From your previous posts, it’s clear that you are convinced that the church will go thru the tribulation.
Believe however you choose – I am, however, obligated to submit a response.
The theological doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture has not been arrived at lightly.
Scholars much more intelligent than you or I have already done the heavy lifting for us.
The best that I can do is to “parrot” their arguments and conclusions.
A large majority of Christianity disagrees with your position – for a lot of good reasons.
This is only a sampling of those reasons. I hope you find them compelling.
I wish you all the best.
Found at http://www.jesus-is-the-way.com/
He did the work, he should get the credit.
(I edited it heavily for format, spelling, and brevity.)
A number of reasons for belief in the pretribulation rapture position are to be presented. Some of them are particularly applicable to the midtribulation rapture position and others applicable to the post tribulation rapture position. It should be borne in mind that it is not claimed that all the arguments have the same importance or weight. The pretribulation doctrine is not based on these arguments singly, but rather they are considered as cumulative evidence that the church will be delivered by rapture before the inception of Daniel’s seventieth week.
The literal method of interpretation.
We all know that the premillennial (millennial=1000 year reign of Jesus Christ) return of Jesus Christ depends upon the literal interpretation of the Bible. Therefore, the true interpretation of the timing of the rapture is also dependent upon the literal method of interpretation of the Bible.
It can easily be seen that the literal method of interpretation demands a pretribulation rapture of the church. The post-tribulationist must either interpret the book of Revelation historically, which is basically a spiritualizing method, or else treat it as yet future, but spiritualize away the literalness of the events in an attempt to harmonize these events with other Scriptures in the light of his interpretation. Either explanation violates the principal of literal interpretation. The midtribulation rapturists will apply the literal interpretation to the last half of the seventieth week, but spiritualize the events of the first half of the week to permit the church to encounter those. This, again, is a basic inconsistency... The literal method of interpretation, consistently employed, can lead to no other conclusion than that the church will be raptured before the seventieth week.
The NATURE of Daniel's 70th week.
There are a number of words used in both the Old and New Testaments to describe the seventieth week period, which, when considered together, give us the essential nature or character of this period:
(1) Wrath (Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 5:9; Zeph. 1:15, 18) ;
(2) Judgment (Rev. 14:7; 15:4; 16:5-7; 19:2)
(3) Indignation (Isa. 26:20-21; 34:1-3;
(4) Punishment (Isa. 24:20-21);
(5) Hour of trial (Rev. 3:10);
(6) Hour of trouble (Jer. 30:7);
(7) Destruction (Joel 1:15);
(8) Darkness (Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:14-18; Amos 5:18).
It must be noted that these references describe the period in its entirety, not just a portion of it, so that the whole period bears this characterization.
Let us get clearly in mind the nature of the tribulation, that it is divine “wrath” and divine “judgment”.
We know that our blessed Lord bore for us the wrath of God and His judgment; therefore we who are in Him “shall not come into judgment.”
The antithesis of I Thess. 5:9 is conclusive evidence: “For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Wrath for others, but salvation for us at the Rapture, “whether we wake or sleep.” (vs. 10).
The SCOPE of Daniel's 70th week.
There can be no question that this period will see the wrath of God poured out upon the whole earth. Revelation 3:10; Isaiah 34:2; 24:1, 4-5, 16-17, 18-21, and many other passages make this very clear.
And yet, while the whole earth is in view, this period is particularly in relation to Israel. Jeremiah 30:7, which calls this period “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” makes this certain. The events of the seventieth week are events of the “Day of the Lord” or “Day of Jehovah.” This use of the name of deity emphasizes God’s peculiar relationship to that nation. When this period is being anticipated in Daniel 9, God says to the prophet,
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” (v. 24).
This whole period then has special reference to Daniel’s people, Israel, and Daniel’s holy city, Jerusalem.
Inasmuch as many passages in the New Testament such as Ephesians 3:1-6; Colossians 1:25-27 make it clear that the church is a mystery and its nature as a body composed of Jew and Gentile alike was unrevealed in the Old Testament, the church could not have been in view in this or any other Old Testament prophecy. Since the church did not have its existence until after the death of Christ (Eph. 5:25-26), until after the resurrection of Christ (Rom. 4:25; Col. 3:1-3), until after the ascension (Eph. 1:19-20), and until after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost with the inception of all His ministries to the believer (Acts 2), the church could not have been in the first sixty-nine weeks of this prophecy. Since it had no part in the first sixty-nine weeks, which are related only to God’s program for Israel, it can have no part in the seventieth week, which is again related to God’s program for Israel after the mystery program for the church has been concluded.
The view here maintained follows on a close investigation of every distinct passage that Scripture affords upon the subject of the great tribulation. I should be obliged to any one who will produce me other passages that refer to it; but I am not aware of them. I demand of those …whether they can point out one word which supposes a Christian or the Church on the earth when the great tribulation arrives? Have we not seen that the doctrine of Old and New Testament—of Jeremiah, of Daniel, of the Lord Jesus, and of apostle John—is this, that, just before the Lord appears in glory, will come the last and unequalled trouble of Israel, though Jacob shall be delivered from it; that there will be … “the great tribulation,” out of which a multitude of Gentiles emerge’ but that both Jacob and the Gentiles are totally distinct for the Christians or the Church. As regards the Christian the positive promise of the Lord is, that such as have kept the word of His patience He will keep out of the hour of trial, which is about to come upon the whole habitable world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
It must be concluded, since every passage dealing with the tribulation relates it to God’s program for Israel, that the scope of the tribulation prevents the church from participating in it.
The PURPOSE of Daniel's 70th week.
The Scriptures indicate that there are two major purposes to be accomplished in the seventieth week.
1. The first purpose is stated in Revelation 3:10, “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
Apart from the question involved as to who will be in this time of testing, there are several other important considerations in this verse.
A. First of all we see that this period has in view “them that dwell on the earth” and not the church. This same expression occurs in Revelation 6:10; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6 and 17:8. In its usage it is not giving us a geographical description but rather a moral classification. Now the word “dwell” used here (katoikeo) is a strong word. It is used to describe the fullness of the Godhead that dwelt in Christ (Col. 2:9); it is used of Christ’s taking up a permanent abode in the believer’s heart (Eph. 3:17), and of demons returning to take absolute possession of a man (Matt. 12:45; Luke 11:26). It is to be distinguished from the word oikeo, which has the idea of transitorinesss, “to sojourn.” The term katoikeo has the idea of permanence in it. Thus the judgment referred to in Rev. 3:10 is directed against the earth-dwellers of that day, against those who have settled down in the earth as their real home, who have identified themselves with the earth’s commerce and religion. Since this period is related to “earth dwellers,” those that have settled down to permanent occupancy, it can have no reference to the church, which would be subjected to the same experiences if it were here.
B. The second consideration to be noted here is the use of the infinitive peirasai (to try) to express purpose. Thayer defines this word, when God is its subject, “to inflict evils upon one in order to prove his character and the steadfastness of his faith.” Since the Father never sees the church except in Christ, perfected in Him, this period can have no reference to the church, for the true church does not need to be tested to see her faith is genuine.
2. The second major purpose of the seventieth week is in relation to Israel. In Malachi 4:5-6 it is stated:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
The prophet states that the ministry of this Elijah was a ministry to prepare the people for the King who was shortly to come.
In Luke 1:17 it is promised that the son born to Zacharias would “go before him in the spirit and power of Elias” to perform this very ministry and “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Concerning the coming of Elijah which was to have been a sign to Israel, the Lord states
Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at naught.
But I say unto you, that Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him [Mk. 9:12-13].:
The Lord was showing the disciples that John the Baptist had this ministry of preparing a people for Him. And to remove all doubt, the word in Mathew 11:14 is conclusive, “if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” John’s ministry was a ministry to prepare the nation Israel for the coming of the King. It can only be concluded then that Elijah, who is to come before the great and terrible day of the Lord, can have only one ministry: that of preparing a remnant in Israel for the advent of the Lord. It is evident that no such ministry is needed by the church since she by nature is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but is holy and without blemish.
These two purposes, the testing of earth dwellers, and the preparation of Israel for the King, have no relation to the church whatsoever. This is supporting evidence that the church will not be in the seventieth week.
The UNITY of Daniel's 70th week.
It should be observed from the three preceding considerations that the entire seventieth week is in view when it is described and predicted in prophecy. While all would agree, on the basis of Daniel 9:27; Mathew 24:15; and Revelation 13, that the week is divided into two parts of three and one-half years each, yet the nature and character of the week is one, permeating both parts in their entirety. It becomes impossible to permit the existence of the church in the week as a unit and it becomes equally impossible to adopt the position that the church, although exempt from a portion of the seventieth week, may be in the first half of it, for its nature is the same throughout. The impossibility of including the church in the last half makes it equally impossible to include it in the first half, for while Scripture divides the time of the week, it does not make any distinction as to the nature and character of the two parts of it.
The NATURE of the church.
One must carefully observe certain distinctions between the church and Israel which are clearly set forth in the Scripture, but often neglected in the consideration at hand.
1. There is a distinction between the professing church and national Israel. It should be observed that the professing church is composed of those who make a profession of faith in Christ. To some, this profession is based on reality and to some on no reality at all. This latter group will go into the tribulation period, for Revelation 2:22 indicated clearly that the unsaved professing church will experience this visitation of wrath. Membership in the group called national Israel is based on a physical birth, and all in this group who are not saved and removed by rapture and who are alive at the time of the rapture will, with the professing church, be subjected to the wrath of the tribulation.
2. There is a distinction between the true church and the professing church. The true church is composed of all those in this age who have received Christ as Savior. Over against this we have the professing church composed of those who make a profession of receiving Christ without actually receiving Him. Only the true church will be raptured.
3. There is a distinction between the true church and true or spiritual Israel. Prior to Pentecost there were saved individuals, but there was no church, and they were a part of spiritual Israel, not the church. After the day of Pentecost and until the rapture we find the church which is His body, but no spiritual Israel. After the rapture we find no church, but a true or spiritual Israel again. These distinctions must be kept clearly in mind.
The rapture will remove, not all who make a profession of faith in Christ, but only those who have been born again and have received His life. The unbelieving portion of the visible church together with unbelievers in the nation Israel, will go into the tribulation period.
1. Since the church is the body, of which Christ is the Head (Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 1:18), the bride, of which He is the Bridegroom (1 Cor. 11:22; Eph 5:23), the object of His love (Eph. 5:25), the branch of which He is the Root and Stem (John 15:5), the building, of which He is the Foundation and Cornerstone (1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 2:19-22), there exists between the believer and the Lord a union and a unity. The believer is no longer separated from Him, but brought into the closest oneness with Him. If the church is in the seventieth week, she is subjected to the wrath, judgment, and indignation which characterize the period, and because of her oneness with Christ, He, likewise, would be subjected to that same visitation. This is impossible according to 1John 4:17, for He can not be brought into judgment again. Inasmuch as the church has been perfected and delivered from all judgment (Rom. 8:1; John 5:24; 1 John 4:17), if she is subjected to judgment again the promises of God would be of none effect and the death of Christ would be ineffectual. Who would dare to assert that the death of Christ could fail to accomplish its purpose? While the members may be experimentally imperfect and need experimental cleansing, yet the church, which is His body, has a perfect standing in Christ and could not need such cleansing. The nature of the testing in the seventieth week, as stated in Revelation 3:10, is not to bring the individual to cleansing, but to reveal the degradation and need of the unregenerate heart. The nature of the church prevents such a testing.
2. Again, Revelation 13:7 makes it clear that all who are in the seventieth week are brought into subjection to the Beast and through him to Satan, who gives the Beast His power. If the church were in this period she would be subjected to Satan, and Christ would either lose His place and Head, or He, Himself, because of His union with the Church, would be likewise subjected to Satan’s authority. Such a thing is unthinkable.
Thus it is concluded that the nature of the church and the completeness of her salvation prevent her from being in the seventieth week.
The concept of the church as MYSTERY.
Closely related to the previous consideration is the concept given to us in the New Testament that the church is a mystery. It was no mystery that God was going to provide salvation for the Jews, nor that Gentiles would be blessed in salvation. The fact that God was going to form Jews and Gentiles alike into one body was never revealed in the Old Testament and forms the mystery of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 3:1-7; Romans 16:25-27; Colossians 1:26-29. This whole mystery program was not revealed until after the rejection of Christ by Israel. It was after the rejection of Matthew 12:23-24 that the Lord first makes a prophecy of the coming church in Matthew 16:18. It is after the rejection of the Cross that the church had its inception in Acts 2. It was after the final rejection by Israel that God called out Paul to be the Apostle of the Gentile through whom this mystery of the nature of the church is revealed. The church is manifestly an interruption of God’s program for Israel, which was not brought in to being until Israel’s rejection of the offer of the Kingdom. It must logically follow that this mystery program must itself be brought to a conclusion before God can resume His dealing with the nation Israel, as has been shown previously He will do. The mystery program, which was so distinct in its inception, will certainly be separate at it conclusion. This program must be concluded before God resumes and culminates His program for Israel. This mystery concept of the church makes a pretribulation rapture a necessity.
The distinctions between the CHURCH and ISRAEL.
Chafer has set forth twenty-four contrasts between Israel and the church which show us conclusively that these two groups can not be united into one, but that they must be distinguished as two separate entities with whom God is dealing in a special program. These contrasts may be outlined as follows:
1. The extent of Biblical revelation: Israel – nearly four-fifths of the Bible; Church – about one-fifth.
2. The Divine purpose: Israel – the earthly promised in the covenants; Church – the heavenly promises in the Gospel.
3. The seed of Abraham: Israel – the physical seed, of whom some become a spiritual seed; Church – a spiritual seed.
4. Birth: Israel – physical birth that produces a relationship: Church – spiritual birth that brings relationship.
5. Headship: Israel – Abraham; Church – Christ.
6. Covenants: Israel – Abrahamic and all the following covenants; Church – indirectly related to the Abrahamic and new covenants.
7. Nationality: Israel – one nation; Church – from all nations.
8. Divine dealing: Israel – national and individual; Church – individual only.
9. Dispensations: Israel – seen in all ages form Abraham; Church – seen only in this present age.
10. Ministry: Israel – no missionary activity and no gospel to preach; Church – a commission to fulfill.
11. The death of Christ: Israel – guilty nationally, to be saved by it; Church – perfectly saved by it now.
12. The Father: Israel – by a peculiar relationship God was Father to the nation; Church – we are related individually to God as Father.
13. Christ: Israel – Messiah, Immanuel, King; Church – Savior, Lord Bridegroom, Head.
14. The Holy Spirit: Israel – came upon some temporarily; Church – indwells all.
15. Governing principle: Israel – Mosaic Law system; Church – grace system.
16. Divine enablement; Israel – none; Church – the indwelling Holy Spirit.
17. Two farewell discourses: Israel – Olivet discourse; Church – upper room discourse.
18. The promise of Christ’s return: Israel – in power and glory for judgment; Church – to receive us to Himself.
19. Position: Israel – a servant; Church – members of the family.
20. Christ’s earthly reign: Israel – subjects; Church – co-reigners.
21. Priesthood: Israel – had a priesthood: Church – is a priesthood.
22. Marriage: Israel – unfaithful wife; Church – bride.
23. Judgments: Israel – must face judgment; Church – delivered from all judgments.
24. Positions in eternity: Israel – spirits of just men made perfect in the new earth; Church – church of the firstborn in the new heavens.
These clear contrasts, which show the distinction between Israel and the church, make it impossible to identify the two in one program, which it is necessary to do if the church goes through seventieth week.
These distinctions give further support to the pretribulation rapture position.
The doctrine of IMMINENCE.
Many signs were given to the nation Israel, which would precede the Second Advent, so that the nation might be living in expectancy when the time of His coming should draw nigh. Although Israel could not know the day nor the hour when the Lord will come, yet they can know that their redemption draweth nigh through the fulfillment of these signs. To the Church no such signs were ever given. The church was told to live in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord to translate them in His presence (John 14:2-3; Acts 1:11; 1Cor. 15:51-52; Phil 3:20; Col. 3:4; 1 Thes. 1:10; 1Tim. 6:14; Jas. 5:8; 1 Pet. 3:3-4). Such passages as 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Titus 2:13; Revelation 3:3 all warn the believer to be watching for the Lord Himself, not for signs that would precede His coming. It is true that the events of the seventieth week will cast an adumbration [vague foreshadow] before the rapture, but the object of the believer’s attention is always directed to Christ, never to these portents.
This doctrine of imminence, or “at any moment coming,” is not a new doctrine with Darby, as is sometimes charged, although he did clarify, systematize, and popularize it. Such a belief in immanency marked the premillennialism of the early church fathers as well as the writers of the New Testament. In this connection Thiessen writes:
… they held not only the premillennial view of Christ’s coming, but also regarded that coming as imminent. The Lord had taught them to expect His return at any moment, and so they looked for Him to come in their day. Not only so, but they also taught His personal return as being immediately. Only the Alexandrians opposed this truth; but these Father also rejected other fundamental doctrines. We may say, therefore, that the early Church lived in the constant expectation of their Lord, and hence was not interested in the possibility of a Tribulation period in the future.
Although the Eschatology of the early church may not be altogether clear on all points, for that subject was not the subject of serious consideration, yet the evidence is clear that they believed in the imminent return of Christ. This same view of imminence is clearly seen in the writing of the Reformers, even though they have had different view on eschatological questions. Chafer quotes some of the reformers to show that they believed in the immanency of the return of Christ.
… Luther wrote, “I believe that all the signs which are to precede the last days have already appeared. Let us not think that the Coming of Christ is far off’ let us look up with heads lifted up; let us expect our Redeemer’s coming with longing and cheerful mind;… Calvin also declares . . . “Scripture uniformly enjoins us to look with expectation for the advent of Christ.” To this may be added the testimony of John Knox: “the Lord Jesus shall return, and that with expedition. What were this else but to reform the face of the whole earth, which never was nor yet shall be, till that righteous King and Judge appear for the restoration of all things.” Similarly, the works of Latimer: “All those excellent and learned men whom, without doubt, God has sent into the world in these latter days to give the world warning, do gather out of the Scriptures that the last days can not be far off. Peradventure it may come in my day, old as I am, or in my children’s days.”…
The doctrine of imminence forbids the participation of the church in any part of the seventieth week. The multitude of sign given to Israel to stir them to expectancy would then also be for the church, and the church could not be looking for Christ until these signs had been fulfilled. The fact that no signs are given to the church, but she, rather, is commanded to watch for Christ, precludes her participation in the seventieth week.
The work of the RESTRAINER in 2 Thess 2.
The Thessalonian Christians were concerned for fear the rapture had already taken place and they were in the day of the Lord. The persecutions which they were enduring, as referred to as in the first chapter, had given them a basis for this erroneous consideration. Paul writes to show them that such a thing was impossible. First, he shows in verse 3 that the day of the Lord could not take place until there was a departure. Whether this departure be a departure from the faith or a departure of the saints from the earth, as already mentioned in verse 1, is beside the point here. Second, he reveals there was to be the manifestation of the man of sin, or the lawless one, further described in Revelation 13. Paul’s argument in verse 7 is that although the mystery of iniquity was operative in his day, that is, the lawless system that was to culminate in the person of the lawless one was manifesting itself, yet this lawless one could not be manifested until the Restrainer was taken out of the way. In other words, some One is preventing the purpose of Satan from coming to culmination and he will keep on performing this ministry until He is removed (vv.7-8). Explanations as to the person of this Restrainer such as human government, law, the visible church will not suffice, for they will all continue in a measure after the manifestation of this lawless one. While this is essentially an exegetical problem, it would seem that the only One who could do such a restraining ministry would be the Holy Spirit. This problem will be considered in detail later. However, the indication here is that as long as the Holy Spirit is resident within the church, which is His temple, this restraining work will continue and the man of sin cannot be revealed. It is only when the church, the temple, is removed that this restraining ministry ceased and lawlessness can produce the lawless one. It should be noted that the Holy Spirit does not cease His ministries with the removal of the church, nor does he cease to be omnipresent, with her removal, but the restraining ministry does cease.
Thus, this ministry of the Restrainer, which will continue as long as His temple is on the earth and which must cease before the lawless one can be revealed, requires the pretribulation rapture of the church, for Daniel 9:27 reveals that the lawless one will be manifested at the beginning of the week.
The NECESSITY of an INTERVAL between the 69th and 70th weeks.
The word apantesis (to meet) is used in Acts 28:15 with the idea of “to meet to return with.” It is often argued that the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 has the same idea and therefore the church must be raptured to return instantly and immediately with the Lord to the earth, denying and making impossible any interval between the rapture and the return. Not only does the Greek word not require such an interpretation, but certain events predicted for the church after her translation make such an interpretation impossible. These events are: (1) the judgment seat of Christ, (2) the presentation of the church to Christ, and (3) the marriage of the Lamb.
This "to meet to return with" is typified when Isaac met Rebecca in the middle of the field to return with Isaac to his place, not to the abode of Rebecca.
1. Passages such as 2 Corinthians 5:9, 1 Corinthians 3:11-16; Revelation 4:4; 19:8, 14 show that the church has been examined as to her stewardship and has received her reward at the time of the second advent of Christ. It is impossible to conceive of this event as taking place without the expiration of some period of time.
2. The church is to be presented as a gift from the Father to the Son. Scofield writes:
This is the moment of our Lord’s supreme joy – the consummation of all his redemptive work.
“husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it’ that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the work, THAT HE MIGHT PRESENT IT UNTO HIMSELF a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless BEFORE THE PRESENCE OF HIS GLORY with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
3. In Revelation 19:7-9 it is revealed that the consummation of the union between Christ and the church precedes the Second Advent. In many passages, such as Mathew 25:1-13; 22:1-14; and Luke 12:35-41, the King is seen in the role of Bridegroom at His coming, indication that the marriage has taken place. This event, likewise, requires the expiration of a period of time and makes the view that the rapture and revelation are simultaneous events impossible. While the length of time is not indicated in this consideration, yet an interval between the rapture and the revelation is required.
Distinction between the rapture and the second coming.
There are a number of contrasts to be drawn between the rapture and the Second Advent which will show that they are not viewed as synonymous in Scripture. The fact of two separate programs is best seen by a number of contrasts drawn in Scripture between the two events.
1. The rapture is the removal of all believers, while the Second Advent entails the appearing or manifestation of the Son.
2. The rapture sees the saints caught up into the air, and in the Second Advent He returns to the earth.
3. In the rapture Christ comes to claim a bride, but in the Second Advent He returns with the bride.
4. The rapture results in the removal of the church and the inception of the tribulation, and the Second Advent results in the establishment of the millennial kingdom.
5. The rapture is imminent, while the Second Advent is preceded by a multitude of signs,
6. The rapture brings a message of comfort, while the Second Advent is accompanied by a message of judgment.
7. The rapture is related to the program for the church, while the Second Advent is related to the program for Israel and the world.
8. The rapture is a mystery, while the Second Advent is predicted in both Testaments.
9. At the rapture believers are judged, but at the Second Advent the Gentile and Israel are judged.
10. The rapture leaves creation unchanged, while the Second Advent entails the change in creation.
11. At the rapture Gentiles are unaffected, while at the Second Advent Gentiles are judged.
12. At the rapture Israel’s covenants are unfulfilled, but at the Second Advent all her covenants are fulfilled.
13. The rapture has no particular relation to the program of God in relation to evil, while at the Second Advent evil is judged.
14. The rapture is said to take place before the day of wrath, but the Second Advent follows it.
15. The rapture is for believers only, but the Second Advent has its effect on all men.
16. The expectation of the church in regard to the rapture is “the Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5), while the expectation of Israel in regard to the second advent is “the kingdom is at hand” (Matt. 24:14).
17. The expectation of the church at the rapture is to be taken into the Lord’s presence, while the expectation of Israel at the Second Advent is to be taken into the kingdom.
These, and other contrasts which might be presented, support the contention that these are two different programs and can not be unified into one event.
The 24 elders.
In Revelation 4:4 John is given a vision of twenty-four elders who are seated on thrones, clothed in white raiment, crowned with golden crowns, and in heaven in the presence of God. Several answers are given as to the question of the identity of these twenty- four. Some, because they are associated with the four living creatures in this book, insist that they are angels. This seems an attempt to evade the implication of taking the literal identification because it is contrary to their system. What is said of the twenty-four elders could not be true of angelic beings, for angels are not crowned with victors crowns (stephanos) received as reward, nor are they seated on thrones (thronos), which throne speaks of royal dignity and prerogative, nor are angels robed in white as a result of judgment. The impossibility of this view argues for the second view which sees them as resurrected redeemed men, who are clothed, crowned, and seated on thrones in connection with royalty in heaven. Scofield presents evidence to support the view that these are the representatives of the church. He writes:
Five inerrant marks identify the elders as representing the church. These are:
1. Their position. They are enthroned “round about” the rainbow encircled central throne. To the church and to the church only of all groups of the redeemed is co-enthronement promised (Rev. 3:21). Not yet is Christ seated upon his own throne on earth, but these kingly ones having been presented faultless, with the exceeding joy of the Lord, must be with him (Jno. 17:24; 1Thes. 4:17).
2. The number of these representative elders, in the book where numbers are so great a part of the symbolism, is significant. For twenty-four is the number of the choruses into which the Levitical priesthood was divided (1Chron. 24: 1-19), and of all the groups of the redeemed only the church is a priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5-9; Rev.1:6).
3. The testimony of the enthroned elders marks them as representing the church: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." -- Revelation 5:9-10). The church, and the church only, can thus testify.
4. Eldership is representative office (Acts 15:2; 20:17).
5. The spiritual intelligence of the elders points them out as sharers of the most intimate divine counsels (e.g., Rev. 5:5; 7:13). And to whom amongst the redeemed should those counsels be made known if not to those to whom our Lord said: “Henceforth I call you not servants; . . . but I have called you friends. . .” (Jno. 15:15). The elders are symbolically, the church, and they are seen in heaven in the place which the Scriptures assign to the church before a seal is opened or a woe uttered, and before a vial of the wrath of God is poured out. And in all that follows, to the twentieth chapter, the church is never once referred to as on earth.
Since, according to Revelation 5:8, these twenty-four are associated in a priestly act, which is never said of angels, they must be believer-priests associated with the Great High Priest. Inasmuch as Israel is not resurrected until the end of the seventieth week, nor judged nor rewarded until the coming of the Lord according to Isaiah 26:19-21 and Daniel 12:1-2, these must be representatives of the saints of this present age. Since they are seen to be resurrected, in heaven, judged, rewarded, enthroned at the beginning of the seventieth week, it is concluded that the church must have been raptured before the seventieth week begins. If the church is not resurrected and translated here, as some insist, and not until Revelation 20:4, how could the church be in heaven in Revelation 19:7-11? Such considerations give further support to the pretribulation position.
The problem behind 1 Thess 4:13-18
The Thessalonians Christians were not ignorant of the fact of resurrection. This was too well established to need presentation of defense. That which elicited this revelation from Paul to them was the misunderstanding of the relation between the resurrection and the saints who were asleep in Christ to the rapture. Paul writes then, not to teach the fact of resurrection, but rather the fact that at the rapture the living would not have an advantage over the dead in Christ. If the Thessalonians had believed that the church would be going through the seventieth week they would have rejoiced that some of their brethren had missed this period of suffering and were with the Lord without experiencing the outpouring of wrath. If the church were going through the tribulation it would be better to be with the Lord than to have to await the events of the seventieth week. They would be praising the Lord that their brethren were spared these events instead of feeling that those had missed some of the Lord’s blessings. These Christians evidently believed that the church would not go through the seventieth week and in their anticipation of the return of Christ mourned for their brethren, whom they thought had missed the blessing of this event.
The announcement of peace and safety.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:3 Paul tells the Thessalonians church that the Day of the Lord will come after the announcement of “peace and safety.” This false security will lull many into a state of lethargy in relation to the Day of the Lord so that the day comes as a thief. This announcement that has produced this lethargy precedes the Day of the Lord. If the church were in the seventieth week there would be no possibility that, during the period when believers are being persecuted by the beast to an unprecedented degree, such a message could be preached and find acceptation so that men would be lulled into complacency. All the signs would point to the fact that they were not in a time of “peace and safety.” The fact that the visitation of wrath, judgment and darkness is preceded by the announcement of such a message indicate that the church must be raptured before that period can begin.
The relation of the church to governments.
In the New Testament the church is instructed to pray for governmental authorities, since they are God-appointed, so that those in authority may be saved and the saints live in peace as a result. Such is the instruction in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. The church is further instructed to be in subjection to such powers according to 1 Peter 2:13-16; Titus 3:1; Romans 13:1-7, because these governments are God’s representatives to carry out His will. According to Revelation 13:4 the government during the seventieth week is controlled by Satan and is carrying out his will and his purpose in the manifestation of lawlessness. Because of the relationship of the church to governments in this age and because of the satanic control of government in the seventieth week, the church must be delivered before this satanic government manifests itself. The church could not subject herself to such a government. Israel during the seventieth week will rightly call down the judgment of God upon such godless men and cry for God to vindicate Himself, as is seen in the imprecatory Psalms. Such is not the ministry nor the relationship of the church to governments in this age.
The silence concerning the tribulation in the epistles.
The Epistles of James, 1Peter and, in a measure, 2 Thessalonians were specifically written because of the impending persecution of the church. Many passages, such as John 15:18-25; 16:1-4; 1 Peter 2:19-25; 4:12; James 1:2-4; 5:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10; 2 Timothy 3:10-14; 4-5, were written to give a revelation concerning the persecution, give the reasons for it, and give help and assistance so the believer might endure it. Evidently the writers of the epistles had no knowledge that the church would endure the seventieth week, or they certainly would have given help and guidance to meet the most severe persecution men will ever have known, since they were concerned with giving help for the persecutions of a past day. They would not prepare for the persecutions common to all and neglect the outpouring of wrath in which the believer would need special help and assistance if he were to be in it. In this connection Scofield writes:
“Not only is there no syllable of Scripture which affirms that the church will enter the great tribulation, but neither the upper chamber discourse, the new promise, nor the epistles which explain that promise, so much as mention the great tribulation.
Not once in that great body of inspired writing, written expressly for the church, is the expression found.
Inasmuch as the persecutions of this age and the wrath of the seventieth week vary in kind and character, not just in intensity, it is not sufficient to say that if one is prepared for the lesser he will be also for the greater. The silence in the Epistles which would leave the church unprepared of the tribulation argues for her absence from that period altogether.”
The message of the TWO witnesses.
In Revelation 11:3 two special emissaries are sent to Israel. Their ministry is accompanied by signs to substantiate the divine origin of their message according to the Old Testament prophetic use of signs. The substance of their preaching is not revealed, but its content may be seen as suggested by the clothing of those messengers. They are said to be clothed with sackcloth (sakkos), which is defined by Thayer as:
“a coarse cloth, a dark coarse stuff made especially of the hair of animals: a garment of the like material, and clinging to the person like a sack, which was wont to be worn by mourners, penitents, suppliants . . . and also by those, who. Like the Hebrew prophets, led an austere life.”
When we compare the ministry of Elijah in 2Kings 1:8 and that of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:4, whose ministries were parallel in that they were sent to Israel in a time of apostasy to call the nation to repentance, with the ministry of the two witnesses, we see that the sign of their message in each case is the same, the garment of hair cloth, which was the sign of the national mourning and repentance. It may be concluded, from their distinctive dress, that the two witnesses are announcing the same message as John did, that of repentance because the King is coming. Their good news is “the gospel of the kingdom” of Matthew 24:14. They do not neglect the preaching of the cross, for Revelation 7:14 and Zechariah 13:8-9 indicate that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom in the seventieth week is accompanied by the preaching of the cross. The message committed to the church is the message of grace… The church has no other message. The fact that the message announced is one of judgment, repentance, and preparation in view of the coming of the king indicated that the church must no longer be present, for no such message is committed to her.
The destiny of the church.
No one will deny that the destiny of the church is a heavenly destiny. All her promises and expectations are heavenly in character.
When we study the destiny of those saved during the seventieth week, we find that their expectation and promise is not heavenly but earthly. Mathew 25:34 makes this very plain.
If the church is on earth during the seventieth week all who are saved during that period would be saved to a place in the body. If the rapture did not take place till the end of the seventieth week, and part of the saved went into an earthly blessing and part into a heavenly destiny, the body of Christ would be dismembered and the unity destroyed. Such dismemberment is impossible.
This can only indicate that those saved during this seventieth week to go into the millennium must have been saved after the termination of the program for the church.
The message to Laodicea.
In Revelation 3:14-22 John gives a message to the church in Laodicea. This church represents the final form of the professing church, which is rejected by the Lord and vomited out of his mouth because of the unreality of its profession. If the church goes into the seventieth week in its entirety and not just the professing portion of it, it would have to be concluded that this Laodicean Church is the picture of the true church. Several things are obvious then. The true church could not go through the persecutions of the seventieth week and still be lukewarm to her Lord. The persecution would fan the fire and turn the luke warmness into an intense heat, or else it would extinguish the fire altogether. Such has always been the ministry of persecutions in the past. What is even more obvious, if this represents the true church, is that this church is vomited out before the Lord, completely rejected of Him. This could only teach that one could be a part of the true church and then finally be cast out altogether. Such is impossibility.
The only alternative is to see that the true church terminates with the Philadelphia church, which is removed from the earth according to the promise of Revelation 3:10 before the tribulation begins, and the false professing church, from which the true has been separated by rapture, is left behind, rejected by the Lord, and vomited out into the seventieth week to reveal the true nature of her profession so that such may be rejected justly by the Lord.
This will be the fate of much of the "church" today. A few weeks ago, a radio preacher said he felt that as much as 75 percent of the "church" attendees are lost. A.W. Tozer said "Jesus Christ has NO authority in the mainline churches." He said this in 1963.
The times of the Gentiles.
In Luke 21:24 the Lord indicated that Jerusalem will continue in Gentile dominion “until the times of the Gentile be fulfilled." Zechariah 12:2; 14:2-3 indicate that this will not be until the second advent, when the armies of the Beast are destroyed by the Lord, as He is seen to do in Revelation 19:17-19. In Revelation 11:2, in the parenthesis between the sixth and seventh trumpets, there is a reference to the times of the Gentiles. John indicates that Jerusalem is still in Gentile power and that from the beginning of the series of judgments, which this parenthesis interrupts, until the end of the Gentile dominion is three and one-half years. This is important to observe, for, according to the midtribulation view, the trumpets are events of the first three and one-half years of that seventieth week. If their view be correct the times of the Gentiles would have to end at the middle of the week, or at least before the termination of the seventieth week, and Jerusalem would then have to be delivered by some other event or person than the returning Lord. This time element indicated in Revelation 11:2 makes that view untenable.
The waiting remnant at the second coming.
Passages such as Malachi 3:16; Ezekiel 20:33-38; 37:11-28; Zechariah 13:8-9; Revelation7:1-8, and many others, indicate clearly that when the Lord returns to earth there will be a believing remnant in Israel awaiting His return. Along with these are passages such as Matthew 25:31-40 and such parables as Matthew 22:1-13 and Luke 14:16-24 that show that there will be a multitude of believers among the Gentiles who will believe and await His return. In order for the Lord to fulfill the promises made in the Abrahamic, Davidic, Palestinic, and new covenants at His second advent, it is necessary that there be a believing remnant over whom He can reign and to whom the covenants can be fulfilled. There must also be a group of believing Gentiles who can receive, through faith, all the benefits of the covenants in His reign. These groups go into the millennium in their natural bodies, saved, but not having experienced death and resurrection. If the church were on earth until the time of the second advent, these saved individuals would have been saved to a position in the church, would have been raptured at that time, and consequently there would not be one saved person left on the earth . Who then would be waiting to meet Christ at His return: With whom could Christ literally fulfill the covenants made with Israel? These considerations make necessary the pretribulation rapture of the church, so that God may call out and preserve a remnant during the tribulation in and through whom the promised may be fulfilled.
The sealed 144,000 from Israel.
As long as the church is on the earth there are none saved to a special Jewish relationship. All who are saved are saved to a position in the body of Christ as indicated in Colossians 1:26-29; 3:11; Ephesians 2:14-22; 3:1-7. During the seventieth week the church must be absent, for out of the saved remnant in Israel God seals 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe, according to Revelation 7:14. The fact that God is again dealing with Israel on this national relationship, setting them apart to national identities, and sending them as special representatives to the nations in place of the witness of the church, indicates that the church must no longer be on earth.
The chronology of the book of Revelation.
In dealing with both the midtribulation and post tribulation rapture positions the chronology of the Revelation has been examined. It is mentioned in this place only as further evidence. Chapter 1-3 present the development of the church in this present age. Chapters 4-11 cover the events of the entire seventieth week period and conclude with the return of Christ to the earth to reign in 11:15-18. Thus the seals are the events of the first three and one-half years. According to the instructions given John in 10:11, chapters 12-19 survey the seventieth week a second time, this time with a view to revealing the actors on the stage of the drama. This chronology makes a midtribulation view of the rapture impossible, for the so-called midtribulation rapture of 11:15-18 is seen to be the post tribulation return to the earth, not the rapture at all. This gives further supporting evidence of the pretribulation rapture position.
The great object of satanic attack during the tribulation.
According to Revelation 12, the object of satanic attack during the tribulation period is “the woman” who produced the child. Since this child is born to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5), it can only refer to Christ, the one whose right it is to rule. The Psalmist confirms this interpretation in Psalm 2:9, which is admittedly Messianic. The one from whom Christ came can only be Israel. At the time Satan is cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:9) he goes forth with great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). The church must not be here, for, since it is the “body of Christ” and the “bride of Christ” and consequently precious to Christ, it would be the object of satanic attack then as it has been all through the age (Eph. 6:12) if it were present. The reason Satan turns against Israel can only be explained by the absence of the church for that scene.
The apostasy of the period.
The complete apostasy of the period on the part of the professing church prevents the church from being in the world. The only organized church ever mentioned in the tribulation period is the Jezebel system (Rev. 2:22) and the harlot system (Rev. 17 and 18). If the true church were on earth, since it is not mentioned as separate from the apostate system, it must be a part of that apostasy. Such a conclusion is impossible. The believing witnesses, converted during the period, are specifically said to have kept themselves from defilement by this apostate system (Rev. 14:4). Since the church is not mentioned as also having kept herself from this system it must be concluded that the church is not there.
The promises to the true church.
There are certain passages of Scripture which definitely promise the church a removal before the seventieth week.
1. Revelation 3:10. “I will keep thee from the hour of temptation.” John uses the word tereo. Thayer says that when this verb is used with en it means “to cause one to persevere or stand firm in a thing”; while when used with ek it means “by guarding to cause one to escape in safety out of.” Since (ek) is used here it would indicate that John is promising a removal from the sphere of testing, not a preservation through it. This is further substantiated by the use of the words “the hour.” God is not only guarding from the trials but from the very hour itself when these trials will come on those earth dwellers. Theissen comments on this passage:
“. .. . we want to know what is the meaning of the verb “will keep: (tereso) and of the preposition “from” (ek) . Alford says on the preposition (ek), that it means “out of the midst of:
but whether by immunity from, or by being brought safe through, the preposition does not clearly define.” . . .the grammar permits the interpretation of absolute immunity from the period. Other scholars say the same thing as to the preposition ek (out of, from). Buttmann-Thayer says that (ek) and (apo) “often serve to denote one and the same relation,” referring to John 17:15; Acts 15:29; Rev. 3:10 as examples of this usage. Abbott doubts “if in the LXX and John, (ek) always implies previous existence in the evils from which one is delivered when used with sozo and tereso” (i.e. with the verbs to save and to keep)”
Similarly we read in 1 Thess. 1:10 that Jesus delivers us “from (ek) the wrath to come.” This can hardly mean protection in it; it must mean exemption from it. It would seem, then, to be perfectly clear that the preposition “from” may be taken to mean complete exemption from that which is predicted. It is clear that the context and other statements in Scriptures require that this be the interpretation. As for the context, note that the promise is not merely to be kept from the temptation, but from the hour of temptation, i.e. from the period of trial as such, not only from the trial during the period. And, again, why should the Apostle write ek tes horas (from the hour), as he did, when he might easily have written en te hora (in the hour), if that is what he meant to say: Surely the Spirit of God guided him in the very language he employed.
2. 1 Thessalonians 5:9. “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” The contrast in this passage is between light and darkness, between wrath and salvation from that wrath. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 indicates that this wrath and darkness is that of the Day of the Lord. A comparison of this passage with Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:14-18; Amos 5:18 will describe the darkness mentioned here as the darkness of the seventieth week. A comparison with Revelation 6:17; 11:18; 14:10,19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19 will describe the wrath of the Day of the Lord. Paul clearly teaches in verse 9 that our expectation and appointment is not the wrath and darkness, but rather to salvation, and verse 10 indicated the method of that salvation, namely, to “live together with him.”
3. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. Again Paul clearly indicates that our expectation is not wrath, but the revelation of “his son from heaven.” This could not be unless the Son were revealed before the wrath of the seventieth week falls on the earth.
The agreement of typology.
While argument from analogy is a weak argument in itself, yet if a teaching is contrary to all typology it can not be a true interpretation. Scripture abounds in types which teach that those who walked by faith were delivered from the visitations of judgment which overtook the unbelieving. Such types are seen in the experience of Noah and Rahab, but perhaps the clearest illustration is that of Lot. In 2 Peter 2:6-9 Lot is called a righteous man. This divine commentary will shed light on Genesis 19:22, where the angel sought to hasten the departure of Lot with the words “Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither.” If the presence of one righteous man prevented the outpouring of deserved judgment on the city of Sodom, how much more will the presence of the church on earth prevent the outpouring of divine wrath until after her removal.