As Web Minister for Lamb & Lion Ministries, I get the blessing of responding each day to an in-boxful of questions related to Bible prophecy. Many of these questions come from people wanting to know about the return of Jesus Christ. They want to know when the Rapture will happen — before, during, or at the end of the Tribulation. Here’s how I answer:
The timing of the Rapture — the removal of the Church in relation to the seven years of the Tribulation — confuses a lot of people because there are a lot of good theories out there as to when it will happen. People ask, “Will it happen before the Tribulation… the middle of the Tribulation… at the end of the Tribulation?”
For me, the best thing I ever did was to evaluate which theory has the most biblical support. I sat down and wrote out all the different proof texts that each of the views use. I ended up writing a six-part article series titled Why I Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture to help me present the results of my biblical search — that the Bible overwhelmingly makes an argument for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In those articles I presented eleven different arguments as to why a Pre-Tribulation Rapture makes more sense than the other timing theories. The following are a few of those arguments.
One of the most important arguments for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the imminency of Christ’s Return. The verses on the Rapture (Jn. 14:1-14; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18) tell us that nothing has to happen before the Rapture for it to occur. It could occur at any time. But, when we look at the Second Coming verses (Zech. 14:1-12; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19) there are all sorts of events that have to happen before Jesus returns to the Earth — world devastation, the Antichrist, a one world government, and so on. So, the imminency in the timing of the Rapture tells us that nothing has to happen before it does, which also tells me that it is a separate event and it has to happen before the events of the Tribulation.
There are a number of different timing views, one such is the Mid-Tribulation Rapture view. Supporters of this view believe the Rapture hinges upon the sounding of the “last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52) and equate that trumpet as the Seventh Trumpet Judgment of God that is blown mid-way during the Tribulation (Rev. 11).
To recap the order of the judgments during the seven years of the Tribulation — it begins with the first four Seal and all seven of the Trumpet Judgments during the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, then the last three Seal and all seven of the Bowl/Vial Judgments during the second 3 1/2 years.
I believe the Jewish feasts are God’s way of showing that the “last trumpet” will most likely be the last Feast of Trumpets during the Church Age. The trumpet heard at the Rapture should not be confused with the last trumpet of the Trumpet Judgments.
That God would strangely leave the Church to have to suffer through half the Tribulation just doesn’t make sense. Why doesn’t God either take us out at the beginning or just leave us to suffer throughout the entire seven years? To remove us at the mid-point seems rather indiscriminate.
Then there is the view that the Rapture happens at the end of the Tribulation, called the Post-Tribulation Rapture. The most glaring problem with this timing view is that when Jesus returns at the Rapture He will change the believers’ earthly bodies to the glorified bodies we are going to live in forever. If the believers u-turned and returned right back to Earth (for the Post-Trib view doesn’t see the Rapture and the Second Coming as separate events), then who lives on into the Millennial Kingdom in human bodies that are capable of bearing children? Glorified bodies are like angels’ bodies in that they will never reproduce. Because of this discrepancy, the Post-Tribulation Rapture view is totally unworkable.
Then there is the Pre-Wrath Rapture view, which places the timing of the Rapture at the last quarter of the Tribulation, about five and a half years into the Tribulation. This view holds that believers in Christ will have to endure the Seal and Trumpet Judgments because they say those judgments are from Man and Satan, but believers will be exempt from the seven Bowl/Vial Judgments (Rev. 16) because they say those judgments are straight from God.
But, wasn’t it Jesus who opened up the very first seal that started the judgments? Revelation 6:1 tells us this is so. And, Revelation 8:2 tell us that the trumpets for the Trumpet Judgments were handed out before God, clearly indicating that the wrath again comes from God Himself. Revelation 15:1 goes on to tell us that the Bowl/Vial Judgments complete God’s wrath, not begin it. Revelation makes it crystal clear that the wrath poured out on the Earth from the very beginning of the Tribulation comes from God, making null the foundational point of the Pre-Wrath Rapture view that God’s wrath comes only with the Bowl/Vial Judgments near the end of the Tribulation.
One verse that comes to mind when discussing God’s wrath poured out during the Tribulation is 1 Thessalonians 1:10. This verse says that we are “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” The Church is promised here and in other verses (Lk. 21:36; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thes. 5:9; Rev. 3:10) that we are going to be delivered from the wrath that is to come. And, since the Tribulation is about the pouring out of God’s wrath upon this Earth, why would believers in Christ even be around then? We will be taken out to be saved from that wrath, just as these verses promise.
A number of Christians who don’t hold to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view point out that Christians have been suffering for 2,000 years. Christians were thrown to the lions in Caesar’s time. Today, we have news reports from Pakistan and India that Muslims and Hindus are burning Christian houses and burning believers alive. “Why shouldn’t we also suffer as well?” they ask. But, the Tribulation is a different set apart time like the Flood was for the pouring out of God’s wrath upon the Earth in judgment for man’s continued rebellion against Him. God’s wrath on Earth during the Flood and then the Tribulation are specially set apart times compared to the day-to-day suffering all believers experience.
It is true, believers in Christ are not promised that we will be free of tribulation and increasing persecution. But, there is the tribulation we all face to varying degrees and then there’s the Tribulation when half of humanity will die during the first 3 1/2 years. This will be a tribulation unlike the world has ever seen.
One of the accusations that comes quite often from people who don’t hold to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is that we are merely escapists, unwilling to truly suffer for the Lord. We are accused of making up a fantasy escape plan to avoid the unpleasantness of the difficult times ahead.
In reply, I can only say, “Amen!” You know, it is one thing to suffer under the hand of man or even under the hand of Satan, but to suffer under the hand of the living God, well, that’s a terrifying concept. Who could survive? As Revelation 6:17 states, “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
I can be assured it is okay to be an escapist because the Bible tells us I have no choice in the matter. Jesus will come to take His Bride the Church up to Heaven before He pours out His wrath upon the world during the Tribulation.
Ephesians 5:6 tells us to “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” The Church has been cleaned, they are no longer disobedient and deserving of God’s wrath. Romans 5:9 assures us that “since we have now been justified by his [Christ’s] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
Noah was an escapist. Lot was an escapist. And so, it is not a bad thing to be called an escapist. Jesus in Luke 21:36 even instructs us to pray for an escape, saying “be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Well, if Jesus told me to pray to escape, then I am going to pray to escape.
Now, should I be willing to die for Jesus Christ? Most certainly, yes! But, that doesn’t mean that I have to go through the Tribulation to somehow prove my mettle to God.
No, the Bible overwhelmingly supports the timing of the Rapture as happening before the Tribulation.
27 CommentsLeave a Comment
the one that makes the LEAST sense is the partial-rapture position. if only the truly rightous ones go in the rapture then wouldnt that make it a works based salvation?
first time I heard that one was in a Baptist church revival service. Kind of a Baptist Purgatory?
Oh I forgot, he prefaced that with the statement "you might not find that in the Bible, But God told me".
you might not find that in th Bible but God told me? in short, what i say is on the same level as the Bible.OH MY WORD! WHAT ARROGENCE!
Yeah, Hartdawg, that's definitely works-based RELIGION, all right, but it's NOT Christianity. Christianity is this: Christ has done it all, and we are the benefactors of His work when we say, "I can't, but You can."
As believers, we are always righteous–in spite of sin in our lives. That's because righteousness is determined by birth–spiritual birth, that is.
My guess is that the lie of the partial rapture is most often preached by those who believe they're in the "in" group. I'm sure they base this on all their fleshly self-efforts (which is really just sin because it's done in their own strength and not by faith)!
when you`re finally "good enough" pride comes in and thats what got satan kicked outta heaven
concerning how the millenium is populated, is it not possible that unsaved children will survive the second coming?
the reason i ask this is that we read about the sheep and goats judgment,which seems to be describing the second coming, and certain beasts (kingdoms) that are allowed to continue without dominion for a certain time
if literally everyone is killed (unbelievers that is), then we only have 2 possibilities for unsaved children;
1. they are part of the 2nd resurrection and are thrown into the lake of fire
2. they are killed and then immediately resurrected (which doesn't really make sense)
they way it happens according to my understanding is this: at the 2nd coming jesus seprates the sheep (rightous who survive the tribulation) and the goats (the unsaved) the goats are sent to the eternal fire so only believers enter the milineum IN THEIR NATURAL BODIES. since death is uncommon the rightous have 1,000 yrs to repopulate the earth. the unsaved children are undoubtidly the children of these believers. they will have oppertunity to recieve or reject christ.
I think the question Glen is posing is in response to this quote from Nathan in the article
"If the believers u-turned and returned right back to Earth (for the Post-Trib view doesn't see the Rapture and the Second Coming as separate events), then who lives on into the Millennial Kingdom in human bodies that are capable of bearing children?"
I believe children will survive the second coming, but I don't think it negates the fact that there will also be adult believers remaining in their mortal bodies after the second coming (therefore meaning the rapture could not have taken place at the same time.) My reasoning is that if the rapture takes place at the same time as the second coming and all adult believers are translated into their immortal bodies, where is the need for the sheep and the goats judgment? It seems to me that the 'sheep' at that judgment are adult believers still in their mortal bodies.
That's exactly right, Stephanie.
There will be survivors of the Great Tribulation. Jesus Himself said that if He didn't cut it short no one would survive, which implies many will live through it.
But no unbelievers will be allowed into the Millennial Kingdom. Remember death and hell aren't thrown into the Lake of Fire until the end of the 1,000 years, so these unbelievers will go to the place of the dead, Hades to await the Great White Throne Judgment.
As for the children, I think it depends on age and maturity as it does now.
ya, perhaps i misunderstood glens question. i agree with thunder on the children
I concur with your pre-trib conclusions. I have done an extensive analysis of the Olivet Discourse and arrive at the same conclusion. Please see http://learnbibleprophecy.com/Olivet_Discourse_Comparison.html
This is a great article as always. What confuses me here is you mention that there is nothing to occur before the Rapture.
What about the "gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all nations as a witness" – surely this must happen before the rapture, isn't it?
the point i was making was (i'm neutral on pre trib), is that i believe it's possible that children of a certain age who are of unsaved parents that survive the 2nd coming will live on in they're mortal bodies
to populate the millenium, and would have to accept christ
Interesting point, Glen! Since the kids would pass through the Sheep/Goat Judgment, they would have to be in the Sheep category to live on into the Millennial Kingdom, and therefore believers, for it's easy for little children to believe.
"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.'" – Luke 10:21
"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." – Mark 10:15
Glad the article has been a blessing to you, End Times!
Jesus' reference to the Gospel being preached to the whole world before He returns (Matt. 24:14) is a reference to the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation, not the Rapture before the beginning.
During the Tribulation there will be a great harvest of souls (Rev. 7:9-14). Some will be convicted by the Rapture itself. Others will be converted by the preaching of either the Two Witnesses in Jerusalem (Rev. 11) or the 144,000 Jewish disciples who will proclaim the Gospel (Rev. 7). Some will repent in response to the judgments of God (Isa. 26:9). Others will respond to an angel of God who will preach the "eternal gospel" to all the world at the end of the Tribulation, right before the final pouring out of God's wrath (Rev. 14:6).
i'm going to backtrack here because i just realised something i never noticed before
1 Corinthians15:50-54: “Now this I say, brethren, that FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
this seems to indicate that all believers will be changed, because flesh and blood cannot enter
yet the dilemma is how the millenium is populated????
i cor15 is talking about the rapture when believers recieve incorruptable bodies since "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" at the 2nd coming (after the tribulation) believers who survive enter the millineum in their natural bodies while raptured christians with ressurrected bodies reign (inherit the kingdom) with christ over them.
ok it's clearer now
i was confusing the reigning part with being the whole thing
And to add to what hartdawg said, Glen, at the end of the Millennium there is the Great White Throne judgment where all unbelievers will be judged and death and hell are thrown into the Lake of Fire and all believers will be translated into their eternal bodies to dwell with Yahweh for all eternity.
Nathan, regarding the trumpet judgments, here is some food for thought. When we read Revelation 10, notice what happens when the angel begins to sound the 7th and LAST TRUMPET:
Revelation 10:1,3a,7, "And I saw another mighty angel COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow [was] upon his head, and his face [was] as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire … And cried with a LOUD VOICE, as [when] a lion roareth … in the days of the voice of the SEVENTH angel, when he shall begin to SOUND, the MYSTERY of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
I believe that this is directly related to 1 Thess 4:16 and 1 Cor 15:51-52, the most popular rapture passages in the entire Bible.
1 Thess 4:16, "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" *and* 1 Cor 15:51-52 reads, "Behold, I shew you a MYSTERY; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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."
In Revelation 10 we have:
1. A "mighty angel" coming down from heaven, 2. Crying out with a loud voice, 3. The seventh and last trumpet begins to sound, 4. And the "mystery" of God is finished once the last trumpet begins to sound.
In 1 Thess 4:16 and 1 Cor 15:51-52 we have:
1. The Lord coming down from heaven with the voice of the Archangel, 2. With the trump of God, 3. The Mystery: At the last trump the dead are raised, and 4. At the last trump we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye.
I don't think that this is just a mere coincidence.
The pre-trib position explains that the trumpets that the angels have in Revelation are not the trumpets of God. However, looking at what Revelation 8:2 says, it is next to impossible to make that claim. Rev 8:2 reads, "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets." If the angels stand before God, and God gives the angels the trumpets, how can we say that these are not the trumpets of God? It seems that the only way we can claim they are not the trumpets of God is to first assume it. The angels pour out the bowls of wrath, yet we know that the bowls of wrath is the wrath of God, so there's no real reason for the pre-trib position to state that the trumpets noted in Revelation are not the trumpets of God. (Important note: The bowls of Wrath is "thymos" in the Greek, and it appears to be only poured upon the Antichrist, his land, those who worship him, those who persecute the saints, who do not repent).
By the way, I should also mention that I believe that we can ascertain exegetically and hermeneutically that the "mighty messenger" that John saw coming down from Heaven (often translated as "angel") in Rev 10:1 is a direct reference to Christ Jesus. (We need to keep in mind that "angel" does not always refer to a created being, though it normally does in most cases. The Greek word for "angel" simply means "messenger" and at times can be referring to a Christophany, especially in the Old Testament. John borrows extensively from the Old Testament both in style, substance and terminology, so this could very well be a Christophany here as well). In Rev 10:3 "he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion." This is a significant clue in my opinion, for we know that Christ is the One who roars at His coming. Jeremiah 25:30 says that, "'The LORD will roar from on high, And utter His voice from His holy habitation; He will roar mightily against His fold. He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes, Against all the inhabitants of the earth." In Hosea 11:10 we read, "They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west." Joel 3:16 says, "The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD [will be] the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." Amos 1:2 says that "The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither." 1 Thess 4:16 says that "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".
Are there more clues here? I say yes.
Note that this "mighty messenger" in Rev 10:1 comes down from heaven "clothed with a cloud". During the Second Coming Jesus Christ is "coming on the clouds" or "in the clouds" (Matt. 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62, Rev. 1:7, Dan 7:13). Indeed, even when Jesus ascended to Heaven "he was taken up; and a cloud received him" (Acts 1:9).
Even the "rainbow upon his head" is another clue in my opinion. (The only other reference to a rainbow in Revelation is in 4:3 when John describes the throne of God. Could the rainbow be symbolic of holiness, authority?) Moreover, "his face was like the sun", which should remind us immediately of the Prophet Daniel's description of the Messiah in Dan 10:6 where the prophet writes that, "his face [was] like the appearance of lightning"….
Matthew Henry (along with numerous other commentators, scholars, and theologians) agree. In his commentary regarding the "mighty messenger" of Rev 10:1, Henry writes that "… it could be no other than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! 1. He was clothed with a cloud: he veils his glory, which is too great for mortality to behold; and he throws a veil upon his dispensations. Clouds and darkness are round about him. 2. A rainbow was upon his head; he is always mindful of his covenant, and, when his conduct is most mysterious, yet it is perfectly just and faithful. 3. His face was as the sun, all bright, and full of lustre and majesty, ch. 1:16. 4. His feet were as pillars of fire; all his ways, both of grace and providence, are pure and steady."
Hermeneutically, we can conclude that John's descriptions in Revelation 10 places this event as Christ's Second Soming immediately after the tribulation.
Oh, no doubt that the angel of Rev. 10 is Jesus. Reminds me of Jesus' preincarnate state as "the angel of the Lord" (Ex. 3:2-6). Plus the angel holds a scroll, which in Rev. 5 only Jesus is qualified to take the scroll from the Father.
I don't know of any Pre-Tribbers who say the Trumpets aren't God's judgments. Sounds more like a Pre-Wrath Rapture perspective.
Awesome Nathan! I'm glad you recognize Christ in this passage. Kudos my friend, many do not realize this at all or have bothered to study it.
One more thing — the rapture is quite evident to me to happen at the seventh and last trumpet in Revelation 10:7, but this is post-tribulational, not pre-wrath. I believe that the Seventh Seal, Seventh Trumpet and Seventh Bowl all happen right around the same time after the tribulation, so I am of the opinion that they are much more concurrent for the most part rather than sequential (though the seals do begin prior to the trumpets/bowls), and one of the reasons is due to the Semitic style of writing of Revelation.
In essence, when John describes the bowls he is recapitulating what has already taken place with the trumpets, that is to say, he is describing the same events viewed through a different lens, only this time it is called the "bowls of wrath". This is very common in Semitic literature (see Genesis regarding the Creation). In light of this, I believe that the trumpets announce the judgments, and the bowls revisit the pronouncements and focus on the overall end result of the trumpets. Essentially, it is cause and effect. The similarities are striking.
Look at it this way: When the whistle blew, a gun was fired at a fish tank, broke the tank, initially killing 1 of the 3 fish in the tank. Let’s call this event “The Whistle Blow”. This was the cause. Now let’s look at this event from a different perspective and name this perspective “The Fish Bowl” and look at the result of this action: every fish in the tank had died. In the same way, this is how I view the trumpets/bowls. They are cause and effect.
The biggest issue that some have with that view is with the Fourth Trumpet/Bowl. But I believe it is easily reconciled. "Brother Tommie" explains his view well:
"Revelation 8:12: And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Revelation 16:8-9: And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
This seems to be contradictory, but if we stop and think for a minute, we will see that this is very possible. The trumpets show this as a curse of darkness, and the vials of wrath as a curse of daylight. This seems to be impossible, but if the earth was to stop moving, or rotating, it is very possible.
In the Old Testament, God caused this to happen in two different instances. And, this is what occurs. God stops the earth for a period of time. The sun will be shining over the Antichrist and his people. The night is what cools the day, but without any darkness in that part of the world, it will become increasingly hot!
In the western part of the world, it will be dark for as long as this period lasts. This will cause this part of the world to become extremely cool; causing clouds that blot out the stars and the moon. Part of the earth will experience twilight, neither day nor night, for this period of time. This event will scare people out of their wits! The newscasters will be going wild trying to explain why the earth isn't turning; weather forecasting will be chaotic.
It is a good thing we have a lot of empty churches in America, because the following Sunday morning, every; church in America is going to be packed! This event becomes the fourth warning to the world to repent, but the people of the Antichrist will not. God is saving a multitude of nations, just as He promised Abraham! The wisdom of God goes beyond our wildest imaginations!"
Very interesting, Mitchell!
Someone wrote in just today with an opposite theory. To shorten the days (Matt. 24:22; Mk. 13:20) he suggested the Earth didn't stop spinning but quickened the rotation. I countered that the rotation of the Earth didn't need to speed up but proposed a nuclear winter would certainly darken the sky (as some of the judgments sound nuclear in reprocussion).
What would you propose is the mechanism which would speed up or slow down the Earth's rotation? No doubt God could do it and has, but how I wonder.
Hi Nathan, the nuclear winter theory could be plausible. I have my own theory as well, but posted Brother Tommie's because there was past precedence of something like that happening before and it makes a lot of sense.
My own theory on the fourth trumpet/bowl is that it could be related to massive sun spots or other solar phenomenon. We now know that during increased sunspot activity there is also a marked increased in other solar activity. A massive solar flare, if timed right, could have devastating effects upon those on the receiving end.
Or it could even be a bit of both.
I'm not an expert in this field of course, but the mechanism for this to happen could be some abnormal flux in the sun's magnetic field, which itself could affect the earth's magnetic field and, potentially, it's rotation. Scientists have only recently become aware of the sun's magnetic field connecting and disconnecting with Earth's magnetic field in the past year or so. Maybe the earth and sun could get into some "temporary equilibrium", similar to the earth and moon. At least that's how I could envision scientists frantically trying to use flowery language to explain it to a terrified populace. I'd like to see what they'd say regarding how the earth's rotation would start again…
It is predicted that the next solar maximum activity will occur some time in 2013. Composite records of solar activity cycles over the passed 400 years suggest that a deep solar minimum like the one we have been having, is often followed by a correspondingly high solar activity maximum.
As for the days being shortened per Matthew 24:22 & Mark 13:20, I don't view this as referring to the length of the day (either by sunlight or time). In my view, the Antichrist's persecution of the saints will be cut short to 1260 days after the Abomination of Desolation. If he were allowed to continue, no flesh would be saved.
Hey, on a slightly different subject, have you viewed Mark Biltz's video here yet? What are your thoughts (particularly on the second half)?
Biltz is a Torah observer. Be careful.