The word ‘rapture’ is used to describe the great gathering of all God’s people at the end of the age from all over the world. According to Jesus, this will include both Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua, or Yahshua, and coincides with His return to take possession of what the Father and He made (Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:1-2).
In regard to when the rapture takes place, there are three primary views:
- a pre-Tribulation rapture that occurs before the Tribulation,
- a mid-Tribulation rapture, that occurs near the middle, and
- a post, or end of Tribulation rapture.
Of the above views it has been our observation that the pre-tribulation view is quite popular among evangelical, non-denominational, Calvary Chapel, Baptist believers, and also among TV and Radio preachers and teachers, while not nearly as common among “youtubers,” Internet readers, or those who simply study the Scriptures for themselves.
Problems with a Pre-Tribulation Rapture
Aside from not encouraging God’s people to give their all for the Lord and the gospel, and ‘endure to the end’ (Matt. 10:22; Mark 8:34-38), a pre-tribulation rapture forces one to make a distinction between Old Testament era believers who believed in God and Jesus (Ps. 2:1-12; 16:10; Isa. 53:1-10; Luke 2:8-20, 25-38; John 3:25-36) before the day of Pentecost, those who believed between Pentecost and the Great Tribulation, and those who believed during the Tribulation. The main point being that those who adhere to a Pre-tribulation rapture must make a distinction between the “Holy Nation” / “Royal Priesthood” / “people for God’s own possession” / Church (of I Pet. 2:9-10) and the “God’s own possession” (future nation called) Israel — that God will also prepare for Himself (Mal. 3:16-18) and be with — and among (Rev. 21:3). Such a belief (that the Church is not Israel, nor Israel the Church) is a necessary outcome, or requirement, of the belief in a pre-tribulation rapture. It also comes from the belief that most Israelis are not of mixed descent, that the New Nation of Israel consists almost entirely of Jews, and that God would not let His church people (in the West) suffer persecution — as happened with the apostles and many millions of others.1
One + One = Two … things that MUST occur FIRST
Many teachers today, including those on TV and radio, teach a Pre-Tribulation Rapture (only) view of the end times, and do so as if it were engraved in stone, or the word of God, and thus stands on its own without any fancy (between the lines) interpretation. They also put such views in their church doctrinal statements and say such things as:
“We know the church will be (removed by) Rapture before the Antichrist is revealed.” 2
The Rapture … “is the next event on God’s prophetic … clock.” 3
“To suggest that part of the body (of Christ) must remain on earth while the other part is in heaven is contrary to Scripture.” 4
“Ephraem the Syrian” (said that) “all the saints and Elect of God … (will be) “gathered, prior to the Tribulation that is to come …” 5
However, according to Jesus’ own words in Matt. 24:29-31 and the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, the Lord’s coming (or rapture) cannot occur until two things occur first: meaning that the rapture can’t be the “next thing” on God’s prophetic clock. And in this regard, the apostle Paul warned us (in advance) to NOT be deceived about.
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it shall not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed; who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship ….” 2 Thes. 2:3
Note that the “it” in the above verse refers to “the coming of the Lord, and our gathering together to Him.” This “day of the Lord” (vs. 2) and “our gathering together to Him” (from verse 1) refers to the Rapture of the church or gathering of believers from all over the world: both those who have gone before us and those who are “alive and remain” on the earth — first to “meet the Lord” in the air (I Thes. 4:17), then to Israel to conquer God’s enemies (at the battle of Armageddon), and then for a wedding feast in the city of God: His holy mountain: Ps. 48:1-2; Isa. 25:6-9; Joel 2:16-17.
This means that those who say the Rapture can happen at any moment are declaring things that the Scriptures do not actually teach: at least not in plain English. In this regard our Lord warned us that there would be “many” “false teachers” during the last days before His return, and that “many” would also “fall away from” their shallow faith in Jesus (Matt. 24:9-14) and even turn against their former brothers and sisters in Christ: which is NOT the same as leaving the ‘Sunday-Go-to-Meetin,’ church (sermon / attendance game) that many are caught up in and hindered by: as opposed to “losing one’s life” in Christ and finding and doing God’s will: Mark 3:31-35; 8:34-38. See also Luke 14:16-23, 18:28-30 and Ps. 34:3-5.
In this regard, we are told that at least 144,000 of God’s “bond servants” (during this period) know the difference between following the Lord vs an apostate church: simply because they they “follow the Lamb” wherever He goes: Rev. 7:3 and 14:4. We can also say that all other true Church members will be with Christ when He comes, and be with Him where He is: I Thes. 4:17; John 14:1-3; 17:24.
If I had a choice, unless the Lord asked me to do otherwise, I would choose to miss the Tribulation and be raptured. This pre-tribulation rapture is what I was taught by my own pastors and by radio preachers who teach on this subject. It is also the view that I myself believed for about 20 years. However, we must be willing to allow the Scriptures to speak to us, and not declare what we want them to say or what people want to hear: especially when such views may lead them to place their faith in something that may not be true. It’s also our responsibility to do OUR OWN HOMEWORK, and NOT simply take the word of others as if it were the truth: Acts 17:11.
I used to believe that when the Holy Spirit, or restrainer, is taken out of the way (2 Thes. 2:5-8), then we also must go up and away with Him; however, I have since come to realize that the restrainer who is keeping the antichrist from being revealed does not need to take believers to heaven when he moves “out of the way,” but rather simply to step aside and allow the lawless one (who deceives the world) to take his place and do what he wants: i.e. to proclaim himself as God. In this regard, it is significant that the restrainer is spoken of as “he,” suggesting that it is not the church — or bride of Christ: otherwise it would say when “she” … is taken away.
Another problem with a Pre-Tribulation rapture view is found in Daniel chapters 7, 8, and 12 — where we are told that the forces of evil will “shatter” or break the “power of the holy people.” But if the holy people are not on the earth during this time (due to Rapture), then in what sense could their power be broken? In fact, Dan. 12:1 and 7 tell us that the Lord returns just after this takes place. See also Rom. 12:1, Eph. 1:4, Col. 1:22, I Pet. 1:15-16 and 2:9-10 with regard to who the holy people are.
Other Reasons used to promote a Pre-Trib Rapture include:
- God has not destined us to wrath: I Thes. 5:9
- The apostle John was called up for a message: Rev. 4:1
- No ‘church’ word beyond Revelation 3
- Believers don’t need to be ‘purged’
- Romans 11, Israel, and the Church
- Is the Church separate from Israel?: Rom. 11 and Rev. 1-22
- Noah and Lot were divinely Protected
- A Post-Trib Rapture leaves Nobody Behind … to repopulate the Earth
The following are also discussed:
- The Abomination of desolation
- When Does the Rapture occur?
- The Rapture is the End of Death: I Cor. 15:51-55
- Who will be Protected
- Two + Two = Four … Two other things that must also take place
- Does Rev. 3:10 apply to All churches
I Thessalonians 5:9 says that “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Pre-Trib Rapture advocates effectively change this verse to read as follows:
“For God has not destined us for (great tribulation) but for obtaining (rapture) through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thus they change God’s word to make it say what they want rather than what it actually says. However, going through the tribulation or coming out of it (even by death) is NOT the same as being condemned for all eternity (2 Thes. 1:9; Rev. 14:9-11; 21:8). In fact, the two can scarcely be compared: since one is Very Bad while the other leads to eternal life: Dan 11:35; 12:3; Rev. 6:9-11; 12:11; 19:7-9. This is especially true when viewed from an eternal perspective and when one realizes that the God who made us and gave us our life, also has power over both physical and spiritual death (Ps. 9:13; 16:10; 34:22; Isa. 25:8; 55:3; Ezek. 37:13-14; John 11:25-26, 43-44) and that He knows those who are His: John 6:37; 10:14, 27.
While we are on this subject, let’s look at Romans 5:8-9 which also talks about being saved from “God’s wrath.” It says that:
“… God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him … through the death of His Son, … having been reconciled … (and) saved by His life.”
Again it does not say that we shall be “saved by rapture,” but by His blood, through His death and by His life. That’s because death “no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9-10) and because we are “in Him.” See also Rom. 8:1-14, 14:7-9, and Heb. 2:14.
Other authors on this topic point out that the Tribulation is the Time of Satan’s wrath toward God’s people (Rev. 12:12);. For example, Steven Amy points out that:
“The saints are not the target of God’s wrath during this time, but are persecuted by the beast (Rev. 13:7). When God comes, his wrath is directed toward those who are persecuting the saints, and He provides relief for the suffering saints (2 Thes. 1:6-10).”
Another reason why God pours out His wrath toward the ungodly at this time is because they would not repent of their evil deeds, and because they took the mark of the devil (or “beast”) to try and save their own (temporary) lives on earth (Rev. 9:1-12, 20-21; Mark 8:34-38) and thus they chose to believe lies (such as nobody made us, there is no right or wrong, and that an imposter is God) rather than the truth: 2 Thes. 2:12; Rev. 13:3-4, 7-18.
Revelation 4:1 says that the apostle John was called up to heaven to see and record what was even taking place then … and to warn the Church about the things that would take place just before Christ’s return. This verse does not say anything about a great gathering (or rapture) of believers being taken up at this time: even though John, himself, was taken up (or allowed) to see a vision of heaven; however, it does mention a “loud voice that sounded like a trumpet.”
Revelation 4 gives us a front-row view of what was taking place with regard to the Lord, the four living creatures and the 24 elders. No mention is made of a rapture of God’s people at this time. And if it did, it would mean that it took place over 1900 years ago: or when John received his vision.
Rev. 1-22 and the word “church”
The word “church” simply means gathering together of believers, or “called out ones.” The place where they meet has nothing to do with it: meaning that it can be an outdoor park, field, a home, or a building. Those who hold to a Pre-Tribulation rapture emphasize the fact that the word ‘church’ is not mentioned after chapter three of Revelation until near the end of the book (in Ch. 22). This is then used to declare that, “The Lord has said” … “that the church will be Raptured before the Tribulation begins,” when that is NOT what the Lord actually said: nor His apostles. Those who claim this make light of the fact that various other words are used (from Chapters 4-22) that refer to the church and/or its members: such as, “bride” (Rev. 19:7-8; 21:2), “bond-servants” (Rev. 7:3; 19:5; 22:3, 6, Mal. 3:16-18; John 12:26), “saints’ (Rev. 13:7, 14:13, 16:6, 18:24, 19:8), “prophets” (Rev. 16:6, 18:24) “souls … (who) maintained (their) testimony” (Rev. 6:9; 12:11), “fellow servants,” and “brethren” (Rev. 6:11, 12:10-11), “a great multitude … in white robes … who come out of the great tribulation” (Rev. 7:9-14), “the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13), “armies … in fine linen” (Rev. 19:14), and “those who wash their robes,” (Rev. 22:14).
In this regard, author Stephen Amy points out that the book of Revelation was written “to the churches” (Rev. 22:16). 4 This is also seen from chapters 1, 2, and 3. For example, Rev. 1:4-6 tells us that the book (of Revelation) was written to the churches: as does each and every letter to the seven churches — which is why the phrase “to the churches” appears seven times, or at the end of each letter to every “church”: thus telling us that this book applies not just to all “churches” at that time, but to all believers who have lived from the time of Christ’s first appearance until He comes again.
Those who assert that the reason the word “church” isn’t used after chapter three is because of a (pre-tribulation) rapture, must make light of the above verses: i.e. such as that “saints” are mentioned throughout the book of Revelation, and ignore the fact that saints comprise the church — even as do “brethren,” “fellow servants,” “bond servants,” “bride,” etc.. See Rom. 1:5-7, I Cor. 1:2, Eph. 1:1, Phil. 1:1 and note that each of these books were written to “the saints” or to individual members of these churches.
One reason the word “church” isn’t mentioned beyond chapter three of Revelation (until chapter 22) is because the antichrist wants to be worshipped as if he were the Creator, or as if he were God. Therefore he won’t want competition from dissenting voices: meaning he will seek to shut down all opposition — including “churches” and other “organized religions” (2 Thes. 2:3-12; Dan. 8:22-25; 11:31-35; Jer. 25:30-38; Matt. 5:13; John 9:4, Psalm 9:15-17 and Rev. 12-18). So If churches are shut down, then there are no more public “churches” or gatherings of believers, but there will still be individual saints. Note also that during this time, we are told that many churches will be ‘apostate,’ or more interested in church attendance than in winning their neighborhoods and cities for Christ.
Note also what we are told about the “perseverance” and “faith” of the saints during this time when “no man can work” Rev. 13:10; 14:12-13; John 9:4.
In his book Prayer that Brings Revival (p. 64), David Yonggi Cho makes the following observation about the responsibility of the Church and its members:
“If we don’t catch the vision of our role as the salt of the earth, and we lazily allow evil to gain control of … our respective countries, then the salt (will) have lost its savor. At that time, Jesus said … it is “good for nothing …” Matt. 5:13.
Note in this regard, that seven different churches are mentioned and addressed in Revelation 2-3: and that they are warned to repent, remain faithful, “overcome,” and not be afraid of death but to trust in the Lord: who Himself also overcame and now rules over it: Rev. 1:15-18.
Another reason why the word “Church” is not used during this time is because its members are being “grafted” into the nation of Israel: Rom. 11:17-27. This is discussed in more detail below, and in an article titled: Who is a True Jew?
Believers Don’t Need to be Tested or Purged through Suffering:
Pre-tribulation proponents assert that since we are made clean by the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7), by His name, His Spirit (I Cor. 6:11) and by confessing our sins (I John 1:9), that we therefore don’t need to be “tested” or “purged” of any fleshly habits and/or worldly addictions that are defiling us (by suffering, persecution, or death). Some would also say that we don’t even need to make a serious effort to Stop sinning … since doing so is said to be (next to) impossible. However, the Scriptures tell us that we are to be holy even as He is holy (I Pet. 1:15-16), to “keep His commandments,” (John 14:21-24) and love one another as He loves us: John 13:34-35; I John 2:3-11. The following Scriptures also tells us that we are to strive to become blameless in our daily walk with God.
For example, Jude 24 tells us that God “is able to keep (us) from stumbling …” (in sin). This is brought out quite clearly by the apostle Paul in the following verses.
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts; and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God … and your members as instruments of righteousness to God … and … “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone … (for obedience) … you are slaves of the one … you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or … obedience resulting in righteousness.” Rom. 6:12-16
“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” I Cor. 15:34
Jesus was more direct with a woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on, sin no more” John 8:11. We can be certain He would have said something similar to the man as well if her accusers had brought him. And with regard to being “purged,” both the Old and New Testaments tell us that Christians (who live godly lives) do, in fact, suffer for their faith, and that it is evidence of who they are. For example,
“For unto you it is given on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake …” Philippians 1:29
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” I Peter 4:12-17
Daniel also mentions God’s people who suffer after the abomination of desolation is set up (Dan. 11:31; 2 Thes. 2:4-9). For example:
“the people who know their God will display strength and take action (and will) give understanding to (many) … yet some will fall … to refine, purge, and make them pure.” Dan 11:32-35
According to Rev. 3:10, Jesus said that one reason why other “churches” were going through the Tribulation was to “test” them: even as many of their fellow brethren (who went before them) were tested. This is probably because they were not living as clean and pure lives as the Philadelphians: nor taking a stand for the gospel the way that they were. In other words, the Philadelphians were not only living pure lives and caring for one another, but being persecuted for their stand for the truth, while most of the other churches were compromising the truth in some way, shape, or form. See Rev. 6:9-11, 13:15 and 14:9-13. See also Rev. 1:15-18; 3:10; Ps. 9:13; 34:4; 125; Isa. 25:6-9; 26:19; 41:10; 43:1; John 6:37-40; 11:25-26; 34-44; Acts 2:31-32; Heb. 2:14; 10:35 and 10:38-39.
Another reason the Lord wants us to live holy (or sinless) lives is because He, Himself, is holy (I Pet. 1:15-16), and so that we have “confidence” and not “shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” — I John 2:27-29, Eph. 1:4, 5:27, Col. 1:2. In other words, He wants us to be ‘blameless,’ and to be right with Him when He comes for us.
In this regard, I myself forsook many of my old (sinful) habits not long after being “saved;” while others have been more difficult to overcome, and thus I have confessed my failure (to God and others) many times. And although I am much more “sanctified” and “set apart” than when I was first saved, I still struggle with the old nature, and that for me to have victory I must literally avoid anything and everything that pollutes my mind or causes me to stumble: whether TV, Radio, Movies, Books, Magazines, Entertainment, Money, saying too much, and/or those who cause me to stumble: James 3:2; Matt. 18:9, 15, Heb. 12:1; Psalm 11:5; 101:3; Isa. 33:15, Ezek. 35:6.
Romans 11, Israel, and the Church:
Romans 11 tells us that a partial hardening has happened to many people of Jewish and Israelite descent and that many gentiles have been “grafted in” to the “olive tree” (nation and priesthood) of Israel. Note that it is the church that is grafted in to Zion or the New and revived nation: as opposed to present Israel being grafted into the (non-political and local) “Church.” This came as a discovery to me as I read and re-read Romans 11, Rom. 3:28-31, Isa. 11:11-12, 49:13-18, 56:3-8, Micah 4:6-8, Zeph. 3:8-20, and Matt. 21:42-44: that talk about God tearing down the old (religious and political structure that forsook Him) and reassembling a new nation of believers when Christ returns.
In regard to this time of ‘re-structuring’ the ‘church’ from a local body of believers to an Israelite nation and Priesthood, Gentile believers are warned not to be arrogant toward Jews and Israelis, nor to abandon our faith in the Lord and His goodness, that has ‘great reward.’ Rom. 11:18-22; Heb. 10:35-39; Isa. 25:6-9; 35:3-5.
Stephen Amy says the following in this regard:
“Pretribulation authors typically acknowledge that there will be saints on the earth during the tribulation, but they deny that such saints are members of the church. This assertion grows from dispensationalism, a method of interpreting Scripture that distinguishes Israel from the church in the last days. Thus they explain that although saints can be on the earth, the church is not. But there can be no doubt that believing Jews are portrayed as members of the church (from Pentecost to the coming of the Lord) in such passages as Eph. 2:14; Rev. 2:8-11, and Rev. 3:7-13. The dispensationalist’s assertion that believing Israel is not to be confused with the church … fails to consider that:
- believing Jews and gentiles go through the tribulation (Rev. 7:4-8, 9-14);
- the church, since … Pentecost, has been composed of Jews and gentiles; and
- the book of Revelation is written “to the churches” (Rev. 22:16).” 6
Is the Church separate from Israel?
If the Church is separate from the nation of Israel, or Zion, then why would the apostle Paul say that there is “no distinction” between Jewish and Gentile believers (Col. 3:11, Rom. 10:12) and that we are all one in Christ: Eph. 2:14?
See also Ephesians 3:1-21 (especially verse 6), where we are told that Gentiles are included, and part of God’s program / “holy nation” (of “priests”), and which the New Nation of Israel will also become. In this regard, note what the Lord said to His 12 disciples — who were definitely part of His Church: i.e. that after the resurrection they would sit on 12 thrones: judging the 12 tribes of Israel: Matt. 19:28. Therefore, since the 12 apostles were (and are) part of the church, and will also be part of Israel, then it appears that Israel and the Church are closely tied together: if not one and the same.
The Scriptures also say that when the Lord returns He will gather the ‘outcasts’ and ‘afflicted’ and make them a ‘remnant’ and a ‘strong nation’ and ‘reign over them from Mount Zion’ (Micah 4:5-6) — suggesting quite strongly that the new nation of Israel will be comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. This event will happen from all over the earth (Isa. 11:10-12; Matt. 24:29-31), and will involve ‘many nations’ … who … join themselves to the Lord … to become His people (Zech. 2:11): including ‘foreigners” who once were not His people. See also Hos. 2:23; Isa. 56:3-8 and Zeph. 3:19-20.
For the rapture to occur before the tribulation is to assert that believers (who comprise the church) are separate and distinct from Israel or Zion; however, in Romans 11:25-31, we learn that Israel is the crown — or completion — of the church, and that the church is grafted into a New Nation that the Lord will put together when He comes back while also saving the Israeli nation that presently exists: which will become believers in the Messiah all at once, and who together say when He comes:
“This is our God, for whom we have waited, that He might save us.” And “Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” … The One who will wipe tears away from all faces.” Isa. 25:8-9
What about Noah and Lot?
Pre-Tribulation proponents use the example of Noah to assert that Christians won’t go through the Tribulation: since God protected Noah from the Flood; however, they often fail to point out that Noah and his family actually went through the Flood, yet were “saved” from it because they obeyed God and built an ark of safety. See Genesis 6-9 and I Pet. 3:20.
Lot and his immediate family were also rescued from Sodom by angels who took them into the wilderness, as opposed to off of the planet: Gen. 18:20-19:30.
A Post-Trib Rapture leaves nobody behind to re-populate the Earth
The statement above and the quote below are by Tiffany Wismer in an article she wrote on the rapture. The following is an excerpt.
If the church is on earth during the tribulation, AND on earth during the millennium, what would be the point of taking them up … and … (then) … right back again? Even more convincingly, if all believers … are raptured at the end of the tribulation, their bodies would be glorified to enter heaven. So, all unbelievers will be dead and all believers glorified. There will be nobody left to populate the earth during the millennium. That means that if you get rid of the pre-trib rapture, you have to get rid of the millennial kingdom as well. And unless you are willing to accept an entirely metaphorical reading of Revelation, it’s hard to dismiss the millennial kingdom.
This is a two-part question, the first part dealing with what happens at the rapture: when we go up to “meet the Lord” in the air – even as He is coming back to take over the earth and to set foot on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:1-4). And since He does, in fact, take over, and since we — after being caught up with Him (according to I Thes. 4:17) — shall always be with Him, then if He comes right back, we will be coming right back with Him. However, if He remains in the New Jerusalem for the next 1000 years, then we will be with Him there.
These things are still somewhat of a mystery (I Cor. 2:6-14; 15:51-54) . For example, is the church a separate entity from Israel or part of it, as Romans 11:11-25 and various other passages appear to say? For example Isa. 56:3-8; Jn. 10:16, Gal. 3:6-9, 26-29; Eph. 3:3-6. and Rev. 7:9-17.
Another related mystery is the woman in Revelation 12:6 who is carried into the wilderness and protected (or hidden) from the beast for 1260 days? Who is she?
Still another related mystery is something the apostle John was told not to record, and that would not be made clear until the time of the end (Rev. 10:4-7)?
Tiffany’s statement touches on yet another mystery: i.e. who is left to re-populate the earth — after the raptures of the saved and unsaved take place? One popular pastor says that not only will there be no “seven year tribulation” / second chance to get right with God, but that we will be with the Lord for the entire 1000 years in the New Jerusalem, while the earth itself is without inhabitant during this whole entire period: after which time God will re-create the heavens and the earth.
In regard to the two raptures, Jesus said that there will be a harvest at the end of the age. More specifically He told us that:
“ … just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matt. 13:40-43
This passage tells us that the wicked are taken away first, and that the righteous who remain will then “shine forth as the sun.” This agrees with what John tells us will happen to God’s people when they see the Lord (I Cor. 15:51-52; John 3:1-3; Col. 3:4).: i.e. death is over with and we are transformed, and made like Jesus.
Rev. 14:14-20 also mentions two harvests that take place during or after the tribulation: the second of which clearly involves the wicked. See also Matt. 3:12, Luke 17:26-37 and Rev. 19:17-21.
In Luke 17:26-27 we are told that the second coming of Christ will be just like it was in the days of Noah: where Noah and his family went into the ark (that they build in advance), and then, on that same day the rain came, and continued non-stop for 40 days. Jesus also compared His return to the days of Lot: where Lot and his family were told to flee to the wilderness, and then, as soon as they were out of danger (and on the very same day), fire came down from heaven and destroyed all of those who remained.
How could this be the case if there were a pre-tribulation rapture where 1/3rd to 1/4th of the planet’s population suddenly disappeared in thin air? In other words, if a pre-tribulation rapture signaled the beginning of a 7-year tribulation, then those ‘Left Behind’ would be able to count down the days to the end of the age. At the very least one must admit that there was no such warning or event that preceded the great flood, nor the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jesus also tells us that, “It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”
“On that day, let not the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house go down to take them away; and likewise let not the one who is in the field turn back. “ Luke 17:31
These verses are almost identical to Matt. 24:15-21, where “those in Judea” are told to “flee to the mountains” because of the “abomination” that causes desolation: which the apostle Paul tells us is a reference to the revelation of the man of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:1-8). And the very next verse tells us to “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32)
For those who don’t know, Lot was warned to tell his family to flee to the mountains and “not look back;” however, his wife stopped and looked back, and we are told that she became a “pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26). In her case it was likely because she wanted to go back (i.e. to the world and what it had to offer). And so we are told that it would be far better to head for the hills, or “go into (our) inner rooms” and hide out (Isa. 26:20-21) rather than “seek to save (our) life” by denying Jesus, or taking the mark of the beast or worshipping his image (or picture) or continue to live a life of ease and pleasure. See also Mark 8:34-38, John 9:4, Rev. 14:9-13. and 20:4-6.
This is also confirmed by the next verse (Luke 17:33).
Other verses that place the revelation of the antichrist on or at the same time as the rapture, or “rescue” of God’s people are Daniel 12:1-3 and Rev. 17:12: where we learn that the beast only rules for “one hour.”
So, if the tribulation is seven years long, and represents “one week,” and if “one hour” of a “week” (of years) is only 1/24th of a day, and if a “day” of the tribulation (week) represents one year, one can build a case that the “one hour” spoken of here is 1/24 of a year, or only two weeks. Two other verses also suggest that the antichrist’s reign is less than three and a half years. One is Dan. 11:24, where the person spoken of here “devises schemes against strongholds .. only for a time,” which could be a year. The other place is Dan. 12:10-12, where it seems that his reign of terror is only 45 days.
At any rate, it seems that there will be both righteous and unrighteous people still living and working together up until the Lord’s return: where we are told that, “on that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other left … “two women will be grinding at the same place; one will be taken, and the other left … “ Luke 17:34-35
Then the disciples of Jesus asked him, “Where Lord?” And He said to them, “Where to body is, there also will the vultures be gathered.” Luke 17:37 NASB
The above is a reference to the rapture of the unsaved: who are taken to a valley in Israel where the battle of Armageddon is taking place, and whose bodies are eaten by birds: Luke 17:34-37; Matt. 13:38-43, 47-50; 24:37-51; Rev. 19:17-21.
Note: In the passage above from Luke the word “vultures” is used in the NASB, while the King James uses the word “eagles.” From the context and the word “body,” “vultures” conveys more accurately what is going on here; however it is likely that there will be all sorts of migratory birds present, since those taken away to destruction are “assigned a place with the wicked,” Matt. 13:41, 49-50; 24:38-39, 45-51. In this regard, the passage from Revelation 19 (17-21) is quite clear: i.e. that birds and the “flesh” of men are involved when the wicked are destroyed.
Any scenario of the end times must take at least two raptures into account; as they are both clearly taught. As to who is left behind to repopulate the earth is uncertain; it may have to do with the woman who is taken into the wilderness, or it may simply be those on “Mt. Zion” … “and in Jerusalem” who “escape” (Joel 2:32, Obad. 1:17)? Or it may be that the earth will only be “re-populated” with “saints’ who have eternal life. This is alluded to when the 1000 years are completed and the devil and his demons are released to “surround the camp of the saints” Rev. 20:7-9. It is also alluded to in Isa. 32:1 and Ezek. 37:21-28.
Pre-tribulation advocates would have us believe that there are three raptures: one of the church at the beginning of the tribulation, another of the unsaved at the end of it, and still another of ‘elect’ also at the end. Yet still they have the same question to answer: i.e. who is left over to repopulate the earth?
In Matthew 24, the rapture (of saints) happens in verses 29-31: at the end of the tribulation; And further down in the same chapter another “rapture” is mentioned; so it may take place on or about the same day (?).. Since this second rapture (in Matt. 24) talks about removing all “stumbling blocks” and assigning them a place with the “wicked,” it is possible that those “left behind” at this point are those who will repopulate the earth during the millennial reign of Christ: if the earth is to be re-populated with mortals (?).
The Abomination that leads to destruction
We are told in Daniel 11:31 that “forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and stop the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.” Many scholars have assumed that for the “sacrifices” to be “stopped” there must first be a third temple constructed on the Temple Mount; however, as is pointed out below, there need not be any more (Jewish) temple in order to “stop,” or “diminish,” or “pervert” the “sacrifices.” This is because the “sacrifices” spoken of could simply be prayers that are normally offered up to God in a certain “holy” place.. This is pointed out by Renee Moses, whose youtube video is linked to below. If Renee is correct in what she has pieced together, then this explains why the abomination will not be immediately set up after the sacrifices are (or rather were) perverted. This also explains the time delay (of 1290 days), from the time the “daily sacrifice” is “stopped” or “diminished” or “perverted” until the the abomination is set up: Dan. 12:11.
Jesus also spoke about this and said that it would take place after “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world … and then the end will come (Matt. 24:14). This means that it takes place at the end of the age, just before the real Messiah comes back to claim what is rightfully His. And in regard to the abomination, Jesus told us it would be linked to something or someone “standing in the holy place” … And in Matt. 24:15 (in parenthesis) we are told to “let the reader understand.” There is a parallel passage in Mark 13 (14-37). Both passages warn readers not to be deceived about those who will claim to be the Christ or Messiah, nor by those who will say that He is “in the wilderness,” or in “an inner room” (i.e. inside of a “temple,” “tent” or building) Matt. 24:23-27. For when the real Messiah comes, the whole world will know that something Big is up simply because of the way He shows up: i.e. with the biggest earthquake the world has ever seen (Ezek. 38:18-20, Zech. 14:2-9; Rev. 16:18-21) — that will knock down every wall on the planet lower the elevation of mountains (Mic. 1:1-4) — and that is accompanied by a great lightning and hail storm (with 70-100 lb hailstones), and the sun itself turning dark.
We are also told to not be deceived, and that before the real Messiah shows up, an imposter will come first and will be a man who claims to be God, and who tries to convince people to worship him as if he were our Creator (2 Thes. 2:1-12). The book of Revelation further tells us that the imposter will require people to pledge their allegiance to him and the new monetary system that will be set up by requiring people to receive some some sort of “mark,” or “mark of the beast” in order to buy and sell (Rev. 13:11-18; 14:9-13).
Side note 1: Renee Moses has given us a clue as to who this person is and informs us that part of this prophecy has already been fulfilled: i.e. that this man has already stood in the (world’s most) “holy place” — also known as the “sanctuary fortress” — 1260 days after being declared by the world to be a man of “peace” (on Oct. 9, 2009). For more details see “The Rapture Puzzle” on youtube.
Side note 2: Many prophecy teachers tell us that before the antichrist can show up, the Jews have to first “rebuild” their old temple on the Temple Mount; however, as the author of the book (and video) above notes, the “daily sacrifice” (or prayer offerings) were already stopped (if only for one day) on Mar. 23, 2013 by the worlds hand-picked “man of peace” himself. This coupled with what we are told in Dan. 11:45 tells us that the temple may simply be a tent that could be set up in one or two days. See also the video interview of Nathan: a 15 Year-Old Jewish Boy and his near death experience linked to at the end of this article.
Side note 3: if the above scenario is correct, this means that the abomination will be “set up” on or about October 5, 2016. If so, according to Nathan’s heavenly account (that was shown to him), the war will last only two weeks and then the real Messiah shows up and saves the planet from total destruction. This two week reign of terror agrees with the time frame (of the antichrist’s actual reign) that we determined from scripture, and that was discussed above, and by the Messiah’s own testimony that the days would be “shortened.” Matt. 22:42
When Does the Rapture occur?
In Matthew 24:29-31 we learn that the rapture — or gathering of believers — occurs just “after the tribulation of those days.” And in I Cor. 15:52 we are told that the rapture takes place “at the last trumpet.” This is likely the seventh or last trumpet mentioned in Revelation 11:15-17 that takes place after the two great witnesses are called up to heaven. It also occurs at the same time the Lord begins to reign and to reward His bond servants. Note that a “great trumpet” is also blown at the gathering talked about in Matt. 24:29 that takes place at the end of this age.
In regard to the timing of this ‘Last Trumpet,’ Rabbi Monte Judah says:
“There is no question about the timing of the resurrection as being in the days immediately AFTER the Great Tribulation. It also says that a great trumpet is sounded. This could well be the LAST Trumpet. Logic would say that any trumpet sounded before this would not be the LAST … since this one is sounded after the Tribulation.” 7
In an article titled “The Runaway Bride,” Gavin Finley points out that the Rapture and the “First Resurrection” must be one and the same: and that it occurs “on the last day” of this age. Below is a quote from the article:
The Resurrection-Rapture must come at the end of the 70th Week … Because the First Resurrection … in Revelation 20 is a late event. This final epic Resurrection of the righteous … clearly includes, and even showcases, the Tribulation saints. (Rev. 20:4-6) Four times in … John 6 … (verses 39, 40, 44, and 54), Jesus said that He would “raise up” His covenant people at the last day. …
… Paul … said that these precious dead in Christ would rise first. (1 Thes. 4:15-17) So at the “last day” the dead will be raised. And this … “First Resurrection” spoken of by John in Revelation 20:4-6. … includes martyrs of the … Tribulation who refused to take the mark of the Beast.
… Again, Jesus tells us four times in John 6 (that) … He will raise His people up … at the last day of this age. “Only then will we who are alive and remain be caught up” (or Raptured). … How much clearer can it get …? 8
In other words, according to Revelation: 20:4-6, the First Resurrection happens at the end of the Tribulation: meaning that if there was a previous resurrection that took place (seven years prior) at a “Pre-Tribulation” Rapture, then the “resurrection” of Revelation 20:4-6 WOULD have been the SECOND RESURRECTION. But since it is the FIRST, then a Pre-Tribulation Rapture cannot be correct — unless, we (read between the lines and) assume that the “First Resurrection” takes place in TWO stages that are separated by seven years: something that John chapter 6 tells us is not the case.
Dr. Finley’s point from John 6 makes this quite clear. For verse 39 tells us that the resurrection takes place on the “last day” and applies to “ALL that He has given (to Jesus) — which would certainly include His Bride. In addition, verse 40 tells us that this last day resurrection applies to “everyone who … believes …” The only way this could apply to “EVERYONE,” is if it includes all those who came to believe in Christ, both before and after His death and therefore must include those who came to believe during the Tribulation and also (must include) the “church” — otherwise the word “everyone” would not mean everyone. In other words, Jesus did not say “everyone but the church.”
We also know there were Old Testament believers in Christ before His birth (Ps. 16:10; Mic. 5:2; Dan. 7:13-14) and at His birth (Luke 2:8-38) and that many (especially Jews and Israeli’s) will get saved during the Tribulation: Daniel 11:32-12:3, Hos. 3:5, 11:10-11, Rom. 11:25, Rev. 7:9-17, 12:11, and 14:12-13. Therefore, the “all” and “everyone” who are raised up on the last day (in John 6) must apply to them as well as us: meaning that the rapture takes place at the end of the Tribulation, or on the “last day” of this age.
The Rapture Linked to the End of Death
In the Comment section of an article on the Rapture, Lou makes the following observation with regard to the timing of the Rapture:
“Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the … end of “death” (15:54) … Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is … tied to Isa. 25:8 … Israel’s posttrib resurrection!” 9
In other words, the rapture of the church coincides with the end of death: which occurs at a ‘lavish banquet’ or wedding feast that takes place on a mountain in Israel for “all peoples.” See Isa. 25:6-9, I Cor. 15:51-55, Matt. 8:5-12, and Isa. 35:3-10.
Who will be Protected?
In Isaiah 26:20-21 God tells His people to:
“Enter into your rooms, and close the doors behind you; (and) Hide for a little while, until indignation runs its course. For … the LORD is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity …”
However, if God’s people are raptured beforehand, then why would they have to hide out? This (inner room scenario) would not apply to Jews or Messianic Jews in Israel, since those who ‘in Judea’ are told to ‘Flee into the mountains’ (Matt. 24:16).
Revelation 3:10 tells us that the church of Philadelphia will be protected from the “hour of testing” (or Tribulation) that is about to come upon the whole earth. This tells us that at least one whole church would be spared from the Tribulation: which was the case with this church — since it doesn’t exist on earth anymore: or at least not in that city.
Zephaniah 2:3 also strongly suggests that some, if not many, of God’s people will survive the Tribulation. It says:
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
Joel also tells God’s people to pray and fast when armies invade Israel (Joel 1:5-11):
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting and weeping, and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.” … and … say, ‘Spare Thy people, O LORD, and do not make Thine inheritance a reproach, … among the nations. …” Joel 2:12-13, 15-17
After the deliverance from the northern invaders and their allies (Joel 2:18-20, Ezek. 38-39), a great revival takes place (Joel 2:28-29), and not long after that the sun will be covered by a cloud (Joel 2:30-31; Amos 8:9, Exek. 32:7) … and then we are told that:
“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape …” Joel 2:32. See also Romans 9:33-10:13
The above verse could refer to a Rapture of believers and new believers, or to their rescue and protection from what is still to come (Rev. 12:14). The following verses also say something similar, about God’s protection during times of trouble: Psalm 27:1-2, 13-14; 28:6-9; 29:1–11; 31:4-8, 19-24; 32:7-10; 33:18-22; 91:1-14; Ps. 112:7; Proverbs 3:25-26; Luke 21:13-19, 36, Rev. 12:14; Daniel 11:32-12:1; Jer. 51:45-50, and Mal. 3:17.
On an internet article and blog on the Rapture, several authors comment that not all who say they are Christians will be taken in a (Pre-tribulation) Rapture … IF there is one (?). Some of the verses they use to support this are Rev. 3:1-5 about the Church of Sardis: where we are told that there were a few there who had NOT “soiled” their garments (by sinning after they got saved), and thus (it is said) they would be spared from the Tribulation. In this regard, pastor J. W. White makes the following comment:
“If escape-the-tribulation insurance does exist, it’s only for those who are right with God and their neighbors anyway … (and) Escaping the horrors of the … Tribulation … is tied directly to overcoming” 10
This observation can also be made from what Jesus said of the Church of Philadelphia in Rev. 3:10: i.e. that they would be spared from the Tribulation because of their godly lifestyle and the bold stand that they took for the cause of the gospel.
In the final analysis, “those who know their God” will “put their trust in Him” and realize that He is faithful, and that the battle between good and evil is why we are here (Ps. 21:8) — and that many of our parents and grandparents have already went before us (to the kingdom above). This is also why Jesus came to earth: i.e. to conquer death (Rev. 1:15-18), destroy the works of the devil (I John. 3:8) and offer those who believe in Him eternal life (I John. 2:25): meaning that those who belong to God have nothing to fear: including death: Psalm 9:9-10, 13; 23:4; 34:4, 22; Daniel 11:32-35; Luke 12:4-5; John 11:25-26; 14:1, 23, 27; Heb. 2:14-15; 10:38-39; Rev. 12:11, 17; 14:9-13.
Two + Two = Four Two other things that we are told will occur before the “day of the LORD” are from Joel 2:28-32 and Matt. 24:14. They are:
- The sun will be darkened — to the point that the day will become like night (with no clouds or overcast) to block what takes place: according to Amos 8:9. The “columns of smoke” (from Joel 2:30) are actual columns or plumes that will shoot out (from the sun) 180 degrees apart. In this regard, the author of this article knows someone who had a (very clear) dream about this very thing. Joel 2:31 also tells us that this event will take place “before the great and awesome day of the LORD …” This event above is different from the smoke that comes up out of the earth from a great pit that will be opened: and also darken the sky: according to Rev. 9:2.
- According to Matthew 24:14, the gospel shall be preached “in the whole world” before the Lord comes. This also has not yet been fulfilled.
In addition to the above, it seems likely that TWO more things will also take place (before the Rapture) as well as those previously discussed. These are:
- The Russian and Arab invasion of Israel that is discussed in Ezekiel 32, 38, 39 and Psalm 83 — along with a change in attitude toward Christians and Jews (Isa. 18:1-7; 19:18-25; 28:17; 30:30; 31:5-9) and a change in attitude of many ‘secular’ /non-believing Jews and Israelis: Isa 8:14-15; Jer. 16:14-21; Hos. 3:5; 5:14-6:3; 11:10-11; Micah 7:16-17.
- A (seven year) treaty that paves the way for Israelis to rebuild their temple: Dan. 8:11-14; 9:27; 2 Thes. 2:1-9; Rev. 13-14.
Roy Reinhold has said that the Rapture takes place on the same day that the sun goes dark: or at the time of the 6th seal. See also: Will the Sun Really be Darkened?
Does Revelation 3:10 apply to All Churches?
Rev. 3:10 says that the church of Philadelphia will be protected from the hour of testing that is about to come upon the whole earth: meaning that this church will not go through the Great Tribulation; however, to assert that this applies to ALL present day churches is highly questionable. This is because the (AD 95) church of Philadelphia no longer exists. So even if we spiritualize this verse, we are still left with six other churches that appear to go through the tribulation — while one that no longer exists on earth is protected from it.
The message for us today is to be prepared for whatever awaits us: including the possibility of remaining in our houses (elsewhere) for an extended period of time, and/or of dying for the cause of the gospel. See Zeph. 2:3; Psalm 27:1-2; 32:7-10; 33:18-22; 91:1-14; Ps. 112:7; Proverbs 3:25-26; Luke 21:36, Rev. 12:14; Daniel 11:32-12:1 and Jer. 51:45-50.
Ultimately those who “know their God” will “put their trust in” Him and realize that the battle between good and evil is only temporary, and that this is why Jesus came to earth: i.e. to conquer both evil and death itself (Heb. 2:14; Rev. 1:15-18) and to offer us eternal life: meaning that those who know God (Dan. 11:32-35) also belong to Him (Mal. 3:16-18), and thus have nothing to fear simply because He is faithful and has promised to never leave us: Isa. 41:10; Deut. 31:8; Luke 12:4-5; Ps. 9:9-10, 13; 23:4; Matt. 28:20; Jn 11:25-26; 14:1, 23, 27; Heb. 10:38-39; Rev. 1:15-18; 12:11, and 14:9-13.
Some say that since we are the “bride of Christ” we won’t go through the tribulation, because no groom would “spank” his bride before He marries her. Such teaching makes light of the fact that in this case the groom actually gave His life for the bride. This teaching also ignores the many millions of Christians over the past 1900 years who were persecuted and/or martyred for their faith. In this regard it is worth noting that the city of New Jerusalem is also called the “bride,” or “wife of the Lamb,” and the whole land of Israel is said to be “Married” to the Lord (Isa. 62:4). In regard to the status of the church in the last days, Jeremiah 25 tells us that when the LORD comes out of His hiding place, He will not be happy with many people who are of His ‘fold.’ 2 Thes. 2:3 also tells us plainly that there will be many lukewarm, or apostate churches during the Tribulation: some of whom will fall away — perhaps because they placed too much hope on a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, rather than on the Lord and spending eternity with Him? Or perhaps because they were an unfaithful / “Runaway Bride.”
2 Tim. 4:3 tells us that “the time will come when they will not endure (or pay attention to) sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” (KJV). The NASB says that they would rather have their “ears tickled” (with nice words — such as a Pre-Tribulation Rapture) rather than the truth, or the “sound doctrine” of what the Scriptures actually say.
The book of Revelation also makes it clear that there will be many saints who are killed for their faith in Jesus: because they refuse to receive a computer ID / mark of the beast: which is likely some type of computer-readable microchip or mark that can be scanned. Nowhere are we told that these believers are all Jews or Israelis, but rather simply people who have put their trust in Jesus and realize that a computer ID chip is NOT the same thing as God’s gift of eternal Life: that only comes from knowing and calling upon the Lord of Creation: John 6:37; 17:3; Rom. 10:13.
And as for the end times church, Jeremiah 23:13-32, 25:4-38 and Ezekiel 34 suggest that the Lord will not be happy with many shepherds just before His return. Ezekiel 34:10 tells us that the LORD will seek out His own and demand His sheep from them and make them stop feeding sheep. See also: Isa. 35:3-10 and Micah 4:6-7, where we are told that:
“In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will assemble the lame, and gather the outcasts, even those whom I have afflicted. (and) “I will make (them) a remnant, and the outcasts a strong nation, and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on and forever.”
- From 35–1650 AD in Europe, an estimated 50 million Christians lost their lives because of their faith in Christ, and from 1958 to 1974 an estimated 60 million Chinese Christians and (many) Buddhists also.
- From Daniel to Doomsday, by John Hagee, 1999, p. 118 *
- From Daniel to Doomsday, by John Hagee, 1999, p. 88 *
- From Daniel to Doomsday, by John Hagee, 1999, p. 95 *
- From Daniel to Doomsday, by John Hagee, 1999, p. 101 **
- Why the Pretribulation Rapture is Wrong, Stephen Amy, 2008, at the link below: www.endoftheworldtruth.com/2011/12/26/why-the-pre-tribulation-rapture-is-wrong
- Monte Judah, Pre-Trib Rapture: Out of Order, p. 6, at http://lionlamb.net
- Gavin Finley MD, 2006, http://endtimepilgrim.org/runaway.htm
- Blog Post by Lou, on 6/12/11, comment section of: 12 Reasons NOT To Expect a PRE-Trib Rapture, http://onecanhappen.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/12-reasons-not-to-expect-a-pre-trib-rapture/
- Blog Post by Rev. J. W. White, Jr., author of The Partial Rapture Theory Explained / Escaping The Coming Storm: posted on Comment section of reference 9 above.
* Numerous other authors and teachers take a similar viewpoint.
** Hagee credits Grant Jeffrey’s research on when pre-trib teaching first began: or in 373 AD.