Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 2

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

In Part 1, I covered what I call the "bedrock" foundational tenets about the Bible and its interpretation that provide the foundation in which to analyze the reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. The following are two of those reasons.

1) The Bible describes the Rapture and Second Coming as different events.

The Bible must see the Rapture (Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18) and the Second Coming (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19) as separate events, because when the verses are compared they describe two very different scenarios:

  1. Rapture — believers meet Christ in the air

    Second Coming — Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to meet the believers on earth

  2. Rapture — Mount of Olives is unchanged

    Second Coming — Mount of Olives is divided, forming a valley east of Jerusalem

  3. Rapture — living believers obtain glorified bodies

    Second Coming — living believers remain in same bodies

  4. Rapture — believers go to heaven

    Second Coming — glorified believers come from heaven, earthly believers stay on earth

  5. Rapture — world left unjudged and living in sin

    Second Coming — world is judged and righteousness is established

  6. Rapture — depicts deliverance of the Church from wrath

    Second Coming — depicts deliverance of believers who endured wrath

  7. Rapture — no signs precede it

    Second Coming — many signs precede it

  8. Rapture — revealed only in New Testament

    Second Coming — revealed in both Old and New Testaments

  9. Rapture — deals with only the saved

    Second Coming — deals with both the saved and unsaved

  10. Rapture — Satan remains free

    Second Coming — Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss

Since the Rapture and Second Coming clearly are different events that do not occur at the same time, this would rule out a Post-Tribulation Rapture scenario.

2) The Rapture is described as occurring at any time without warning.

Jesus stated in Matthew 24:42,44 to "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come... So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Not only do believers in Christ not know when to expect Him, but the Father Himself seems to have left Jesus out on the exact time His Son is to return. As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." These and other verses (Mat. 24:36,42,44,50; 25:13; 1 Thes. 4:18; Tit. 2:13; 1 Jn. 2:28; 3:2-3) indicate that Jesus' arrival will come when nobody expects it.

The Second Coming, on the other hand, is preceded by many events, such as the rise of the Antichrist (Rev. 12:13-17; Zech; 13:7-9), a treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple (Mat. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3-4; Rev. 11:1-2), as well as plagues and judgments and persecutions destroying most of the world's population (Rev. 6-18). The Book of Revelation reports these events as occurring during the 7-year Tribulation, which Revelation reveals precede the Second Coming.

Because the Rapture could happen at any moment and without warning and the Second Coming is preceded by so many signs, then the Rapture and Second Coming must be different events. The Rapture has to occur before the seven years' worth of signs, because Christians are called to look for the Lord's return rather than signs such as the Antichrist's arrival. Once the signs begin, then the seven year countdown begins towards its end with Christ's return at the Second Coming.

Jesus' imminent return dismisses any of the other viewpoints related to a rapture that occur within or at the end of the Tribulation.

I will continue posting in Part 3 why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture over the coming days.


Anonymous said...

We can not know the hour, but we can know the signs. The signs all indicate "very soon". I think most people who have an issue with pre-trib rapture also have an issue with the idea of "escapism". They seem to think the blood of Christ is not enough, that we must suffer wrath as well. NOT TRUE. Only the blood of Christ alone will cleanse you of your sin. A pre-trib rapture wouldn't be an act of "escaping" judgement. We escape judgement ONLY by our belief in Jesus.

MommaofMany said...

Thank you for this needed series! I am following closely.

Steve H said...

Nathan - Thanks for your detailed listing. I'll try to look them over and analyze what you're saying. Are there any other verses that you point to in this matter, or are the ones listed the only ones under discussion?

I do find some of the responses to this discussion interesting. "Anonymous" has a lot of passion about suffering being out of the question for believers. I agree with his premise that the blood of Christ is sufficient for cleansing of sin, but I can't see why that rules out suffering for Christians. If that were the case, why would there be so many warning for Christians to stand firm under persecution? (Ex: Rev 2:10)

Anyway, thanks for your comments. I'll check in later!

Anonymous said...

Steve, what I am saying specifically is that we are not destined to experience the wrath of God that will be unleashed in the tribulation, not that Christians don't suffer. There is a major difference.

Anonymous said...

The reason for my passion is that the Bible says the return of Christ is to be an event of hope and encouragement to Christians in these days. If, by your view, that means we have to experience the tribulation then be raptured, then how can we encourage each other and be hopeful. However, if Jesus raptures us before the tribulation since we are NOT destined to experience the WRATH of God, then we can be EXTREMELY hopeful and encouraged.

Nathan Jones said...

Steve (who is a good old friend of mine folks), reason #5 addresses Christians suffering. Christians certainly suffer and have suffered since the First Coming, but the time of God's wrath/Day of the Lord/Tribulation - is a special time period set apart in Scriptures (see the Book of Zephaniah for example).

Andy said...

Good article Nathan. I would remind you that it is only the sleeping man of the house that will be surprised by the thief. Those who are awake and watching will not be surprised by Jesus return. We may not know exactly when it will be, but the signs of the times were given so we can learn and prepare for that day. To say that Jesus' arrival will come when "nobody" expects it tends to give the idea that 'nobody' will be watching for it. I for one am watching very closely. Maybe you should rephrase that sentence to indicate something a little less all inclusive. I believe Matthew 24:36 refers to the day when the heaven and earth will pass away (verse 35). Jesus may not know when that day will occur, but he may know very well when the rapture will occur- he spoke of it in Matthew 24:31.

Andy said...

Remove the chapter and verse dividers from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians and read it as the letter Paul wrote. From 4:13 through 5:9 clearly teaches a pre-tribulation rapture. The times and seasons mentioned in 5:1 refer to the times and seasons of the rapture he spoke of in 4:13-17. Paul taught a pre-trib rapture by "the word of the Lord" (Jesus) see 4:15.
One question that remains open is; Where in the book of Revelation does the actual 7 year tribulation period start? It is the time of Jacobs troubles (Jeremiah 30:7), so I could see the sealing of the 144,000 Jews as the end of the time of the Gentiles and the beginning of the time of Jacob's troubles.

Nathan Jones said...

The 7-Year Tribulation begins when the Antichrist makes a covenant (peace treaty) with Israel (Dan. 9:27).

Andy said...

You are absolutely correct Nathan. The question is, when will that be? Nothing in the book of Revelation tells us about that event does it? To place that signing of the treaty at Rev. 4:1 is mere speculation. Could it be that the heavens being rolled open like a scroll so that all the people of the earth see God sitting on his throne in the heavens (Rev. 6:14-16), may be the impetus that forces the treaty to be signed as the world bands together to defend themselves against the God they see in the heavens?

elizzyha said...

I believe the Antichrist is alive and well and that the return of Jesus is imminent. Even immediate.