The Post Tribulation Rapture
The Post Tribulation Rapture
One of the most controversial subjects in the entire Bible is the timing of the rapture of the Church. There is a diversity of opinions on this matter that are basically divided into four theological camps. The four opinions that comprise the study and interpretation of the eschaton are the following:
Although Jesus did say that “no man knoweth the day or the hour” (Matthew 24:36), of the coming of the Son of Man, this is speaking only of the precise timing of this event and not of the season. The Bible makes abundantly clear that the prophetic seasons can in fact be spiritually discerned by God’s end time elect. The apostle Paul teaches this truth to the Christian believers at Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-6:
For ye yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall come, even as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then shall come upon them sudden destruction, as the travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethern, are not in darkness that that day shall come on you, as it were a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, neither of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.
However, quite contrary to the behavior of the early Christians, many modern day Christians are in fact slumbering and not watching for the signs of his coming. This can be attributed to the many false doctrines that are being taught on the end times. Dispensationalism teaches that Christ will come and snatch believers away in an invisible phantom rapture, at any time, before any signs of trouble appear on the earth. This is known as the doctrine of immanency, which purports that there will be no warning signs and without specific prophetic events being fulfilled.
Ironically, this ideology has spawned an enormous amount of apathy, lethargy, and selfishness within the ranks of Christianity. This teaching was formulated and propagated by a 19th century clergyman and theologian by the name of John Nelson Darby. The fact of the matter is, that this teaching is neither historic nor biblical, and no known theologian before the time of Darby has ever written or taught about such a concept.
Rev. Steven Sizer (2000) writes concerning this theology,
“Dispensationalism is one of the most influential theological systems within the universal church today. Largely unrecognised and subliminal, it has increasingly shaped the presuppositions of fundamentalist, evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic thinking concerning Israel and Palestine over the past one hundred and fifty years. John Nelson Darby is regarded as the father of dispensationalism and its prodigy, Christian Zionism. It was Cyrus. I. Scofield and D. L. Moody, however, who brought Darby’s sectarian theology into mainstream evangelical circles. R. C. Sproul concedes that dispensationalism is now ‘...a theological system that in all probability is the majority report among current American evangelicals” (Para.1).
This demonstrates that the roots of the dispensational premillenial theory have a clear origin, and it is not the Bible. The Bible teaches no such concept as two distinct covenant peoples of God and two distinct returns of Christ. There are four reasons why such a doctrine should be rejected, which are the following:
The Patristics (church fathers) taught a pre-millennial post-tribulation rapture.
The church is established on the prophets ,which dispensationalism rejects.
The New Testament teaches a post-tribulation rapture.
The prophets teach a post- tribulation rapture.
The successors of the Post-Apostolic Fathers, those which were schooled by the original apostles, all believed and wrote of the return of Christ for his saints after a great time of testing. Irenaus. Hippolytus, and Ephraim the Syrian all wrote extensively on this subject, although they are certainly not the only ones. These writings should be researched and read by all individuals who are seeking after the truth on this matter.
Dispensationalist scholars like Dwight Pentecost write that the church was not even anticipated in the prophetic writings. The idea is that the church was a second plan that was put into place only after the Jewish people rejected Jesus Christ as their messiah. However, such an idea is utterly false since the New Testament makes very clear that the church is built on the prophets (Ephesians 2:20) and that the prophets testified of the church (1 Peter 1:12) This shows that the Church is the renewed Israel that was written about in the ancient prophecies, which would include Jacob’s time of trouble. However, this does not negate the promise to the natural Jewish seed, which will be collectively regenerated at the consummation of the age.
The New Testament
The New Testament testifies to the truth and authenticity of the post- tribulation rapture.
Matthew 24: 29-31:
But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall 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: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send forth 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 (NASB).
1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17:
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (ASV)
This last passage clarifies the idea that the saints of God will go through the tribulation. Those “who are alive and remain” show that the remnant saints have been miraculously spared from the onslaught of the tribulation. Since the Bible, if interpreted correctly, does not contradict itself, the teachings of Jesus and Paul are in direct alignment with the prophets, which foretold of these events hundreds of years earlier.
Nearly all of the prophets foretold of the horrors of the great tribulation. One prophet in particular, which was Daniel, showed precisely and in clear and unambiguous language the plight of the end time saints of God.
Daniel 7: 18-25:
“Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom”.“Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time (NASB).
Although this erroneous system of teaching has had a dreadful impact on Christian vitality and evangelism, the truth on this particular subject has reemerged and is gaining traction. Through the brilliant writings of the late George Eldon Ladd, historic pre-millennialism with its emphasis on a post-tribulation rapture has reemerged, and the truth is being revived. Ladd was essentially able to construct a coherent biblical eschatology of pre-millennialism without separating the monolithic identity of Israel and the Church. For this reason, I highly recommend his book, The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture.
Sizer, S. (2000) . Christian Zionism: Dispensationalism and the Roots of Sectarian Theology.
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