By Nathan Jones
In December 2009 I was interviewed by Bill Salus, author of the popular Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine, host of the radio program "Prophecy Update," and evangelist on the end times website Prophecy Depot. Bill and I spent much of the interview discussing the Rapture, Middle East politics and my "left behind" video "Jesus Came. What's Next?"
Bill has been kind enough to allow The Christ in Prophecy Journal to reproduce the "Caught Up in the Pre-Trib Rapture" interview in transcript form, edited into an article series. To listen to the original radio program in mp3 format, I invite you to visit Prophecy Depot or KWBB.
In this segment, Bill and I will be discussing the various views concerning the timing of the Rapture.
Rapture Versus Second Coming
Bill Salus: Let's talk about why the Rapture is a Pre-Trib event, happening before the Tribulation.
Chuck Missler believes the Rapture will be a Pre-Tribulational event. He says to those that don't agree, thinking the Rapture will occur in the middle of the Tribulation (the Mid-Tribbers) or the end of the Tribulation (the Post-Tribbers), that when we are caught up Pre-Trib we will just explain it to them on the way up." What humor!
But, there are a lot of arguments developed around the Rapture taking place during the middle of the Tribulation, or at the end of the Tribulation. Why do you feel that the Rapture happens in the beginning of the Tribulation, or is it before the Tribulation like in the Pre-Trib view?
Nathan Jones: I had to get my mind around this topic early on. It's easy to listen to people and just say, "Yeah, he's right." But, I felt I had to go deeper and so sat down and went through the Rapture verses such as Isaiah 26:19-21; John 14:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. I also looked at the Second Coming verses such as Zechariah 14:1-21; Matthew 24:29-31 and Matthew's comparison in Mark and Luke; as well as Revelation 19. When one looks at the Second Coming verses of Jesus Christ, and then looks at the Rapture verses — they tell two different stories. And so, they must then be describing two very different events.
For instance, in the Rapture believers meet Christ up in the air. We are brought from the ground up to the air, but in the Second Coming Jesus comes down to the Earth and actually lands on the Earth at the Mount of Olives, which then happens to split. Why would the Rapture verses leave out such a major piece of the story like the splitting of the Mount of Olives? It is all covered with graves right now, which I saw having been there. The Mount is actually going to break into two! That is a major event to leave out of the Rapture story.
Bill Salus: So, the Rapture is not going to be a bungee cord drop where Jesus comes down, grabs us, goes up, and comes back down again?
Nathan Jones: Oh, no, not at all. We continue to read in the Rapture believers go up to Heaven, but in the Second Coming glorified believers come from Heaven to meet Earthly believers already here. Where did those believers on Earth come from? In the nanosecond the Rapture happened people will come to know the Lord as Savior and be ready to meet Jesus? There has to be a time period between those two groups of believers.
The Rapture is deliverance for the Church. We are delivered from the wrath to come. But, in the Second Coming there are believers enduring the wrath of the Tribulation, which Jesus rescues them from by His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation.
With the Rapture there is no sign that precedes it, but with Jesus' Second Coming then there are tons of signs that precede it. We know from the Bible that the Antichrist sets up a one world government. It will be an intense time of persecution for Israel and Tribulation Saints. We read about world-wide judgments like oceans turning into blood. Everything apocalyptic like raining fire and brimstone happens before the Second Coming.
Nathan Jones: After sitting down and reading through all these comparisons between the Rapture verses and the Second Coming verses, I could only conclude that it is impossible for there to be a Post-Trib Rapture — a Rapture that happens at the end of the Tribulation.
If believers are raptured at the very end of the Tribulation they would go up, get their glorified bodies which are like angels in that they can't reproduce, then immediately come back down with Jesus to reign in the Millennial Kingdom. So, who is creating children? Glorified bodies are not creating children. The Bible talks about all the believers coming through the Sheep-Goat Judgment who will live through the Tribulation and enter the Millennial Kingdom and have children. There has to be believers left to have children. So, I think the Post-Trib Rapture view doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
Nathan Jones: There's also the Mid-Tribulation Rapture view. It says the Rapture happens in the middle of the Tribulation. It's based on the 1 Corinthians 15:52 verse about the last trumpet blowing. This view then jumps to the conclusion that the "last trumpet" must be the Seventh Trumpet Judgment in the series of Seal, Trumpet and Bowl/Vial Judgments described in Revelation. It's an assumption that the Seventh Trumpet Judgment is the "last trumpet" of 1 Corinthians 15.
When we follow the feasts of Israel we see a lot of major events have happened in the Bible during some of those feasts. The Church began for instance on the Feast of Pentecost. And so, I think that trumpet verse is particularly talking about the last Feast of Trumpets during the Church Age.
Of the 114 references to trumpets, I don't know why the Mid-Trib Rapture position grabs onto the idea that the "last trumpet" is the Seventh Trumpet Judgment.
Nathan Jones: Concerning the Pre-Wrath Rapture view, it claims the wrath of God happens only during the Bowl Judgments in the last quarter or so of the Tribulation, and that any judgments like the Seal and the Trumpet Judgments are merely the wrath of man or the wrath of Satan. But, God handed out those trumpets. They come from the throneroom of God. Jesus is the one who opens the Seal Judgments from the very first seal, and so the wrath that God is shown to be poured out throughout the entire Tribulation.
The Pre-Wrath view has it right when it states that the Church is supposed to be raptured before the wrath of God is poured out, but gets what the wrath of God is wrong. The wrath of God begins the Tribulation, so again, the Rapture happen before the Tribulation begins.