Monday, October 20, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 6

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 my two final reasons.

10) The Bible shows God rescues the righteous from His wrath.

Being a Christian means having to endure suffering and trials at the hand of man (Jn. 16:33; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thes. 3:3; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). But, the Bible has many examples of those who put their faith in God are exempt from God's wrath. Noah and his family were removed from the Flood waters that in God's wrath were used to judge and cleanse the earth. Lot and his wife and two daughters were made to leave Sodom and Gomorrah before God burned the towns up with fire and sulfur. Rahab's family was set apart when Joshua's army invaded Jericho.

Could believers be miraculously protected during the Tribulation, like the Israelites were during the plagues on Egypt? Yes, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists from Revelation 7 and 14, for instance, will be divinely protected. But, the slaughter of believers during the Tribulation will be so massive that they are certainly not under any special protection (Rev. 7:9-17; 20:4).

11) The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is not too new to discount.

Some will argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just "too new" to be considered viable. Critics will point to the origin of the modern Pre-Tribulation view and credit John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) with its founding. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.

The Early Church fathers' such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

Biblical truth is determined by Scripture, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. When Augustine began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid's Latin Codex Amiatinus (ca. 690-716), and Brother Dolcino wrote statements that distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming.

When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off beginning with the Reformation in the 1400 and 1500s, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby (1818) were precursors to John Darby in support of the view. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history.

Closing Thoughts

I thank you for coming down this mental journey with me concerning why I believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Hopefully it has confirmed or challenged some of your eschatological ideas. Bear in mind, though, that one's end-time views have no bearing on the doctrine of salvation. What is to be celebrated is that our salvation will one day lead us upwards to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever and ever.


Justine said...

I think O.T. story of Noah as a picture of the rapture/tribulation may be better explained if you start with Enoch.

Enoch walked with God and then was no more because God took him away(gen 5:24 NIV). THE RAPTURE

Some time later Noah and family were protected during the flood.
Noah and family can be seen as the 144K Jews that will be protected during the tribulation.

btw...I really enjoy your blog and what you've done with the website!! thank you!!

Nathan Jones said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, Justine - praise to the Lord!

Yes, Enoch is another great example of the Rapture; Elijah, too. Probably why many believe those two will be the 2 witnessess from the first half of the Tribulation.

Andy said...

Noah's ark carried some to safety above those who were destroyed below. Then it deposited them again on the same earth it had taken them up from. The ark is a picture of Jesus. Those who are "in Jesus" will be lifted up above the destructions below and then set back again on the earth at the his return. A pre-trib rapture is the only scenario that truly fits the picture. The ark didn't save them after the flood, nor in the middle of the flood, but lifted them up as the judgments (rain) began. Jesus will do the same for all who come to him now! We've not been appointed to wrath (1 Thess. 5:9 vs Rev. 6:17), but to salvation through Jesus! That does not mean the days ahead are all going to be full of sunshine and pleasure. There may be plenty of man's wrath against the true Christians before God's time of wrath begins!

Apostolic1 said...

Hello Nathen,
I totally agree with your teaching 100% and also tell of these very things you stated. There is a woman from my church who disagree with me on this issue however. She states that the elect is the church and the sealed Jews. I do not agree with her but I also lack the back up. She says that the church is also the elect and it says so in the old test. but I don't see the church mentioned in the OT. The bible say IF it WERE possible the anti christ shall deceive the very elect. However it is not possible because they are sealed and the Holy Ghost is gone out of the way and there will be no other way for them to be protected during this terrible time of wrath and tribulation. Therefore, if she were to be right then the unsealed assuming it is the church also is not part of the elected it says in Mat 24:24 because the sealed are only 144,000. I believe the elect (chosen) could just mean believer's in general because many are called but few are chosen Mat 22:14. She needs to remember that before the rapture, The elect (144,000) after the church has gone did not believe on Jesus Christ until later during the tribulation. Only the gentiles and other Jews not sealed, will be able to be deceived and therefore are not the elect (chosen). I'm not quite sure though why the 144,000 thousand from the 12 tribes of Israel are sealed, but I think it is because they believe and spread the word of God to unbeliever's and Jesus promised he would appear again in like manner as he left on the Mt. of Olives. If you have ant insight on this "elect" issue please enlighten me. Thank you!

Nathan Jones said...

Election = salvation
So, if you are saved, then you are one of the elect.

Apostolic1 said...

That's exactly right whether you are saved in the rapture or tribulation period you are the elect. I'm confused about something though, those who are not sealed are not called the elect right? yet more will come to the truth and shall die without the redemption of the blood of Christ but shall be kept by the grace of God. That should mean that the sealed Jews and the raptured are the ones "SAVED" from what...WRATH right? I'm just confused now because I here people saying that more will be "saved" during the tribulation but how are they saved from wrath and eternal damnation IF that is what being saved is all about. Now when the talk about the end of the gentile age is spoken of is that saying that without being sealed means you're not even kept from eternal damnation or what? The bible says that He gathers the "elect" from the four corners of heaven, so what happens to the rest of the people? are they dead until the great white throne of judgment?

Apostolic1 said...

I just realized what I wrote in the first comment concerning the woman from my church. I said "she said the elect was the church and the sealed Jews....I don not agree with her..."

I realized I do agree with her after talking my self through it LOl but the concept of it all is very confusing.

Apostolic1 said...

Hello again,

O.K. the woman from my church says the church and the sealed Jews are the the chosen elect and I agree with her. what I didn't agree with was she believes that because the church is the elect we are to go through the tribulation with the elect and sealed Jews as well.

I apologize, I was very tired last night and confused myself.

Nathan Jones said...

Apostolic1, to answer your questions... the Church will be removed at the time of the Rapture, just before the 7-year Tribulation. During the beginning of the Tribulation, 144,000 Jews will come to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. God seals/protects them and they go out and witness to the world. Millions of others likely put their faith in Jesus as Savior at that time, but many will be martyred by the Antichrist for their faith.

When Jesus returns at the end of the seven years with the Church and angelic warriors and defeats the Antichrist and his armies, Jesus will gather those still alive who believe in Him (the elect of that time) for the Sheep/Goat Judgment. Only believers (deemed Sheep) pass the judgment and live on into the Millennial Kingdom where Jesus reigns here on Earth.

Mitchell said...

The Church removed before the 7 year Tribulation? Then why is the 144,000 and the "great multitude" not mentioned until AFTER the tribulation in Revelation?

Mitchell said...

By the way, here is the meaning to the 144,000 that you might find very, very interesting.

Look at the listing of the twelve tribes in Revelation. This is the only place in the Bible that the list appears in this form. In Hebrew they often named the child a word that had a phrase/meaning to the name. For example, when Leah gave birth to Judah she said "I will praise the Lord." When Reuben was born she said "He has looked upon my affliction". Normally the first born is listed first, but in this list in Revelation 7 Judah is listed first, not Reuben. Dan and Ephraim are completely left out, so it's a very interesting list. Here is the list and order they appear in Revelation 7:

1. Judah
2. Reuben
3. Gad
4. Asher
5. Nepthalim
6. Manasses
7. Simeon
8. Levi
9. Issachar
10. Zabulon
11. Joseph
12. Benjamin

What's even more interesting is when you take the tribes as listed in that order, and then discover the meaning of and/or why those names were given. Once you have this collected, construct it in the order that the names are listed. Here are all the verses with the names: (KVJ/NASB):

Gen 29:35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD, therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.

Gen 29:32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

Gen 30:11 Then Leah said, "How fortunate!" So she named him Gad.

Gen 30:13 And Leah said, Happy am I for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

Gen 30:8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed and she called his name Naphtali.

Gen 41:51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: "For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house."

Gen 29:33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I [was] hated, he hath therefore given me this [son] also: and she called his name Simeon

Gen 29:34 "And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.

Gen 30:18 Then Leah said, "God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband." So she named him Issachar.

Gen 30:20 Then Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." So she named him Zebulun.

Gen 30:24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

Gen 35:17-18 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

So when we take them all and put them in the order that the tribes appear, we get the following:

"Now will I praise the LORD, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction, How fortunate!, Happy am I, With great wrestlings have I wrestled and I have prevailed, For God hath made me forget all my toil, Because the LORD hath heard that I [was] hated he hath therefore given me this [son], Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, God has given me my wages, God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, The LORD shall add to me, thou shalt have this son."

Benjamin literally means "Son of My right hand" or "Son of His right hand" so another reading of the last portion could be "The LORD shall add to me the Son of His right hand."

The way that they are listed describes the bride of Christ and the battle between good and evil, and we are His bride who has been given a gift. This is the complete story of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ marrying His bride after delivering her from her affliction.

Ephesians 5:31-32, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

Mat 16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Rom 6:23 "For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

John 17:14-17 Jesus prays, "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."

Mark 13:19 "For [in] those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be."

Eph 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]."

It's interesting that the 144,000 are not mentioned until after the tribulation. For those of you who were of the opinion that the book of Revelation is chronological, re-read chapter 6.

God bless!

Mitchell said...

In case any are wondering, here is why the 144,000 (and the great multitude that no one could number) are not mentioned until AFTER the tribulation. First, let's remember that when John wrote Revelation there were no chapter and verse divisions of the text, those were added later. Revelation 7 is a continuation of Revelation 6. So here is how we know that they are only mentioned in a post-tribulation context:

Revelation 6:12 - 7:4,9:, "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 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? And AFTER THESE THINGS I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 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... After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."

We know that this is after the tribulation because of exactly what Jesus says. Notice the cosmic signs, and when these happen:

Matt 24:29, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:"

Also notice what Jesus said regarding these signs in Luke:

Luke 21:28, "And when these things begin to come to pass, THEN look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh"

So we have the cosmic signs of Revelation 6 happening immediately after the tribulation per Jesus in Matthew 24, and once these things happen Jesus says that "he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Mat 24:31). After the cosmic signs in Revelation 6 we read of the 144,000 suddenly appearing along with the great multitude that no one could number. This corresponds PERFECTLY in sequence and description with what Jesus stated in Matthew 24. There is no mention anywhere that the 144,000 were young Jewish evangelists. The most we can obtain from Scripture is that they accepted Jesus as Messiah and are saved.

loki said...

“The Church removed before the 7 year Tribulation? Then why is the 144,000 and the "great multitude" not mentioned until AFTER the tribulation in Revelation?”

Many see Rev 7 as a parenthesis – there are a few of them in Rev - and the arguments surrounding the 144,000 go on perpetually, even among proponents of the same rapture view.

I believe it was Rosenthal that suggested that the fact the church wasn’t mentioned between chapters 8 to 21 essentially supported his theory. He seemed to forget that his view held that the church was the great multitude and yet in chapter 7 the word church is not used – despite the elder’s leading question to John. The idea that the church is the multitude has been challenged. Scripture does not tell us it is the church – it is assumed to be because of expectation.

But when does the “great tribulation” finish exactly? Isn’t the great tribulation three and a half years? Isn’t that what Scripture consistently teaches? The “great tribulation” finishes at the end of the week –three and a half years – 1260 days – 42 months and no less. If the Lord was really teaching a rapture in Mat 24 then there’s no short cuts.

Mitchell said...

John sees the 144,000 and the multitude "after these things" meaning the events/signs that take place immediately after the tribulation. Pretty straightforward I think.

As for the word "church" not being used, this is a poor argument that some make to support a pre-trib idea. The church isn't mentioned in Mark, Luke, John, Galatians, Ephesians, 2 Peter, 1 John and 2 John either, so I guess if Revelation doesn't apply to the church because the word "church" isn't used after 3:22 then those books aren't intended for the church either. However, the word "saint" or "saints" is used 59 times in the New Testament, referring to believers in Christ (ie, the church). This term is used repeatedly in Revelation for the church as well.

As for your reference to Matthew 24, I'm not sure what you mean when you say "If the Lord was really teaching a rapture in Mat 24 then there’s no short cuts." If by "short cuts" you mean a pre-trib rapture, then I agree.

loki said...

We know that this is after the tribulation because of exactly what Jesus says. Notice the cosmic signs, and when these happen: Matt 24:29, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:"

Simply speaking, the great tribulation begins mid-week and it lasts for three and a half years. It’s obvious from a cursory reading of the cataclysmic events in Revelation following the 6th seal that tribulation occurs right to the end of the 70th week.

Dan 7:25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Three and a half years.

I guess if Revelation doesn't apply to the church because the word "church" isn't used after 3:22 then those books aren't intended for the church either.

I keep hearing this line of argumentation but it doesn’t make sense to me. For example, it also applies to those who argue for a rapture between the 6th and 7th seals. The fact that some word is missing from a set of Scriptures does not necessarily mean the concept isn’t there. That same argument is used by some who claim that the word wrath does not occur until the 6th seal so it isn’t present in the previous ones.

But even if there was a pre-week or mid-week rapture, it makes sense to have a complete Bible that outlines God’s plan. Otherwise God would have to say something like, “Here, you read this but this doesn’t apply to you.” Mat 24:20 doesn’t apply to Christians yet it is still there.

Mitchell said...

Loki, I should probably ask, are you writing from a pre-trib rapture position? I'm assuming you're pre-trib and I have trouble following the point you're trying to make in your post if from a pre-trib position. :)

If you are pre-trib I'll need you to be more clear for me. I must be really tired this evening lol...

loki said...

“The Church removed before the 7 year Tribulation? Then why is the 144,000 and the "great multitude" not mentioned until AFTER the tribulation in Revelation?”

My apologies; I wrote hastily as I was in a hurry to leave the house and I was all over the place. I was questioning your inference that the great multitude appears after the great tribulation, so the church cannot be raptured pre-week.

I mentioned Rosenthal because he tried to overturn the pretrib “argument” that the church isn’t mentioned in several chapters, so it’s not there. But then, ironically, he tried to make use of the same idea for his own view. I found that interesting because, at no time during John’s discussion with the elder regarding the identity of the multitude, did the church come up. This isn’t proof the GM isn’t the church but it’s interesting that the elder had the perfect opportunity to clarify it and he didn’t.

I agree that the absence of a word in Scripture does not mean the concept is not there - so pretribulationists should not offer that as proof. Yet some time ago I read an article where a fairly prominent author, in an attack against pretribulationism, used the absence of the word wrath from the first 5 seals as an evidence that the wrath of God did not occur there.

My other point was that the “great tribulation” lasts through to the end of the week (three and a half years) and doesn’t cease at the 6th seal. If the gathering of the elect in Mat 24 is the rapture and not the regathering of Israel, then the rapture is post-trib, at the end of the week.

As for me, I’ve been loosely post-trib in the past. That part of eschatology never really interested me until about three years ago when goaded into study by someone in another forum. Since then I’ve come to the conclusion that pretribulationism has some very good points. However, it wouldn’t surprise me to find myself in Daniel’s 70th week if it occurs in my lifetime and none of us should be dogmatic.

Mitchell said...

What are the best points that you currently see with pre-tribulationism? I am unable to see any.

Mitchell said...

Couple of quick video clips of the rapture I found. I thought they were well done, about 3 to 4 minutes each:

The Rapture:

Who Will Populate The Millennium:

El Milenio said...

Nathan Jones, so truth, this is our blessed hope!!

Jesus is coming back very soon, The Trumpet is almost making the Sound of our Salvation!!

The Rapture will take place very soon!!

Carlos Chamorro Schutze from Managua, Nicaragua.