- Religion and Philosophy
Pre-tribulation Rapture/ A Biblical Doctrine?
Pre-trib rapture, scripturally correct?
Preaching true doctrine is a must!
Biblical Prophecy and Pre-tribulation Rapture!
One can't examine the last days Bible prophecy or eschatology without discussing the rapture! While pre-tribulation rapture seems to be the predominant view of Christians,at least for Christians in the west and America. While this view has been taught as the main view in seminaries in America, it's also gotten a large amount of press in such novels as the "Left Behind" book series and is the view in books by most prophecy teachers. This being the case, I'm sure I will receive alot of criticism from Christians for not supporting the pre-tribulation view!
I must admit that it sounds better that we will not be here for the difficult time of the great tribulation, and I'm sure it helps to fill the church pews and offering plates. But the real question is, "Does scripture clearly back up this view for the timing of the rapture?" If not, then why are we holding onto something not clearly in scripture? I originally set to examine what Jesus says in Matthew 24 about the last days, but can't without looking at the rapture issue.
To start with, one thing that always bothered me about the books on the rapture is why they may briefly touch on Matt. 24, but ignore what it says of the gathering of the saints by claiming that this chapter of Matthew was written for and applies only to the Jews left behind after the rapture of the church. Let's examine Matthew 24 in light of that statement.
First of all, unless Jews are saved or Messianic Jews, they generally don't acknowledge the New Testament or the words of Jesus. Next, his disciples asked him questions in regards to his statements about the Temple buildings being destroyed and his return, but this was later on the Mount of Olives that they privately asked him these questions. In Matt. 24:3 Later,Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and asked, "When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?" (NLT)
While his disciples were Jewish men, they were believers in Jesus, which made them the church by faith, so Jesus was addressing the church. This is further evidenced by what Jesus says in verse 9: "Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world for your allegiance to me. v.10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other."
I have news for those who hold that this pertains only to the Jews. They do not hold allegiance to Jesus Christ, and if they did they would have been raptured according to those who hold to this view of pre-trib. rapture. We Gentiles are grafted into the vine of Christ or the bride of Christ, and if were are already in heaven by a pre-trib rapture for the marriage supper of the lamb, half of the bride of Christ is still on earth going through the tribulation.
Rather, the persecution of the saints is the bundling of the tares and wheat during the tribulation period, where the believing Jews are grafted back into the church, as there is only one church. Persecution and tribulation is said throughout scripture to be a purifying agent of the faith, it's also used to tell those who's professed faith is not sincere.
Matt. 24: 12, 13 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. The form of love mentioned here is agape love, which is only applicable to saved Christians, whether Jewish or Gentile originally, there is no difference according to the word of God.
In Daniel 11:33-35, it confirms this concept in scripture, saying: "Those who are wise will give instruction to many. But for a time many of these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed. While these persecutions are going on, a little help will arrive, though many who join them will not be sincere. And some who are wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come."
Let us not think that we as the church are above the Jews, but like it states in Romans 11: 20b-21, "Don't think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the branches he put there first, he won't spare you either." 24b; "he will be far more eager to graft the Jews back into the tree where they belong."
I believe we as Christians will be here to go through the tribulation, with God purifying us and grafting those believing Jews back into the church during this period. To clarify this thought and finish up, let's look at Revelation 12:13-17 And when the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the child. But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle. This allowed her to fly to a place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time.
Then the dragon tried to drown the women with a flood of water that flowed from it's mouth. But the earth helped her by opening it's mouth and swallowing the river that gushed out from the mouth of the dragon. Then the dragon became angry at the women, and he declared war against the rest of her children--all who keep God's commandments and confess that they belong to Jesus.
Satan's wrath is directed against both the Jews and the Christians during this time of persecution. God uses this to seperate the wheat from the tares in the sight of the world, also to graft the newly believing Jews into the church through the fellowship of shared suffering. God's purposes will always be fulfilled, even using the enemies actions to bring about fulfillment. Suffering and persecution were instituted against the church in the first years and Jesus stated that we shouldn't be surprised to see extreme, yet similar things done when the branch is brown compared to when the branch was green.
Matthew 24: 29-31, "Immediately after those horrible days end, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there be deep mourning among the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven."
This is a very clear verse indicating an end- tribulation rapture, and I know there are many who will contend this. Let me ask what clear and literal verse you would use to support a pre-tribulation rapture? Since one of the first rules of Bible interpretation is to take a literal view whenever possible, why throw that out a verse so clearly literal?
Now let's examine the scriptures commonly used to back up the pre-tribulation view. Many Bible teachers used to refer to Revelation 4:1 "Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast. The voice said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things."
I love the book of Revelations, and this is Jesus talking to the Apostle John, after telling him messages for the church. This was one of the reasons that I could not accept this view, as how do you get a rapture out of this verse, when there are other clear references to the rapture or gathering of the saints.
Let's compare this to Revelation 14: 14-16, "Then I saw the Son of Man sitting on a white cloud. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then an angel came from the Temple and called out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, "Use the sickle, for the time has come for you to harvest; the crop is ripe on the earth." So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested. Since another rule of Bible interpretation is to let scripture interpret scripture, this would clearly be good to use to help us with the scriptures from Matthew that also refer to the harvest.
Going back to examine Revelation 14:12 Let this encourage God's holy people to endure persecution patiently and remain firm to the end, obeying his commands and trusting in Jesus. This also also verifies that Christians are here to endure persecution in this time of tribulation. Pre-tribulationists would say that these are the saints that have believed after the rapture of the church. It appears that would put the church as being a class above the Jews and those other Christians, when we just read a warning by God to not think more highly of ourselves.
Now, most would refer to the scripture that states that Christians are not destined for the wrath of God, I would be the first to agree with that. Just like in Egypt, God's wrath was poured out on the people of Egypt, while God kept it from affecting the Hebrews at all. This brought persecution from their Egyptian slave masters, because of their exemption from the plagues.This is a clear parallel to the time of tribulation.
There seems to be some confusion between the wrath of God and the persecution of the saints by the forces of the anti-christ.
Revelation 13:7 And the beast was allowed to wage war against God's holy people and to overcome them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. V. 10 The people who are destined for prison will be arrested and taken away. Those who are destined for death will be killed. But do not be dismayed, for here is your opportunity to have endurance and faith. Jesus promises that those who walk by faith will suffer persecution in this world.
Don't buy into Bible interpretations for this time ahead that don't line up with what scripture says, just because it sounds better and tickles your itching ears. Let's look at what scripture clearly says!
Watch another present all the scriptures for the rapture!
Look at how the odds of Bible prophecy being fulfilled is in your favor.
God foretells much in Bible prophecy, about Jesus' life, death, etc...Odds of compund probabilities are in favor of Bible prophecy as being devinely inspired.
Let me offer a few thoughts in conclusion! First of all, I know many good teachers, and brothers and sisters in Christ who hold this view of a pre-trib. rapture. I am not saying any of this to stir up strife and contention, and I continue to listen to many good preachers and teachers who still hold this view. I listen with open ears, somewhat hoping that they can convince me of this view. As yet, they dance around the scriptures that speak to this issue clearly, and point to ones that really don't apply.
If I'm wrong, I'm not going to worry, as I'll be prepared to go through the worst time in world history and I'm sure Jesus will still allow me on the first flight going! I have alot of concern for those who are Christians who accept this as a valid Bible teaching because they have heard it so often from their favorite respected teachers. Let's remember that Paul commended the Bereans for searching out the scriptures to verify the things that he taught. Know why you believe the things you've been taught! Thanks for reading this and whatever comments you make whether good or bad!