Is there any validity to the Pre-Wrath Rapture concept?
Let's continue to look at a number of objections I have to the Pre-Wrath Rapture concept of the timing of the Rapture.
7) The Church — I object to the 3/4 Trib Rapture view of why the Church must be present during the Tribulation. Incredibly, the argument has been proclaimed that the Church must suffer "for purging and purifying."1 The Bible says that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us of all sin (1 John 1:7). The idea that the Church needs to be purified creates a Christian Purgatory, which is a blasphemy of the blood of Jesus. Furthermore, why is it that only the end time Church deserves this fate?
8) The Seal Judgments — I strongly object to the 3/4 Trib Rapture view that the Seal Judgments do not constitute any portion of the wrath of God. The judgments originate at the throne of God when Jesus begins to open each seal (Revelation 6:1). Further, they are referred to as "the wrath of the Lamb" (Revelation 6:16-17).
9) The Length of Daniel's 70th Week of Years — I object to the fact that the 3/4 Trib Rapture view extends Daniel's 70th Week by 30 days beyond the 7 years or 2,520 days it is supposed to run (Revelation 11:3 and 12:6). There is just no scriptural basis for this extension.
10) The Day of the Lord — I object to the 3/4 Trib view of the Day of the Lord. Rosenthal contends that it begins with the opening of the 7th Seal, and he therefore argues that the wrath of God does not begin until this point.
The problem here is that the Day of the Lord is a term that is used in many different ways in the Bible, and it must always be interpreted in context. There are places when it refers to specific national judgments from God, as when Israel was destroyed by Assyria (Amos 5:18-20) and when Judah was destroyed by Babylon (Lamentations 2:21-22 and Ezekiel 13:5). In like manner the fall of Babylon is called the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:6- 13).
But there are also times when the term refers to end time events. In this regard, it sometimes refers to the return of Jesus at the end of Daniel's 70th Week (Isaiah 2:10-22, Joel 3:9-17 and Zechariah 14:1-9). In other end time contexts, the term is used in a broader sense. For example, in Zephaniah 1:14-18 it is used to refer to the entire period of the Tribulation when "all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy..." In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 it says the Day of the Lord will come at a time when people are feeling safe and secure — which would be at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week, after the Antichrist negotiates a treaty that guarantees peace for Israel. But the prophet Isaiah repeatedly uses a shorthand version of the term — "in that day" — to refer to the Millennium (Isaiah 4:2-6). I therefore think that in reference to the end times, the broad use of the term refers to the period of time from the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week to the end of the Millennium.
Another problem with Rosenthal's concept of the Day of the Lord is that he has it beginning at the point where the Seal Judgments are followed immediately by the Trumpet Judgments. How could that be? The Bible says the Day of the Lord will begin with people celebrating peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). What feeling of peace and safety will exist when the world is experiencing the Trumpet Judgments? This must be a reference to the treaty of peace the Antichrist will negotiate at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week and which will mark the beginning of the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27).
We are currently in the Day of the Spirit (Acts 2:17 and 2 Corinthians 3:8). Daniel's 70th Week plus the Millennium constitutes the Day of the Lord. The Eternal State will be the Day of God (2 Peter 3:12).
One of the strangest parts of Rosenthal's book is chapter 16 (pages 215-230). In this chapter he attacks the Pre-Trib Rapture view as espousing two separate comings of the Lord. He then proclaims: "There is not even a hint — anywhere — of two separate comings" (page 222).
In response to this attack, I would like to point out that the Pre-Trib view does not present two comings of the Lord. Instead, it advocates an appearing of the Lord (the Rapture) followed at least 7 years later by the coming of the Lord (the Second Coming). Jesus does not return to the earth at the Rapture. He appears in the heavens for His Church, receives them, and then returns to Heaven with them.
But what is so weird about Rosenthal's attack is that his end time viewpoint presents multiple comings of the Lord — so many, in fact, that it is hard to chart them. Take a look at the chart again below. The first "coming" of the Lord I have shown is the Rapture. But Rosenthal has several other "comings."
At the end of Daniel's 70th Week, Jesus returns to earth to save Israel from annihilation, after which He returns to Heaven. Then, at the end of the "30 days of Reclamation" Jesus returns again to defeat Satan at the Battle of Armageddon. Following the "45 days of Restoration," Jesus returns to Heaven, gathers His Church, and returns to begin His thousand year reign. So, Rosenthal has a total of four "comings" of Jesus, yet he has the audacity to assert there is only one "coming" of the Lord and he condemns the Pre-Trib view for having two!
This amounts to mass confusion. Rosenthal recognizes the problem and tries to cover it by stating that Jesus has a "continuing presence" on the earth after the Rapture, and thus His four comings are really only parts of the one Second Coming. This is all nothing but semantic smoke. In the Pre-Trib view the Rapture is also followed by a "continuing presence" of Jesus on earth as He launches the wrath of God with the Seal Judgments and oversees the continuing implementation of God's wrath with the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments, after which He returns to earth to reign.
A Cornerstone Verse?
A friend of mine, Michael Pfeil, recently published a book in which he defends the 3/4 Trib Rapture viewpoint.2 He argues that the cornerstone verses for the view are Revelation 6:9-10, which read as follows:
9) When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;
10) and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
Pfeil's argument is that these are martyrs killed for their faith during the first half of Daniel's 70th Week. He then says that if they are victims of God's wrath, then they are calling out for vengeance against God! He argues, instead, that they are victims of the Antichrist and are crying out for vengeance against him — and this, in turn proves that the first half of Daniel's 70th Week constitutes the wrath of Man and Satan, and not the wrath of God.
The problem with this argument is that when the wrath of God is poured out, it falls on the just and the unjust unless God specifically promises protection to believers. He has promised the Church such protection (1 Thessalonians 1:10). He has also promised that He will protect the 144,000 Jews who are sealed by His Spirit at the beginning of the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1- 8 and 14:1-5).
But He has made no such promise of protection for those who receive Jesus during the Tribulation. They will suffer just as Daniel and his cohorts suffered when Judah fell to the Babylonians. The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and the just who suffer martyrdom during the Tribulation will cry out for vengeance against their executioners.
The 3/4 Trib Rapture concept does not pass the test of the Scriptures. Even worse, as Jack Van Impe has put it, the concept is "the Christians' ultimate nightmare" rather than their "blessed hope"3 (Titus 2:11-13).
1) Alan Kurschner, "Prewrath — What Is It?" www.AlanKurschner.com.wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Prewrath.pdf, page 1. See also: Cooper Abrams, "Fatal Flaws in the Modern Pre-Wrath Rapture Position," http://bible-truth.org/Pre-Wrath.html, page 12.
2) Michael E. Pfeil, Rapture of the Church: Bound for Heaven, BUT..." (Bloomington, IN: Westbow Press, 2013).
3) Jack Van Impe, "What validity, if any, should be given to the Prewrath Rapture theory?" www.jvim.com/newsletter/pastissues/ 2012/20120723.html, page 1.