Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



The Rapture

VIEWPOINT



While the Bible says that Christ will come for His believers, there is nothing that suggests that it will be before the tribulation, and much that says it will be after the tribulation has started.

FACT



The Bible speaks of a time when Christ will come and gather up those who believe in Him so that they will be with Him forever.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



All Christians believe that Christ has promised to save those who believe in Him.

Most believers call this Salvation and believe that it refers to eternity. Some believe that it happens some time before Christ physically comes back to the earth to begin his earthly reign, while others believe it begins when He returns. The name commonly given to this time when believers are "caught up to Christ" before His actual return is "the Rapture".

The Rapture?

Now, there are many places to find "information" about the rapture, but if you go to any of them that actually research the idea before preaching on it, you will find that the pre-tribulation rapture is a new concept from the nineteenth century.

There are those who claim that the concept has been taught since the days of the Apostles, even though it is never actually mentioned by those Apostles in their writings. In fact, none of the scholars discussed it before the early 1800's. That claim of early teaching is based on some pretty fancy interpretations of non-biblical texts written before the nineteenth century. There are some references to some prominent ancient authors that made some comments that can be construed as supporting the pre-Trib rapture, but you have to stretch and add to the words of the text, or ignore parts of the same passages, in order to see it as supporting anything. It is not an idea preached by Paul, or any of the other apostles from the first century. An example stating this is A.S.K (Associates for Scriptural Knowledge):

It may come as a surprise but the doctrine of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings, of which we have knowledge, until after the year 1830 C.E. Whether the early writers were Greek or Latin, Armenian or Coptic, Syrian or Ethiopian, English or German, orthodox or heretic, no one mentioned it before 1830 (though a sentence in Pseudo-Dionysius in about 500 C.E. could be so interpreted). Of course, those who feel the origin of the teaching is in the Bible would say that it ceased being taught for some unknown reason at the close of the apostolic age only to reappear in 1830. But if the doctrine were so clearly stated in Scripture, it seems incredible that no one should have referred to it before the 19th century.

The lateness of the doctrine does not necessarily mean the teaching is wrong (only the plain statements of the Bible can reveal that). It does show that thousands of eminent scholars over seventeen centuries (including the most astute "Christian Fathers" and those of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods) must be considered prophetic dunces for not having understood so fundamental a teaching. This lapse of seventeen centuries when no one elaborated on the doctrine must be viewed as an obstacle to accepting its reliability.

Other sites sharing the idea that this claim is a false doctrine are www.ucg.org, www.bible.ca, www.biblestudysite.com, and a host of others.

Questioning the source

In order to be fair, let's look at a few of the claims of the believers in the pre-Trib Rapture. In an email I wrote to a minister of the Lamb & Lion Ministries based on a claim on their website called "Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture", I questioned his reasoning. His response to me recommended a book by William Watson called "Dispensationalism Before Darby", which seems to be a typical maneuver to dissuade someone who is not tenacious or really interested in finding the truth. His response explanation for his position included the following points (following the letter I wrote to him):

MY LETTER TO THE MINISTER

I was just reading your "Why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture" page and would like to ask you a few questions and make some comments about your conclusions and presentation on the page. To make this easier, I will comment on the items from A to G which I question and you can assume that I agree with the general concepts you present in any of those same sections not mentioned. Please do not take this as a personal attack. I have just approached the subject from a different perspective and do not agree with all of your conclusions. In fact, in my conclusion below, I see a certain danger for weak Christians who lean on the conclusions in your assumptions.

To start with, I have discovered in some extensive study that the rapture concept did not surface until the nineteenth century. I will leave you to investigate that claim rather than lead you around with the results of my own study.

In the "Taking It to the Bedrock" section C, you claim that The Church and Israel are separate entities, but immediately show that believers in Christ become members of the Church-whether Gentile or Jew, using Romans 1:16. This seems a bit like Replacement Theology, making the Greek church (Gentiles) into the target of Christ's salvation, and the Jews as the add-on guests. However, Paul goes on to say in Romans 11:17,18 that it is we Gentiles who are grafted into the original olive tree (Israel), not the reverse. The new covenant is with "the house of Israel", and that is why the Gentiles become spiritual Israel, not the reverse with Israelites becoming spiritual Gentiles when they become believers. Even Paul says in Romans 11:26 that "all Israel will be saved", meaning to me that all those who truly believe will be in that "Israel".

In part D, I agree with the interpretation of a literal 1000 year period for the Millennium, but the rapture cannot be before the literal return of Christ. For that to happen, there must be a "first resurrection" 7 years before the "first resurrection" in Rev 20:5 when Christ actually returns. There can only be one "first" anything. The Revelation resurrection was specified to resurrect the dead in Christ, and catch up the living, so they can reign with Christ for the 1000 years, and it does not say that He brought them back from Heaven with Him to reign.

Part E mentions a literal 7 year tribulation period, yes, during which time the"saints" are persecuted by the AntiChrist (Rev 13:7). I know that many say that these will be the ones left behind who become "saints" after they realized that they messed up the first time (shades of the book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins), but that concept must be added to the text in order to make it say more than it actually says.

In Part F, you say that Jesus will return again to earth. Absolutely. But, it does not say that Jesus will return to earth again, and again. One passage you use to specify the Rapture is 1 Thes 4:13-18. Without some special reasoning, what keeps this from becoming the same rapture that occurs when Christ actually comes after the tribulation? The resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the "catching up" of the living in Christ will cause exactly the same effect of "one will be taken and one will be left behind". Also, 1 Cor 15:51-58 mentions the same "last" trumpet as 1 Thes 4:13-18, and there can only be one "last" anything.

Finally, in Part G, you claim that the Bible teaches about a rapture. Well, the Bible talks about "the" second coming of Christ, and describes it in several passages, but without "special" rules and definitions made to convince the layman, you can't get to a rapture other than the one when Christ actually comes (in Rev 19:11 and following.). Combine that with the fact that the "founding fathers" must have been complete dunces regarding prophecy if none of them taught or even mentioned a pre-Trib or mid-Trib "Rapture".

Since it appears that the numbered proofs after the alphabetized ones are extensions of the same reasoning, I will stop here and await your answer. The fact that one passage does not mention something that others do does not, in my book, serve to indicate a completely different event. Many of the gospel books describe the same events, but leave out something or add something that the others did not. This does not automatically mean that we should read them as some other special prophetic event implying that something must be added in our interpretation of the passage. I find it more edifying to accept what the passages actually say than to extrapolate meaning that may not have been intended.

As a final thought, I feel that supporting the Pre-Trib or Mid-Trib Rapture with add-on interpretations is doing a disservice to Christians. What happens to the faith of some if there are no "disappearances"? For those who are believing in that rapture now, and if it does not occur, how many will lose their faith if they think they should have been taken up, but actually see the AntiChrist persecuting not only them, but all the church as well? Would this create an even larger Apostasy? Hopefully not all or even many would cease to believe, but any lost because of a "lost hope" would be a Tragedy. Another thought, would this condition possibly create a sudden feeling that people need to "work" their way to their salvation if their love of Christ did not seem to be enough based on the evidence that they were "left behind"? It seems much more appropriate to give them the actual hope of the Bible and have us all wait for the real second coming. Then, if by chance the "rapture" actually occurs, it will be a definite plus instead of a great negative if it does not.


I will be anxious to see your response.

HIS RESPONSE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF PAGE -->
MY RESPONSE TO HIM ON PAGE IN MENU - Counter Response

The best way to describe their approach is "We make all these statements on our site, go read what we say and you will understand." After having already read the site, before emailing them, then in an email I asked them how they could get to the position they take with some specific questions about their scripture interpretation. Their answer - "Go read our site." Well, I looked at more of their references and, if you are curious, have posted additional information on the page Counter Response in the menu in the center column of this page.

Misplaced references

In the response, they volunteer information claiming that the book of Titus teaches that the rapture is our blessed hope. It turns out that the verse to which they are referring is Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

, but I can't find a word in there about a rapture. That is, one other than the one that happens at the Second Coming of "the blessed hope" (Christ) after the Tribulation. Notice the response uses Isaiah 24:22
22They will be herded together
    like prisoners bound in a dungeon;
they will be shut up in prison
    and be punished after many days.

and Zephaniah 3:8
8 "Therefore wait for me,"
    declares the Lord,
    "for the day I will stand up to testify.
I have decided to assemble the nations,
    to gather the kingdoms
and to pour out my wrath on them -
    all my fierce anger.
The whole world will be consumed
    by the fire of my jealous anger."

as references to show that the believers must be gone because God is going to pour out his wrath on the nations and kingdoms of the earth. Pretty scary, huh?

But, what about...?

If he had just gone a little further in Isaiah to 26:20-21
20Go, my people, enter your rooms
    and shut the doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
    until his wrath has passed by.

21See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling
    to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
The earth will disclose the blood shed on it;
    the earth will conceal its slain no longer.
(Isaiah 26:20-21, emphasis added)

, two chapters later than his reference verse, he would have seen how God is going to protect the righteous, who are still on the earth, as He did in the days of Noah and in Egypt before the Exodus. God protects those He loves easily:

26Go, my people, enter your rooms
    and shut the doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
    until his wrath has passed by.

21See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling
    to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
The earth will disclose the blood shed on it;
    the earth will conceal its slain no longer.
(emphasis added)

If the saints are in Heaven for this, why would they have to enter their rooms and hide? Does that sound like "my people" are in Heaven looking down on this event? This description is the same as what He did for the Israelites in Egypt, with an expansion to include the whole earth rather than just those in Egypt! Just where is the implication that they are in Heaven looking down on these events? He protects His own by His power without needing some pastor to make up something not described anywhere in the Bible. You just have to look at the described events of the real second coming to see His people caught up when He returns, not seven years before that event.

One verse I didn't even present to him as a proof was 1 Corinthians 15:23, which clearly says what we need to know:

23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (NIV)

or, if you prefer other versions

23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. (NLT)

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (KJV)

(emphasis added to each)

Take your pick, but here you have it in plain English - those in Christ will only be raised at His second coming, as in "will be raised when he comes back".

Misuse of references

The response from their site is actually deceptive because both of the references he used were from the old testament are pulled out of context to give an impression of complete destruction when the surrounding verses specify the targets for the Wrath. Isaiah 24:21
21 In that day the Lord will punish
    the powers in the heavens above
    and the kings on the earth below.

, the verse immediately before their "proof" verse, says clearly that God will target "the heavens above and the kings on the earth below". So what good will it do for anyone to be in Heaven if both Heaven and earth are shaken?

And Zephaniah, the second reference, says in the very next verse
9 "Then I will purify the lips of the peoples,
    that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
    and serve him shoulder to shoulder.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
    my worshipers, my scattered people,
    will bring me offerings." (Zephaniah 3:9-10)

after the one in their reply that God will then "purify the lips of the peoples" so they can worship Him properly, with offerings, by the way (verse 10). His wrath will be directed to only the wicked while He protects the believers as He has promised many times. In fact, using the argument in the response that the Tribulation is like the Flood in regard to God's Wrath, remember that Noah was not raptured to Heaven in order to be saved. He was left on the earth, right along with the wicked.

This interpretation does not take some special education, vision, intelligence or insight to understand. Just read the Bible for what it actually says. Then, the last line of the response email is my favorite - we won't have to worry about Christians left behind because the rapture "will happen". Unless, of course, it doesn't happen... Just believing strongly in something does not mean that it is true.

Defining...again?

The best place to start understanding what this topic is about is with a definition. We can argue about the rapture all day and not get anywhere if we are not talking about the same thing. There are three main theories about the rapture. Here are some common descriptions for the various views of a rapture event given at one site (About Religion):

PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE
The most popularly taught view among Christian faiths is known as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, or "Pre-Trib" theory. Those who accept this perspective believe the Rapture will happen just before the tribulation period, at the beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel. The Rapture will usher in the final seven years of this age. True followers of Jesus Christ will be transformed into their spiritual bodies in the Rapture and taken from the Earth to be in Heaven with God. Non-believers will be left behind to face severe tribulation as the antichrist prepares to take his place as the Beast half way through the seven year period. According to this view, non-believers will still come to accept Christ, in spite of the Church's absence during this time, however, these new Christians will endure extreme persecution, to the point of death by beheading.

POST-TRIBULATION RAPTURE
Another popular view is known as the Post-Tribulation Rapture, or "Post-Trib" theory. Those who accept this perspective believe that Christians will remain on the Earth as witnesses during the seven year tribulation period, until the very end of this age. According to this view, believers will be protected, as God promised, from the terrible wrath of God predicted toward the end of the seven years in the book of Revelation. This will likely be in the same manner as done with Noah during the flood and the Israelites during the final moments of their Egyptian captivity.

MID-TRIBULATION RAPTURE
A less popular view is known as the Mid-Tribulation Rapture, or "Mid-Trib" theory. Those who accept this perspective believe that Christians will be taken from the Earth to be in Heaven with God at some point during the middle of the seven year period of tribulation.

The difference between the three views of the timing of the rapture is caused by different views of the period of time just before the return of Christ referred to as the "tribulation". There is a strong desire to escape any participation in this tribulation because of the strong anti-God activity which will be prevalent during that time. The Antichrist will be coordinating the events, persecuting those who do not follow the decrees he issues. Let's look at these views one at a time in view of what the Bible actually says.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The first view, "Pre-Trib", claims that Jesus will spiritually (supposedly not touching the earth physically, but that ignores Zechariah 14:4
4On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

) come seven years before He actually returns at what we call the Second Coming, gathering believers up to Heaven, thus preventing the "saints" from experiencing any part of the tribulation or the Wrath of God.

Their "proof"

One of their foundation verses for this is 1 Thessalonians 3:13
13May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

, claiming that His holy ones are the saints who were raptured seven years before His return. Even if this term does refer to the saints, contradicting Bible verses in Matthew and others, that puts the event described at the Second Coming of Christ after He resurrects the dead in Christ, not before the Tribulation to prevent them from being subjected to the Antichrist. Those "saints" would be those just raised from their graves, or lifted up if they are still alive at the time.

Another prophesy teacher

Amir Tsafarti is identified by many as a bible prophecy teacher of today. He runs a website called Behold Israel where he expounds on bible prophecy and political events that are intermingled with prophecy. He has an excellent grasp of political events and understands current events, as well as history, with regard to culture, language and history. However, one of His views expresses an unshakeable belief in a pre-tribulation rapture. When I emailed his organization to ask some questions about this belief, his staff sent me a link to a pdf form with an explanation of his beliefs, along with this explanation:

I'm sorry but Amir is not able to go back and forth regarding these things. He teaches what he know according to the Scriptures in their correct context. We don't debate these things. We pray for your understanding in this matter.

Here is Amir's teaching as well as a teaching Pastor Jack Hibbs did at one of our conferences along with his notes that get into more detail.

Joanne Arnott
Ministry Care Coordinator

This pdf was written to explain the beliefs of Jack Hibbs, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, California. I guess it also represents the belief of Mr. Tsafarti. You can read it here: Why There Must Be A Pre_tribulation Rapture Of The Church

While I understand the Mr. Hibbs and Amir Tsafarti are considerably more well-known than myself, their stand on the pre-tribulation Rapture is merely a spouting of modern hopes without biblical support. If you care to see my response to the drivel in this pdf, go to my page called Hibbs/Amir Response.

And another "proof"

There are some who claim the same meaning for Zechariah 14:5
5You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

, saying that the "holy ones" are the raptured saints. Going to the Interlinear for this verse, I did find that the Hebrew term "qadosh" ('qe-do-sim) was translated as "saints", but the Strong's Concordance show the meaning to be "sacred, holy", not "saints". The interpretation of the verses as being people returning from Heaven with Jesus is completely subjective, requires the word "ones" to be interpreted as "saints", and causes contradictions with other verses in the Bible.

But, what about...?

One obvious problem with this interpretation of these being saints is the Matthew verses of Jesus' own words referring to the same event that clearly uses the word "angels" instead of "ones":

31When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. (Matthew 25:31)

confirmed by the Interlinear Greek:


And in case you think that this is just one person's interpretation, look at the Greek word that is translated "angels". It would be hard to think that angeloi means "saints", even if many of the Bible translators "interpreted" the term as "holy ones", causing a ton of confusion and error.

It would be nice, but...

While it is easy to agree that it would be nice to skip the tribulation period, the Word of God clearly shows that there is a value to being one of those who make it through the persecution of that time, so they cannot have been removed from it (Revelation 7:14):

14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)

Come out of there

Some say the wording of this passage means that those who "have come out of the tribulation" were removed before the tribulation. However, common sense says if you "come out of the car", you were once in it, and to "come out of the room" means you were in it. A closer analysis would be to "come out of the war". Does this ever mean that you were somewhere other than in the war? Revelation 18:4 and Jeremiah 51:45 use the same terms:

4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "'Come out of her, my people,' so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;" (Revelation 18:4)


45 "Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the LORD." (Jeremiah 51:45)

If they had been about to get "raptured", there would be no reason for the warning to "come out of her" so that they would not "receive any of her plagues". Also, if they are being raptured, why would they be told to "Run for your lives!"? These commands indicate clearly a warning to stop doing something you are already doing. We must assume that they are involved in what they are "coming out of", otherwise the passage does not make sense.

The admonition to "Run from the fierce anger of the LORD!" suggests that the saints will be around for the great second half of the tribulation, but should separate themselves from the wicked so they will not be caught up in their punishment. (Think Sodom and Gomorrah, and God getting Lot and at least part of his family out - without a "rapture".)

The seal of God

The fifth angel's trumpet in Revelation 9:1-4
1The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

starts a series of events that releases some nasty events. However, these events are prevented from affecting anyone with the seal of God on their foreheads. Why would this restriction be in place if there was no one there to protect? Also, if there are no saints on the earth, who is lifted up along with the resurrected dead in Christ at His coming? Some say that some of those "left behind" will realize their error and become true believers, thus becoming the saints who will be persecuted. This appears to be a convenient modification of what the Bible actually says in order to make a desperate hope seem feasible by adding words and new concepts to the message.

Remember also, Isaiah 24:21-22
21 In that day the Lord will punish
        the powers in the heavens above
        and the kings on the earth below.
22 They will be herded together
        like prisoners bound in a dungeon;
    they will be shut up in prison
         and be punished after many days.

says that the kings of the earth will be herded together when He does this to them. That sounds a lot like the battle of Armageddon, right when Jesus comes and wipes these armies out. If the Lord is coming in the clouds, He can either protect the righteous from that destruction while they are still on the earth, or perform the resurrection of Revelation 20:4 and have them in the air with Him when He does it at His coming. This concept does not require a special made-up event, like a special rapture, that is not even suggested by the word of God.

Making it say something it doesn't

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

, sometimes referred to as the Rapture Chapter, is the reference given supposedly "proving" the foundation for this belief of early escape from the tribulation. Many who hold this belief say that this will be a "silent" rapture for both the dead in Christ and those believers still living and suggest that many will simply disappear from the world, leaving those left behind no clue as to what happened. Some feel that it will be a visible event (at least for those living that are caught up) and that those left will see the saved rise to meet the Lord in the air. Some even go so far as to say that the shout and the trumpet in this passage will be heard only in Heaven as a sign that Jesus is going to earth for his bride. What the Bible (NIV) actually says in this over- and mis-used passage is:

"13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thes 4:13-18)

Silent?

Right up front, to see this as anything but a very public, very loud event is to ignore the actual words of the text. The only way to see it otherwise is to insist that the loud command and the trumpet call of God are only heard by those being caught up. Even given that, the blatant statement that those being caught up are those who are dead in Christ and those believers still alive on the earth at His coming must be ignored, or this will somehow be a "first" second coming and resurrection, with another second coming and resurrection to follow when He comes to the battle of Armageddon (Revelatiom 19:11-21
The Coming of Christ

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great."

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Doom of the Beast and False Prophet

20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.


and Revelation 20:4-5
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.


).

Even if we give that point, how do we ignore Paul's statement in I Thes 5:2 that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief", not "days" of the Lord? By the way, if the dead in Christ are now in Heaven with Him after they died, as many claim, who is it that is rising first? These must be those who have "fallen asleep" (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16
14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

).

Musical graves...

Are we to believe that, at His Second Coming, Jesus will yank people out of Heaven, back into their graves, to be part of this rapture resurrection? According to Scripture (Revelation 20:4-5
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.


), He will have to do some kind of musical graves thing when He comes back to get them again for the resurrection at the physical (second?) second coming when He will raise the dead in Christ again at the second first resurrection. Unless, as some say, we are talking only of raising those who became believers and died in Christ after the "rapture" resurrection. The trouble here is that you must add concepts not present in the Scriptures to get to that point.

A different event?

There are many who claim that the event described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 is different than Jesus' second coming. The biggest reason, they say, is that we are not told in this passage that His feet will touch the ground whereas at His coming, we are told that His feet will touch the mount of Olives. The Revelation 19 and 20 passages regarding the second coming also do not mention Jesus' feet touching the ground, but no one says that they are not describing His second coming.

This is the same as reasoning you would use when talking about a trip to the store. Imagine you are discussing with a friend about a car you recently repaired, and he asked if you have test driven it yet. Your answer is that you drove it to the store to get some milk this morning. This is in direct response to his question. You have driven the repaired car.

Now, during this same conversation, if your friend's question was, "Do you have any milk?", you might have answered, "Sure, I picked some up this morning." Now, your answer was regarding the question of milk, not the driving of the car. Since you did not mention driving the car, does that make the trip to the store a different trip than the test drive of the repaired car? I mean, you could have walked. You could have taken a helicopter. There are other possibilities, but if you keep everything in a reasonable context, you would not assume that there were two different trips involved. Your friend may have then asked, "So, you drove the car to the store?", to which you would have replied, "Duh...!"

The claim of an early rapture is based on the fact that there was no mention of Jesus' feet touching the ground in 1 Thessalonians. Paul's answer involved a question of who was to be gathered to Christ at His coming, not a listing of all the events of His coming. The rest of the passage describes perfectly the events which describe the second coming. If you must believe that the saints are gone before tribulation, you must then explain away the prophecies that predict that they will be persecuted in the end tribulation.

Saying it again

Now, let's move to a reference in 2 Thessalonians 2:3
3 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.

where Paul assures his readers that there is a way that they can tell that the Lord has not already come and, by having done so, has left them all behind. He tells the readers when the Lord will come in relation to the events of that day - placing the day after the rebellion has come and the man of lawlessness has been revealed. Of course, some can say that this is merely the revealing of the man, and that the rapture can happen before he actually starts his persecution.

Well, unfortunately for that argument, that does not allow for 2 Thessalonians 2:8
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

that clearly says that when Jesus comes, He will overthrow the lawless one and destroy him. This means that the lawless one must have been here and have done his lawless deeds already, otherwise those deeds will not happen at all. And to those who say that the Rapture can happen and then Jesus can come at the end of Tribulation, how do you explain that the AntiChrist is going to persecute the saints (Revelation 13:5-7
It was given power to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

)?

5The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7It was given power to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

"Where are those saints, so I can persecute them?"

If the saints (God's holy people) are gone to Heaven in the Rapture, how will the Antichrist do that? One person said that some of the saints will be left behind to experience this, or that these remaining saints will be those who converted after the rapture. Neither of these scenarios is there in the text, so they must be added. But, these same people who say that will not bring to bear what they already know about the second coming and put the real facts in. Why make this so complicated when the Bible tells us what we need to know? We don't have to make up events that create contradictions if we just believe what the Word of God actually says. Read Revelation 13:8
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

. Everyone on earth at the time will worship the beast except the saints, which goes along with Revelation 9:4
4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

. That would be the believers obviously still on the earth at the time of the Antichrist.

Another passage that indicates that believers will be around during the tribulation is Revelation 14:9-12
9A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." 12This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

. The "patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus" will not be necessary if they are in Heaven looking down on these events:

9A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." 12This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12)

Also note that these saints are combining faith and obedience, they keep God's commands and remain faithful to Jesus. If not the ten commandments and other of God's rules, what would these commands be?

Please understand that no sane person is against being removed before the tribulation. However, reading the Bible does not allow for the interpretation that describes a pre-tribulation rapture. There will indeed be a rapture, but the text indicates that it can only happen when Jesus returns in His glory with His holy angels and not in secret. When He will return is a secret, but His coming will not be a secret (Revelation 1:7
"Look, he is coming with the clouds," and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of him." So shall it be! Amen.

).

Post-Tribulation Rapture

This view has the saints around during the entire seven years of the tribulation period, subjected to the persecution of the antichrist's regime, but somehow supernaturally protected from the wrath of God during the great tribulation. If you go through the same passages we used above, you will see that this view actually fits with the descriptions of scripture and the reasons given above. The biggest point for me was the fact that this concides exactly with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

, as well as all the other "Second Coming" verses in scripture. There is no need to add or subtract an event or meaning that is not apparent or that requires an "interpreter" because the average Bible reader is supposedly not smart enough to understand it on his/her own.

Mid-Tribulation Rapture

This view is touted by the source site as the least popular view of the three, but actually fits the facts and passages at least as well as the Post-Trib view - with one exception. Here the saints are subject to tribulation, but protected from the wrath of God in the great tribulation by removing them from the earth before God has the angels do their tasks. However, this view does not explain what Jesus is going to do with these people for the three and one-half years before He retrieves them (again, supposedly from Heaven this time) to reign on the earth with Him for the millennium. The most common explanation is that He will take them to Heaven, but I have yet to find any clear passage in the Bible that supports this idea.

What about the children?

Another thought that arose during the study of this issue is about the children born after the Rapture, and those who become believers after the church is supposedly gone. If the rapture happens 7 years before Christ's return, what happens to the children born after that? According to the concept of the rapture, they will be here for the Tribulation, as will their parent(s), since they were not true believers or they would not have been left behind. There are lots of sites that address this idea, but none have any authority or references to say. In fact, a good number of them have some discussions that are so illiterate, it is difficult to understand what the participants are saying. An example is Nairaland Forum.

A final note from history

The site at A.S.K added this historical nugget regarding the origin of the Rapture theory:

In the middle 1820's a religious environment began to be established among a few Christians in London, England which proved to be the catalyst from which the doctrine of the Rapture emerged. Expectations of the soon coming of our Lord were being voiced. This was no new thing, but what was unusual was the teaching by a Presbyterian minister named Edward Irving that there had to be a restoration of the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 just before Christ's Second Advent. To Irving, the time had come for those spiritual manifestations to occur. Among the expected gifts was the renewal of speaking in tongues and of prophetic utterances motivated by the spirit.

Irving began to propagate his beliefs. His oratorical skills and enthusiasm caused his congregation in London to grow. Then a number of people began to experience the "gifts." Once this happened, opposition from the organized churches set in. It resulted in Irving's dismissal from the Presbyterian Church in 1832. His group established themselves as the Catholic Apostolic Church and continued the teachings of Irving. These events were the beginnings of what some call present day Pentecostalism. Some church historians referred to Irving as "the father of modern Pentecostalism."

What does this have to do with the origin of the Rapture doctrine? Look at what happened in the year 1830 - two years before Irving's dismissal from the Presbyterian Church. In that year a revival of the "gifts" began to be manifested among some people living in the lowlands of Scotland. They experienced what they called the outpouring of the Spirit. It was accompanied with speak-ing in "tongues" and other charismatic phenomena. Irving preached that these things must occur and now they were.

On one particular evening, the power of the Holy Spirit was said to have rested on a Miss Margaret Macdonald while she was ill at home. She was dangerously sick and thought she was dying. In spite of this (or perhaps because she is supposed to have come under the "power" of the spirit) for several successive hours she experienced manifestations of "mingled prophecy and vision." She found her mind in an altered state and began to experience considerable visionary activity.

The message she received during this prophetic vision convinced her that Christ was going to appear in two stages at His Second Advent, and not a single occasion as most all people formerly believed. The spirit emanation revealed that Christ would first come in glory to those who look for Him and again later in a final stage when every eye would see Him. This visionary experience of Miss Macdonald represented the prime source of the modern Rapture doctrine as the historical evidence compiled by Mr. MacPherson reveals.


Up to this time, "most all people formerly believed" (from the last paragraph in the box) in a single Rapture at the coming of Christ in which the dead in Christ are resurrected, and along the living in Christ, are caught up to meet him in the air (Matthew 24:39b-41
39b"...That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

). After this, they will reign with Him on earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4b-5
4b...They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

). Where would "most all people" get that "silly" idea? From the Bible - without adding to it or taking away from it. Also note that this change in thinking happened in the 1800s, not the first century.

Let the Bible speak

The point is, if people must make up their own thoughts about what will happen during and after a made-up event, or as in this case copy someone else's thoughts, what purpose does making up the event serve? The Bible does not address the pre-Trib rapture, the concept is full of holes and problems, and it casts a shadow on the power of God. Even if, by some chance, the pre-Trib or mid-Trib rapture were to happen, would it not be better to teach what the Bible says about the Second Coming of Christ, which all agree will happen according to the Bible, and let the "rapture" be a pleasant surprise?

Some who believe in the rapture may look around and see the AntiChrist doing his thing and wonder why they were not taken. This could cause them to lose their faith because they believe so strongly in something that the Bible never promised. But if they were not looking for something that was never promised, and it happened, wouldn't that be a pleasant surprise?

Some food for thought

What will happen when the Antichrist comes and the mythical "Rapture" did not happen, but he has convinced everyone that this is the way he planned it? He will tell everyone that he is starting the Millennium. When the Antichrist starts doing his world control, requiring everyone to believe in him and his version of being God, how many do you think will believe that the real Jesus has returned? Remember, when Jesus returns, He will be King of the Earth, and this guy will claim to be Him - seven years before Jesus actually returns. He will make peace on earth (Daniel 9:27
27"He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."

), which is exactly what people expect Jesus to do when He returns and begins the Millennium.

According to Revelation 13:12-14
12It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

, he will deceive the people living on earth. Obviously, not everyone will be deceived, but Jesus had some doubt about how many will still be faithful to Him, the Real Him, when He returns (Luke 18:8
8"I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

).

"I won't be fooled..."

I know, I know, you will know Jesus so well that you would not possibly be deceived. But what if this faker comes around and tells you that it is O.K. to ignore the Sabbath, celebrate Christmas and Easter, and celebrate with a big pork rib BBQ feast, oh, and don't worry about that Jewish Feast of Tabernacles thing? If you are already half-way convinced that he could be the Christ, and since that's exactly the way you live now because of man's "dispensation", why would you not go the rest of the way and not doubt him?

Exactly what would you use to identify this extremely persuasive individual who will deceive the whole world? How will you explain that he "causes fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of the people"? He could do that to end some war that is going on at the time, just as the Bible says Jesus will do at His second coming for the Battle of Armageddon? Will you make him produce ID, insist that he take a lie detector test, or just look at the scars on his wrists and the scar on his side?

Summary

Though evidently very controversial, the statements of the Bible clearly outline the actual events of the future. In fact, Matthew chapter 24 leaves little room for doubt as to what Jesus knew about the end times and the Tribulation, and He never mentioned another special "rapture" other than the one at His Coming. Even there, in Matthew 24:39b-41
39b"...That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

He speaks the events of the coming of the Son of Man when "one will be taken" of two men in the field and "one will be taken" of two women grinding. These actions are those of people still on the earth at His coming, not people "coming from Heaven with the Lord".

Some people seem to need to believe that they are to be exempt from the events that will help filter true believers from those who capitulate under the pressure of the Antichrist. Some even seem to believe that God cannot protect us from His wrath, as He did with Noah, Lot, and the Israelites in Egypt, but need to add something to His word. One of the problems with these add-on ideas is that in order to make them work, we have to create all sorts of "special" events and conditions that are not mentioned in the text. This makes our own thoughts more important than the plain word of God as written. When we doubt the word of God, or put our own desires above the plain word of God, isn't that a sort of idolatry?


Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at glenjjr@gmail.com and give us your view.

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For the pre-1800s historocity of the Pre-Trib Rapture, you'll want to read Dispensationalism Before Darby to get the entire list of Church Age writers - Amazon.com.

Here's my take on the "too new to be true" argument - Christinprophecy.org.

It's not Replacement Theology to say that Jews who accept Jesus as Savior become members of the Church. To learn what Replacement Theology truly teaches, visit Christinprophecy.com.

The following article of ours goes into great detail about why the Second Coming happens in two stages - lamblion.com. Titus teaches that the Rapture is our blessed hope. There's no hope in suffering under God's wrath for seven years until almost all believers are killed so that there's virtually nobody awaiting His return. The Tribulation like the Flood is about God's wrath (Isa. 24:22; Zeph. 3:8; 1 Thes. 5:3; 2 Thes. 2:12), and believers in Christ are promised to be exempt from God's wrath (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; Rev. 3:10).

We don't have to worry about a hypothetical scenario that there will be Christians who will be left behind and so lose their faith, because there won't be any Christians left behind (Rev. 3:10).

This is the end of his response.

Tell us your side.