What evidences are there that the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation?
Nathan Jones: First Thessalonians 4:17 talks about Christians being “caught up” or “snatched up.” It’s where we find the word “Rapture” in the Bible, from the Latin rapio meaning “caught up.” The Bible says the Rapture is meant to be our “blessed hope” (Tit. 2:13). Knowing about the Rapture is meant to give Christians the assurance that they will never have to endure the horrific Tribulation time period, those seven years when God will judge the earth much like He did the Flood, but with the 21 judgments described in the book of Revelation.
Allen Parr of The BEAT YouTube Channel joins me to help answer that question as to the timing of the Rapture.
Evidence #1 — Scriptural Support
Allen Parr: First of all, I want to thank Dr. David Reagan for providing an amazing resource with his book God’s Plan for the Ages. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel by doing my own research on this topic, his book sums it up so well. He gives several different pieces of evidence of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Let’s look at three of them.
The first evidence for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture involves just looking at the Bible. Look at individual verses in the Bible that would suggest that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to Rapture us before the Tribulation, which is what we mean by a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. There are so many verses. You can look at Revelation 3:10. You can look at 1 Thessalonians 1:10 which basically calls for us to, “wait for His Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
I’ll read 1 Thessalonians 5:9 which says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” There are all sorts of other verses we could cover. So, by just looking at the Scriptures alone, the evidence seems to strongly point in favor that this Rapture is truly an event that is going to happen before the seven-year Tribulation period begins.
Nathan Jones: Right! And, we’re talking about the Tribulation period — capital “T”. Christians, of course, have to deal with little “t” tribulations due to living in a fallen world. We endure Satan’s and mankind’s wrath against us. But, when talking about God’s wrath — a capital “T” — we’re talking about an event. When it comes to the Tribulation, God promises to rescue His children from His coming wrath.
Allen Parr: Yes, exactly. One of the things that I loved about Dr. Reagan’s book is that he goes far beyond just the basic evidence you hear concerning the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. I admit that I learned some really strong evidence that supports the Pre-Tribulation Rapture viewpoint.
Evidence #2 — Symbolic Support
Allen Parr: A second evidence Dr. Reagan’s book mentions which supports the Rapture being pre-tribulational concerns symbolic evidence. I just love that evidence! When you look at pictures of what God has done in the past, there seems to be a history of God removing His people from harm before His judgment comes instead of keeping them safe in the midst of judgment. You’ll hear some people claim that Christians are going to have to go through the Tribulation, which means that somehow or another God is going to have to preserve us through the midst of hailstones the size of bowling balls. It would be like a bowling ball comes down, stops right here, okay, “Thank you, God, for not letting that hit my head,” but then for an unbeliever, the hail bops them over the head.
Nathan Jones: Yes, or look at the Fifth Seal Judgment and the Tribulation Saints — the Christians of that time period. They are certainly not being protected during the Tribulation for they “had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev. 6:9-11).
Allen Parr: A living type of the Rapture would be Enoch who was taken from the earth before the Flood (Heb. 11:5). And, look at Noah and his family being taken out of the flooded world to preserve them instead of letting the Flood happen and keeping them safe in the midst of all of that rain. And, look at Lot and his family being taken away before the destruction of Sodom. Rahab and her family were taken out of the destruction of Jericho.
So, on and on, there seems to be plenty of symbolic evidence throughout the Scriptures showing God removes His people so that He can rescue them. God removes them as opposed to protecting them with some kind of supernatural protection.
Nathan Jones: I once interviewed Brett Miller, Jr. who produced the incredible docu-drama Before the Wrath. He portrayed the Rapture as a great wedding feast. He showed how the Galilean wedding acted as a symbol that portrayed the whole Rapture sequence. Really fascinating!
Evidence #3 — Logical Support
Allen Parr: The third evidence for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture pertains to logical evidence. Look at this topic from a logical point of view. We’ve looked at Scriptures and God’s history of how He has preserved His people, and now we’ll look at the logical arguments.
For instance, imagine that the Rapture occurred, let’s say, at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period. That’d be kind of weird because then the event wouldn’t really be a rapture. After all, it’d be like we go up to meet Jesus but then we come right back down at the Second Coming of Christ. We know the Second Coming of Christ occurs at the very end of the seven-year Tribulation period.
Another logical conclusion could be made when we look at the Millennial Kingdom of Christ which follows the Tribulation. People are going to be born during the Millennium. So, if we were to be raptured at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period, then that means that every single person would have received a glorified body. But, Jesus said glorified bodies do not reproduce (Mat. 22:30).
So, where do all those Millennial age kids come from? They would have to be born from unbelievers who then became believers, whom we call Tribulation Saints, saved during the seven-year Tribulation Period. They are the ones who, should they survive, will live into the Millennium without having glorified bodies. They will be the ones who will procreate because they’re still in earthly bodies. But if the Rapture occurs at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period, which Post-Tribulation Rapture supporters suggest, then there would be no way for people who have glorified bodies to be able to procreate and the Millennial Kingdom would be childless.
Nathan Jones: That particular argument to me provides a strong, strong argument against a Post-Tribulation Rapture.
I also don’t believe the Rapture will occur Mid-Tribulation or Pre-Wrath, because who opens the very first Seal Judgment? It’s Jesus Christ, as told in Revelation 4 and 5. We know that it is Jesus Christ who opens all 21 seals, therefore all 21 seals are God’s wrath, not just the final seven Bowl Judgments. As you stated earlier, God promises to protect the Church from His wrath.
Allen Parr: The Church is symbolized by the Bride of Christ. Would you treat your bride the horrible way that some Post-Tribulationists believe? A marriage ceremony, or wedding feast, will be held between Christ and the Bride during the Tribulation. A spiritual marriage occurs between Christ the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride. Would it then make any sense for Jesus to punish, or whip, or beat up His Bride for seven years before marrying her? Would He let all of these crazy judgments happen around her, but then say, “Okay, I’m glad I kept you in that living hell. Now let’s go and get married.” No! If you love someone, once again just from a logical perspective, why would you want your bride to go through all of those unnecessary things? We are already saved. What would be the purpose for us to be living through the seven-year Tribulation period? None whatsoever!
Nathan Jones: You’ll hear the argument from Post-Tribulationists that the Church needs to be purified of her sins, and so, therefore, needs to live through the horrors of the Tribulation. But, the Bride has already been purified because the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from all sins (Rev. 1:5). So, there is no reason for the blood-bought saints in Jesus Christ to go through a Tribulation period refinement.
Allen, what do you have to do to be able to participate in the Rapture?
Allen Parr: You have to be a Christian.
Nathan Jones: And, how do you become a Christian?
Allen Parr: You become a Christian by placing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and by believing that Jesus Christ took your place on the cross and died for your sins. The Bible says that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9-10).