My rapture position had always been pre-millennial and pre-tribulational because that was what I was taught. I grew up Southern Baptist, and that’s the predominant view taught in the seminaries and the pulpits. I even have a Bible that Hal Lindsey signed from a prophecy event I attended in my youth. This is the lens through which I interpreted anything relating to eschatology until about 10 years ago.
The turning point for me began when I decided to undertake a systematic analysis of all the relevant scripture passages relating to the end times and especially the rapture. I felt like I was trying to do a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces that I knew were suppose to fit in certain places didn’t!
I was puzzled, and, as I began to investigate how to resolve these issues, the explanations from the pre-tribulation scholars didn’t quite sit right with me because they seemed to violate some of the principles of Biblical interpretation that I had been taught by these same teachers who espoused the pre-trib viewpoint. Some of the explanations seemed to be more gnostic in that I needed to be “told” by the scholars what a passage meant rather than take what the Bible clearly seemed to say.
This is probably a good time to talk about my hermeneutic principles. Any view of prophecy in scripture is influenced by the individual’s understanding of the principles of Biblical hermeneutics, which is the study of the methods and principles of interpretation. Here are the foundational principles of Biblical interpretation I have tried to use in determining the events that need to happen before the rapture.
- Seek to understand the author’s intended meaning
- All Scripture must be taken in its proper context.
- Always compare Scripture with other Scripture – you need two or three “witnesses” from Scripture to determine if your interpretation is correct.
- There are no contradictions in Scripture. God is not the author of confusion. If you have a contradiction, you are using the wrong hermeneutic!
If you agree with these principles, then you will, I hope, at least understand why I have come to the conclusions I have. If you don’t agree with these principles, then no amount of persuasion on my part is likely to change your mind.
I attended Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), a non-denominational Bible study program, for 8 years – 6 of those as a Children’s leader where I was required to prepare a 20-25 minute lecture each week on the scripture we were studying that week as well as answer a series of questions relating to that scripture and share those answers in our leader’s meeting. One of the studies (each is 32 weeks long) was on the history of Israel and the minor prophets. Let me tell you – it was a huge amount of material to cover in 32 weeks, especially at the depth that BSF explores the scriptures, but it gave me a good understanding of parts of the Bible that most Christians just gloss over, if they have even read it at all.
Let me also say that BSF avoids taking stands on issues that could divide, so please don’t think I’m saying that BSF holds the same opinions that I have come to have. The conclusions I will espouse in this document are my own.
One of the things that intrigued me about that particular study was the Day of the Lord. I have come to believe that understanding this concept from the Old Testament is critical to understanding the rapture. It helped me put together the pieces of the puzzle in a way that is consistent across all of scripture. Let’s take a look at some of these passages and see if we can determine some common characteristics of the Day of the Lord.
Isaiah 13:6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! 7 Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt. 8 They will be dismayed: pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame. 9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger.
Facts about the Day of the Lord: Destruction from the Almighty; wrath and fierce anger to destroy sinners; signs in the sun, moon and stars; wrath of the Lord of hosts.
Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Facts about the Day of the Lord: signs in the Sun and Moon; everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Joel 3:13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. 16 The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.
Facts about the Day of the Lord: Signs in the sun, moon and stars; the harvest has come; the wicked will be tread in the winepress of God’s wrath; the Lord is a refuge to his people, the people of Israel.
There are many more verses about the Day of the Lord that I urge you to read for yourselves. There are references in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, and Malachi in the Old Testament and others in the New Testament as well that we’ll look at next. Before we do that, let’s summarize some common themes about the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord is a day of wrath from God. The Day of the Lord is preceded by signs in the Sun, Moon, and Stars where the characteristic of the sign is that they are darkened or diminished. This is a time of harvest, and the wicked are punished. The Lord will be a refuge for his people, the Israelites.
New Testament Verses about the Day of the Lord
Matthew 24:15 So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Facts about the Day of the Lord: The abomination of desolation as spoken of by Daniel happens first and then is immediately followed by great tribulation. Immediately after the tribulation of those days there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars that parallel descriptions of the beginning of the Day of the Lord, Jesus will appear with power and great glory, there will be a trumpet call, and the elect are gathered by angels.
Luke 21:25 And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Facts about the Day of the Lord: Signs in sun, moon and stars that parallel OT Day of the Lord passages. They will see Jesus coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When this begins to take place, your redemption is drawing near.
Acts 2:19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Facts about the Day of the Lord: signs in sun, moon and heavens, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 5:1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.
Facts about the Day of the Lord: Lord Jesus will descend, voice of archangel and trumpet of God, dead in Christ will rise, then living believers caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, but that day will not surprise believers.
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
Facts about the Day of the Lord: Paul associates the Day of the Lord with the coming of Jesus and our being gathered to him. It won’t come until the rebellion (or falling away KJV) happens first and the abomination that causes desolation happens.
Revelation 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. 12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: … 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Facts about the Day of the Lord: Many believers will be killed preceding it. They are described as souls under the alter. This cannot be the wrath of God, because those killed are asking God when He will avenge their death. If God’s wrath had started, he would have let them know, but rather they are told to rest a little longer because others had to die first. Then there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars and even unbelievers will realize God’s wrath is beginning. God seals 144,000 Jews as a remnant, and a countless number of believers from every tribe, nation and tongue appear standing before the throne. Notice at this point, the people are no longer under the alter but depicted as wearing white robes and standing before the throne. These people are identified as coming out of the great tribulation.
My conclusions from studying God’s Word on the events that precede the Rapture:
There will be a rebellion or falling away against God. When the Antichrist desecrates the Temple by proclaiming himself to be God as referenced in Daniel (it seems there must be a rebuilt temple), unequaled persecution begins against the believers, This period is identified by Jesus as great tribulation and by the angel speaking to John in Revelation as the great tribulation, and great multitudes of believers are slain. Their souls cry out to God for vengeance from below the altar, but they are told to wait a bit longer because others must die as they have.
Then there are signs in the heavens, the sun, moon and stars are darkened (sign of the beginning of the Day of the Lord and God’s wrath about to begin on those who dwell on the earth). God seals the foreheads of the 144,000 Jews that will remain until the end, and Jesus appears in the clouds with great glory and a cry of command. There is the voice of an archangel, and the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ rise first, and then those of us who are alive are gathered together with the Lord in the clouds. It will be noisy – people will see and hear it. Believers then appear rejoicing and dressed in white robes before the throne of God and the Lamb. They are standing before the throne, so they have physical bodies now and are not simply souls below the alter. They are too numerous to count.
If you hold to the pre-tribulation interpretation, I imagine you’re probably angry at me right now. I understand – I’ve been there. I had to work through those feelings myself. Contrary to what you might think, I have not taken away your “blessed hope”. If you’re still reading at this point, then blessings to you. All I’m asking of you is to be a Berean and search the scriptures and see if these things are true.
Just giving you these verses to consider is probably not enough, however. If you’re pre-tribulational, I know what your objections are, because I had the same objections, so please allow me to attempt to address some of those.
God tells us we’re not destined for tribulation – he will rapture us out before that happens.
Let’s look at what scripture says.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
You’re probably saying at this point, “See, I told you so! We’re not destined for wrath”. To that I would whole-heartedly agree, as long as we qualify it as God’s wrath. Let’s look a a few more verses to see why I say that.
John 16:33 In this world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
Rom 5:3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
1Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Daniel 12:8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” 9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
From the scripture, it is clear that we will not face the wrath of God – that is for the unjust and unrepentant, those who reject Jesus Christ. But, the Bible also clearly says that tribulation, persecution, suffering, trials of many kinds, grief, hardship, danger and sword are not outside of God’s will for us, but rather that He uses those things to refine and purify us, and that we should rejoice in these, because they produce perseverance, character and hope. Therefore, persecution of Christians by the Antichrist is not unbiblical and is not part of God’s Wrath.
The church is not mentioned after chapter 3 in Revelation. This means the rapture must have happened after this, and we see that John is called to “come up here” in chapter 4 of revelation, which means that’s the rapture.
The letters to the 7 churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are addressed to specific congregations in John’s time. That is why they are specifically referred to as “the church in …” as they are addressed. These are more than just admonitions to those specific churches, however, because they all say “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”, which should apply to all of us who have an ear.
The fact that churches is plural in the phrase “let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” supports the use of church in this context as specific congregations of believers, otherwise there would be no need to use the plural form “churches” here. I don’t believe God makes grammatical errors. This is an example of using context to clarify a passage.
While we’re on the letters to the churches, a common scripture used to support the pre-tribulation view is Revelation 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
Is this referring to the tribulation by the Antichrist against Christians, or God’s wrath? The Antichrist’s tribulation is against Christians only – believers in Christ. Those who go along with the Beast’s system are not persecuted – they’re getting along just fine, thank you (or so they think). Therefore, this cannot be the trial that comes upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. How about God’s wrath? Yes, it is upon the whole world. Christians are taken out of the way by the rapture, the 144,000 Jews are sealed and protected by God, and then God’s wrath is poured out on the whole world. This is a better fit for this passage.
As a side note, each of the letters offers a promise to the one who overcomes. How do we overcome?
Rev 12:11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
How about Revelation 4:1? Doesn’t this imply that at this point the church is raptured because John is taken to heaven? Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” In my opinion, this is a manipulation of the text to support a preconceived notion and not a clear reading of the scripture. Let’s look at why.
For starters, Jesus is not there at this time. When Jesus raptures the church, he’s there, is he not? He doesn’t show up until Revelation 5:5 when they are looking for someone worthy to open the scroll. Secondly, he’s not gathered by angels, which happens at the rapture, but rather called to “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this”. Thirdly, he is in the Spirit, not in a glorified body – Revelation 4:2. Fourthly, there are no other people arriving in heaven with him. They don’t show up until Revelation 7:9. Fifthly, John is sent back down in Revelation 10:8-11 to retrieve a little scroll from an angel standing. He’s not in heaven any more or coming back with Jesus in triumph. That’s definitely not “symbolic” of the church!
To me, this is a clear case of gnosticism whereby those with “special revelation” tell the rest of us what the scripture means rather than interpreting scripture by scripture. I’m sorry if I’m getting direct here, but, if you’re honest, isn’t this what the cults do to the scriptures? I’m not implying that those who hold to that view are cults, just that they perhaps haven’t considered the implications of interpreting scripture in that manner.
Aren’t you date setting? Are you saying you know exactly when the rapture will happen?
Absolutely not. Scripture says we will not know the day or the hour, and I could not tell you the day or hour based on this. What I can say is it will not happen until after the abomination of desolation occurs, which Daniel places at the midpoint of the 70th week.
Daniel 9:27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. ”
After that, the time is unknown, but we do know it will be less than 3 ½ years.
Mat 24:22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
We will also know it is imminent when we see the signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars, but still we will not know the day or the hour, because scripture is silent on how long the signs will appear before the rapture and God’s wrath begin.
Paul also states this same thing in 2 Thessalonians:
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?
Paul is saying concerning the rapture (coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him), don’t be alarmed if someone says the Day of the Lord has come. This is another verse by Paul tying the rapture to the Day of the Lord, by the way. Then he says, don’t be deceived in any way for that day will not come unless the rebellion (or apostasy, falling away) occurs, the Antichrist is revealed (man of lawlessness) and the abomination of desolation happens.
It’s worth noting that some pre-trib teachers will tell you that rebellion (or apostasy or falling away) can be translated as rapture. Besides being a desperate stretch to try to explain away a scripture that is clearly in opposition to their view that nothing must happen before Christ returns, it makes no sense if you include it within context of the whole passage. In essence they are saying concerning the rapture, don’t become alarmed or deceived because that can’t happen unless the rapture happens first. The rapture can’t happen unless the rapture happens? They get around that by just starting at verse 2 and throwing out verse 1 of 2 Thessalonians 2. That way you don’t see the context.
You quote Matthew 24 to make some of your arguments. I’ve been told that Matthew is the “Jewish gospel” and is only talking about Christ’s return to Israel and not the rapture, therefore we can ignore it.
Let’s see who Jesus is talking to in the context of Matthew 24.
Matthew 24:3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
We see from this verse that Jesus is talking to His disciples privately. Yes, they are Jewish, but they are also the church, the first believers in Jesus. Let’s look at some other instances in Matthew where Jesus is talking to this same group of disciples.
Mat 26:17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
Mat 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Mat 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So, if we take the argument of some that this is a Jewish gospel only, lets throw out the Lord’s Supper and the Great Commission. After all, He’s talking to the same group of guys, right? It must be for the Jews only. As a side note, let’s not forget that Matthew was a tax collector. That’s not the kind of profession that would have endeared him to the Jews, is it?
If you still need convincing, lets compare Matthew 24 with the famous rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4.
Matthew 24:30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
1Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
He’s coming in the clouds – check. Angels – check. Loud – check. Trumpet – check. All the elect gathered – check. I believe it’s the same event. How you could twist this to be His coming at Armageddon I just can’t see.
Oh, and by the way, where’s the scriptural proof for the “silent” rapture in scripture? Every where I see the rapture, it’s loud, very visible and unmistakable. If someone can show me in scripture where there is another rapture that is silent and precedes this one, I’ll be happy to listen. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover and I’ve never seen it.
Why are you making this case? What about our blessed hope? Aren’t you destroying that?
The term “blessed hope” comes from Titus 2:
Titus 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
The blessed hope is the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, not a secret rapture where we disappear without warning, where there is no glorious appearing, just bodies gone, and where we miss any opportunity to be purified.
To me, there is no more blessed hope then saying you won’t renounce Christ while all the world is following after the Beast system, telling you that Jesus’ return is a lie (where is the promise of his coming to secretly rapture you?). To me, the blessed hope is standing against all the nay-sayers who can “prove” to you that the Bible is a lie, and point to all the lying signs and wonders as evidence, all the while knowing for certain that He’s returning for you. To me, the “blessed hope” is being convinced that Jesus will be back for your living or dead body when people are abandoning the faith in unprecedented numbers.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Rev 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:”Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Every day and every hour people are becoming overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and because they were willing to lose their life rather than deny him. I believe they truly know the “blessed hope” in a way that we in America could not possibly know at this time.
This is not a foundational doctrine issue. I see the point you’re making, but I think I’ll just ignore this and be a “pan-tribulationalist” – I’ll wait and see how it pans out.
You are correct – this is not a foundational doctrine issue. If you are truly born again and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then I believe that the Holy Spirit will lead you through this time whether it’s losing your life for Him or enduring to the end and being changed in an instant to your immortal, imperishable body. Either way, we win!
However, what percentage of people do you think that call themselves Christians are actually born again? Are we doing them a disservice by boldly preaching from our pulpits that Jesus could return at any moment, and we’ll not suffer the least bit of persecution for our faith? What happens if the fallen angels return and set up a deception that they are really our creators? After all, they were around, weren’t they? I suppose the evidence they could provide would be very convincing.
Rev 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
How many of the people we go to church with that are just playing church will be sucked in to the deception? Will they believe us then if we don’t say anything about these things now? Will the Lord be pleased with us if we knew the truth but kept it to ourselves? I’m preaching to myself here, but if you’ve read this far, you have a decision to make as well.
You’ve scared me – what do I do now?
Trust in Jesus Christ of the Bible as your Lord and Savior:
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Don’t be afraid:
Mat 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Don’t give in to the lies of the enemy, even if it means death:
Rev 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. 9 He who has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
Rev 14:9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Mat 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Remember, in the end, Jesus wins, and we win if we’re in Him!
2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
Rev 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Remember God’s promise of immortality in an imperishable body and our dwelling with him forever.
2Corinthians 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
1Corinthians 15:50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.