This final post will be a short review of what we have discussed in the previous 6 posts. We will also examine a very real and biblical element of Christians sanctification, which is the suffering of tribulation. If you have not read the last post, please click this link to read Behold, He is Coming in the Clouds! IVI
THE RAPUTRE AFTER THE TRIBULATION BEGINS
The suggestion that the “in gathering of the church” or what is popularly termed the “rapture”, is anything other than pre-tribulational, is a preposterous assertion to most Christians in America. This is a sad state for the church, because as we have discovered over the last six posts, the rapture taking place after the beginning of the tribulation is a solid biblical assertion and much more biblical than a pre-tribulation position.
This ought to grieve our hearts, especially when those who hold a pre-tribulation viewpoint scoff at debate, as if there is no reason for conjecture concerning their position. What I would like to do is present you with the most plausible timelines from the most cogent passages containing references to the “rapture”. After these timelines, we will discuss the necessity of tribulation as an element of sanctification for the saints from the birth of the church.
- The beginning of the sorrows (1-8)
- The beginning of the tribulation (9-14)
- The midpoint of the tribulation (15-28)
- Before or at the midpoint of the tribulation, the sign of the Son of Man (29-30)
- The last trumpet (31a)
- The rapture of the church (31b)
- The beginning of the sorrows (3-8)
- The beginning of the tribulation (9-13)
- The midpoint of the tribulation (14-23)
- Before or at the midpoint of the tribulation, the sign of the Son of Man (29-30)
- The last trumpet (26)
- The rapture of the church (27)
- The beginning of the sorrows (8-10)
- The beginning of the tribulation (11-19)
- The midpoint of the tribulation (20-24)
- Before or at the midpoint of the tribulation, the sign of the Son of Man (25-28)
*note verse 28 “look up for your redemption draws near” Luke’s account makes notation of the last trumpet.
- The beginning of the sorrows (6:1-9)
- The beginning of the tribulation to middle (6:9; 8:1-2; 11:1-2; 12:1-6; 13:1-4)
- The midpoint of the tribulation (11:7-10; 12:7-12; 13:5-8; 11-15)
- The last trumpet (11:15)
- The voice of the archangel (11:15: 12:7-9)
- The rapture of the church (14:14-16)
Note that in a plain reading of the text, despite what has been reported, the rapture does not take place until after the midpoint of the tribulation. This presents us with a sobering proposition: That the church will go through tribulation. This ought not to surprise any of us. The church has been going through horrific tribulation through out its history and is prophesied upon us by Christ Himself.
Yes, the church will go through the largest portion of the tribulation. For me to even write those words, brings a sense of anxiety, knowing how the pre-tribulation crowd reacts with mockery, when their viewpoint does not present one in context passage, suggesting a pre-tribulational rapture.
Note my anxiety does not arise from anxiety over suffering, because that is part of our life with Christ and ought to be expected, and in fact rejoiced in: that we would be considered worthy to suffer something on His behalf (Matthew 5:10-12; Acts 5:41).
To understand that the “in gathering” of the saints or what is referred to as the “rapture“, does not occur until after the mid-point is not bad news, but good news, because this too lines up with scripture.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
This passage, which directly follows the classic rapture passage (I Thessalonians 4:13-18) reveals two wonderful truths.
The first of which debunks the secret rapture element of the pre-tribulational rapture. Although to the world, the Day of Lord or the day of Christ, at which time the “in gathering” of the saints takes place, comes upon the world suddenly; it is not supposed to for us, as reported in verse 4.
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
Remember that suddenly to the world does not mean secretly. In fact, Christ’s own words reveal the idea of secret to be an error. We know the season of time He comes for us, because of the signs we just studied, three of which are detailed in the chapter before what we just read.
Remember, that the idea of the secret rapture is debunked by Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-28, where it reveals the sign of the Son of Man and declares “every eye will see Him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn”. All the tribes accept those in Christ’s kingdom. For us it is our blessed hope. Following the whole world seeing Christ coming on the clouds, Jesus then reveals the rapture of the church.
Titus 2:11-14 11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
The second revelation is that the “rapture” is not pre-tribulational, but pre-wrath. Yes, and Amen, we are not appointed to wrath, as revealed in I Thessalonians 5:9. This also agrees with the timelines in Revelation 14:14-16, where the “rapture” takes place, only to be followed by Revelation 14:17-19, where the awesome terribleness of His wrath is poured out; producing bloodshed up to five feet high for several hundred miles.
Revelation 16-18 reveal the magnitude of God’s wrath poured out on the world, not the church.
Christians are to prepare for tribulation, and rejoice we avoid His wrath. That should not to be a shocking statement, for tribulation is built into the experience of the individual Christian and the church as large, historically and contemporarily.
Remember that tribulation, in any age, purifies the faith of the faithful and exposes those who merely profess faith in Christ, without walking in that faith.
Our Lord Jesus Christ told us we will face tribulation.
John 15:18-23 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also.
John 16:1-4 1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The word “tribulation” is described as affliction or persecution for the purpose of exhausting one’s faith and causing them to shut up or be shut down completely. The word carries with it an idea of pursuit, so it is difficult to avoid.
Tribulation is a result of those who live godly in Christ Jesus (II Timothy 3:12). From the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts chapter 7, until the present hour, the history of the church is a history of the godly and faithful suffering tribulation like atrocities and enduring through them.
One passage, in particular, points to the necessity of tribulation in our lives for Christ. Tribulation is described as trouble against us because of our faith, not just garden variety human suffering, but a satanic, carnal and worldly effort to eradicate our faith and faithfulness to Christ.
Romans 5:3-5 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Tribulation, is trouble meant to eradicate our faith and faithfulness to Christ, by any means, but produces “perseverance” or endurance. Endurance is necessary to produce something greater in us than we can build without the tribulation. When we persevere in our faith, regardless of the trial against us, it produces “experience” or “proven character”.
This is not good human character, but the character of Christ in and through us. This is what brings about the fullness of the Holy Spirit, where the fruit of the Spirit, the very character of Christ, is visible and life giving in us.
When Christ’s character is proven in our lives of faith, perfect love for Him casts out fear and the desire to run. This state is what brings “hope”, which means we are fully fixed on looking for “our blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”.
Tribulation and more specifically Christians enduring during the tribulation period, has another God glorifying effect. It stimulates Israel to jealousy, concerning our relationship to the God of their fathers (Romans 11:11).
Remember, during the first 3 and half years of the tribulation, two Jewish witnesses will call Israel to repentance, as they oppose antichrist. Also during that time, 144,000 Jewish evangelists will proclaim the gospel to the Jewish nation. Their message, lines up with what true Christ following Gentiles have proclaimed for 2000 years.
When the Jewish remnant sees, the sign of the Son of Man, the two witnesses and the evangelists of their own nation, in line with Christians who are dying in multitudes for the name of Yeshua, they will be provoked to jealous faith in the Messiah.
There are some who have said that to teach anything other than a pretribulational rapture is to say God would be beating up His bride and He would never do that. Not only is this an unscriptural straw man, it lacks historical context.
Was God beating up His bride when He prophesied decades a head of time, that Peter would be tortured to death by crucifixion and then it came to pass (John 21:18-19)? Or what of when Paul was beheaded in a very tribulation-like execution? Was God beating up His bride, when James was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple and when he did not die, had his brains smashed out of his skull with a fuller’s club? Was God raging against His bride when Thomas was impaled in India by priest of Kali? The answer is no.
In fact, all the original twelve, except Judas and John, died by beheading, stoning, being drawn and quartered, flayed, drowned or crucified.
Was God beating up his Bride, when they thousands were dressed in bloody animal skins, placed in an arena and eaten alive by animals and wild beasts for the pleasure of the crowds.
Was God beating up His bride, when millions of followers of Jesus Christ were tortured, burned at the stake or killed in various tribulation-like ways, by the Roman Catholic Church?
Was Jesus Christ angry with his Bride and punishing her, when tens of thousands of Armenian Christians were taken to the middle of the Black Sea and thrown overboard to watch them tread water until they drown in exhaustion by the Muslim Ottoman Turk Empire?
Or is the Lord beating up His bride, while hundreds of thousands of North Korean Christians are tortured in cruel medical experiments and executed in ways to despicable to speak of?
The answer is no. Tribulation is part of our experience for God’s glory.
Romans 8:35-39 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rather than dwell on what may take place, let us continue to live faithfully for Christ, everyday we are blessed to live. Let us endure now, looking of the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. And when our time arrives to stand for Christ is difficulty, let us be prepared, with a heart of love for God and hope in His glorious appearing.