There are several points I have made on this topic this week:
- Matthew 24:6-17 describes the APOSTACY that will come in great detail, developing the theme of apostacy over and over again, morphing it from one form to another as the discussion evolves.
- 2 Thess 2:2-7 describes the Apostacy that will come in some (but lesser) detail (See http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/march2013/jovial312-1.htm), but the context is clear that it is about apostacy, and never mentions the rapture.
- The Usage of the word "Apostacia" in Greek means apostacy, and there are no known usages of it to refer to a "rapture" in any Greek literature, Biblical or not
- The Etymology of the word give us no reason to believe it is discussing anything but apostacy".
Now many want us to believe that if we can just change this one word in 2 Thess 2:3 to mean "rapture", we've proven the pre trib rapture. But perhaps 2 Thess 2:3 is there to prove to us a pre-rapture trib. Or in other words, that the tribulations will start before any potential rapture and before the false messiah rises to power.
- Matthew 24:9 says "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake", and that is part of the GREAT APOSTACY
- 2 Thess 2:3 says the great apostacy must come first before the "man of sin",
- then perhaps the logical conclusion is that before the false messiah arrives, being "delivered up...afflicted...killed" is something that will happen before the false messiah steps on the scene.
I find it very plausible that the persecution will start, and Governments all over the world will begin persecuting Christians, and the False Messiah will rise to power simply because he is the one person who seems to be able to handle those Christian "terrorist" better than anyone else (in their eyes). After all, we're told...."they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth" (Rev 11:10)
As the world gets worse, they will hate us more and more simply because....we do our job as servants of the King. Read Rev 11 again. They will HATE the two witnesses. And the false messiah will become a hero to the world because he succeeds in killing the two witnesses. Only THEN will he rise to power. He's not going to be arrested for murder - he's going to become a hero because he murders someone the world hates.
When Christians were persecuted in 1st century AD, they killed a lot of them, but every once in a while they found some radicals they couldn't kill. John was sent to Patmos because they tried to kill him several times but couldn't. Nebudchadnezzar couldn't kill Daniel & his friends, though he tried.
I don't know why G-d allowed some men to escape the horrors of torture and others to die in it. But He had His reasons, and they centered around what would glorify His Name, not what preserves our creature comfort. Our job is to simply live up to whatever calling He has for us, whether death or life, not try and figure out how we get from the "bad" results to the "good" results. Actually, the best results are fulfilling your calling, whatever that is, even if it means you are called to be a martyr. For the highest eternal reward will always be in fulfilling that calling.
Many people have the misnotion that we will go from nice ordinary lives to rapture to AC rises and everything goes bad. But I think it is very different. The world will hate us first. Not like today, but drastically worse. The trib will start before the FM rises to power...and he will rise to power BECAUSE he is the only one who can kill these two men. Perhaps G-d will hold back maybe 5% or 10% of those who go through persecution, and that 5-10% the world will hate, just as they do the 2 witnesses. And when he kills the two witnesses, they make him their leader hoping he will do the same to that other small remnant G-d has supernaturally protected.