The Prewrath Rapture - Part 2
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PART TWO The Place of the Rapture In the 7 Year Tribulation
Previously in The Church Guide, we discussed the three traditional views of the rapture: pre,  mid, and post tribulation and various Biblical passages that go against the teaching that it could happen  at any moment (click here to read).  At this time, we will deal with the Biblical support for a fourth view called prewrath, which places  the rapture sometime between the middle and the end of the tribulation. In other words, it will happen at  some unknown time in the last half of Daniel’s 70th week, also known as the tribulation period.  This  means that the church will have to face the persecution of the antichrist ( great tribulation) but will be  raptured before God’s wrath ( Day of the Lord). The key to the timing of the rapture is to correctly define the Day of the Lord from the OT   and then determine when it begins.   It is critical to do this based only on passages of the Bible and not  on other assumed ideas. The many OT passages mentioning the Day of the Lord will be listed here, but  space will not allow to quote them in their entirety.  Look them up in your Bible or I will send you an  email copy of all of these passages in their context.  Joel 2:30-31, 3:14-16; Amos 5:18-20; Isaiah 2:12-  21, 13:6-13; Ezekiel 12:3-5, 30:2-3;  Zephaniah 1:7-2:3; and Malachi 4:1,5.  Some of the important points about the Day of the Lord from these passages are: 1) it is a terrible time of destruction that comes from God (not man) on the prideful unbelieving people living on earth   2)  only the Lord is exalted because there is no world leader/antichrist exalted during the Day of the Lord, antichrist appears before it arrives and his authority is destroyed during it  3) there are cosmic disturbances: darkening of the sun, moon, and stars, these disturbances occur before the Day of the Lord comes.  These three things are significant to know because many people think that all of the seven year tribulation is part of the Day of the Lord (pretrib teachers), but that is not true as we will see below from the Matthew 24 and Revelation 6-8 passages. Next we need to look at Matthew 24 where Jesus’ disciples ask him about signs of His coming and the end of the age.  Jesus answers in v. 4-31 predicting terrible things that will take place before the end including deception, wars, famines, and earthquakes which Jesus says are just the beginning birth pangs v. 4-8. Then in v. 9-28 Jesus talks about persecution of Christians, falling away from faith, false prophets, worldwide evangelism, revelation of a world ruling antichrist, and even greater tribulation.  So far in the passage there is no mention of a rapture taking the followers of Christ out of this tribulation time as taught by the pretribulation position. These experiences are horrendous, but a careful comparison of them with the characteristics of the OT Day of the Lord wrath passages does not allow us to equate the two. Therefore we cannot assume that the rapture has taken place before the tribulation events of Matthew 24:4-28.  Instead we will see Jesus tell His disciples in the next three verses when the rapture will happen:      “But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (v.29)  “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and then all the tribes of earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” (v.30)     Before we go to the next verse let us see what we have found in v.29-30: 1) these events take place after  the tribulation  2) the cosmic disturbances happen (sun, moon, stars darken), and  3)  the long awaited appearance/coming of Jesus Christ finally takes place. Remember these happen after the tribulation. Now let’s see what v.31 tells us happens after  these things:       “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect  from the four winds , from one end of the sky to the other.” (v. 31) This is the rapture of the followers of Christ that takes place after the persecution of the antichrist, but before the wrath of God.  This is the fulfillment of what Jesus had spoken earlier in v. 22. “And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved, but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be cut short.”  The rapture is the event that cuts short the tribulation, begins Christ’s presence at His 2nd coming, and allows God to pour out His wrath on earth without the presence of the church on earth. A comparison of the Matthew 24 passage with Revelation 6-8 reveals an interesting parallel which gives more support of the time of the rapture which was just discussed.  The seals in Revelation are generally agreed to be the terrible events of the tribulation, but there is disagreement between pretrib and prewrath positions as to the cause behind them.  Pretrib sees the seals, trumpets, and bowls together making up the wrath of God, but prewrath understands the seals as being natural calamities and persecution from the antichrist, they are not God’s wrath.  Four important points support the prewrath view that the seals are not God’s wrath.  First, the seals are not the inside contents of the scroll, but their presence on the outside implies they are just events leading up to God’s wrath (the trumpets and the bowls) contained inside the scroll. Second, the 5th seal shows the martyrdom of many faithful believers, which does not make sense if Christians are not supposed to experience God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).  God will not kill His own faithful children in wrath, but that is what you must believe according to the pretrib rapture teaching. Third, the sixth seal directly says the wrath of God does not begin until after it according to:       Revelation 6:12-17  “And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, and the whole moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth… and the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains.  And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne and from the Lamb.  For the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?”    The cosmic disturbances in the sun, moon, and stars are mentioned here in the sixth seal, which we already know must precede the Day of the Lord wrath of God. This means  the first five seals cannot be God’s wrath.  We also  have the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven   And if that is not enough, v. 17 states that God’s wrath has finally come.  If you are asking, “Where is the rapture in this Rev 6 passage which describes the seals?” We only have to read on in Chapter 7.  There John reports two visions, first there is 144,000 Jewish people sealed. Next there is a sudden appearance in 7:9-17 of a great multitude of worshippers of Christ in heaven, from every nation and tribe and who are no longer suffering.  The elder tells John that this multitude of Christians came out of the great tribulation, so they must be the raptured church Continuing on into Revelation 8 and following, you find  the trumpet and bowl judgments which most everyone agrees are God’s wrath.  This important section of Revelation does not support the pretrib, midtrib, or post trib explanations of the timing of the rapture, but does coincide with the prewrath teaching.  Many feel the teaching and study of Biblical prophecy is too complicated, divisive, and not that important.  I used to agree with this thought, but do not anymore after understanding the prewrath position. I am motivated to spend time promoting this view because first, I believe Jesus thought it was important enough to teach about it and second, the apostles thought it was important enough to write about it in the New Testament. Finally, I feel the church is not prepared to face the tribulation, which is what Jesus predicted in Mt. 24:10 when He says:  ”many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.”  This makes sense if the church has been misled to believe that it will not go through the tribulation period by the pretribulation rapture teaching.  This two part presentation has been a brief attempt to explain the prewrath teaching of the rapture.   I am convinced that prewrath is the easiest to understand because it does not have any contradictions with passages which teach about the rapture, and it does not require a doctorate degree to understand. I have looked over all the attempts to refute the position as I can find, but have found them to be weak in their attempts.  If you want to dialogue with me about the subject, contact me, Tom Keeley  757-513-6838  or TKeeley8@hotmail.com .  Or if you prefer to do your own personal study like I did, then here are some sources to consider.  Books: The Prewrath Rapture of the Church by Marv Rosenthal,  The Rapture Question Answered, Plain and Simple by Robert VanKampen.  Website: Prewrath Resource Institute.  YouTube teaching videos: look for any of the following names: Robert VanKampen, Charles Cooper, Ron Wallace, Marv Rosenthal, or Alan Kurschner.
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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