The Prewrath Rapture - Part 1
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PART ONE The Prewrath Rapture New Kid on the Block
Over the past few generations there has been much interest in the Bible's teachings about future end time events, although there has not been agreement within the church concerning the millennium or the timing of the rapture.  Concerning the rapture, the three common teachings have been pre, mid, or post tribulational.   Each view puts Christ's return at different times either before, in the middle of, or at the very end of the 7 year period popularly known as the tribulation, or Daniel's 70th week.  Good Bible teachers have chosen to hold to one of these positions while others would conclude that we cannot know for sure because it is so confusing and still others claim “It is not that important.”  This last statement grieves me since Jesus took the time to answer the disciple's questions about end time events, and God chose to make prophecy a large part of the Bible. I have always been interested in eschatology and found myself believing the pretribulation position because that is what I was taught as a young believer and later at the seminary I attended.  However, I began questioning whether the rapture could be before the seven year tribulation when I studied the other two perspectives and saw the Biblical support they had.  I still continued to teach pretrib because it had fewer problems than the other two, but there was a shadow of doubt and only a little conviction that it was the truth. A few years ago a friend gave me a book teaching a fourth position about the timing of the rapture called The Prewrath Rapture of the Church by Marv Rosenthal.  I read it and saw it had merit, but I was not convinced by it.  I reread it later and began thinking maybe this teaching answers the problems the three traditional positions have not been able to solve concerning of the timing of the rapture.  I studied it a third time and saw how it really made sense and interpreted the major passages concerning the second coming of Christ without contradiction.  In short, prewrath  says the rapture takes place sometime between the middle and the end of the tribulation.  This means the church goes through the persecution of the antichrist and the rapture occurs near the end of the tribulation just before God pours out His wrath on the unbelieving world.  I will develop this in more detail from the Bible and post it complete and in greater detail on TheChurchGuide.com. But right now I want to deal with one of the common teachings about the rapture … that it could happen at any moment, possibly before you finish reading this article.  The “thief in the night” and “nobody knows the day or the hour” passages lead some teachers to conclude that nothing has to take place before the rapture occurs.  However there are many places that the Bible implies that this is not true. The Great Commission in Matthew. 28:18-20 is given to the church  for the gospel to be preached in the whole world before the end comes (also see Mt 24:14).  The rapture is not imminent if this task is to be accomplished, it would take a long time to go to all the world.  Jesus told Peter that he would become an old man in John 21:18, but this would make Jesus a liar if the rapture would have taken place at any moment before Peter could age.  In Acts 21:10-14 a prophet of God named Agabus prophesied that Paul would be arrested and persecuted in Jerusalem when he arrived there. Later when Paul was in Jerusalem, Jesus appeared and told him that he must travel to Rome to be a witness for Christ (Acts 23:11).  Later during the boat trip to Rome, an angel appeared to Paul (Acts 27:21-26)  telling him two future events that will transpire.  First, their boat would be lost, and second, Paul must stand before Ceasar.  The rapture could not happen before any of these prophecies were fulfilled.  A final reason for why the any moment rapture cannot be accepted is because of what Paul says in 2 Thes. 2:1-4.  Those saying the rapture is secret but begins the Day of the Lord must explain why Paul says two events must happen first. He says the “apostacy comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed.”  So again, prophesied events must occur before the rapture happens, the rapture is not a secret imminent work of God until at least these things are accomplished.    What about “the thief in the night” and “no one knows the day or the hour passages”?  If you read the contexts, the thief in the night passages are referring to those who are unprepared, not to expectant believers. The unknown day and hour verse does teach an any moment rapture, but only after the remaining signs that have been prophesied occur during Daniel's 70th week. I will explain in greater detail on TheChurchGuide.com from the Bible what these unfulfilled signs are before Christ can rapture His Church to Himself. I hope you will find many of your questions clarified in these studies of God's Word.
Tom Keeley is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and former pastor, staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ and Youth for Christ.  He is presently a volunteer staff member of the Jesus Film Project and does Bible teaching & discipleship in the Tidewater area. Send your comments and questions to TKeeley8@hotmail.com
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