By Nathan Jones
What will be the timing of the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation?
Jesus Christ could be coming back this very year! To ring in this new year, Dr. David Reagan, Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries and I discussed on television's Christ in Prophecy why you should be yearning for the return of Jesus Christ.
Timing of the Rapture
Dr. Reagan: The Bible really makes it very clear that the Rapture is an event separate and apart from the Second Coming because one is a Bridegroom coming for His Bride in love, and the other is a warrior returning to pour out the wrath of God. Those are two separate events. So, now the big question that comes up at this point: When is the Rapture going to occur? Is it going to occur before, at the beginning, in the middle, near the end, or at the very end of the Tribulation?
Nathan Jones: There are plenty of Bible verses that talk about how the Church will be saved from the wrath of God. I think of Revelation 3:10 for instance. The Church is those whom God has called out from the world, whom He loves and who will be called His "Bride." Such an object of divine love will not be there in the Tribulation for seven years to get beat up and bruised by the groom.
An example of this would be, would my wife have married me if I'd spent seven years beating her up to the point that she was a bloody mess due to going through all the judgments and tribulation I put her through? Then I say, "Okay, Honey, let's get married." No, that'd be insane!
Dr. Reagan: That's a good point, because there are people who have actually argued with me over that and said the Church needs to go through the Tribulation because it needs to be purified. You are going to beat your bride up for seven years before you come and get her? Of course not!
And, furthermore, isn't the blood of Jesus sufficient to purify us from all sins? When you take that position you're turning the Tribulation into a Protestant Purgatory.
Nathan Jones: That's similar to the Partial Rapture theory, too, which is the idea that only certain people will be raptured who are the most spiritual or because they're anticipating Jesus' coming. It's a form of Christian snobbery, and obviously the people who claim this view already believe they are in the in group that's going to be raptured. The Partial Rapture Theory is not the case. Christ comes for His Bride the Church and that's everybody — and I mean everybody — who is saved. We all live at a different point in our life in our process of sanctification, and some struggle with sin more than others. But, when one's saved one is covered by Christ's forgiveness and so all who are saved will all be raptured.
Dr. Reagan: Would you place the Rapture before the Tribulation begins?
Nathan Jones: Yes. I think there are so many verses that indicate the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation.
Dennis Pollock: Yes, I would agree with what Nathan said and add one more thing, and that is the point concerning imminence. If you say the Rapture has to come at the end of the Tribulation, then you would know for certain that Christ couldn't come today because we are obviously not in the Tribulation. You would be looking for the Antichrist. You would be looking for at least about half the world's population to be killed, which you probably wouldn't survive anyway. You would have to have all these judgments that would have to happen first. So, if you say the Rapture comes at the end of the Tribulation then Christ couldn't come today. If you say Christ couldn't come today, then you have just negated the whole heart of everything Jesus had to say about watching for His return.
Dr. Reagan: That's right! There's just no doubt about the timing when it comes to imminency.
Nathan Jones: Reading Revelation 3:10 is about as secure as you can get with one's understanding in the Pre-Tribulation timing of the Rapture. "Since you have kept my commands to endure patiently. I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." That's a clear indication in this verse and many others that teach that the Church is not meant to suffer under the wrath of God.
Dr. Reagan: Another verse is 1 Thessalonians 1:10 where we are told that we are to, "wait for His Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who will deliver you from the wrath that is to come." We have a promise there that we are going to be delivered before the Tribulation begins.
In the last part of this series on yearning for Jesus' return, we'll look at why people explain away the Rapture or are apathetic about it, and what you should be doing while you're waiting.