(The Pre-Tribulation Rapture II)
n the first article on the Pre-Trib Rapture, we went over the underlying ideas that this doctrine espouses, and how they can damage an individual’s view of sin, Yah’s dealing with transgression, the nature of death, the nature of heaven, the interpretation of scripture and so on. It even looked at not only the spirit of what the doctrine teaches, but the letter – exactly how the words of Scripture were applied to the belief in a “vanishing,” and how those same verses, along with the ones before and after it, give us a more “filled in” view of what the Biblical writers were really saying.
“Okay,” you might be saying, “I’ll go along with you for now, but really... what’s the alternative?” In all honesty, that may take a little while to become clear. Those who support the early rapture of the Church have brought heavy accusations against those who try to show that their beliefs are not in harmony with the historical records of Yah’s dealing with sin or the events the prophets told us to expect. Two of the most striking of these indictments have really “soured” the Christian’s view of the Biblical teachings of Christ’s return.
Because of this, the deceptive teaching seems to make a good point when it appeals to readers to expect salvation before the tribulation. “Are we supposed to look forward to the time of trouble?” they ask. Yet, it is not the return of Christ to set right the harmony and order of the world (and universe) that they end up looking forward to, but simply an escape from their own discomfort. As my friend said in the letter to me, which I quoted from in the first article, they are not eager to have to “claim” Christ before a fallen world. Just as Yahshua was hung upon the cross for heaven and earth to see, and just as Job was held up as an example of unjust suffering to his friends and to the heavenly council (Job 1:6), so are we, the true of faith, to be the ultimate, final example and warning to the earth as the time of Jacob’s trouble begins. We will be here, preaching and teaching and leading by example, until the door of the ark is completely closed – until the last possible moment for repentance.
The two ideas that lead to this are the accusations that those who oppose the pre-tribulation belief do so in order to steal the Christian’s “Blessed Hope.” Secondly, they claim that belief in any other interpretation than the pre-tribulation doctrine destroys a Christian’s sense of the “imminent return” of Christ, making believers lax in witnessing and lax in accountability in regards to their own Christian walk. This second is the most obviously refuted by numerous Scripture verses, but as it seems to be the more forceful charge, I will deal with it first. This is also nice for readers, because this way I get to end by showing the beauty and joy that is truly present in Scriptures, the real “blessed hope,” which is so much better than anything man or demon could invent, and which reaffirms the all-important notion that Yah is Love.
Anyway, first the meal, and then the dessert...
Does belief in the coming time of trouble before the rapture really destroy a sense of imminence of Christ’s soon return? Does every doctrine but the pre-tribulation rapture teach the church the “error” of looking for the antichrist rather than the Christ? Does knowing that treacherous times are ahead for all of us truly make us less likely to be effective witnesses to the world? Heaven forbid!
In many places in the Bible, Christ said to His disciples, “I am returning soon.” Four times in the book of Revelation alone He cautions, “Behold, I come quickly,” (Rev 3:11, 22:7, 22:12 and in almost those exact words in 22:20). Of the great day of destruction which would occur when Christ returns in power, Peter says to the church, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:11, 12) Peter was telling the CHURCH to look for that day with the “heavens being on fire” and so on.
He didn’t tell them to look forward to the day when we would be called out of the trial. On the contrary, he said the exact opposite. He said to look through it, when he adds in the very next verse, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13) This by itself should serve to silence the claims of the pre-tribulation supporters since, according to them, we won’t be HERE to look for such things as the day of judgment. The point here, though, is that we don’t know when we will be called on to give our witness to the world in this last-effort, dramatic way. And our robes had best be pure white – not for OUR sakes alone, but for those we are called to be examples for. This is much more in keeping with the Christ-nature than seeking an escape from our privileged responsibilities.
Nor was Peter alone in this. Paul also wrote, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, ‘Peace and safety;’ then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Th 5:2,3) “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Th 5:6) Again, in another book, he writes, “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” (Heb 10:38) Of seeking to escape being a useful witness to those less mature in the faith, Paul in fact said this: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith.” (Phl 1:23-25) This is the character we also should display.
Christ Yahshua confirms Peter’s words Himself, for He said, “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:38-42) It should not need to be put more clearly than this. Christ taught that the “great day” was coming soon, as a flood, and we should be watchful.
This is the Day of the Lord when He comes in glory and power: to simultaneously resurrect the dead, translate the living faithful into their incorruptible states, and strike the wicked dead by the contrast of their own sins to His brightness. To claim that the church was not instructed to look forward to THIS day, to say that teaching otherwise removes the sense of immediacy is not only unsupportable by the Word, but it is directly contrary to what the Redeemer taught. He said that the Day men were anticipating would indeed by likened unto the Flood of Noah’s day, YET we are to “watch.” We will very much be here on earth when the return of Christ predicted in Peter’s discourse takes place.
What IS invisible and silent is the angel’s work upon the earth of sealing up the saints to endure the tribulation itself. This is very much something which should have us feeling the need to live holy and righteous lives before man and angel. There is quite the need for the most thorough self examination, lest one finds one’s self passed by when the heavenly messenger would place the Seal upon his/her forehead. I would encourage every reader to look to him or herself and ask the question, “Do I keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ?’” If that is not so, you can see very well why this is a most vital and immediate work, for there should be no delay in the putting away of known sins and growing into a more Christlike follower of Yah. That is a most imminent task.
One of the other points that the pre-tribulation rapture holds, connected to the imminence issue, is that by accepting any other view, the church is placed in a position of looking for the antichrist, rather than Christ. This, they say, taints the blessed hope. Well, they are right about the first part, to reject the pre-tribulation rapture would be to place ones self in the position of needing to watch for the rise of the antichrist. And that is EXACTLY what Paul said to do! It wasn’t to “mar” the joy that believers have in the soon return of Yahshua, but a necessary sign of the end approaching. When we see the bad things happening along the way, specifically the appearance of the antichrist himself, Yahshua said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14:27 & 29,30)
I mentioned Paul before. Read what he said about this. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Th 2:3,4) Paul goes on for some verses thereafter describing the rise to power of a man who will claim the authority due only Heaven. Notice, though, he says “let no man deceive you,” meaning some would try, and not only that – “that day shall not come, except there come a falling away FIRST.” He was very clear that the church was indeed to look for the appearance of such a one. And he is already here – and has been for a very, very long time. By their own reasoning, if the church was to be raptured before the appearance of the antichrist, before the human appeared who would sit in the highest place of religious authority and claim to be equal to God... we would have been out of here centuries ago. Once again, this point alone is evidence enough against the pre-tribulation position.
On a final note, John concurs, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18) Let the bride awaken, the enemy has been here a long time.
Now, on to the second point: Does attempting to show the flaws in the early Rapture position truly “steal hope” from the believer? Well, they may have me on that point. But that, of course, depends on what your “blessed hope” is. If it’s to be spared suffering, leaving friends and loved ones to “do their best” against the rise of the worst spiritual enemy in human history; if it’s to expect to deprive the world of our example when they need it the most; if it’s to avoid discomfort and fail to give our testimony before the angels of heaven during the darkest point in the war between God and Lucifer... then yes. Knowing the truth takes some of that away.
But at the same time, we are promised that even WHILE being the best witnesses we can be during this time; even while putting forth our UTMOST effort to personally save those we love; even while standing up for Christ Yahshua against the worst and most fearful opposition; He won’t leave our side. He will have left the Inner Temple, completed the final atonement for man, and now His efforts will be fully directed towards our preservation in the face of opposition which would have crushed any previous efforts. The psalmist wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psa 23:4) One of the best known Scriptures there is, and it too plainly declares – we WILL walk through that valley, but we’ll be okay.
“Fear not, fear not, fear not,” the Savior was fond of repeating. Angels began their discourses with humans that way, and it was one of the most precious phrases recorded as having issued forth from Christ’s lips. “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows,” (Luke 12:7) for example. Imagine the high honor of being able to prove Him to all the universe! It is to this wonderful duty we are called when the time of trouble begins. What hope is this stealing? Our testimony, by word and deed, during those dark times, will save countless souls, many of whom we had been trying for years before to reach – but it will take this demonic persecution to finally shake them loose from their agnostic moorings.
And then, after we have done all we can, and all who can possibly be saved are – and we KNOW that we have done everything we can – THEN we are taken, and the rest of the earth will erupt into a blazing fury, poisoned by the weight of its own corruption, and ignited by the brightness of His coming. We are not promised we will be spared from the time of trouble, but that we will be honored and refined through it. “Here is the patience of the saints,” John declares, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev 14:12) When it is over, we will not be those who say, “Praise God who kept us from trouble,” but rather as Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) We will truly be “Israel,” we who “strove with El” and overcame. Christ left us with these promises: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) And just as much to the point, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:3,4)
These are the promises Christ left us with concerning the last days, and they will be fulfilled in His soon return – this and this alone is the “blessed hope” of the Christian. Christians have been warned against those teaching the truth about the last days with such warnings as “don’t let them steal your hope.” But I say to you that the hope which Christ taught was just this – that there would be peace in the soul regardless of circumstances. For Paul said, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phl 4:11) If any believer should come short of this, and needs the idea that he will be spared a time of trouble in order to have pace and hope, I submit to you that this is a weak Christian indeed.
This is the Blessed Hope of the true Christian, that “He which testifieth these things saith, ‘Surely I come quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20) We need not ever fear that some erring doctrine will wrest this out of our hands, for we know it is true. But of course, all of this is “just doctrine.” All of this is just words, and people will always say it can be interpreted this way or that. The true test of a teaching, as I often write, is in the life it produces. There is a way to decide this matter once and for all... in a way that Satan’s best efforts cannot answer. I have shown you evidence from the Word that controverts this great error, and what the truth is, but now it’s up to you to decide what you will do with this information. Will you reject it for traditions, or will you take it, open the Bible and study it out for yourself?
The next article I write on this will examine this “true test” of the doctrines, and will hopefully help you to use your free will to follow just that – the course of freedom. Truth is the antigen that will stop the spread of lies, the contagion. Truth will destroy the pathogen, and restore health. “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He hath done for you.” (1 Sam 12:24) “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” (Psalms 25:5) Truth is the most important factor here. Let every child of Yah say, “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.” (Psalms 86:11)