scriptures I share below have been strongly on my heart. In the interest of space, I do not always include the full verses so please get your Bible and read them along with the context.
So with that, I want to define terms.
When I talk of the tribulation, I am referring to the time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7) and Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27), which I shorten to “D70.” This time period of 7 years concludes with the Second Coming Of Jesus (Rev. 19:11-15, Zech. 14:3-4).
This might be a minor point, but the “time of Jacob’s Trouble” and “Daniel’s 70th week” are more accurate terms than the word “tribulation.” The word “tribulation” means trial, trouble, and distress. Jesus promised that in the world we would have tribulation, but to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. (John 16:33). Tribulation, in and of itself, is not something we can avoid. We live in a fallen world and times are hard. No one is exempt from tribulation, but we have the victory of Christ and the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit to sustain and guide us through it.
Jesus described the last half of D70 as a time of Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15-21). This phrase describes the harrowing nature of the suffering and distress that will come upon the earth during the last 3.5 years of Jacob’s Trouble.
This happens when Jesus descends from heaven to receive the Church in the air, but does not actually return to the earth (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
The word “rapture” is not in our English Bibles. It comes from the Latin “rapiemur” and means “caught up,” just like the same word in 1 Thess. 4:17. The Greek word for rapture / caught-up is “harpazo,” which means “seizing, catching up, catching away.” It describes a forceful snatching out of danger. It is not the same word used for ascension, which implies a gentle floating up. Harpazo is what you do when your child is running into the street and a car is barreling down on her. As a watchful and loving parent, you harpazo her.
Scripture also describes this event as the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:13
“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:8
Paul wrote to Timothy,
“…keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” (1 Tim. 6:11-15)
And then we have this magnificent verse:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:” (2 Tim. 4:1)
This is stunning. Paul mentions judgment:
a) for the living and the dead (two different groups)
b) at His appearing and His kingdom (two different times)
This may be the clearest distinction between the rapture and the second coming. The living are those who are born again, even if they are “asleep in Jesus,” or dead in Christ. The Living are judged at the Judgment seat of Christ, where Jesus will offer rewards based on our works. Writing to believers, Paul tells us:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:7-10)
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Cor. 3:11-15)
Now compare the following two judgments which happen after Daniel’s 70th week and bookend the millennial kingdom:
A. At the beginning of the millennial kingdom: the judgment of the remnant saints who died during the time of Jacob’s Trouble:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, [faith] who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands [works]. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:4-6)
B. At the end of the millennial kingdom: the judgment of sinners, also known as “the dead:”
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:11-15)
3. Pre-trib rapture, pre-wrath rapture, post-trib rapture
Pre-trib rapture is the term most people use and understand regarding the doctrine of the pre-Daniel’s-70th-week harpazo of the Church. I don’t consider it an accurate term for reasons cited above, but I use it when needed for clarification. Pre-wrath rapture, or mid-trib, refers to the theory that the Church will go through the first half of Daniel’s 70th week but will be raptured prior to the second half, which contains the bowls of wrath that are poured out onto the earth. Post-trib is the idea that the rapture occurs at the very end of Daniel’s 70th week.
Distinguished from the remnant saints who come to Christ during the time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Church is the body of Christ. It is made of all believers, Jews and Gentiles in the age of Israel’s partial blindness, who are saved by grace through faith, not of works. Our faith is in the blood of Jesus who paid for our sins on the cross. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit and our salvation is secure. The Church has NOT replaced Israel.
God’s chosen people with whom He has an everlasting covenant. He will forgive them and save them. (Rom. 11:25-32)
6. 2nd Coming
The Second Coming is when Jesus returns to earth with His body, feet to the ground, after Daniel’s 70th week. He will fight His enemies at Armageddon and set up His kingdom. (Rev. 1:7, Zech. 12:10-14, Rev. 19:11-21)
The rapture: a mystery revealed to Paul
The rapture of believers and the resurrection of the dead in Christ comes from the teaching of Paul. Here is what the Lord revealed to him, and here is where we receive the doctrine of the catching away of the body of Christ, otherwise known as the rapture:
“Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up [Greek: harpazo] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:15-18)
People debate the timing of the rapture, not necessarily that there is one. I would say that most Christians, if not all, agree that there will be a rapture & resurrection of believers. This is super clear in Scripture. Where we disagree is primarily in the timing. Is the rapture of the Church before Daniel’s 70th week? Is it 3.5 years into it? Is it at the end, after the antichrist rules & the mark of the beast occurs? Does it really matter?
Yes. Scripture puts the harpazo of the Church before the time of Jacob’s Trouble. The rapture is how the Lord removes His body from the earth prior to Daniel’s 70th week, because the Church can’t be part of the time of Jacob’s Trouble. (More on that below.)
Furthermore, a lot of the misunderstanding around the timing of the rapture comes from an evil root: replacement theology. This satanic doctrine falsely teaches that the Church has replaced Israel—a lie from the father of lies which results in (or at least supports) deception around the rapture. I believe the confusion or disagreement can be decreased or eliminated when we understand the purpose of the Church and grasp the distinctions between the Church and Israel.
Recognizing these two distinct groups, Israel and the Church, is key to this discussion.
In the age of grace (Eph. 3:1-11), the Church is made of everyone (Jew and Gentile) who trusts that Jesus paid for our sins with His own blood on the cross. We are saved by grace through faith alone in the finished work of the Lamb. The purpose of the Church is two-fold: to be the body of Christ, and to provoke Israel to jealousy.
We know from Scripture that Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah, was sent only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 15:24) Paul the Apostle was chosen and sent by God to the Gentiles after Israel rejected Jesus. As one of my favorite teachers, Robert Breaker, explains, Israel had three chances before this happened, but they rejected God all three times:
- They rejected God the Father when they did not believe His testimony about His Son (1 John 5:10);
- They rejected God the Son, Jesus the Messiah, when they crucified Him;
- They rejected God the Holy Spirit when Stephen testified of the truth (Acts 7:51-54).
Because Israel so wholly and wholeheartedly rejected God, God turned to the Gentiles:
“But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:45-48)
“Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (Acts 28:28)
God did this to provide salvation to the ends of the earth (bless the Lord, oh my soul! And all that is within me, bless His holy name!) and by doing so, to provoke the Jews to jealousy. (Rom. 10:19-20, Rom. 11:11-15)
We need to understand something. If Israel had received the Messiah when He came the first time, the Church as it is today would not exist!
God’s mysteries and plans not withstanding, if the nation of Israel had not rejected Him, there would be no need for this conversation. We the body exist because God wanted to provoke the Jews to jealousy. Think about that!
Despite Israel’s rejection of Christ, we know that all Israel will be saved. (Rom. 11:26) Today, Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace through faith. We call this the age of grace. It is the age of the Church and it’s also the age of the partial blindness of Israel. But this age will come to an end. Scripture tells us plainly that Israel will not always be partially blind. At the moment, the only thing that matters to Israel is that the followers of Yeshua do not try to proselytize. When does Israel actually become jealous? What happens? What monumental event opens their eyes? How will the transition happen?
And what about the gospel? Revelation clearly describes those who keep the commandments of God (works), have the faith of Jesus, and the everlasting gospel (Rev. 12:17, Rev. 14:6-7, Rev. 14:9-13). This is not how we are saved today (Eph. 2:8-9, Eph. 1:12-14, Acts 15:8-9, Acts 26:17-18, Rom. 3:20-30, Rom. 11:20), so in light of the gospel, how does one age end and the other begin?
[See also: Is it Faith Alone in Every Dispensation? // Are There Christians in the Tribulation? // The Tribulation Gospel // The Tribulation Gospel is NOT the Same as Paul’s Gospel ]
Why the rapture of the Church must happen before Daniel’s 70th week
Scripture is full of shadow-types and examples of how God punished Israel for their sin. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. As of now, Israel has wandered a spiritual wilderness for about 40 Jubilees. One day God will pick up where He left off; He has an everlasting covenant with Israel and will forgive them and restore them. Take a look at these Scriptures. Read them slowly and compare them to each other. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and speak to you as you read.
Thousands of years ago, the partial blindness of Israel and provoking them to anger and jealousy was prophesied by God through Moses:
“And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith. They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.” (Deut. 32:20-21)
Paul echoed these words when he wrote:
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.” But Isaiah is very bold and says: “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” (Rom. 10:16-21)
Paul went on to say,
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion, [see Rev. 19:11-15, Zech. 12:7-14]
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” (Rom. 11:25-32)
“Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Thenthe remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.” Micah 5:3
Notice a similar message in these two verses:
“…blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (from Rom. 11:25)
“Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;” (from Micah 5:3)
Here we see a temporary setting-aside of Israel that comes to a clear and definite end. God has not hidden His face from Israel forever; in fact, He tells us plainly when He will return to them and restore them: when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in and when she who is in labor has given birth.
This is why Rev. 12 is such a crucial chapter during these times. Last year, on Sept. 23, 2017, we witnessed a celestial alignment that matched Rev. 12:1-2 and pointed us to the striking imagery of a woman in labor who gives birth. It was like a huge pin on a map: YOU ARE HERE. In the months since, the unfolding convergenceshows beyond a doubt that we are nearing the fulfillment of this prophecy.
Look at Isaiah:
“Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.” Is. 66:7-8
Zion is the heavenly Jerusalem. Paul spoke of her when he said, “for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Gal. 4:25-26) This is us! Saints, WE are the birth that comes before the labor; we are the children of the free woman, the children and heirs of grace, of those who have “an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
“Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman [symbolized by Hagar / the law] and her son [Ishmael / the flesh], for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.” (Gal. 4:30-31)
So while the rapture is for the Church, it’s really about Israel and Jerusalem.
To recap what we’ve covered so far, Scripture teaches that God revealed the mystery of the Church and the salvation of the Gentiles to Paul. The reason? To provoke the Jews to jealousy. But God has an everlasting covenant with Israel and WILL return to them. The question is, how and when will all of this be achieved? I believe the Bible reveals that the birth-before-labor is the pre-Daniel’s-70th-week rapture, and the labor is none other than the time of Jacob’s Trouble. (Jer. 6:24, Isaiah 21:2-3)
Daniel’s 70th week is for Israel and has a specific purpose. Very clearly, the angel Gabriel revealed this to the prophet Daniel:
“Seventy weeks are determined for your people [Israel] and for your holy city [Jerusalem] To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.” Dan. 9:24
Reconciliation, Wrath & Destruction
The first sixty-nine weeks were fulfilled 2000 years ago. The last one, the seventieth, and where we get the phrase “Daniel’s 70th week,” remains. The Church wasn’t part of the first sixty-nine and according to Scripture, won’t be part of the last one.
Let’s go back to harpazo. It is a sudden and quick snatching out of danger. When does this need to happen? Paul explains clearly:
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath [the day of destruction], but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” (1 Thess. 5:2-10)
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:8-10)
Pardon the English lesson here, but sudden destruction comes upon “them.” “They” shall not escape. “You” is not the same as “them” or “they.” How do you escape from inescapable sudden destruction that will come as a snare on ALL those who dwell on the face of the whole earth?
You are harpazo’d. Snatched out quickly.
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day [the day of the Lord] come on you unexpectedly [Paul: overtake you as a thief]. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
Look what Jesus says to the faithful church:
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.(Rev. 3:10)
How will Jesus keep the faithful church from the hour of trial, the labor, which is to come upon the whole world? According to Scripture, He harpazo’s them.
“Yes, but we are only promised to escape the wrath.”
This statement comes from those who believe the wrath of God begins halfway into Daniel’s 70th week, presumably because the bowls of wrath are poured out near the end. Since we are not appointed to wrath, this theory concludes that the Church will be raptured halfway, taken out before the wrath begins.
A couple points about this. Scripture is clear that the wrath of God comes at the beginning of Jacob’s Trouble (Eze. 38:18-19, Rev. 6:16-17). Before the trumpets begin, the 144k are sealed on their foreheads to save and protect them (Rev. 7:2-3) because they were not raptured and remain on earth during this time. This shows that a serious change has taken place. Saved people during the age of grace are sealed by the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Eph. 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 1:21-22), so this describes a different age than the one we’re in now.
Furthermore, I say with humility that it is eisegesis (reading into the text) to say that 1 Thess. 5:9 is speaking only of God’s wrath. God is not the only one with wrath during the last days. Rev. 12:12 clearly shows the devil’s wrath: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17, kjv)
This sounds just like what we read in Micah 5:3.
“Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.”
Back to wrath: I believe that the entire seven years is about wrath. It gets progressively worse, but wrath is another way to say “the Day of the Lord.” Consider Paul’s reminder that the Day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. He equates the Day of the Lord with sudden destruction. However, “God did not appoint us to wrath,” he says, “but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Salvation is the counterpoint to wrath here. We are not appointed to sudden destruction, and the passage equates salvation with escape. It is very clear. As a particular section in a Daniel’s-70th-week timeline, “pre-wrath” is a man-constructed concept. The only true pre-wrath rapture is the pre-tribulation rapture.
Final thoughts on the post-tribulation rapture theory
Let me reiterate that I am not making light of the beliefs held by other brothers and sisters in the Lord. Speaking for myself, this theory was mostly held together by one question: why should I escape? It didn’t make sense that the Church would be exempt from the seven years of trial that is coming upon the world. At the very least, it wasn’t fair. Going deeper, I believed that suffering made me more holy, so I viewed it as an honor. I hoped I would become a martyr for Christ. (Oh, the self-righteousness! The pride!)
My beliefs were bolstered by a lack of understanding the differences between Israel & the Church. But worst of all, I didn’t understand the gospel. And this was the root. Again, speaking for myself, there was no room for the gospel of faith alone in my post-tribulational-rapture theory. And there is no room for a gospel of faith plus works in the pre-tribulational rapture doctrine, because a pre-trib rapture is all about grace. And mercy. And the lovingkindness of our Savior. You mean, we get to rest? We get to be snatched out of danger by a watchful and loving heavenly parent? We are worthy to escape because we rest in what Jesus did for us? We get to be in the glorious presence of Yeshua while God restores Israel?
While this is not a salvation issue, what you believe about God and the gospel will influence your rapture doctrine. I gently and urgently plead with you, beloved. If your doctrine of the rapture does not agree with removing the Church before Daniel’s 70th week, I’m not gonna ask you to change your mind. (I hope you do, but it needs to come from the Holy Spirit guiding you and confirming it through Scripture.) But I will ask you this: will you stop right now and pray and examine what you believe about grace? Will you re-visit the gospel you believe? Will you make sure, like extra extra sure, that the gospel you believe is the one that saves us today? During this age of grace? During this time of the partial blindness of Israel?
I say this as humbly as I can, but the post-tribulation-rapture theory falls apart not only when encountering a myriad of prophetic Scriptures, some of which I’ve shared above, but also many other points. Here are a few:
- In a post-trib view, when do we go to heaven? John 14:1-3 makes clear that Jesus is making rooms for us in His Father’s house (using the precious symbology of traditional Hebrew wedding customs) and will come again to receive us to Himself. But after Daniel’s 70th week, Christ is coming to rule and reign upon the earth for 1000 years. Believers will rule and reign with Him.
- The rapture is clearly described in Scripture, so if it happens at the end, as the post-trib view teaches, what are we rescued from? The worst is over, but the word harpazo, and Paul’s teachings, confirm that the rapture is a sudden snatching out of destruction and danger. He actually talks about “sudden” destruction (1 Thess. 5:3), not a gradually worsening destruction, which would necessitate a sudden snatching away.
- The purpose of Daniel’s 70th week is the restoration of Israel and judgment upon God’s enemies. As the body of Christ, we are not God’s enemies nor are we of national Israel, nor do we need restoration. We were formed for God’s good pleasure (Eph. 1:3-14) and to provoke the Jews to jealousy. What purpose would the Church serve during the tribulation?
- The gospel preached during Daniel’s 70th week (Rev. 14:6-7) is not the gospel that is preached today (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Paul tells us that if anyone, even an angel from heaven, preaches a different gospel than what we have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-12) Is the angel of Rev. 14:6-7accursed? Why or why not?
- Why is the Church saved by grace through faith alone, not of works (Eph. 2:8-9), but during Daniel’s 70th week, remnant saints are saved by faith plus works? (Rev. 12:17, Rev. 14:9-13) And how can these co-exist during this time? How would we share our gospel, which is clearly faith alone, and wouldn’t it cause confusion? If we had to suddenly begin sharing a different gospel, how will we know the exact moment to stop preaching faith alone and to start preaching faith plus works? What if someone accidentally shared faith alone, but it was five minutes into the time of faith plus works? Is there a period of transition?
- I understand how pre-wrath proponents explain 1 Thess. 5:9, but for the post-trib theory, how does going through all the years of vengeance and wrath, which we were promised to be kept from (Rev. 3:10, Nahum 1:2, etc.), reconcile with the rest of Scripture?
- How does the post-trib view explain the promise to believers vs. unbelievers in Rom. 2:5-10?
- What if God really does want the body of Christ to escape all these things? What if He is truly that kind, that gracious, that merciful?
Of course, I believe He is. Am I worthy to escape all these things? Not in a million years on my own. In my flesh I am chief of sinners, evil, wicked, worthless and depraved. Nothing I can do makes me worthy. But isn’t that the point? If avoiding the tribulation is based on me being good enough, then why did Jesus have to die? And if going through the tribulation is because I need to atone for my sin, tell me: did I out-sin the blood of Jesus? Was His death not enough? These two options are the only logical conclusions for this theory.
Thanks be to God for His salvation! Yeshua my Saviour has saved my soul from hell and He saves me from the wrath to come. What He did for me makes me worthy, and I have put my faith in Him who is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 1:24)
For those of us in the body of Christ today, a pre-Daniel’s-70th-week catching away is the only valid theory presented to us in Scripture. To understand it, we must study the mysteries revealed by Jesus to Paul, the purpose of the Church, the differences between the Church and Israel, the everlasting covenant that God made with Abraham (the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable), the purpose of Daniel’s 70th week, and we must believe the good news of the gospel.
The goodness and kindness of God is beyond human comprehension. I urge you to believe the truth of the nature of God who reserves His wrath for His enemies (Nah. 1:2
) but shows mercy to thousands (Deut. 5:10
). I humbly believe that many who hold to a post-trib (or pre-wrath) view might not have fully grasped the depth of God’s sweet grace. Grace is what we do not deserve. When we truly comprehend it, our only honest response is thanksgiving, obedience, abundant love and joy.
In closing, I do not believe in a “pre-trib rapture” because I’m afraid of the antichrist or getting my head chopped off or living without hot running water, fresh coffee, or electricity.
I believe in a pre-trib rapture because it is Scriptural truth. Even if you believe otherwise, if you are saved, you are going in the rapture anyway. But during these final days leading up to the glorious appearing of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, the comfort and joy of having this hope to hold onto is such a sweet mercy the Lord has given us.
One last-last thought.
Jesus is coming quickly, beloved. And Paul tells us that He will give the crown of righteousness to all who love His appearing.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8)
If you do not believe this appearing is when Jesus comes to receive His body to Himself, vis-à-vis the pre-trib rapture, there remains this:
“Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.” Amos 5:18
So do you love the day of the Lord’s appearing, or is it woe unto you? Are we children of light, or of darkness? (1 Thess. 5:5)
It is simple to harmonize these passages. The day of the Lord’s appearing is the rapture of the body of Christ. The day of darkness is the time of Jacob’s Trouble.
- What is the most compelling biblical case you’ve found for a pre-trib rapture?
- If you hold a pre-wrath or post-trib view, what passage of Scripture anchors you in this belief and keeps you from embracing the pre-trib teaching?
I may not be able to respond to every question or comment below, but I’m hopeful that as the body of Christ we can encourage one another, exhort one another, and do so according to 2 Tim. 2:23-25
with humility, gentleness and respect. (Click to Source