13 Reasons the Church will be Raptured before the Tribulation!
A Topical Study of Revelation 3:10
The Book of Acts tells us the Berean believers were more noble than their neighbors in Thessalonica because the Bereans searched the Scriptures to validate what Paul taught them (Act 17:11). So, too, I want our church family to be able to say, "Here's why we believe what we do." To this end, I would like to submit to you thirteen reasons why I believe the church will be raptured before the Tribulation.
"Well, I have friends who say the church will go through the Tribulation. Why get all concerned about this issue?" you might say. My answer is because I believe one's view on Bible prophecy and the timing of the Rapture will affect the way one lives out his faith. Why does the debate continue concerning the timing of this event? I believe it is due to misunderstanding in three areas:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Matt 24:21-22
On the basis of this verse, people say "Aha! Here we see the elect in the Tribulation"—failing to realize that the term "elect" refers to three groups of people: Christians (Col 3:12), Israel (Isa 45:4), and those who will be saved in the Tribulation (Matt 24:21-22).
To which of the elect does Jesus refer in Matt 24:21? I believe the answer lies in the verse preceding it…
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day. Matt 24:20
Even to this day, transportation in Israel is shut down on the Sabbath. Since the Sabbath means nothing to Gentile nations, the application to Israel is clear.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1Cor 15:52
On the basis of this verse, people say, "Aha! According to Revelation 11, the seventh, or last trump signaling the Rapture, will take place midway through the Tribulation." But wait a minute. The seventh trumpet of Revelation 11 is sounded by angels, whereas 1Thes 4:16 make it clear that the last trump is sounded by God.
In Exodus 19, God sounded the first trump when the Jews were gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai to hear the law. The last trump will sound when the church is gathered to meet the Lord in the air and taken to heaven. Thus, the Jews hear the first trump; the church hears the last.
1. The doctrine is to be a comforting one (1Thes 4:18). The belief that the Rapture happens after or in the middle of the Tribulation is anything but comforting because it means believers must endure unbelievable agony before they are taken to heaven.
2. The Tribulation is the outpouring of the wrath of the Lamb—and God has not appointed us to wrath (1Thes 5:9-11). The wrath that should have been hurled at you and poured out on me was absorbed by our Hero, our Lord, our Savior on the Cross of Calvary.
3. Rapture before the Tribulation is illustrated in Genesis 19, where we see angels delivering Lot and his family before the destruction of Sodom. How do I know this is a picture of the Rapture? Because in reference to this, Peter writes, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations" (2Pet 2:9). The word translated "temptations" is the same word translated "tribulation."
4. Rapture before the Tribulation is illustrated in Enoch, who was taken to heaven prior to the Flood (Gen 5:24). "Wrong analogy," some protest. "The correct picture is Noah who went through the tribulation of the Flood." But wait a minute. Noah is not a picture of the church, but of Israel, who will indeed go through the Tribulation—and will at last come to Jesus as a result.
5. Rapture before the Tribulation is illustrated in Daniel 3. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. But where was their friend Daniel? Either he did, indeed, bow to Nebuchadnezzar—which is completely contrary to the rest of the book—or, his omission is in itself a picture of the Rapture. Bible scholars believe that, very likely, he was away on official business as an emissary. All we know with certainty, however, is that he was taken out of the scene.
6. Jesus told us to pray that we would be raptured before the Tribulation. In speaking of the Tribulation in His Olivet Discourse, Jesus said, "Watch and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things" (see Luke 21:36). How are we accounted worthy? One way: We are worthy because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross of Calvary.
7. Pre-Tribulation Rapture makes sense historically and scripturally. In accordance with Jewish custom, when a man came of age to marry, he would add a room on to his father's house for himself and his bride. When the addition was complete, and when the father gave the go-ahead, a trumpet would sound, and the bridegroom would go to meet his bride. Following the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom would take his bride to his father's house, where they would be tucked away for seven days in the newly completed "bridal suite." At the end of seven days, the bridegroom would come out with his bride and introduce her to the community.
That's exactly what's going to happen with us. Jesus, our Bridegroom, is preparing a place for us in heaven, His Father's house (John 14:2). At the appointed time known only by the Father, a trumpet will sound and Jesus will meet us, His bride, in the air to escort us up to the "Bridal Suite" He has prepared for us. We will remain with Him in heaven for seven years before we are presented to the world, where we will rule and reign with Him.
8. Pre-Tribulation Rapture follows the outline of the Book of Revelation. If you don't embrace a Pre-Tribulation view, your understanding of Revelation becomes as twisted as a pretzel because you've got to put chapters 4 and 5 after chapter 11, if you hold to a Mid-Tribulation stance; after chapter 19 if you take a Post-Tribulation point of view. Only a Pre-Tribulation placement of the Rapture allows for a consistent flow of the Book of Revelation.
9. Pre-Tribulation Rapture allows for the conditional aspect of the Tribulation. To the church at Thyatira, Jesus said, "If you don't repent, you will experience Tribulation" (see Rev 2:22). If the Rapture won't occur until after the Tribulation, what would be the reason for this warning of Jesus?
"Well, didn't Jesus say in this world we would have tribulation?" you ask.
Yes, but the crushing the believer goes through in the world is from Satan. The Tribulation of chapters 6-19, on the other hand, is from God as He pours out His wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. Folks, God will not allow anyone to get hit from both sides. If we experience tribulation in the world because of our faith, we will not experience the Tribulation of those who have none.
10. Pre-Tribulation Rapture allows for the unknown time of the Lord's return. According to Daniel's prophecy, three and a half biblical years (a Biblical year being three hundred sixty days) from the day Antichrist enters the temple and demands worship midway through the Tribulation, the Lord will return. Consequently, if believers were on earth during the Tribulation, they would be able to predict the exact time of the Second Coming—three and a half biblical years, or forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred sixty days after Antichrist enters the temple. The problem is, 1Thes 5:2 and Matt 24:36 make it clear that no one knows the hour of His coming. Therefore, it follows that believers must be absent at this time.
11. The Tribulation is unnecessary for the church. Referred to as the time of Jacob's trouble, the Tribulation targets Israel, for through it she will be awakened and at last see Jesus as the Messiah (Deut 4:29-30). The promises God made to Abraham and to the Jewish people have not been forgotten, gang. God will work with Israel in the days of the Tribulation. He will make Himself known to them—and they shall indeed be saved.
12. Pre-Tribulation Rapture squares with the prophecy of Daniel. At the end of Daniel 9, Daniel was given the timetable for all of Jewish history in units of heptads, or weeks. It is clear from this all-important passage of Scripture that the sixty-nine weeks of Daniel refer to the time between the commandment to rebuild the temple, given in 445 B.C. by Artaxerxes, and the coming of Messiah, fulfilled perfectly on Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. But Daniel was also told, "Seventy weeks are determined upon Israel." To what does the seventieth week of Daniel refer? To the Tribulation. You see, the seventy weeks of Daniel refer to Israel. The church was not present for the first sixty-nine weeks. And the seventieth week doesn't begin until after the church is raptured. In other words, if the church was not present in the first sixty-nine weeks, why would she be present in the last week? She won't. She'll be in heaven.
Those are twelve reasons I believe the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation.
A Pre-Tribulation Rapture viewpoint makes one seek first the kingdom. "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when He cometh shall find so doing" (Matt 24:45-46). Who is the one who will have authority and purpose in eternity? He who is watching for Jesus' coming. But this is impossible for those who believe the Tribulation precedes the Rapture because they must first watch for Antichrist, then the rebuilding of the temple, and finally the Abomination of Desolation when Antichrist demands to be worshiped as God.
Two factors kept the early church on fire: the empowering of the Holy Ghost and the belief that Jesus would return during their lifetime. "But He didn't come back in their day," you say. And you're right—but do you think those early believers are in heaven now, saying, "We didn't get bogged down in materialism or trivial pursuits. We sought the Lord. We witnessed fervently. We lived for the kingdom. If only we knew He wasn't coming, we could have played more racquetball"? No! They're ecstatic that they chose to do what Jesus says to do in every generation—to watch, to be ready, to live for His coming.
Whether or not you believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture will not affect where you'll ultimately end up. If you're a believer, you'll be in heaven no matter what position you hold. But your viewpoint concerning the Rapture very definitely affects how you live your life this side of eternity. If you do not believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture, you cannot look for Jesus Christ because, according to your eschatological viewpoint, Antichrist must appear first. Therefore, you find yourself scanning the news, checking out current events, watching the global scene for Antichrist rather than for Jesus. And this puts believers in a "survivalist" mentality. "We're going through the Tribulation," they say. "We better get ready." Is this what Jesus meant? Does He want us storing gold and guns? Or does He want us living every day in hopeful anticipation that today could be the day we go to heaven?
"I want you looking for Jesus every day," John said, "because he who has the hope of the imminent, sudden appearing of Christ and the Rapture of the church purifies himself" (see 1Jn 3:3). That is why I believe your view on the Rapture is of utmost importance. Live in constant expectancy of Jesus' return, gang. Be watching and be ready.