The Rapture Will Happen, but "when"?
I have found this topic to be unexpectedly, highly volatile. Many have come to steadfastly believe in a specific prophetic Biblical scenario. To even call it into question starts a hail storm of anxiety laden, very emotional and nasty responses. So many have been taught this one scenario for so long with no one to question it, it has become de facto truth. But what if it isn’t true? What if, through no fault on anyone’spart, these well meaning and well read Biblical scholars came to an inaccurate conclusion?
The Pharisees and Sadducees were Biblical Scholars and they missed all the signs of the first coming of the Lord. Is it so unthinkable people today can also be mistaken in regards to Biblical interpretations and the second coming? Believers see Jesus returning in a specific way, just as the Pharisees and Sadducees did in their day. As a result any deviation from this vision is thereby completely false. But what was and is false, may just be their vision of the return of Christ as it would be different than what they expect.
One problem is when someone comes to a conclusion in this matter; they of course believe their conclusion. This is fine, but at the same time, has a requirement to qualify the conclusion. To do this, one must challenge their own conclusion to try and prove it wrong themselves. It is very easy to always listen to that which agrees with one's own conclusions. It is also very common, easy and lazy to come to a conclusion and dogmatically adhere to it for no other reason than vane self assuredness; that one cannot be wrong since they (in their own mind) are so intelligent and wise.
Scriptures warn usto not be wise "in our own conceits". When drawing a conclusion especially when it is Biblical, there is a need to do the hard work and listen hard to the other side of the story and see if the conclusion is really the truth. God did not make the Scriptures difficult. They will explain themselves if one dares to take the time to read and study them. One cannot have a view or vision of what the Bible says and then force fit Scriptures into that mold. Just let the Bible speak for itself, understanding will follow. In other words, do not come to a conclusion or theology and then use the Bible to prove it. In the process selecting and interpreting the verses chosen according to a pre-decided final conclusion orinterpretation.
Also, do we simply accept what someone else says or has themselves interpreted? Should we not challenge to make sure what we hear or believe is Scripturally correct? These are important points as they guide how we approach the issue of Scripture interpretation; especially with this particular topic. So it is incumbent upon the reader-researcher to keep an open mind and Bible, while reading through this piece.
This essay or discussion will examine what the Scriptures say regarding His return, the “Second Coming of Jesus Christ”; and will look at typology, the “day”, who the saints are, who the “elect” are; a perspective on the timing of His return and some points regarding the logical progression of these events. Again this is what Scripture actually says about these events.
For a bit of clarification, the “Rapture” is a word used for the time when Jesus Christ returns and gathers His "Church" ("church" is NOT a Biblical word, truthfully the word is ecclesia "called out", "congregation", Heb. "kahilat" referring to all the Believers, ") to Him. The use of the word “rapture” is based on the Biblical phrase “caught up” (KJV).
Some details in particular of the rapture are considered by some to be when Jesus comes down from Heaven to remove the body of believers before the tribulation which comes upon the earth. This belief is based on interpretations of one or two passages of the Bible; however it is contradicted by the entirety of Scriptures which relate to Christ’s return. This is what will be demonstrated in this discussion.
Aside from disagreements over interpretation, the overall belief by many, though not all, is in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. It appears to be based in part on a couple of natural subconscious human desires and fears. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture also stems from the rise of Dispensationalism and to a level of Replacement Theology. The focus here will be on whether or not the Bible actually supports a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Those other topics will be discussed another time.
First is not to have to suffer pain, rebuke, mockery or harassments of any kind, let alone real persecutions or even a simple lack of modern “creature comforts; even though these sufferings would be for standing up for our Lord JesusChrist.
Second is not to have one’s faith put to the test, knowing full well that, what is easily confessed in safety becomes more difficult and guarded (or even personally questioned) under duress and possible threat of persecutionand even prosecution; or worse a horrific death (namely beheading). This then ties in to the first reason mentioned.The Bible states we will be tested like silver in the fire, and refers to those who "endure to the end". The"tribulation" is that time of testing.
Some preachers have actually stated that those who do not believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture and are teaching otherwise, are “taking away their (the pastor’s) Jesus”; as if they own Him instead of the other way around. This idea is absurd on every level.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture depicts a sequence of events where Jesus returns but stops half way in the sky, gets the believers and returns to heaven; only to return to the earth shortly thereafter in the Glorious Return to defeat theAnti-Christ and set up His millennial Kingdom.
Yes, the Lord will return, He will come down from Heaven. This is a Scriptural foregone conclusion. All believers agree on this one point; Jesus is coming back. But it seems the agreement stops there. The argument comes up with the concept He comes part way, gathers the body of believers, catching them up into the sky with Him, hence the term “caught up” or “raptured”.
This discussion presents the idea He does not stop and go back up then turn around and come back again shortly thereafter. He only makes one return trip, coming all the way to earth. Nowhere in the Bible does it say He will come, go back up and come again. This is also a somewhat ludicrous idea when you think about it. He has beenpreparing a place for us for two thousand years, but we’re only to live there with Him for seven years until He returns again with the believers to reign on the earth for another one thousand years.
To put this slightly differently,this concept of the Pre-Tribulation rapture has Christ returning half way to earth, stopping in the sky to remove the dead and then the believers; then returning to heaven for seven years only to return with those believers to reign on earth for another thousand years. That process just does not make rational sense.
Typology and the ancient times the rapture is patterned after reference a number of events of the Old Testament. Noah when he and his family were delivered from the flood, Lot and his family living in Sodom and were delivered from its destruction, The Israelites in Egypt being delivered from the impact of the plagues and the exile into Babylon.
I am God, and there is none like Me—10 declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is yet to come, saying, “My purpose will stand, and I will accomplish all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10 TLV)
What are the “Ancient Times” the Lord through Isaiah is speaking of?
They are those times of Noah, Lot, the Israelites, Daniel and his friends Shadrack, Meshiac and Abednego.
First there is Noah:
The same day Noah and his family entered the Ark, judgment came down the rains began.
Then there was rain upon the land 40 days and 40 nights. 13 On that same day Noah, along with Noah’s sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s wife and the three wives of Noah’s sons with them, entered the ark (Gen 7:12-13 TLV)
With Noah and his family, they were not scooped away by the angels before hand, but were protected by God through His revelations to Noah. These revelations consisted of a warning of what was about to happen as well as instructions as to how to prepare for the impending judgment.
They were told to prepare a boat, the “ark”. During this preparation period they were ridiculed and mocked; their own "tribulation" period prior to salvation. After all they were building a boat in the middle of dry land with no method of bringing it to the water. This does not even go into the fact there was no technology at that time to move a structure or “ship” of that size even a few yards from water. But at the end of this period of “tribulation” God’s wrath and judgment fell, the same day they entered the ark and were saved. Their “rapture” occurred the same day judgment fell upon the sinful. They (the sinful) were swept away while the righteous believers remained and were spared God’s judgment. They became the remnant who repopulated the earth. The pattern of the wicked being removed is consistent in the Bible.
Next is the story of Lot
As before, the same dayLot and his family left Sodom, judgment came down and Sodom was destroyed. As with Lot in Sodom, when the two angels came, Lot and his family were tormented and when threatened the angels protected Lot and his family by blinding their tormentors. But in the end, they were not carried away to another place for safety but were warned and led away from the impending disaster which happened the same day they left the city.
Hurry! Flee to safety there, because I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” (This is why the town is named Zoar.) 23 The moment the sun rose upon the land, Lot entered Zoar, 24 and Adonai rained sulfur and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from Adonai out of the sky. 25 So He demolished these cities and the whole surrounding area, all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the ground. (Gen19:22-24 TLV)
Then Noah and his family were left as a remnant. This is exactly the same pattern as Noah.
Again we see this same kind of protection of the Israelites in ancient Egypt. The plagues only befell the Egyptians; the Israelites were demonstrably spared the consequences and suffering. They were not carried away before the plagues but were protected from and through them. Scriptures tell of how some of the latter plagues affected only the Egyptians but not the Israelites. When the final plague came, again we see the Israelites were protected from its effects. It was at this time the type for the protection of the blood of the Passover Lamb was begun.
Daniel and Friends:We can see again with the Diaspora and how God never abandoned His people but stayed with them during the times of “tribulation”. The three friends of Daniel, when they went through the fires, God was there with them the entire time protecting them. Within this exact same theme, we will not be delivered from the Tribulation but those who believe and are watching and preparing will be delivered from the wrath of God and His judgment; having passed the testing phase during the Tribulation.
Daniel and Friends:We can see again with the Diaspora and how God never abandoned His people but stayed with them during the times of “tribulation”. The three friends of Daniel, when they went through the fires, God was there with them the entire time protecting them. Within this exact same theme, we will not be delivered from the Tribulation but those who believe and are watching and preparing will be delivered from the wrath of God and His judgment; having passed the testing phase during the Tribulation.
This section will look at timing questions and problems in relation to the Pre Tribulation Rapture.
And he will speak against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time. 26 But the court will convene for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the empires will serve and obey Him.’(Daniel 7:25-27 NASB)
This is one of the verses Revelation references with the three and a half years of equaling one half of the
Tribulation. This passage from the book of Daniel also demonstrates a scenario which does not support a Pre-Trib rapture. It clearly shows the “saints” will be persecuted by the Anti-Christ. This means the “Church” is present during the Tribulation. The main point here being, there is a definite contradiction to a pre-tribulation rapture in the Scriptures. It shows not all of the Scripture supports it. That point alone is enough to completely discred it the teaching as being false. But some hold to what they want to believe regardless of what Scripture shows. One has to alter meanings to make such a case fit. And has been shown, there are various other passages which also do not support a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. There is no complete harmony of the Scriptures for it. This passage also shows again that judgment happens the same time the kingdom is given to the saints.
“There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting from fear and the expectation of the things that are coming upon 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 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28 NASB)
Jesus declares what will be seen by His followers, those who believe. They are the ones who are listening to theseteachings and sayings. The non-believers are not. When the believers see these things happening, their redemption isdrawing near.
“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, turning you over to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors on account of My name. (Luke 21:12 NASB)
It also says that when these things begin, redemption draws near. This is in contrast to the Church being Raptured at or before these things begin. If the believers are seeing these things, they are obviously present. This is also not directed to the Jews as some have claimed; note the last words “all on account of My Name”. It’s strictly referring to believers in Him, Jesus Christ. That is clearly not the Jews at large. There are more events which are to be experienced by the believers and are not what is expected, these are “tribulations”. The believers will experience some tribulation before His return. This is a period of testing of one’s faith. But it is so we can bewitnesses to those who do not yet believe. It is kind of a last ditch effort to save as many more as possible before the end.
Just because God is testing our faith, this does not mean or imply we are not being saved from His wrath. Many who experienced disasters i.e. “Hurricanes”, “Tornados” and other natural disasters are saved from them and their consequences. How many survived a flood, only to find their appliances and other possessions were also, in some way spared the results of God’s wrath? Thus by retaining these objects of one’s life, they are saved in an earthly sense. They are not removed, but protected and spared; delivered from God’s wrath. This is exactly the same as Noah, Lot and the Israelites in a myriad of afflictions they were put through.
This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry. . . .Luke 21:16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you todeath. 17 All men will hate you because of me. (Luke 21:13)
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.Does any of this sound familiar? (Luke 21:20)
Does it not sound like the current headlines? We are very close to His return.
He must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to restore everythingas He promised long agothrough His holy prophets. (Acts 3:21)
When Christ returns, with the clouds of the heavens and the sound of the trumpet, with the voice of the archangel, He has left Heaven; He has “come down from heaven with a shout” etc. This verse from Acts clearly states Christ must remain in Heaven UNTIL the time has come to restore all things. Not partially come and go back, not wait in Heaven while He brings up the believers, not come a little ways out of heaven only to temporarily return to heaven to wait a little longer. It flatly states “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything as He promised long ago through His holy prophets”. From that we can get a better understanding of the overly quoted and misused verse.
According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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. 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. (1Thess 14:15-17)
We see the Lord will come down from heaven, thus no longer remaining there. Therefore He is returning to restore all things, not a partial fulfillment but a restoration of ALL things.
This concept is emphasized by Matthew
“But 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 the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet blast, and they will gather together His [x]elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Mt 24:29-31 NASB)
Notice how it states “immediately after the distress of those days”. What days are He speaking of? Those are thedays of the Tribulation. It continues with a description of the celestial events and finally with the gloriousappearance of the Lord. At which time He sends His angels and “they will gather His elect”. It’s AFTER the distress of those days He gathers His elect. It is AFTER the Tribulation.
More Scriptural anomalies with a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Now a look at when Christ comes and the words used surrounding the event. Here the Greek word “Parousia”which is the word used for the Lord’s “coming” or “arrival”.
According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming (parousia) of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. (1Thes 4:15)
Then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Yeshua will slay him with the breath of His mouth and wipe him out with the appearance of His coming. (2Thes 2:8 TLV)
The traditional “rapture” verse shows we are going up to heaven at the “parousia” / coming. It also states“those of us who are left”. Left as in left behind? This then falls directly in line with what was demonstrated earlier.
The faithful are kept back and remain under God’s protection. In the second verse shown, the Lawless one is revealed and destroyed “by the splendor of His coming / (parousia)”. This clearly demonstrates we do not go up with Him until His coming and that also happens when He destroys the lawless one, again “at His coming / parousia”. These are a singular event unless there are two Second Comings (which would make it a second and third coming). Why would we be taken up to heaven when Jesus comes to rule on earth? The rapture happens at judgment.
But stay alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things about to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36 TLV)
If we are to be raptured away, we will be standing before the Son of Man; so why would the Lord say “AND that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man”? If we are there already, we are already standing before Him, there would be no need to pray for this in addition; we would already be able to be standing there if we have escaped “all that is about to happen” and are thereby raptured to Him. This again shows there is a Scriptural disharmony with a pre-Tribulation rapture.Hence, a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is not in keeping with Scriptures whereas a post Tribulation rapture is more in line with Biblical history, prophecy, teachings, and typology. Is John symbolic of the Church?
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and someone was sitting on the throne. (Rev 4:2 NASB)
This passage is believed (by the Pre Tribulation supporters) to be typological of the Church being taken up to heaven. They cite this as an indication the Church has been removed since after this chapter the word “church” is no longer used in Scripture; and in that sense they are right, the word “church” is no longer used after this point. But so what? If, since the word “Church” not being mentioned after Rev 4 is an indication the “Church” is no longer present; then by the exact same logic, the lack of the phrase “Tribulation Saints” means there are no “Tribulation saints”; nor is there ever a “Church Age” because it too is never mentioned in Scriptures. The logic then becomes highly selective on what the individual wants to believe.
Again referencing the verse of Rev 4, if it is to be used as an example of the Rapture [specifically pre trib], as it relies on John being carried away in the spirit, thus the rapture comparison; then anywhere else that scenario of John being carried away in the spirit is mentioned, must relate to the same situation.
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. (Rev 17:3)
If the Church were already in Heaven due to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, then how does it witness “a woman sitting on a scarlet beast”?
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. (Rev 10:1)
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. (Rev 18:1)
If he was “taken up” to heaven, then how could he see another angel “coming DOWN” from heaven? So too, if this is representative of the Church having been raptured ahead of time, how could it be present on earth to witness these angels coming down from heaven? If the term “in the spirit” is reflective of the church being Raptured, and that where ever John goes in the spirit is where the church is going to go, then the Church is going to be here during the Tribulation regardless of the word “church” being mentioned or not. To claim otherwise or to switch meanings selectively is disingenuous and manipulates Scripture for a personal belief.
Many believe the Church or the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit through the Church is the restrainer mentionedin Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He istaken out of the way. But this belief relies on just those verses and personal opinion. However, Daniel paints a slightly different picture of this individual “He who restrains”. (2Thess 2:7)
At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise [stand up/step back, stand still, to cease, to pause]. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. (Dan 12:1)
Going back to Paul’s letter, it says “HE” who restrains. Not “they”, not the Holy Spirit, not the “church” but,“he” who restrains. Michael is therefore the “restrainer” mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. Michael,the protector of Israel is in some form the “restrainer”. Remember Scripture interprets itself. The identity of the Restrainer is answered by Scripture, not a personal belief.
Suffering the ”wrath”
For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. (1 Thes 5:9 NASB)
Two points on this,
First is, God did not intend or appoint us to suffer His wrath; this is true. But we as humans with a sinful nature are constantly turning away from God’s love and design; this brings a form of His wrath upon us. This is the cause and effect of this world. In simpler words, God did not appoint us to burn our hands in the fire, so as a good and loving parent He warned us not to put our hands in it. Through the Bible God is in essence telling, or rather warning us not to stick our hands in the fire. When we do so anyway we get burned, feeling the pain of disobedience. This is God’s wrath through cause and effect. It is not revenge or retribution, but what naturally happens when someone disobeys their parent’s advice for their own safety. A parent may be able to sooth the pain but still cannot remove the initial hurt caused by the personal decision to disobey and stick a hand in the fire.
Second, as already stated, we as believers are not called to suffer the wrath of God. This is not the same as any “wrath of man”. Man’s wrath against the believers is demonstrated repeatedly throughout the Bible. We are warned we WILL be persecuted and even prosecuted for our beliefs and faith in His Name. This is another example of a cause and effect, though from a different direction. All this happened to Noah, Lot, the Israelites and Daniel and his three friends, as well as anyone who has stood for the Father and His Son over the past few thousand years. It is a test of the truth and depth of our faith in Him, Them.
God is a righteous judge,And a God who shows indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11 NASB)
God’s wrath has always been here, on a daily basis.
The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (Jn 3:36 NASB)
Therefore the Lord certainly knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and how to keep the unrighteous being punished until the Day of Judgment (2Peter 2:9 TLV)
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s judgment comes on the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6 TLV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. In unrighteousness they suppress the truth (Rom 1:18 TLV)
We too all lived among them in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. By nature we were children of wrath, just like the others. (Ephesians 2:3 TLV)
Then I saw another great and wonderful sign in heaven: seven angels who have seven plagues—the last ones, for with them God’s wrath is finished. (Rev 15:1 TLV)
This is the demonstration of the end of God’s wrath. God’s wrath which has been seen and experienced throughout all of history. Described in the Bible from the time of Adam to Christ’s return when it all comes to an end. God’s wrath against mankind’s sinfulness is put to a final end; so too man’s sinfulness.
What is the timing of God’s wrath and the rapture? Wrath and redemption comes on the same day as was demonstrated with Noah, Lot, Daniel’s three friends andthe Israelites.
As it was in the days of Noah, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was just the same in the days of Lot. They were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Things will be the same on the day when the Son of Man is made fully known. (Luke 17:26-30 TLV)
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all, it is right in the sight of God to pay back trouble to those who trouble you, 7 and relief to you who suffer trouble along with us. At the revelation of the Lord Yeshua from heaven with His mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, He will command judgment on those who do not know God and do not heed the Good News of our Lord Yeshua. (2Thess 1:5-8 TLV)
It happens when He is revealed. Redemption happens when wrath and judgment happen as noted in verse 8when He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of Christ. This happens on the sameday. Jesus doesn’t come back ahead of time, remove people and then come back again to judge the world as in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture sequence. It’s all at the same time.
Some Points from Revelation
To the angel of Messiah’s community in Philadelphia write: “Thus says the Holy One, the True One, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens: 8 I know your deeds. Behold, I have set before you an open door that no one is able to shut—because you have little power, but you have kept My word and have not denied My name. 9 Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of satan—who say they are Jewish and are not, but lie—behold, I will cause them to come and bow down before your feet, so that they acknowledge that I have loved you! 10 “Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. (Rev 3:7-10 TLV)
Some believe the phrase “keeping you from the hour of trial” means to be removed from the earth as in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This would set a new precedent in Scriptures instead of keeping with Biblical types shown previously. Those kept from the trials were not removed from the trials and testing of their times, but were Divinely protected. This miraculous protection was a way for God to demonstrate His power, existence and love through His protection of those who keep the faith in Him. Do those who call themselves believers really have so little faith in Him they do not believe He is capable of saving us from the testing without having to completely remove us from the earth before hand? The word “remnant” comes from the word “remain”, they are those who are left behind and not taken away.
If being completely removed were the case, we would not be witnesses as expected. We would not have our faith tested like silver in the fire as the Bible describes. We are not called to be wishy-washy with our belief, merely satisfied with the so called milk of faith; but true Believers feeding on the meat of mature faith in His Word and promise.
Two of the Churches in the book of Revelation are mentioned and not rebuked like the other five. However they too receive a warning to hold fast. The Church in Smyrna is the first of these two and is mentioned in Chapter 2receives a dire warning similar to the other churches.
And to the angel of the Church of Smyrna write. These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life; I know your works, tribulation and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches, He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev 2:8-10 TLV)
This passage from Revelation quite clearly shows the Church (in this case the Church of Smyrna) will suffer through a tribulation they must overcome. Then in verse eleven it categorically states the directive is towards the“churches”! This same warning of the suffering in “tribulation” is seen in verse 22 in a warning to the Church of Thyatira. Notice the statement which is repeated in these warnings to the churches; “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes ....”
This is clearly a statement made to the “Churches”or the “Church” of Christ as an encompassing whole. It is repeated over and over again so its importance cannot be understated. The churches must overcome something; only one thing stands out for them to overcome, the“Tribulation”.
The “Church of Philadelphia” is second of seven churches mentioned in Revelation which is not rebuked, but it too receives the same warning to hold fast and overcome something which is (implied) coming.
To the angel of Messiah’s community in Philadelphia write: “Thus says the Holy One, the True One, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens: 8 I know your deeds. Behold, I have set before you an open door that no one is able to shut—because you have little power, but you have kept My word and have not denied My name. 9 Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of satan—who say they are Jewish and are not, but lie—behold, I will cause them to come and bow down before your feet, so that they acknowledge that I have loved you! 10 “Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon—hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. 12 The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he will never leave it. And on him I will write the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new Name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities.” (Rev3:7-13 TLV)
All five of the other churches had to overcome something to be saved from His judgment. Since all temptations and trials come to us all, and is warned against in each of the letters to the churches, it is logical to think the sevenchurches mentioned also had to overcome the same trials. It can be seen in the last part of the letter to the Church of Philadelphia they too have to “overcome”, thus they too face the same Tribulations or as the Lord states “that no onemay take your crown”.In all seven cases of the different churches, a consoling statement is made to those who “overcome” the trials of the period of testing. These all clearly contradict a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. How can the Church be removed to avoid tribulation, when it is to suffer the tribulations as a means of testing? By removing them, thereis no need for a warning to overcome anything; they (we) would have been removed from any period requiring us to overcome anything.
10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is goingto come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 These kings are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them—because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” (Rev 17:12-14 TLV)
This hour being referred to is the time immediately leading up to and including the battle of the Armageddon. They / we will be spared the trials of that hour. In fact, the last statement suggests the believers will be assisting in that hour.
The Saints vs the Elect
The Bible portrays seemingly two groups; the “saints” and the “elect”. When the particular passages are lined up, it can be seen they are not two but one group. The Saints and the Elect are the same people; those who believe in Yeshua - Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God. Here are some relevant passages to demonstrate this.
Who are the “Saints”
to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 1:7 NASB)
To all those in Rome, loved by God, called to be kedoshim: (Rom 1:7 TLV)
and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom 8;27 NASB
And He who searches the hearts knows the mind of the Ruach, because He intercedes for the kedoshim according to the will of God. (Rom 8:27 TLV)
I recommend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea, 2 that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. (Rom 16:1-2 NASB)
Now I recommend to you our sister Phoebe—who is a servant-leader of Messiah’s community at Cenchrea— 2 so you may receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of kedoshim, and help her in whatever matter she may need from you. For she herself has become a patroness of many, including me as well. (Rom 16:1-2 TLV)
Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to form the smallest law courts? (1Cor 6:1-2 NASB)
Does any one of you, when he has a matter against his neighbor, dare to go to court before the unrighteous and not before the kedoshim? 2 Don’t you know that the kedoshim will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to judge trivial matters? (1Cor 6:1-2 TLV)
The reason the passages are shown from two versions, is to demonstrate the two words, saints and elect, are results of translators, whereas the language of the day, would use the same word in both cases. Kedoshim is the Hebrew term for the holy ones, and disciples also known as the saints or the elect.
Then, Who are the Elect?
This word tends to be a bit less amorphous. It comes down to who were chosen by God.
What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; (Rom 11:7 NASB)
What then? That which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened: (Rom 11:7 ASV)
What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained; but the elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened—(Rom 11:7 TLV)
Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2Tim 2:10 10 ASV)
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, (2 Tim 1:1 KJV)
Paul, a slave of God and an emissary of Messiah Yeshua, for the faith of God’s chosen and the knowledge of truth that is in keeping with godliness, (2 Tim 1;1 TLV)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,(|1 Peter 1:1 ASV)
To those who reside as strangers, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen (1 Peter 1:1 NASB)
The letters from both Peter and Paul demonstrate the “saints” and the “elect” are the believers in Jesus Christ the Lord as the Son of God. They are the same group of people, comprised all those who believe in Jesus Christ. Whether they are called the "elect", "chosen", "saints" or similar, it is the same group of people being referenced.
The “Day” of the Lord’s return, can and do we know it? Are we even able to know that day? Jesus was asked by His disciples when He would return. This question was asked both before and after He was crucified and resurrected. First is obviously before the Crucifixion and His response was:
No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mt 24:36)
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Mt 24:44)
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only theFather.Jesus doesn’t even know that day or hour when He said this to His Disciples.(Mark 13:32)
It should be noted He did not say at anytime He would return partially only to fully return later. Now look at the book of Acts and the same basicquestion asked after the resurrection.
So when they met together, they asked Him; “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority” ( Acts 1:6-7)
Note the setting; they have gathered after the Lord’s resurrection, they are all well aware of this fact. They (the Disciples) now realize the totality of His identity and power, so they ask Him again about the restoration: “Lord will You at THIS time restore the kingdom of Israel?”
The interesting thing here is the words He used to answer them. He pointed out previously the Father has set the times and dates, and that no one knew when that was to be. But now His answer is different, this information now is not for “them” the Disciples to know. Notice He did not reaffirm the point HE did not know. The fact that He references God the Father HAS SET the times and dates, implies He at this point knows; He knows the times and dates; but that it is not for the Disciples to know them, as it does not relate to their immediate lifetime. It again must be clearly understood this is taking place after the crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus states God the Father has kept nothing from Him, all the Father knows He knows. This now includes the date and time of His imminent return. Why would there be a different answer? Simply stated, all of the elements of the First Coming needed to be fulfilled first. The completion of that sets the dating of the day of His return in motion. Once the accumulation of all history takes place leading up to the Second Coming the day is established. Once the Resurrection took place , God knew all the history and future and as the Father revealed the information to the Son, withholding nothing as Scripture says. It was at this time Jesus knew the timing, the date. So, His answer to their question changed.
Do we know when the day is yet? Can we know?
“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)
Jesus is laying the ground work for the dating of His return. Paul picks up on this theme as he advises thebelievers they can and should know the day.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.Paul is telling us we are NOT in darkness so the day should not be a surprise to us. (1Thes 5:4)
If it’s not a surprise to us, it means we should know the day. Paul is blatantly saying we can and should know the day of Christ’s return. Paul was a Biblical scholar and was aware of the many details in the Tanakh. He understood the prophecies which Jesus referenced. With this understanding he was reminding his readers they too know this, expecting diligent study of Scripture. Bear in mind there was no New Testament written yet, as it was still in the process of being written. Paul continually referenced the Torah and the entirety of Scripture in his writings which was strictly what is commonly called the Old Testament.
Remember therefore, what you have received, and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wakeup, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Rev 3:3)
Here through John, Jesus is telling us to wake up otherwise He will come like a thief and we would not knowwhen that is. The operative words are “but if”. If we are asleep He will surprise us like a thief, BUT IF we areawake and watching like we are supposed to be, we will not be surprised, we will know when that will be. Jesus Himself is telling us we can and should know when His return will be.
Where is He now?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you alsomay be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (Jn 13:1-3)
Jesus ascended into heaven, going to prepare a place for us to where He will come and take us to. There weare to be with him. However, in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture scenario; Jesus goes away for two thousand years to prepare a place for us to be with him for only seven years until His grand return to begin His millennial kingdom in which we are supposed to rule with Him.
It took seven days for God to create the earth which has had mankinddwelling on it for thousands of years, but it takes the Son of God two thousand years to prepare a place where we will only stay seven years before returning to the earth. Does this really make any sense? Then after the millennial reign there is a new heaven and a new earth. So Jesus for two thousand years prepared a place for us to dwell in for only seven years and is supposed to be returned to after another thousand years on the earth during His millennial reign. This does not add up; it doesn’t make sense. It’s just another incongruity of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture scenario.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (Jn 14:18)
Notice it doesn’t say I will come and get you, but I will come TO you. Jesus is coming to where we are, not taking usto where He is. This reality is emphasized by the following passages.
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we willcome to him and make our home with him. (Jn 14:23)
You heard me say, I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be gladthat I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.Here Jesus is reaffirming He will be coming TO US, not coming and scooping away and leaving. (Jn 14:28)
Jesus is coming back to be here on earth. We know He will be coming to begin His millennial reign. That iswhat He is referring to. Not a partial return only to go back to Heaven to return seven years later but a once and onetime only full return to be King.
Who’s Really Taken First?
The Bible depicts the suddenness of how some will be removed and others left behind. There is a conundrumwith this though. There appears to be two scenarios for who are actually removed first.
And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That ishow it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one taken and the other left. Twowomen will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because youdo not know on what day your Lord will come. (Mt 24:39-42)
There are two possibilities for who is removed first.
1) This is generally thought to be about the sudden disappearance of the believers in the Rapture. But if the context it sets itself in is examined and understood, it can be seen it is all about judgment, not about a rapturing away of the good believers. Notice who is actually taken and when;
“And they knew nothing about what would happen until the FLOOD CAME and took them away.” ;
The sinners, the wicked were taken away by the flood. God didn’t take away the faithful; He protected them (in the Ark).
Those “taken” were those who were judged by God. This bears directly on what Jesus said in His prayer thatHis followers would not be removed. They would not be removed as were the wicked in the times of Noah, Lot andwhen the Israelites were in Egypt. The faithful remained and were protected.Just as the wicked are taken first in the other Biblical narratives, so too the “dead in Christ” spiritually will betaken first and then the rest; those remaining are the ones saved. They are the ones God has chosen, as in “many arecalled but few are chosen”. These are the remnants of the human race who remain on the earth to be the gardenersGod had originally intended. Just as Noah and his family, Lot and his family and the remnants that were left behindin Israel when the wicked Israelites were removed into exile.
When Noah was saved, the wicked were taken away,the good (Noah and his family) were protected andremained. When Lot was saved, the wicked were destroyed, Lot and his family remained, on earth. When theIsraelites were saved, the wicked were taken away, the Israelites remained. When Israel was sacked by Babylon, thewicked were taken away, a faithful remnant remained. These are typological of a situation where those who arespiritually dead are removed and the spiritually faithful remain. 1Thess supports this concept with its statement the“dead in Christ” are taken first” and then the rest. The spiritually dead in Christ are removed first; the spirituallyfaithful remain to be gathered to the Lord. Again a pre-Tribulation Rapture does not fit the Biblical passages andtypology relating to the aspect of who goes first.
The other possibility is the one which is generally believed by most Biblical teachers and preachers. This isthen in reference to those who believed in Christ but died in that belief.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in theLord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them! ” (Revelation 14:13)
With this in mind, the passage from 1Thessolonians where it states “the dead in Christ shall rise first” could be suggesting they are the “dead in Christ” not the “dead, in Christ”. In other words, those who are dead spiritually in Christ are gathered first, as opposed to those who believed and are physically dead at that moment. The passage in 1Thessolonians which says the dead shall rise first and later with how the living will certainly not precede the dead also keeps in line with this passage from Revelation. But there is an interesting phrase used here, which alludes it is not reflecting on those who have died in the Name of Christ in the past. This phrase is “”Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
This presents a conundrum as to who is actually removed first. Both have merit according to Scripture. However, neither supports a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. If it is the wicked removed first, then the return happens at judgment, upon Christ’s return after theTribulation. If it is the believers who have died in their belief, those killed for their stand for Christ, then it again is after the Tribulation. Both cases support a post Tribulation return and Rapture Here is how Paul uses the term for "coming".
“Coming of Titus”
But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us with the arrival of Titus; 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the encouragement with which he was encouraged by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, and your deep concern for me—so that I rejoiced still more. (2Cor 7:6)
“Coming of Stephanas”
I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, for they made up for your absence. (1Cor 16:17 )
His own “coming” to Philippi
so that your confidence in Messiah Yeshua might overflow because of me through my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:26)
For this we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (Or those who through Jesus sleep) For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the comingof the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. (1Thes 4:15)
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. (2Thes2:8)
The traditional rapture verse shows we are going up to heaven at the coming as it states “those of us who are left”. (Left as in left behind?) This then falls directly in line with what was demonstrated earlier. The faithful are kept back and remain under God’s protection. In the second verse shown, the Lawless one is revealed and destroyed “by the splendor of His coming”. This clearly demonstrates we do not go up with Him until His coming and that also happens when He destroys the lawless one, again “at His coming”. We are taken up to heaven when Jesus comes to rule. The rapture happens at judgment, Apokalupsis [appearing / revelation]
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to begiven you when Jesus Christ is revealed (apokalupsis) (1Peter 1:13)
Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to berevealed (apokalupsis). He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord JesusChrist. Epiphaneia [manifestation, glory] (1Cor 1:7-8 )
To keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing (epiphaneia) of our Lord JesusChrist, (1Tim 6:14)
And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of hismouth and destroy by the splendor [epiphaneia] of His coming.This also clearly shows His appearing is the same as His coming. The “Epiphaneia” or manifestation / glory” isat the same time as His coming “apokalupsis”. (2Thes 2:8)
The quest becomes then, to find anywhere in the entire body of Scriptures is a Pre-Tribulation sequence laidout. There is nowhere in Scripture where a pre tribulation scenario is detailed or clearly stated. To get to it,Scriptures must be twisted and manipulated to fit such a scenario. In contrast, a post Tribulation “rapture” isclearly demonstrated in numerous passages.Let the Scriptures speak for themselves; instead of force fitting a preconceived belief into them. We can’t saywhat Scripture means, we have to allow Scripture to tell us what it means and is saying.
Protection vs Removal
During a recent hurricane, it became clear the concept of protection as opposed to being completely removed from a trying situation which tests one’s faith. The winds blew, the power went out and the basement filled with water despite two pumps running twenty four hours nonstop. Almost two feet of water filled the entire basement, coming up and partially submerging a dryer, washer, refrigerator and worst of all the furnace and air conditioning system. When power came on five days later, the waters had subsided and were relegated to only the sump pit. It was time to test the appliances to find what needed to be replaced. Despite the fact these were all submerged, with water up around the electronic and electrical sections underneath, everything worked fine. Some even worked better than before the storm!
We were not removed from the impending storm, many fled to other locations to waitout the storm. Having no other place to go, and considering this was “home” it was decided to remain and hold down the fort. The house would have done far worse if we had not remained behind. We prayed and were spared. Is this a coincidence? Many would say so. But it has become a personal observation there is no such thing as “coincidence”. As Einstein stated, "coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous."
As one bishop responded when asked if the answering of prayer was merely coincidence; “I find when I do not pray the coincidences stop”. This goes to the heart of the pre-Tribulation Rapture, where it is believed that the only way God can protect His people from His wrath is by completely removing them. Through personal experience this is not necessarilytrue. His people can be protected from the consequences of His wrath and still remain; thus we are the “remnant” of humanity.
The ResurrectionsThere are a number of resurrections mentioned in the Bible, especially in reference to the End Times. Thispresents a number of problems for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture scenario.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.This is interesting because since “the dead in Christ will rise first”, this is clearly a resurrection.
However in Revelation,
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw thesouls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. Theyhad not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. Theycame to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousandyears were ended.) this is the first resurrection. (Rev 20 4-6)
John writes of another resurrection which occurs when Christ returns after the Tribulation. This timing canbe seen with the phrase “they had not worshiped the beast or his image. . .” The complete phrase directly referencesthe Anti-Christ and the false religion, a Tribulation characteristic. The passage clearly states what the first resurrection is; there cannot be two “First resurrections” of the dead as in 1Thessolonians and then a second “First”resurrection in Revelation after the Tribulation.
If what Revelation describes is the first resurrection, then what resurrection is 1Thessolonians speaking of? Itclearly cannot come BEFORE the first resurrection as it would then be the first and what Revelation says would bethe second. 1Thessolonians cannot be the second resurrection, because then it would not be within a pre-tribulation scenario. This exemplifies quite well the problem the Pre-Tribulation scenario has with Scripture. It is not in harmony with the entire body of Scripture. Too many passages contradict such a teaching.
. . .image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life andreigned with Christ a thousand years. the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. (Rev 20:4-5)
When Christ resurrected two thousand years ago, saints were released from the pit and were seen about the city.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:1-3)
Here is a definition to who some of the dead are, they are the spiritually dead; dead in their trespasses and sins. The wicked are the ones who are thus “dead in Christ”, they are spiritually dead. They go first and the rest follow. Just as in all the other situations, the wicked were removed first.
Whether or not the “rapture” occurs before or after the Tribulation, His people will be brought to Him. A major reason I strongly put forth an alternative point of view is that, if the Pre-Trib scenario does not play in the popular way it has been portrayed, and the believers are attacked with lies of "see it's not true; we told you so!”, there is a Biblical reason for the situation; though I do believe in the Pre-Tribulation scenario at this time. I also keep an open mind on Scriptures and do not rely on “my own wisdom” in “my own conceits”. I listen to the alternative supporters, whole heartedly. I am willing to change my mind should a good case be made. The post Tribulation concept does not take anyone's Jesus away from them (as I've heard some pastors preach). It's just saying that like the Biblical scholars who were caught unaware of Jesus' first coming as they had envisioned a completely different scenario than what actually took place; so too we must be ready to see things happen different from what we have personally envisioned.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of Hismouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming, The coming of the lawless one is according to the working ofSatan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, becausethey did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Thess 2:8-12)
And so beware the great deception, the delusion God Himself is sending to catch those who only claim they believe but in reality do not believe the truth. Be ready for this great test by God! Either way, be ready no matter what the timing is; Christ is coming soon! (Grab a broom and look busy!) ;-)