The Rapture

The theme of the Rapture keeps resurfacing to be a  popular topic. Around the turn of the millennium, it seemed I saw the "Left Behind" books and tapes everywhere. I turned on the radio and heard them playing the recorded "Left Behind" stories. The excitement of an immanent Rapture was everywhere amongst Christians.

I might as well tell you, I'm one of those post-tribulation rapture people. No, please don't throw things at me. I know my stand isn't very popular, to say the least. When I went to my Christian book company catalog and opened to the Last Days books and videos, I found a whole host of books. Look as I might, though, I couldn't find one book presenting any position other than the pre-tribulation rapture. If I looked at a subject like the charismatic phenomenon, I find books presenting both sides. If I look up Bible manuscript information, I find books presenting both 'King James only' and the 'every version goes camps'. Even on the subject of psychology, I find those for its use amongst Christians, and those condemning it. I only noticed two subjects that present books presenting only one camp. The subject of women (for women's liberation) and the subject of the rapture (pre-tribulation rapture). It's not that there aren't books out there presenting the other options, it's that they're not equally promoted.

I've studied the last days subject since my teenage years. I read the Seventh-Day Adventist books on the subject, the Hal Lindsay books, watched all the last day videos I could. I read and reread the prophecies. I was totally confused as to how they could harmonize the pre-tribulation rapture with the prophecies. Yes, I read their explanations, but something just didn't seem to fit. I left the subject for a while, to give myself a breather and clear my mind. When I just read the scriptures and let them speak for themselves, the dust began to settle. It became easier to understand and fit together. The post-tribulation teaching clearly emerged.

One day I was looking through a Christian used book store. In the masses of books, I found that elusive book that taught the post-tribulation rapture view. I could hardly believe my eyes. I thought, so, there is someone else out there who believes like I do. I bought the book and read it. It was good and it mentioned a number of books presenting the post-tribulation rapture (Listed in an index at the end of this article). Hey folks, such books do exist!

I started out asking you not to throw things at me. Some may not understand such a request. I've found the opposition to my view to be incredible. Now as far as I'm concerned, I would absolutely love to be wrong about this issue. I would love to be able to skip right over suffering and go directly to heaven. Who wouldn't? I love those brethren who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. I have no hatred towards them because of their confusion. Such a belief does place them under sudden dangers, which books such as "Christians Will Go Through The Tribulation . . . And how to prepare for it" cover more extensively. I can still fellowship with them, and not speak belligerently towards them. I've found that this isn't necessarily the case with many who hold to the pre-tribulation rapture position. I've seen ministries, who specialize in attacking cults, also include post-tribulation rapture people, in this arena of those to attack. They oppose people, such as myself, as if we're almost demonic. Why such furious antagonism? Why such hatred? I get the distinct impression from their writings, that if they were to see me personally, and knew my view, they could not bring themselves to fellowship with me as a believer. I've even heard of pre-tribulation people mocking the post-tribulation people's view. I disagree with the pre-tribulation view, but the Holy Spirit could not condone my mocking those of the opposing view. It's not Christ-like.

I could write volumes on prophetic interpretation, as many have done. I decline to do that. This issue is important, but I must clearly pronounce that most is speculation. We will hopefully recognize the prophecies' fulfillment as they come to pass, but most prophecy is rather ambiguous until we see it in hindsight. If you don't believe me, look at the prophecies of Christ's first coming. The complete Old Testament spoke volumes of incredible prophecy about Christ's first coming. When He came, however, Jesus' own disciples didn't realize how they were being fulfilled before their very eyes, until afterwards. Even when Jesus went to great lengths to repeat over and over about His coming death, they didn't get it. A preset mind kept them from seeing. Jesus didn't hate them because their understanding of prophecy was wrong. They were expecting Christ to immediately set up a physical earthly kingdom. That's why they presented their swords for a war:

37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.    
Luke 22:37,38
"It is enough". They were told, but couldn't understand. Though words couldn't instruct them, time would.

We need to be aware of the prophecies and especially take heed to the warnings. Prophecy is repeatedly given to call us to be diligent in living for Jesus now. It aims to keep us from being caught unprepared when the end comes. Don't get all caught up in the latest prophetical interpretation, get caught up in purifying yourself as you are pure. Look at these verses, the call is clear:

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.    
1 John 3:2,3
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.    
2 Peter 3:11-14

I read an interesting article in one cult-dealing newsletter, which told about the soon to be established one-world religion. The United Nations formed a group called 'United Religions'. They signed their charter at the end of June, 2000. The article was written before the charter was signed. It said we know what's withholding the signing of that charter. The Rapture has to occur, before that prophecy of the One World government forming the One Word religion, is officially founded. Interesting, the order was signed and founded, but the Rapture hasn't happened yet.

I'll address some attacks of my view, but first I want look at the risks the pre-tribulation rapture teaching presents.

For those getting their bags packed for the pre-tribulation rapture, I've noticed a lack of preparation for adversity. Why prepare for hard times when they won't be here, or so they think. I, on the other hand, am looking toward days of possible persecution. Seeing that, I prepare by memorizing scripture to strengthen myself so I can help others, when I might find myself without a Bible or access to one. I learn scriptures to help me stand strong in the midst of suffering. I'll have those ready, so I can continue standing on God's Word and helping others.

I can see such prophecies, as the antichrist's tight control of buying and selling, as direction. Think of it, if you're unable to buy food and pay your bills, you won't be able to feed your family, or even shelter them. What will you do? The unprepared will resort to stealing food, rather than starve, or see their children starve. Those prepared might have invested some time in learning what plants can be used to meet food and medical needs. They might learn how to survive in the wilderness and study up on emergency medical procedures. They won't find themselves pressed into the position of sinning for survival. Do you begin to get my point?

I'm going to fly over this section. I won't cover all the arguments and counter arguments. I only wish to gain a brief familiarization of some points of the post-tribulation rapture.

Last Trump
What really caught my attention was the scripture:

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 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.    
1 Corinthians 15:51,52
This passage refers to the rapture. It says it will happen at the last trump. When you read Revelation, you'll notice the trumpets mentioned. After the seventh trumpet, which is also the last, the harvest of the world is described. We aren't told of any other trumpets after this. If the harvest happened any time before the seventh trumpet, it would not be the LAST trump.

Armageddon & Rapture Together
Notice the point Jesus made:

27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot's wife. 33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.    
Luke 17:27-37
There's a lot I could say about this passage. I will only make these notes. Notice that the same day the righteous are taken away, the Lord is revealed to the world in judgment. The last verse answers the disciples, showing this gathering will be to Armageddon. Those in the "know" of the pre-tribulation rapture camp, say that verses 34-36 aren't referring to the rapture. Why? Because, the passage clearly is talking about Armageddon, which they admit, yet tells of the sudden disappearance of people happening at this time. I find it interesting they deny this refers to the rapture, because a big song out of the 60s sang about the pre-tribulation rapture, and clearly referred to these verses - "I Wish We'd All Been Ready".

Another passage that impressed me was:

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.    
Matthew 24:29-31
If you read the preceding verses of this chapter in Matthew, they'll lead you into these verses with a clearer understanding. These verses tell of that trumpet, after the Tribulation, and the gathering of His people out of the world, at that time.

The Elect Red-Herring
The counter argument says that the term "elect", found in verse 31, refers to Jews only. They say these are the Jews that were converted to Christ during the Tribulation. I did some research to find out if this claim of "elect" referring to Jews only, held any water. It didn't. Taking a look at some pertinent verses, notice Paul was specifically appointed a minister to the Gentiles:

11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.  
  2 Timothy 1:11
Later in that same epistle, Paul refers to his charge for which he labors and suffers as being called the "elect".

10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.    
2 Timothy 2:10

Paul also wrote to a Gentile church, calling them "elect":

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;    
Colossians 3:12

Colossians 1:27 specifically refers to the fact that this was a Gentile church.

In Paul's letter to the Romans, he specifically distinguishes between Jewish nationality and elect. "Elect" means "chosen". The chosen are all who become Christians.

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded    
Romans 11:7

(Also see 1 Thessalonians 1:4)

I went on a little about the issue of elect, but the lies spread about it need to be rebuked.

Church Eras Theory
The pre-tribulationers tell us the rapture is shown to occur in Revelation chapter 4:1. They say the letters to the churches were church eras and the 'after' part is after the church era. I found that hard to swallow. After all, I read the Seventh-Day Adventist church era history that ended at the formation of the Seventh-Day Adventist church in the early 1800's. They were able to find different historical events to fit their interpretation of Church eras. It sounded pretty good too. You can take all kinds of incidents in history and pick and choose them to create a good sounding "fulfillment" to however you want to make it fit and end at whatever time you want it to end. This type of era interpreting is not directed in the scriptures.

Considering the Revelation 4:1 basis. I figured that an event as important as the rapture would be clearly told about, if it happened at this juncture. After all, the issue of the rapture is the core and focus of all end-time teaching today. Since this is the case, if it really did happen at this juncture, wouldn't Revelation have also clearly mentioned it in 4:1? It clearly tells of the gathering in Revelation chapter 14.

Church Present in Tribulation
I've heard the argument saying you don't find the church mentioned on earth during the tribulation, after Revelation chapter 3. This is false. I point out a few of the references in the tract/article entitled, "Last Day's References". For quick reference, you find the Christians in the tribulation on earth in Revelation 6:9-11; 13:7,10; 18:4 and 20:4.

First Resurrection

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.    
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
You will notice the resurrection that takes place here. In this passage, the resurrection happens at the rapture. We are told there is a first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6, quoted below). Consider this, if the rapture happened at the beginning of the tribulation, then all those "elect" who died after, during the tribulation, are too late for the first resurrection. Now look at that Revelation passage:

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.    
Revelation 20:4-6

This passage places the time of the first resurrection precisely after the events described throughout Revelation. It pin-points it.

Using Our Brains When Necessary
I could belabor you with all the counter arguments to every error made by the pre-tribulation rapturists. I will spare you, except for one. It is somewhat lengthy, but I will present it here so you may see something rather vital. The pre-tribulation rapturists often talk as if those of my view are ignoramuses. They talk like they think we don't even look at the most obvious things. The pomp of pride is sinful. Even if you still believe in the pre-trib rapture, realize that there are good arguments challenging every point you bring up. Now for my laborious example:

In an article that felt it was the final answer to all the challenges, in defense of pre-trib, it quoted:

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 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.    
1 Corinthians 15:51,52
It then pointed the reference to the last trump asking what trumpet that was, and quoted:

14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.     
   Zechariah 9:14

It then said it was the Lord's trumpet, and not the angel's trumpet. That was the whole of the argument!

He was trying to point out the Lord is declared to be the blower in one verse, and the last trumpet in Revelation is blown by an angel. Well, am I shocked and defenseless, you wonder? Now what? Look at an example in two different instances:

First, we'll look at the angel of the Lord appearing to Moses in the burning bush:

2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.    
Exodus 3:2-6

In this passage we find the angel of the Lord in verse 2. Immediately, as the conversation begins, we see "God called" and it's attributed to God talking. We also see in verse 6 that Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look upon God, but we're told that what He saw was the angel of the Lord in the first verse. What are we to make of this? Precisely that, when an angel of the Lord acts on God's behalf, it's directly accredited as being from God. Now look at a New Testament account of this same instance:

30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.   
 Acts 7:30-35

Up until the last verse it sounds very much like a repetition of the Exodus account. That last verse is a doosy, however. It directly accredits the one who sent Moses at the bush was an angel. From the Exodus account, we see God was speaking to him and giving Moses the charge. This tells us it was by an angel. This shows us that both God and angels, doing His bidding, can be working together and the language can jump back and forth, just like found in Zechariah 9:14 and the Revelation's last trump of the trumpet judgments.

Now let's look at the other example I pulled up on this angel question:

32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, 33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.    
Deuteronomy 1:32,33
In God's leading Israel into the promised land, He went before them in the cloudy pillar that looked like a fiery pillar at night. This passage tells us it was God who went before them in this manifestation. Now look at the following verse:

19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:    
        Exodus 14:19
This verse now tells us it's an angel of God who was manifest in this strange cloud. This is another example of God's representatives being referred to as if He Himself was the doer.
The following verse sheds a little more light:

34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.   
 Exodus 32:34
From this we can see that God went with the Angel, but in this verse's instance, He temporarily didn't. Likewise, in the issue of the Second Coming, Jesus will come back with His angels and their blowing of a trumpet will be His blowing. It will go forth with God's decree and will be accredited, as His ambassador, as being an action of the King.

As I've said, this issue isn't one that should determine whom we will fellowship with. We absolutely must keep an eye on our love for each other, and on living in holiness. If we pursue these, we will be ready for the Last Days.

I made a fairly complete list of references that teach on the last days, to help those who want to get a comprehensive biblical background. In the list, I give a note of description with each reference. I do some outlining in some of the major prophetical books. See article/tract entitled, "Last Day's References" available from Based In The Word Ministries.

Post-Tribulation Rapture Material

"Christians Will Go Through The Tribulation . . . And how to prepare for it." by Jim McKeever from Ministries of Vision, P.O. Box 4130, Medford, OR 97501. This is the book I found. It's good, but somewhat dated. Recommended reading.

"The Tribulation People" by Arthur D. Katterjohn, from Creation House, Carol Stream, Illinois.

"The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry from Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.

"The Blessed Hope" by George Ladd from Eerdmans Publishing Company, 255 Jefferson Avenue S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49502.

"The Incredible Cover-Up" by Dave MacPherson from Logos International, Plainfield, N.J. 07060. He also wrote two other books presenting the Post-Tribulation Rapture entitled "The Unbelievable Pre-trib Origin" and "The Late Great Pre-trib Rapture".

Dr. Walter Martin reportedly taught the post-tribulation rapture view.

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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