What does the Pre-Wrath Rapture view believe wrath is during the Tribulation?
Let’s begin with some definitions and clarifications. The term, Rapture, refers to the idea that a day will come when Jesus will appear in the heavens, at which time the dead in Christ will be resurrected to meet Him in the air and to receive their glorified bodies. Living believers will be taken up also and will be translated en route from mortal to immortal. Both the resurrected believers and the living ones will then return to Heaven with Jesus. This event is viewed by most as being separate and apart from the Second Coming of Jesus when He will return to earth to reign for a thousand years.
The word, Rapture, does not appear in English language Bibles, but it can be found in the Latin Vulgate translation of Jerome, which served as the basic Bible of the Western world for over 1200 years, from 400AD to 1611 when the King James Version was published. The word appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In English versions it is expressed as “caught up.” The concept of the Rapture can be found in many other places in the New Testament — for example, in John 14:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.
One other thing that needs to be made clear about the Rapture is that it is a promise to the Bride of Christ, which is the Church. It will not include Old Testament Saints. They will be resurrected at the time of the Lord’s Second Coming, at the end of the Tribulation (Daniel 12:1-2). The Tribulation Martyrs — those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior during the Tribulation and who are killed for their faith — will also be resurrected at the time of the Second Coming.
The Question of Timing
Among those who believe in a Rapture of the Church, there is disagreement as to the timing of the event. Until recent years, there were three concepts of the Rapture’s timing:
1) The Pre-Trib View — This is the idea that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation begins.
2) The Mid-Trib View — This viewpoint places the Rapture in the middle of the Tribulation.
3) The Post-Trib View — According to this view, the Rapture and the Second Coming are all one event that takes place at the end of the Tribulation.
The “Pre-Wrath” View
In 1990 Marvin Rosenthal presented a fourth viewpoint in his book, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Rosenthal was not the originator of this new viewpoint. Rather, he was the one who popularized it with his book.
The person who conceived the “Pre-Wrath” view of the Rapture was a man named Robert Van Kampen (1938-1999). Van Kampen became one of America’s richest men through his involvement in investment banking. During his lifetime he accumulated one of the largest private collections of rare and antique Bibles in North America.
In the 1970’s Van Kampen began developing the “Pre- Wrath” concept of the timing of the Rapture. Once he had completed his work on the concept, he started trying to find a well known person in the field of Bible prophecy to endorse his new view. That person finally turned out to be Marvin Rosenthal, who at the time was serving as the director of a very influential ministry called Friends of Israel. Rosenthal tried to convince the board of the ministry to abandon its commitment to the Pre-Trib view and accept the new viewpoint. They refused, and Rosenthal was forced to depart. He went to Florida where he built the Holy Land Experience — a Christian theme park which has since been taken over by the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Today, Rosenthal serves as the director of Zion’s Hope, a ministry located in Winter Garden, Florida.
Rosenthal’s book was financed by Van Kampen’s fortune, and he mailed out thousands of copies to pastors all over America. Later, Van Kampen wrote his own books about the “Pre-Wrath” view, the most important being The Sign (1992).
The Meaning of the “Pre-Wrath” View
The “Pre-Wrath” view of the Rapture argues that the first three-fourths of the Tribulation is the wrath of Man and the wrath of Satan, and not the wrath of God. Therefore, the proponents of this view argue that the Church will suffer through the first three-quarters of the Tribulation since the Church is promised protection only from the wrath of God.
Those who espouse this viewpoint of the Rapture’s timing believe that the Seal Judgments are the wrath of Man and Satan and that they continue throughout the first half of the Tribulation and into the second half, right up to the three-quarters point, or shortly thereafter. They place the Trumpet Judgments in the last quarter of the Tribulation and the Bowl Judgments in the first 30 days following the end of Daniel’s 70th Week of Years.
In the second part of this look at the Pre-Wrath Rapture view, we’ll consider some objections to the viewpoint.