QUESTION: If, as some say, the church is about to go through the Tribulation, what can we do to prepare?
Often, when the subject of the rapture and the seven-years of judgment of the biblical Tribulation period of the end times is discussed, one can see a common lament of opinion toward those who believe that the church, all those born again in Christ a.k.a. the body of Christ, will escape into Heaven via the rapture. That common lament, by some, toward those of us who believe that we who are in the body of Christ will escape the Tribulation period are robbing believers of their readiness to meet the days of judgment just ahead. This lament is obviously heartfelt, representing a passionate desire on the lamenter’s part to expound a particular point of view. In one form or another, those opinions are often expressed by a growing and quite vocal group of Christians. Precisely because it is so typical of much thinking today, it becomes necessary to clarify and put a bullet in the head of this false doctrinal monster that so plagues many of the faith. Many of the dissenters of the pre-tribulation rapture view are so passionate of their belief that the church will go through the Tribulation that they quite often label a pre-tribulationist a “heretic” or a “false prophet.” Biblically speaking, a pre-tribulationist is far from being a false prophet or heretic, for it is sound biblical doctrine. There are those who do indeed qualify for that label, but this label is far, far overused and abused. Many expositors in the faith unjustly get accused of being a “false prophet” or a “heretic” based upon a minor misinterpretation of scripture that neither denies the faith or does any harm to the overall glorification of Christ and his crucifixion. “False prophet” and “heretic” get ridiculously overused and misused. One can be mistaken in their interpretation of a certain prophecy or minor doctrinal issue, but it does not make them a “false prophet” or “heretic.” In fact, when expounding upon biblical matters, stand back a bit because you may get burned, fried and scorched with a fierceness with this accusation at some point in time.
Back to the point of the article. Doubters of the pre-tribulation rapture often express their opposition to the notion that the Apostle Paul believed and taught a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. It is obvious that for them, this is a key point of theology. Their position is quite clear. So is ours. For many years, we on the pre-tribulational side of the debate have proclaimed what we believe to be the truth about dispensational, pre-millennial and pre-tribulational eschatology. In simple language, that means we believe in the Lord’s ongoing stewardship over his believing remnant on Earth. He has guided the development of mankind across six thousand years of human history. He has gone about this activity in various stages, each of which is clear and identifiable. In addressing mankind, he has used different methods at different historical periods. These “economies” or “dispensations” are portions of his total redemptive purpose. Human history was laid out in accordance with the six days of creation. That is, the six days of creation are a model for six millennial days of human struggle. These days of struggle will come to an end in the seventh millennium with the return of Christ to set up and earthly Kingdom. Today, we live at a time immediately prior to that Millennium, hence the term, “premillennial.” Finally, this Millennium will be ushered in by a seven-year period, called the Tribulation. This time interval will bring a series of indescribable horrors to the face of the Earth. Of this period, also referred to as, “… the time of Jacob’s trouble …,” Jesus said …
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).
In that day, the wrath of God will fall upon Earth. In the verse above, Jesus is saying that nothing like this has ever befallen humanity before, and that includes the great flood of Noah’s day. The Lord will call his church out of the Earth prior to this Tribulation period. Thus, for us, the idea of pre-tribulationism has two central features. First, we believe that we live prior to this horrendous event. Second, we will be taken home to be with the Lord before it comes. It is realized that there are differing opinions about these points, sometimes vehemently proclaimed. Why is there such disagreement? To begin with, there is great confusion about the purpose, nature and scope of the Tribulation. First and foremost, it is aimed at setting straight the unregenerate state of the world. Since the days of ancient Babylon and Egypt, corrupt governments have oppressed the hapless millions, who have been mired in paganism and tormented by the dark forces on high. But even in those early post-flood days, God made it known that he planned a Kingdom that would come to encompass all of the systems of the world. Furthermore, that Kingdom would be led from the throne of David. The powers of this world will one day collapse and subsequently be required to pay homage to that throne from where Christ will reign. With the foregoing in mind, and before dealing with the question of whether the church will escape the Tribulation, we must clarify it’s purpose. There are three basic purposes of the Tribulation …
First of all, it will bring wickedness to an end. to illustrate this thought, let us observe Isaiah 13:9: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” To emphasize the point, let us observe Isaiah 24:19-20, “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. Here, we plainly see that God wants the transgressions of man to be utterly destroyed, never to rise again. Note also that he uses the most relentless and unmerciful methods to achieve his ends. Truly, the harshness of this period almost defies description. It shakes the very Earth. On a side note, it is believed by many that the incoming Planet X system with it’s accompanying orbiting moons and other planetary bodies will achieve this devastation that we read so prominently in Isaiah 24. The evidence for it is very solid, evidence of which my wife and many others have personally witnessed and captured on camera. To see my wife’s and other’s evidence, I have inserted her photo in another article on this site (link below). https://endtimesdarknessdescending.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/the-imminent-return-of-christ-defending-the-doctrine-of-the-pre-tribulation-rapture/
Second of all, the Tribulation will bring about a worldwide revival. This global event will be led by selected members of the twelve tribes of Israel, from among the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob …
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel (Revelation 7:2-4).
Thirdly, and perhaps most tellingly, the Tribulation will break the stubborn will of the Jewish nation. There are two key passages that make this point. The first comes from Daniel, as the angel tells the prophet what will happen to his people in the last days …
“And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Daniel 12:6-7).
These “holy people” are none other than last days national Israel. The next passage is found in Ezekiel 20:37-38 describing Israel’s last day regathering and judgment …
“And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 20:37-38).
These three aspects of the Tribulation illustrate that God will break the Gentile world power that is now conglomerating into a system of world government manifest in scripture as “Mystery Babylon The Great.” The phrase “And I will purge out the rebels from among you” may very well be speaking of the certain segment of Jews that have a major part in the nation destroying implementation of this global government system. For me, that one may be a little murky to be dogmatic, but we do find that God exhorts “my people” to “come out from her” (Mystery Babylon) and be not partakers of her sins …
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
Once this system of world power is broken, Israel will undergo spiritual preparation for Kingdom rule under Christ the Messiah. It is no wonder that in Jeremiah 30:7, it is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Jacob, of course, is Israel. His twelve sons produced the twelve tribes. Thus, the outcome of the Tribulation is specifically tailored to provide the setting for the rule of regathered Israel. By contrast, there is no scripture that defines the Tribulation as directed toward a judgment and consolidation of the Church. The Church will have been caught up into Heaven before this point. The church will return and rule and reign in the coming Kingdom while in our glorified bodies.
THE WRATH OF GOD VERSUS THE WRATH OF SATAN
There has been much discussion about the timing of the Rapture. Will the church be caught up prior to the Tribulation, or will it perhaps be taken some time during it’s first half or second half? Some have even speculated that the rapture follows the Tribulation. Will the church remain on Earth long enough to witness the revealing of the Antichrist? Some intensely believe that only some time after the rise of the “man of sin” (Antichrist) will the church be taken out of the world. Those that believe this scenario of events see a pre-tribulation rapture of the church to be contrary to this view. Those that espouse this view put most of their eggs in the 2 Thessalonians 2 basket ,,,
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
They understand this to be the Antichrist and thus conclude that this passage of scripture is telling us that the rapture will not occur until the Antichrist is revealed, which will be during the Tribulation. From here, the pre-tribulationist is left without eyelashes and eyebrows and one piece of crooked cinged hair on their head as the accusation of “false prophet” and “heretic” rocket-fire from the lips to it’s intended target … the pre-tribulationist.
It is agreed and very true that chapter two opens with Paul’s reassuring words to believers concerning the rapture of the church. In a pleading tone, he begs them to remain calm. As this letter unfolds, however, it becomes quite plain and clear that he is attempting to counter the false teaching of certain unscrupulous men. These men, some of whom audaciously wrote under Paul’s name, were spreading the false rumor that the day of Christ was upon them. These two paragraphs of scripture tell us that the Thessalonian believers were in a state of anxiety. Why? Because false teachers were on the verge of convincing them that they were about to experience the Day of the Lord – the Tribulation. After Paul had left Thessalonica, false teachers had come in – spreading a post Tribulational doctrine. They were apparently saying either that the church was already in the Tribulation, or that it was only days or hours away. Mentioned at least 21 times in the Old Testament, the Day of the Lord is also called the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, The Tribulation, The Scourge, the Day of Vengeance, the Year of Recompense, The Day of Wrath, Wasteness, Distress, Desolation, Darkness, Gloominess, Clouds, Thick Darkness, The Day of the Trumpet and Alarm. In the New Testament, it is mentioned at least 9 times. Here, among other things, it is called the Tribulation, The Great Tribulation, The Wrath of God and the Hour of Trial. In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, it is called, “the day of Christ.” In Matthew 24:21, Jesus himself referred to it as, “… great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Doubtless, the Thessalonian believers had been taught about a future time of judgment, and even knew the words of Jesus on the matter. If a wicked teacher had them convinced that they were about to go through the earth-shattering time of horror known as the Tribulation, it’s no wonder that they were unnerved. Paul’s letter is directed at convincing them of a recognizable order of events preceding the Tribulation, by which they could be warned. He tells them, in effect, not to worry, that the Tribulation will not develop until certain key events have come to pass. He doesn’t want these faithful, early believers to be tricked or deceived. The next three verses make this abundantly clear …
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5).
Concerning these verses, the pre-tribulation rapture doubters make a serious reading error. They believe that the phrase “that day shall not come” refers to the rapture. It does not. In fact, it refers to the day of Christ. As the critic of the Pre-tribulation rapture reads this verse, they see the words “That day (the rapture) shall not come, until the two conditions are fulfilled: the falling away, and the unveiling of the man of sin (Antichrist).” Of course, this would put the believer (the church) in the Tribulation. This is a common error. What verse 3 really says is, “That day (the day of Christ) shall not come until two conditions are fulfilled: the falling away and the unveiling of the “man of sin” (Antichrist). In other words, two things must happen prior to the Tribulation. In making this statement, Paul brings a good word, and badly needed emotional relief to a group of the faithful who are convinced that they are about to fall under the control of a supernaturally wicked man and his evil system. The Thessalonian believers were doubtless familiar with both Old and New Testament teachings about the Day of the Lord. They knew it as a time when everyone then living would experience the effects of God’s judgment. Furthermore, they realized that it was the time of the “abomination of desolation,” mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:15, in reference to Daniel 9:27. They knew (and we know) that this will be a time when God permits great evil to rise to it’s fullness. Supernatural horrors will become commonplace. It is important to remember that Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians was written in A.D. 51. At this time, the Temple still stood in Jerusalem. The family of Herod had nearly completed construction on the vast Temple Mount complex, which had begun in 19 B.C. One of the great ironies of history is recorded in the fact that Herod’s Temple only reached completion about a year before the Roman army reduced it to rubble. However, at the time of Paul’s letter, it would be another nineteen years until it was destroyed in A.D. 70. Upon reading this letter, Thessalonian believers were doubtless impressed with it’s words. After all, the Temple still stood! In their mind’s eye, they could envision a coming day – perhaps in the not-too-distant future – when that man whom we call Antichrist would present himself there, representing himself as a god. For them, it was an imminent event. The various sects of the Jewish priesthood still served there daily. The Jewish festivals were still observed there. This being the case, it was no doubt quite easy for false teachers to convince them that the Day of Christ was virtually upon them. But now, Paul’s reassuring words eased their minds. He said that two things had to happen before that day could come. The first was something called, “a falling away.” Could this mean that some sort of apostasy had to happen, paving the way for the man of sin? How could this be, given that twenty years earlier, Jesus had already pronounced the corrupt priesthood as apostate? No, the apostasy had already come; the falling away had to be something else. Today, centuries later after Paul wrote this letter, the man of sin still hasn’t stood up in the Temple and pronounced godhood upon himself. Furthermore, these passing centuries have witnessed a myriad of apostasies. The world has witnessed a plethora of cults and “isms.” There have literally been more false teachers than true ones. We still have the same question as the ancient Thessalonian believers. Since apostasy has historically dominated the world’s cultures, we wonder what the “falling away” could possibly be that hasn’t already happened? Certainly, the epistles of Paul, Peter, John and Jude all present scenarios in which the last days will be marked by especially wicked departures from true Apostolic teaching. In 2 Peter 2:1, certain “false teachers” are said to introduce heretical teachings. The context and analysis of this letter shows that certainly, the work of these evil men has reached it’s greatest height in the twentieth century. 2 Peter 3:3 says, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers …” These are the false teachers, both sacred and secular, who will even deny the second coming of Christ. In 1 and 2 John, the Apostle says that these last days false teachers will deny the Trinity, the miraculous incarnation of Christ and his existence in a physical body. In 1 Timothy 4:1, Paul refers to the false teachers as, ” … giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” [translated as demons]. In 2 Timothy 3:8, he describes these wicked leaders in the following way …
“Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8).
The composite picture of these men shows that their corruption has ranged into the accursed realm of the irredeemable. They are completely sold into the service of Satan. While posing as men of God, they are really pagan representatives of Satanic powers. Again, however, we must say that the entire church age has seen the rise and fall of men such as these. In the name of Christ, they have tortured and killed the faithful. Their denominations are among the wealthiest organizations on Earth. So what is this “falling away” that must precede the Tribulation? In order to be identifiable, it must be worse than anything seen so far. Perhaps there is another answer. In the book “The Rapture Question” by Dr. John F. Walvoord, he quotes E. Schuyler English in his interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Walvoord writes …
“In reference to the “Day of the Lord, this passage states … ‘Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.’ The expression ‘the rebellion’ is the translation for the Greek word apostasia. It is normally considered to be a reference to doctrinal apostasy. English pointed out that the word is derived from the verb aphistemi, used fifteen times in the New Testament with only three of the references relating to religious departure. In eleven of the instances, the word depart is a good translation. As English indicated in a note, a number of ancient versions such as Tyndale’s, the Coverdale Bible, the version by Crammer, the Geneva Bible and Beza’s translation, all from the 16th century, render the term “departing.’ He therefore suggested the possibility of rendering 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to the effect that the departure must ‘come first’ i.e. the rapture of the church must occur before the man of sin is revealed. If this translation be admitted, it would constitute an explicit statement that the rapture of the church occurs before the Tribulation. Given the foregoing explanations, it would then seem that the “falling away” is either rampant, open and overt demonic expressions of power within the church, or it is the rapture itself. Certainly, we have not witnessed the former. That is, this generation has not seen forms of apostasy that haven’t been present in one way or another since the deaths of the Apostles. Neither has the rapture yet occurred. The second prerequisite that Paul mentions is the actual unveiling of the man of sin. In verse 3 of the above-quoted passage, he tells us that the Day of the Lord shall not come, except the man of sin be revealed. This too has not happened to date. Though many have speculated on the identity of the Antichrist, and some have inferred in their prophetic studies that he must be alive today, no one can tell you who he is with one hundred percent certainty. Furthermore, there is no Temple in Jerusalem. Unlike the days of Paul, the Temple does not now stand. Neither is there an active Jewish Priesthood, though there are some groups in Israel today who are preparing for these eventualities. The Jerusalem Temple Institute and the Temple Mount Faithful are two such groups who would like to build the Temple today. But the present political situation simply will not allow it. But on a side note, understand that the present situation is beginning to change dramatically in the last few years with the build-up to war taking place, so this will change things dramatically for this to happen. We indeed see the signs for this approaching quickly … time is indeed running out, but in terms of a right now situation that points to the imminent start of the Tribulation, it is not yet, for it will occur only after the rapture. Put in another way, the rapture of the church is now imminent, the Tribulation is not.
TRIBULATION VERSUS “THE” TRIBULATION
Another error in basic biblical interpretation usually goes something like this … YOU HERETIC FALSE PROPHET! – GO TELL THE DEAR CHILDREN OF GOD IN RUSSIA AND CHINA WHO HAVE SUFFERED AND DIED FOR THEIR FAITH THAT THEY WILL NOT HAVE TO SUFFER TRIBULATION. THEY WILL SPIT IN YOUR FACE. GO TELL THE DEAD AND DYING AND THOSE WHO ARE IN PRISON THAT THERE WILL BE NO TRIBULATION! GO TELL THEM IF YOU HAVE THE GUTS! YOU AMERICANS THINK THAT BY YOUR STUPID STATEMENTS THAT GOD WILL JUST ‘SNEAK YOU OUT OF HERE!’ WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE ON HIS OTHER DEAR CHILDREN? YOU THINK YOU HAVE A MONOPOLY ON GOD OR SOMETHING, HUH?! I THINK YOU WHO TELL THESE LIES ARE A STENCH IN GOD’S NOSTRILS! DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BETTER THAN HIS CHILDREN WHO HAVE DIED FOR HIS NAMESAKE? SHAME ON YOU HERETIC!! LET ME BE NUMBERED WITH THEM, NOT WITH YOU!!
Or this real conversation I had with a poor soul named Jeff in a comment section (as I was writing this very article) who was overly “courageous” in thinking he wants to go through the Tribulation after downplaying the rapture idea …
“· 02:18 09/23/2018 – The problem I see in the “Rapture” scenario is that the whole Plan of God is to have a righteous group of God’s children all worshiping true God, and The Christ. If all of the “Born Agains” are taken, how can God’s ultimate scenarial goal, according to Isaiah, through Christ’s grace, come to pass? Christ still awaits a time when an alter to Christ will be in Egypt, and a highway from Egypt to Persia and Babylon, Isreal being in the center of the future highway, connecting all and all sacrificing to the One true God, and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
“END TIMES: DARKNESS DESCENDING · 10:35 09/23/2018 – You are speaking of events that will occur during the 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ on Earth. Those raptured will return to Earth with Christ in our glorified bodies to rule and reign with him at least 7 years after the rapture occurs. Remember, the Tribulation period of judgment after the rapture will last 7 years. All of those left behind on Earth after the rapture who survive the Tribulation period and receive Christ during that time will go into the millennial kingdom of Christ on Earth still in their fleshly bodies. As far as those who go in the rapture, we will be in our new, glorified bodies ruling and reigning over the whole show (Earth) at that time.”
· 17:47 09/23/2018 – The modern philosophical”Rapture” is a false hope, a Tower of Babel. I see the idea of “Rapture” as a selfish desire to escape despair, that the church has brought forth this focus to fill pews: which we all know what filled pews mean; lucre. No one spoke of “Rapture” in the Days of Christ. It might be considered “Another Gospel.” The “Rapture” is a focus on saving one’s self rather than a focus of building the Kingdom of God. “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.” There are many philosophies about when or how such and such occurs: “occur during the 1,00 reign”; there are many such philosophies of man about the same scriptures, thus argument ensues. But these are just ideas of men. The Apostle Paul speaks of “hopeless hope”; that which hope is garnered while in a hopeless state; a Hope in God to Come. Who will be left on earth to see God split the mount with his toe to save the Israelites, if everyone is “Raptured?” Maybe instead of focusing on saving ourselves, maybe we can focus on saving God’s real intentions of building His Kingdom here on earth. If not, you will have no hope in saving yourself. Let’s be courageous, and not shrink in our moments of glorifying God.
“END TIMES: DARKNESS DESCENDING · 21:41 09/23/2018 – The Apostle Paul didn’t see the rapture as “philosophical” or a “false hope.” The apostle Paul called the rapture “the blessed hope” …
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
The idea of escaping the horror of the Tribulation is not “selfish desire.” It’s called someone who is in their right mind (no offence). The idea of the rapture didn’t come from someone who wished to “fill pews.” It was a revelation revealed to the apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit as part of God’s plan to remove the body of born again believers before the Tribulation strikes.
Does this following sound like “selfish desire”made up from “someone” who wishes to “fill pews”? …
“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: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
“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” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
Apparently, according to you, the apostle Paul was being “selfish.” The ideas of “men,” or idea of the Holy Spirit?
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (1 Peter 2:20-21).
Doesn’t sound like the “idea of men” to me. Perhaps the Holy Ghost was selfish too?
No offence, but your next point of contention is rather lacking in prophetic understanding. Not everyone is going to be raptured. The majority of people in the world are going to be left behind. This is how people are going to see him split the Mount of Olives in two at his second coming seven years after the rapture when he returns.
No offence, but God doesn’t have any intention of seeing the body of born again believers “build his kingdom here on Earth.” To the contrary, it’s God’s plan to destroy the current kingdom here on Earth via judgment of the Tribulation period and establish his own when it’s all over. We in the body of believers are going to be given the privilege of ruling and reigning over it by his decree (with him at the helm of course).
No offence, but wanting to be left behind to endure the nightmare of the Tribulation period is not being “courageous.” That desire is an utter lack of understanding of what the Tribulation is actually going to be like. The Bible’s warning of it’s approach is also meant to instill a sense of fear in the unbeliever to not want to be in it, thus God provided a way of escape through Jesus Christ. Any doubt of that statement is met with hard scripture …
“Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20).“
“A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations” (Joel 2:2).
No offence, but I think you are part of the group this scripture is directed at – “woe unto you who desire the day of the Lord.”
The rapture is simply part of the overall plan of God to remove his bride before destruction comes. Plain and simple. According to Joel and Amos quoted above, anyone who wishes for this upon themselves isn’t quite right in their thinking.
The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean we cannot show discernment. Immediately after Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6). A little later in the same sermon, He says, “Watch out for false prophets. . . . By their fruit you will recognize them” (verses 15–16). How are we to discern who are the “dogs” and “pigs” and “false prophets” unless we have the ability to make a judgment call on doctrines and deeds? Jesus is giving us permission to tell right from wrong (note, I’m not calling you swine or pig or anything, but doctrine is the issue here).Also, the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean that all truth is relative. The Bible clearly teaches that truth is objective, eternal, and inseparable from God’s character. Anything that contradicts the truth is a lie—but, of course, to call something a “lie” is to pass judgment. When Jesus said not to judge others, He did not mean that no one can identify erroneous doctrine for what it is, based on God’s definition of erroneous.
And the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean there should be no mechanism for identifying doctrinal error. The Bible has a whole book entitled Judges. The judges in the Old Testament were raised up by God Himself (Judges 2:18). The modern judicial system, including its judges, is a necessary part of society. In saying, “Do not judge,” Jesus was not saying, “Anything goes.”
Elsewhere, Jesus gives a direct command to judge: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24). Here we have a clue as to the right type of judgment versus the wrong type. Taking this verse and some others, we can put together a description of the sinful type of judgment:
Superficial judgment is wrong. Passing judgment on someone based solely on appearances is sinful (John 7:24). It is foolish to jump to conclusions before investigating the facts (Proverbs 18:13). Simon the Pharisee passed judgment on a woman based on her appearance and reputation, but he could not see that the woman had been forgiven; Simon thus drew Jesus’ rebuke for his unrighteous judgment (Luke 7:36–50).
Hypocritical judgment is wrong. Jesus’ command not to judge others in Matthew 7:1 is preceded by comparisons to hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16) and followed by a warning against hypocrisy (Matthew 7:3–5). When we point out the doctrinal error of others while we ourselves commit the same doctrinal error, we condemn ourselves (Romans 2:1). The same goes with sin in general of course as well.
Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong. We are “always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:2). It is the merciful who will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7), and, as Jesus warned, “In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2).
Self-righteous judgment is wrong. We are called to humility, and “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6). The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector was confident in his own righteousness and from that proud position judged the publican; however, God sees the heart and refused to forgive the Pharisee’s sin (Luke 18:9–14).
Untrue judgment is wrong. The Bible clearly forbids bearing false witness (Proverbs 19:5). “Slander no one” (Titus 3:2).
Christians are often accused of “judging” or intolerance when they point out doctrinal error. But opposing doctrinal error is not wrong. Holding aloft the standard of doctrinal purity naturally defines error and draws the slings and arrows of those who choose it over revealed truth. John the Baptist incurred the ire of Herodias when he spoke out against her adultery with Herod (Mark 6:18–19). She eventually silenced John, but she could not silence the truth (Isaiah 40:8).
Believers are warned against judging others unfairly or unrighteously, but Jesus commends “right judgment” (John 7:24, ESV). We are to be discerning (Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). We are to preach the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 4:2). We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Here, the confident Tribulation Terminator Rambos are deeply concerned that a grievous injustice will be done if the church escapes the Tribulation, even while the tortured faithful in other countries are already suffering theirs. This betrays a basic understanding of the nature and scope of the Tribulation. The truth is that many blessed martyrs of all ages have been tortured in unspeakable ways by the tyrants and heretics of history. One has only to read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to hammer this point home once and for all. What’s more, this tradition goes all the way back to Christ himself. The Roman cross was an instrument of torture, specifically designed to produce a lingering, agonizing, pain-wracked death of suffocation. Furthermore, hanging unclothed before jeering crowds also assured a wrenching torture of the soul. The Lord was despised. He was rejected by his own people. He suffered alienation and ultimate despair, taking upon himself the sin of mankind. If anyone ever suffered tribulation, he did. Throughout the Church Age, the faithful have been subject to that same wrath. His own disciples and the Apostles, themselves, suffered torture and death. As Jesus told them in John 16 …
“Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:32-33).
As Jesus uttered these words, he knew the difference between tribulation in general and the seven-year Tribulation yet to come. Likewise, the Apostles knew the difference. As Paul traveled through Asia Minor, he was most concerned that his disciples there would not be deceived about the difficult conditions surrounding their faith …
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Again, Paul was not deluded about the difficult nature of the Christian faith. In this world where the spiritual high ground is often held by the forces of darkness, tribulation should be considered almost the norm. As he said in 2 Corinthians 11 …
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
This is tribulation! Yet, as demonstrated above, Paul clearly taught that the church would be caught up some time prior to the Tribulation. Job certainly knew tribulation. In Job 5:7 we read … “Yet man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward.” But without a doubt, it was not the direct wrath of God that brought Job his period of Tribulation. It was the wrath of Satan allowed by God. Satan was eager to prove to the Lord that Job would crack under the strain of sufficient testing. The Old Testament prophets had no doubt that there would one day be a period when God’s wrath would descend upon men. Zephaniah 2:14 calls it “The Great day of the Lord.” Zephaniah 2:15 calls it “That day of wrath.” Zephaniah 2:3 has a special message to those who are alive in that future day:
“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord‘s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3).
It is clear that Zephaniah here is referring to a pre-tribulation rapture.
Certainly, those present on Earth in the days of the sixth seal, referenced in Revelation 6, have no doubt about the source of the wrath that is raining down upon them …
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17).
Here, at the opening of the Tribulation period, we discover without a doubt, that the wrath of God is the source of man’s troubles. This is the difference between the suffering of martyrs during the church age and the suffering of mankind during the Tribulation. It is simply the difference between the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God. The church is not called to endure the wrath of God.
PREPARING FOR THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Another fundamental error in anti-pre-trib “Terminator Rambo tactics” is the underestimating of the scope and extent of the Tribulation. That conversation may go something like this (yes, this was a real comment I read somewhere) …
“Those that are deceived by you [pre-tribulationist] will stone you during the Tribulation. Don’t think you will be gone son. You will be right here. Come look me up during that time, why don’t you. If you think your lies will sneak you out of here before that time, just keep dreaming. How many souls will you cause to be unprepared for that day, because of your lies? Think about it. Nowhere in God’s word will you prove to me or God that the church will be raptured before the Tribulation. Why don’t you quote to your readers 1 Thessalonians 3:4? “For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.” Why don’t you quote 2 Thessalonians 1:4? So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.” You know why you don’t? Because it goes against your pet doctrine. You see, Paul is warning and comforting his people concerning tribulation. But you, you are lying to your readers. I say again, you are a false prophet. You will face this false doctrine at the judgment.
Again, the Tribulation Terminator Rambos fail to understand that there is a difference between general tribulation and the Tribulation period. They will even quote scripture showing that the Thessalonian believers had already suffered tribulation. Certainly, theirs was not the “Great Tribulation.” But their major thought concerns a particular statement about the souls who will be unprepared for the Tribulation because of the pre-tribulationists erroneous teaching on the subject. They obviously think that we are responsible for the difficulties that they will experience because we didn’t properly prepare them. This begs a major question: Given the assumption that we will enter the period of God’s wrath, just how does one prepare for the Tribulation? Or, in answer to the “Tribulation Terminator Rambo’s” criticisms, how would we advise believers to prepare for that period? To begin with – and this probably wouldn’t surprise anyone – I would counsel them always to be walking in close relationship with the Lord. Because of the extenuating circumstances, they will certainly need his help at all times, and should cling to the hem of his garment as it were (you’re going to need it Rambo). A quick glance at the opening shots of the Tribulation period should make any Tribulation Terminator Rambo re-think the sensibility of the idea that he is going to “prepare” for the Tribulation period …
There you have it. Right off the bat, in the opening shots of the Tribulation, a defining statement is made and the ultimate question is asked in verse 17, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? I could almost wonder if that statement wasn’t made with the “Tribulation Terminator Rambos” in mind. And all of this is just the opening shots of the Tribulation. The Kings of the Earth are going to be terrified and begging the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the Lamb (Jesus) who sits upon the throne. The Tribulation will be a time of unspeakable, indescribable horror. PREPARE HOW? At this point, my thought turns to the “Tribulation Terminator Rambo” mentioned above and his statement that those deceived by the “false teaching” of the pre-tribulation rapture will try to stone us during the Tribulation. Then, my thoughts turn to the inescapable conclusion that the Tribulation Terminator Rambos will be too busy trying to save their own lives to bother with us pre-tribbers. Stoning won’t be on their priority list. Remembering too that this man’s comment contained a taunting invite to “look him up during the Tribulation.” Presumably, he wants us to walk right up to his front porch and sit down for a while, so he can tell us what fools we’ve been for teaching the pre-tribulation rapture. But if I read the Bible correctly, he probably won’t even have a front porch, much less a house. It will disappear in the first wave of earthquakes and be blown away by the storms that follow. And where will he be? If he survives the global nuclear war, the natural catastrophes, starvation and the persecutions of the Antichrist’s thought police, he’ll have long since gone into hiding. Perhaps he will be one of those fortunate few who find a well-stocked underground shelter and an alliance of “capable” believers.
WHERE IS THE LOVE?
Most of all, let’s hope his support group displays the love of Christ. This is the quality that I see totally missing from his comment. Paul put it best in 1 Corinthians 13. In the first two verses of this chapter, we learn that the Lord measures our worth as an expression of his love …
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1).
There is much that we don’t understand. Using our best efforts, we attempt to understand God’s word. Through the examples and ideas of it’s great men, we try to live in the light of it’s great teachings. But above all, we do our best to extend the love of Christ, both to the brethren and to the world at large. If you give up everything and do not display God’s love, you will gain nothing. If you do have that love, you will bear up well under life’s adversities, whenever and however they come. You will be truly humble, not puffed up with your own vision of reality. You will behave in a civilized manner, with the best interests of others always at heart. You will be stable and even-tempered, wishing all men the best, even your enemies. Your behavior will be above reproach, allowing the Lord’s plan to dominate your thinking. You will rejoice in the truth, displaying righteousness and unshakable in your faith. You will possess the kind of peace and spiritual endurance that has always marked the truly faithful. You will then be prepared for life, whatever it may bring your way. We may differ in our views of eschatology, but we should be united in the love of Christ. I wish those “Tribulation Terminator Rambos” well. May the Lord bless each and every one of you who may differ in your eschatological beliefs … and may you be spared the rigors of the Tribulation.
THE REQUIREMENT FOR YOUR INCLUSION IN THE RAPTURE AND ESCAPE FROM THE COMING WRATH
In order to accept the offer of God’s grace and his salvation, you must take the crucial three steps of …
1. Agreeing – A belief and agreeing with God in all that he says in his word, the Bible, about the fact that you are separated from God, as every man and woman on the face of the earth are before accepting his salvation. The Bible reveals that all are separated from him in a spiritual state of death, or in another way that the Bible puts it, in a state of sin, that will result in eternal damnation. Agreeing with God in your heart that you are in need of his salvation. The Bible reveals that God looks upon the heart of a man, and thus, responds accordingly to the man or woman who comes to him for salvation in recognition of his inability to save himself. The Bible makes these facts very clear – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The Bible describes these three kinds of death: physical death (the state experienced when life leaves our bodies); spiritual death (spiritual separation from God caused by our state of spiritual death, or state of sin that results in outward acts of sin on a daily basis as the Bible also puts it – the state of sin is received from the first man Adam); and finally eternal death (the fixed state entered into by the individual who dies physically while he or she is dead spiritually). It is eternal death, in particular, which is the horrible result of receiving the wages of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ frequently described such a death as being eternal (without end) in a destiny which he called Hell. He described Hell as a literal place of judgment (Matthew 13:42); a place of everlasting fire (Matthew 18:8); a place of torment (Luke 16:24,28); a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50); a place of remorse (Mark 9:44-48); of bitter memory (Luke 16:25), and a place originally prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). In fact, Jesus more often warned about Hell than he spoke about Heaven. It is not God’s will or desire that any person should be consigned to perish in Hell (2 Peter 3:9), but rather that all should come to repentance of unbelief toward him and believe on him for the salvation of the individual’s soul. But God’s justice requires that the “soul who sins” (remains in it’s state of death or state of sin) is the one who will die eternally (Ezekiel 18:4). So, agree with God, admitting that you are unable to save yourself and in a state of sin under God’s just condemnation for that sin and that you are in need of his salvation.
2. Believing – Then, believe that God does not want you to perish eternally in the torment of Hell because of your sin. Believe that God loves you so much that he provided a way whereby he could still be a just, holy and righteous God, and yet pardon you. Believe that God did not just overlook sin, but that he sent his only begotten son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to provide salvation by personally paying the penalty for sin. Believe that Jesus Christ, whose life, death, burial and resurrection is the best-attested fact of antiquity, did come to earth to live, die, rise again and ascend to Heaven in order to provide justification and salvation for all who trust him. Believe that he, and he alone, can save you because he has fully satisfied the just demands of God. Believe that you can’t become righteous in God’s sight by your own effort. Believe that he wants to save you and that he will save you. The Bible provides a solid basis for such belief …
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
“But God demonstrates his love toward us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
God presented him (Jesus Christ) as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies the man or woman who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures … ” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
“Jesus answered, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out [drive away]” (John 6:37).
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
3. Calling – It is not enough to agree with God, admit your need, and believe that Christ can and will save you. You must act upon those facts. You must repent of the sin of your unbelief toward him and actively call upon him for the salvation of your soul based on the fact that you cannot save yourself because of your sins. You must be willing to completely turn from your own efforts to save yourself or from any other hope. You must come to Christ, calling upon him for salvation and counting on the fact that he will do what he has promised. This means simply taking the gift of pardon and eternal life which he offers. Merely believing about Jesus Christ without coming to him makes as much sense and is as effective as believing that a medication can successfully treat a fatal disease, but failing to take it. Yet again, the Bible emphatically and authoritatively provides the basis for such statements:
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
The word translated “believe” here means to “rest one’s entire weight and trust on the object or person in which the belief is placed.” It requires action in keeping with the intellectual assent of that belief.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
” … but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The logical question you may be asking at this point is: “how do I come to Christ and call upon him?” The answer is that “calling upon the Lord” is just another term for praying, or talking to God. To talk to God is not a complicated process, dependent upon some special rituals. God has invited people to approach him through his Son in simple, straightforward terms. In fact, Jesus approved of the dishonest, despised tax collector who simply prayed, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” While the exact words of your prayer to God are not of vital importance (since God sees and knows the attitude of your heart), the following is the kind of prayer that you could pray in calling upon God for salvation …
“Dear Lord Jesus: I realize that I need you. I admit that I have sinned and that I deserve your just, eternal punishment for that sin. But I am sorry for my sin and I am turning to you and asking for forgiveness. I believe that you died and rose again to pay sin’s penalty on my behalf. I come to you and open my heart to you. I ask you to come into my life, forgive me for all of my sin and make me your child. I invite you to take control of my life and to cause me to be the kind of person you would have me to be. I thank you for doing this because you have promised that whosoever calls upon you, as I am doing now, shall be saved. I pray this in the name of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, I urge you to sincerely and genuinely express it to God as your prayer. The Bible makes clear that when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart, God forgives our sins and counts us righteous, and that when we openly confess with our mouth what we have done in our heart, God gives us assurance of that salvation (Romans 10:9-10).
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:3-7).
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