Which view concerning the timing of the Rapture is correct?
On our television program Christ in Prophecy, we asked this question of Dr. Ron Rhodes, the founder and director of a ministry called Reasoning from the Scriptures, located in Frisco, Texas. His ministry specializes in defending Christianity against Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, the cults, world religions, and about any group that teaches false doctrine. He is a seminary professor and an excellent writer who has written more than 70 books! His latest one is titled, The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy.
Ron Rhodes on the Timing of the Rapture
Which view of the Rapture is correct? Some say it happen before the Tribulation, in the middle of the Tribulation, before what’s deemed the wrath of God near the end of the Tribulation, or at the very end of the Tribulation. I believe that the Church is going to be raptured before the Tribulation period. It makes good sense for a number of reasons.
First of all, if you examine all of the Old Testament prophecies that deal with the Tribulation, the Church is never mentioned once. If you look at all the New Testament prophecies that deal with the Tribulation, the Church is not mentioned once.
In 1 Thessalonians 1:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:9, we are told that the Church will be delivered from the wrath to come. Now there are a couple points to make there. The wrath to come is not just general wrath that we all experience. Rather, it is a specific period of wrath. It is the wrath to come which we Christians are to be delivered from it.
The Greek word for “delivered” there means “to be snatched away from.” The Church is promised to be snatched away from the wrath to come. To me, that goes right along with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 where it talks about how Christians are going to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Christians are going to be snatched up to meet the Lord in the air.
Just think about that for a minute. Doesn’t the Lord have a long pattern of delivering His people before judgment falls? God delivered Noah before the Flood fell. He caught Enoch up to His side before the Flood fell. The spies were out of Jericho before the judgment fell on Jericho. Lot was out of Sodom before judgment fell on Sodom. I could go on and on. That is in keeping with who God is. And so, God is going to rescue the Church before His judgment falls upon the world.
It is such fallacious thinking when some people say that of the 21 judgments that fall during the Tribulation, according to Revelation, that only some of those judgments are God’s wrath and some are man’s wrath and some are Satan’s wrath. Some even say that wrath means Hell, therefore God will save us from Hell, but not all of these judgments. There is man’s wrath, but you’ve got to understand the context of Scripture, because the wrath of God is expressed through man’s wrath.
How did God chastise the Israelites in the Old Testament? Through the Assyrians. The Assyrians were his whipping rod. You see, God can use human wrath as an expression of His own wrath.
We’ve got to realize that the Church is not going to be judged twice for the same sins. Jesus took my sin on the cross. He’s not going to make me pay for that same sin again. Can you imagine a judge sitting there in his court of law looking down at a criminal and saying, “I am taking all of your crimes upon myself and paying for them. You will not have to deal with any of your crimes, I’m taking them all on myself. But, I’m going to send you to prison anyway for seven years where you will be cruelly treated.” That wouldn’t make any sense!
Why beat up on the Bride of Christ? Isn’t the Rapture called the blessed hope? What hope is there is you have to live through 21 earth-shattering judgments? If you’ve got to go through that kind of punishment, how could it possibly be blessed?
Jesus says, “Watch for me. I can come at any moment. Watch for me.” I’m living looking for the coming of Jesus Christ, because His return in imminent. If I didn’t believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, I would be living looking for the Antichrist, not Jesus Christ.
There’s a wedding metaphor that’s often used in terms of the Rapture. In ancient weddings, there would be a man or woman who would get betrothed. Then the man — the groom — would go to his father’s house to prepare a place in his father’s house for them to live. Then at some undetermined time, the groom would come back to fetch his bride.
That is a kind of picture of the Church. We are betrothed to Christ. We are the Bride of Christ. Christ is now preparing a place for us in the Father’s house, according to John 14. At an undetermined time, He’s going to take us from the earth to the place that He has prepared. Notice that in John 14 the passage says Jesus takes the Church to the place where He is. He doesn’t remain on earth like He does at the Second Coming. He takes us away from the earth to where He is in Heaven. That’s not Post-Trib, that’s not Mid-Trib, that can only fit a Pre-Tribulational scenario.