Pre-Trib in My Inbox

Answering an Important Bible Prophecy Question

By Nathan E. Jones

The Centrality of the Resurrection

[read in Lamplighter (pdf)]

As Web Minister, I get the blessing of responding every day to an inbox full of questions related to Bible prophecy. Many of these questions come from people anxious to know when the catching up of the Church to Heaven, called the Rapture, will happen. Will it occur before, during, or at the end of the seven–year Tribulation? I believe the Bible overwhelmingly argues for before, called a Pre–Tribulation Rapture. The following are a few of the arguments for my viewpoint.

Imminency

One of the most powerful arguments for a Pre–Tribulation Rapture is the imminent return of Christ for His Church. The verses on the Rapture (Jn. 14:1–4; 1 Cor. 15:51–58; 1 Thess. 4: 13–18) provide no indication that anything is required to happen beforehand for the Rapture to occur. But, when we look at the Second Coming verses (Zech. 14:1–12; Matt. 24:29–31; Mk. 13: 24–27; Lk. 21:25–27; Rev. 19), all sorts of events have to happen before Jesus returns to the earth — the revealing of the Antichrist, worldwide devastation, a one–world government, and so on. The imminency of the Rapture requires a Pre–Trib Rapture.

The Last Trumpet

Four major timing views concerning the Rapture exist. One such is the Mid–Tribulation Rapture view. It equates the sounding of the “last trumpet” of 1 Corinthians 15:52 to the Seventh Trumpet Judgment of Revelation 11:15 which is blown half–way into the Tribulation. But since the Corinthian trumpet is for the blessing of believers and the Revelation trumpet is for the punishment of unbelievers, they are clearly two different trumpets and separate events.

Wrath

Then there is the Pre–Wrath Rapture view, which places the timing of the Rapture about 5½ years or so into the Tribulation. This view’s foundational point is that believers in Christ must endure the Seal and Trumpet Judgments because they claim those judgments are from Man and Satan, and not from God. Believers will be exempt only from the Bowl Judgments of Revelation 16 because they say those judgments alone are from God.

And yet, isn’t it Jesus who opens up the very first seal that starts the judgments? Revelation 6:1 tells us this is so. And, Revelation 8:2 tells us that the trumpets of the Trumpet Judgments are handed out before God, clearly indicating that the wrath again comes from God Himself. Revelation 15:1 actually tells us that the Bowl Judgments complete God’s wrath, not begin it. Revelation makes it crystal clear that the wrath poured out on the Earth from the very beginning of the Tribulation comes from God, making null the foundational point of the Pre–Wrath Rapture view.

Millennial Population

Then there is the timing view that places the Rapture at the end of the Tribulation, called the Post–Tribulation Rapture. This view doesn’t see the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Christ as two separate events.

The most glaring problem with this timing view is that when Jesus returns at the Rapture He will transform all believers’ earthly bodies into eternal, glorified bodies. If this is also the Second Coming, then all non–believers will be consigned to Hell. Who then lives on into the Millennial Kingdom in human bodies that are capable of bearing children and repopulating the planet? Glorified bodies are like angels’ bodies in that they will never reproduce (Mk. 12:25), so nobody then would be capable of bearing children in the Millennial Kingdom. Such a stark discrepancy makes the Post–Trib Rapture timing impossible.

Promised Deliverance

Concerning God’s wrath, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 instructs Christians “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” The Church is promised here and in other verses (Lk. 21:36; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 5:9; Rev. 3:10) that we are going to be delivered from God’s wrath that is to come. Since the Tribulation is all about the pouring out of God’s wrath upon the earth, Christians will have to be raptured beforehand in order to be saved from God’s wrath.

Suffering

Opponents to the Pre–Tribulation view of the Rapture point out that Christians have been suffering terribly for 2,000 years and so “justly” should go right on suffering into the Tribulation. They’d do well to remember that the Tribulation, just like the Flood, exists as the pouring out of God’s wrath upon the world as judgment for Man’s continued rebellion against Him. Both God’s wrath in the Flood and in the future Tribulation are especially set–apart time periods for divine judgment. This is in contrast to the everyday suffering all Christians experience.

It’s true that believers in Christ are not promised we will be free of suffering and increasing persecution. But, there are tribulations we all face to varying degrees and then there’s THE Tribulation when half of humanity will die just in the first 3½ years. That’s an important difference!

Escapism

Supporters of the Pre–Trib Rapture view are often labeled as “escapists” who are unwilling to truly suffer for the Lord. Nothing is wrong with that label, for Jesus Himself instructed us to pray to escape, saying “be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen” (Luke 21:36). If we had to remain to endure the Tribulation, what would be left to escape from?

Find hope that the Bible overwhelmingly supports the timing of the Rapture as happening before the Tribulation.

More From This Category