Evangelist Perkins & Todd Strandberg at the 5th Annual Pre-Trib Research Study Group Meeting
The Pre-Trib Rapture
by: Todd Strandberg
The rapture is an event that will take place sometime in the near future. Jesus
will come in the air, catch up the Church from the earth, and then return
to heaven with the Church. In 1 Thes. 4:13-18 we are given a clear description of the rapture, "the dead in Christ will rise, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord." The time of the rapture was not given. From the word of God and from sound reasoning, something Jesus used quite frequently, I hope to prove the reality of the pretribulation rapture.
Scriptural Evidence for the Pretribulation Rapture
- "Ye Know Neither the Day nor the Hour" (Mat 25:13) Vs 1260 days, (Rev 12:6)
When we search the scriptures and read the passages describing the return of Christ, we find verses that tell us we won't know the day and others that tell us we will know the day. Mat 25:13 say that Jesus will return at an unknown time, while Rev 12:6 states that the Jews will have to wait on the Lord 1260 days. The 1260 days start when the Antichrist stands in the Temple of God and declares himself to be God.(2 Thes 2:4) This event will take place at the mid-point of the seven year tribulation. (Dan 9:27) It should be noted, some people only see a 3 1/2 year tribulation. They are in a way correct, because the first half of tribulation will be relatively peaceful, compared to the second half. Nonetheless, there still remains a 7 year time period. When the Jews flee into the wilderness, they know that all they have to do is wait out those 1260 days.(Mat 24:16) There is no way you can apply "neither the day nor the hour" to this situation. The only way for these two viewpoints to be true, there needs to be two separate distinct events transpiring here, the rapture of the Church before the tribulation, and Jesus' returning to earth seven years later.
- The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
In Luke 12:36 the word states that when Christ returns, he will be returning from a wedding. In Rev 19:7-8 we read about the marriage itself. Before the marriage takes place, there is the marriage supper. According to Jewish custom, First the marriage contract is drawn up, often including a dowry. This parallels the act of faith we use when we trust Jesus to be our savior. The dowry is His life, which was used to purchase us. When the time comes for the wedding to take place, the groom goes to the bride's house unannounced, she comes out to meet him, and they both return to his father's house. This is an exact correlation of the events according to the pre-trib scenario. Jesus the groom comes down from heaven, calls up the Chruch, the Church next rises into the air to meet Jesus, and then both He and the bride return to the His Father's house (heaven). The marriage supper will take place more than likely near the end of the seven year tribulation. After the marriage supper takes place, the bride and groom are presented to the world as man and wife. This matches the time when Jesus returns to earth with the Church. (Rev 19:14)
- What They Didn't Teach You in History Class
There are many groups that try to discredit the pre-trib rapture, because they believe most of the end time events in the Bible have already taken place. By 70 AD or the Middle Ages, they see just about all of the apocalyptic scriptures as being already fulfilled. If the book of Revelation was truly just a part of history, it would seem very difficult for me to explain away some of the current situation I see occurring around us: the rebirth of Israel, the reunification of Europe, the number of global wars that have occurred, and the development of nuclear weapons. During history, I must have slept through the part where they talked about a third of the trees being burned up, 100 LB hailstones falling from the sky, and the time when the sea turned into blood.(Rev 8:7-8, 16:21) I think several people would have to question their oppose to the pre- trib rapture doctrine if they knew that the evidence provided to them was based on the understanding that most tribulation prophecies have already occurred.
- The People of the Millennium
If Christ was to come back after
the tribulation, rapture all the saints, and slay all the ungodly; who then would populate the Millennium? The pre-trib view point can only account for this post-trib problem; the Church is raptured out before the tribulation, a vast number of souls are saved during this 7 year time frame, and those that make it through the tribulation go into the millennium, while the unsaved are cast into to hell.
- The Big Flip
In the pre-trib scenario, after we will rise to meet the Lord in the air, ee will go to heaven and abide there seven years. At the end of the seven years, Christ comes down to earth, defeats the Antichrist, and cleanses the temple. In a post-trib rapture, we would rise in the air meet the Lord, then do a 180 degree turn and come back down to earth. It states in Rev 1:7 that Christ will appear out of the clouds and come down to earth. It says in Zech. 14:4 His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. If He's already headed our way, why would we need to be caught up to meet Him?
- "Come up Hither"
In Rev 4:1 where it says "come up hither," many
pre-trib writers sight this as a prophetic reference to the rapture of the Church. Rev Chapter 1 through 3 is the Church Age. After the shout to "come up hither," the Church is not mentioned in scripture at all. The attention of scripture switches from the Church to the Jews living in Israel.
- Armies in Fine Linen
When Jesus returns, Rev 19:14, there is an army that follows Him riding on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. In Rev 19:8 we are told the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. If the saints of God are returning with Christ, to wage war on the Antichrist, then it is not to have a post-trib rapture.
- The Time of Jacob's Trouble
In a number of places, the Bible
refers to the tribulation as a time of trouble for the Jews. The phrase
"Jacob's trouble" pertains to the descendants of Jacob. In Jeremiah 30:7 it
tells that this time of trouble will come just before the Lord returns to save His people. The final week of Daniel's 70th week is yet to take place. An angel
told Daniel that, "70 weeks are determined unto thy people."(Dan 9:24)
No mention is made in scripture that the tribulation was meant to be a time of
testing for Christians, however some post-tribers try to claim there the ones being tested during the tribulation. To make this so they need to spiritualize the 144,000 Jewish believers in (Rev 7:2-8) that receive God's protective seal. To place the Church dispensation into the same time frame as the seven year Jewish dispensation, as the Post-tribbers do, raises one good question. Can two dispensations transpire at the same time? In the past, God has only dealt with only one at a time. Having both present during the tribulation, would have to be an exception.
- He That is Taken Out of the Way (2 Thes. 2:7)
Before the Antichrist can be relieved, Paul said a certain, "He" must be taken out of the way. The "He" that must be removed, according to 2 Thes. 2:7, is widely thought to be the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been promised to never leave the Church, and without the working of the Holy spirit remaining on earth, no one could be saved during the tribulation. The removal of the Church, which is indwelt by the Holy Ghost, would seem the best explanation for this dilemma. The working of the Holy Spirit could go on during the tribulation, but His influence would be diminished because of the missing Church.
- War or Rapture
When Jesus returns at the end of the tribulation, He will be coming for battle. For those who believe in a post-trib rapture, it would be a strange thing to meet your groom just as he's rushing into battle.
The idea that war and rapture could occur together is a difficult thing to
imagine, especially since they transpire at the very same moment.
- The Five Foolish Virgins
The wedding story that Jesus gave in Mat
25:2-13 I believe relates a parable of the rapture of the Church and how some will not be ready. Jesus
clearly states that a group of people will miss out on some event, and will cry out to God to let them into the place where He resides (heaven). Although some try to put this parable in a post-trib context, it doesn't fit very well. The ones left behind in a post-trib rapture, will be fighting against God or hiding from Him, not begging him to rapture them also.
- "God Hath Not Appointed Us to Wrath"
In 1 Thes 5:9 Paul assures us that God has not appointed His people to wrath. The wrath is plainly
God's anger that will be poured out during the tribulation. Pre-trib believers
cite this as meaning, Christians will be removed from the earth. Post-trib
believers tell a different story. They describe this as meaning God will protect
Christians during the tribulation, and pour this wrath out on the unbelievers only. This idea runs against the statement made in Rev 13:7 where the Antichrist is given power to make war with the saints and to overcome them. A post-trib view would make God's promise of protection from wrath into a lie. In years past, it was possible to think of protection from guns and swords. Today when
any major war would involve nuclear and chemical weapons, it's not possible to expect protection from these types of weaponry. When Nagasaki, Japan
was bombed during W.W.II, the bomb exploded over a Catholic church. Everyone died that was in the center of the explosion, both Christians and
non-Christians. The only way to validly interpret God's promise of protection from wrath, is the bodily removal of the Church from this world.
- The Salt of the Earth
Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. If
the believers where to suddenly be removed, the earth would be plunged into
spiritual darkness. The Antichrist would be free to control the world.
- God Takes an Inventory
In Rev 7:3 an angel descends to earth and
seals the servants of God. Two bits of information are given about this sealing
that highly disclaims a post-trib viewpoint. The first item is the number of
people sealed 144,000. The second one is that all those who are sealed are all from the twelve tribes of Israel. For the events in Rev 7:3-8 to be true, in a post-trib way, either the Church has turned against God or God has turned against the Church. A post-tribber could write a thousand word commentary
why the Church doesn't need to be sealed. Instead of trying to argue why we are not mentioned or sealed, a pre-trib proponent could just say, "We're already in heaven."
- Noah and Lot as Examples
The tribulation period
is compared to the times of Noah and Lot by Jesus in Luke 17:28. Most people argue over what time frame Jesus was talking about hear pre-trib or post-trib, and miss an important point. The two things that the Noah and Lot examples have in common are the removal of the righteous and the judgment of the unbelievers. From these two accounts, we see that God prefers to remove His own when danger is involved.
Common Sense Reasons for Believing in the Pretribulation Rapture
- The World Test
One way to check the soundness of a doctrine is to see how the world reacts to it. One time a company put out a questionnaire that was used to screen prospective employees. One of the questions was "do you believe in the rapture?" If you answered yes, your chances of getting hired would not be good. Some internet sites do not allow for the topics of Rapture or Second Coming. They do allow topics like sex, gay, and drugs. The only time the news media reports something on the rapture, is when someone has set a date and was wrong.
- That Old Time Religion
It used to be a natural rule of thumb when one was visiting a church or listening to a preacher, if the church or the preacher taught the rapture doctrine, it was logical to assume they also believed in repentance, prayer, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It was also true the churches that were on fire for God worshipped out of storefronts. Today many of those storefront churches have moved into marble palaces and have strayed from their principle doctrines.
- Birds of a Feather Flock Together
When I look at all the groups that teach false doctrine and are highly focused on end time events, I can not find any that support the rapture theory. You have organizations like the Jehovah's Witnesses that teach a false gospel and are heavily into Bible prophecy. Why then don't Jehovah's Witnesses teach a false doctrine that would be right up their alley? Could it be the demonic forces that influence these group knows something that Christians opposed to the rapture don't. The list of prophetically minded cults that rejects the idea of a rapture goes on and on.
Here are some more: the Mormons, the Worldwide Church of God, the Moonies, and leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh.
- The Church Would Rebuke the Antichrist
If the Antichrist came to power with the Church still here, I do not see how he could operate. When Hitler was fighting to take over England, a number of Christians where praying for victory. Hitler made mistake after mistake, and England out performed its enemy at every stage of the conflict. It is difficult to measure the actual impact of intercessory prayer in physical warfare. Little is known of how great a role praying saints played in the defeat of Nazi Germany. If the Church was to reside on earth during the tribulation, I am sure she would give the Antichrist fits. In Rev 11:3, the two witnesses give the Antichrist enough headaches alone. Millions of Christians, who know their Bible well, would recognize the man of sin and pray fire down on his head. the post-trib view would have to plan on the Church just rolling over and playing dead, the whole seven years.
There is one thing we should all remember. It is not so important to figure
out every little riddle of prophecy. Whether we know the Antichrist's mother's maiden name isn't the primary goal. Knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and having your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life, this should be our number one priority. The jailer asked Paul, "what must I do to be saved?" The answer was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."(Acts 16:30-31)
Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.
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