THE END TIMES: THE PRETRIBULATION RAPTURE
1. We have been focusing on the pretribulation rapture. In the past few lessons we have looked at the tribulation itself.
a. We have found it has nothing to do with the Church. It concerns Israel.
b. That in itself is a strong argument that the Church will not be here.
2. Another strong argument for the pretrib rapture — not a single verse about the tribulation (OT or NT) mentions the Church directly or indirectly.
3. In this lesson, we want to look at some final proofs that the Church will not be on earth during any part of the tribulation.
1. In chap 1-3 the Church is mentioned 19 times. Chap 6-18 cover the tribulation. The Church is not mentioned one time; saints are, but not the Church.
a. In chapters 2 and 3 the phrase “he that has ears let him ear what the Spirit says to the Churches” is found seven times (Rev 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). Then, the phrase abruptly stops. Why?
b. Rev 13:9–In the midst of the tribulation we find the phrase “If any man have an ear, let him hear”, but there is no mention of the Church. Why?
c. The Church is not mentioned again until Rev 19:7-16 when it is described coming out of heaven with Jesus at the end of the tribulation.
2. Rev 4,5 describe heaven just before the tribulation begins. Notice these points:
a. 4:1–John has an experience similar to I Thess 4:16,17. He is caught up to heaven before the tribulation begins = a type of the rapture.
b. 4:2-9–John sees the throne of God. Before the throne is a crystal sea. v6
c. In prophetic scriptures, an unspecified sea refers to a large, innumerable body of people. Isa 57:20,21; Rev 13:1; 15:2.
d. Crystal is the only element in which you cannot hide flaws. The Church will be without flaws. Is this the Church in heaven before the tribulation?
3. Rev 4:4,10–John sees twenty four elders before the throne of God.
a. We have a record of two other men who were permitted to see the throne of God, Isaiah and Ezekiel. Their descriptions of the throne are similar to John’s, except neither the elders nor the crystal sea are mentioned. Ezek 1:1-28; 10:1-22; Isa 6:1-3
b. Elders = elderly, subject to age, which means they are real people, not angels. The elders and the sea suggest strongly that the Church is in heaven before the tribulation begins. The Church didn’t exist in OT times.
c. The elders have crowns which they throw at Jesus’s feet. The Church will receive crowns at the BEMA of Christ after the rapture. II Tim 4:8
d. 5:9,10–They sing that Jesus has redeemed them by His Blood, made them kings and priests. That’s a description of the Church.
4. Rev 3:10–Jesus promised to keep the Church from the hour of temptation (testing) which will come on the whole earth. In context, that testing has to be the tribulation. Testing can expose the evil in people. Isa 13:11
5. The tribulation will be a time of wrath and judgment. But, God has delivered us from the wrath to come. Rom 8:1; Rom 5:9; I Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10
a. God took Enoch before the flood came. Gen 5:21-24; Heb 11:5
b. Gen 6,7–Noah and his family were preserved above the flood in the ark.
c. Sodom and Gomorrah could not be destroyed until righteous Lot was removed. Gen 19:16,22; Ezek 14:14
6. If the Church is going through all or part of the tribulation, why is it not mentioned in the most detailed description of the tribulation, Revelation?
a. Some midtribulationists say the Church is found in Rev 11 and is raptured in the middle of the tribulation. v3-12
b. But, to reach that conclusion, you must allegorize those verses.
1. Yet Matt 16:18 says the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. How do you reconcile that? The saints on earth during the tribulation will not be part of the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church will be completed and taken off the earth before the tribulation begins.
2. The Bible doesn’t say what event will cause the whole world to suddenly unite under a world ruler and accept a world government, economy, and religion.
a. It is highly likely that the rapture itself will be that event. II Thess 2:3,4
b. Imagine the effect the rapture will have on the earth as millions suddenly disappear — the fear (where did they go? who’s next?), the social and political chaos as the restraining force in society is suddenly removed.
c. Then, onto the world scene comes a man with answers and supernatural powers who restores order. People will gladly submit. II Thess 2:10,11
d. There are many plausible explanations already in place for the rapture — UFOs, quantum leap. A common theme: the bad people will be taken, but the good ones will remain. Antichrist will blaspheme the saints in heaven. Could he be speaking evil against the Church after the rapture? Rev 13:16
1. I Pet 4:17–This verse has become a cliche, taken totally out of context.
2. There is no reference to the tribulation (direct or indirect) in this epistle. We cannot arbitrarily say that judgment means tribulation.
3. The theme of the epistle is Christian suffering and how to deal with it. (persecution and any cost as we live for the Lord) 2:11,12,19-21; 3:16; 4:4,12-14
a. 4:15,16–Peter exhorts Christians to be sure we suffer for doing right, not for doing wrong. In other words, suffer as a Christian.
b. It has nothing to do with the tribulation. It is an exhortation to Christians to judge their own behavior, and it is an on going principle which applied to the early Church just as much as to us.
4. The references to the Second Coming in the epistle all refer to the glory and grace that will be revealed in and to us, not judgment. 1:5,7,13,20; 4:13; 5:4
5. The tribulation is not judgment from God on the Church. (No scriptures)
a. The tribulation, in addition to being God’s final years of judgment on Israel, is judgment on the ungodly as He withdraws His hand of protection and restraint from the world. Rev 6:15-17; 14:7
b. There will be two great harvests of the earth at the end — multitudes who will come to faith in Christ and be saved, and the wicked who will be taken off the earth. Rev 14:14-20; 11:18; II Pet 3:8; Rev 21:27
c. Judgment will remove the wicked — the Jews (Matt 24:36-41), the Gentiles (Matt 25:31-46), the unrighteous dead (Rev 20:11-15).
6. The only judgment Christians face is the BEMA of Christ. II Cor 5:10
a. Remember, if you are born again, you are without spot or wrinkle in the eyes of God. Position and experience are two different things.
b. It’s not the tribulation that makes us acceptable to God, it’s His work in us because of what Jesus did on the Cross. Eph 5:25-27; Titus 3:5; John 15:2,3; I John 1:7
c. I John 4:17–In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of Judgment — with assurance and boldness to face Him — because as He is, so are we in this world. (Amp)
7. We are only a part of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ includes all who have been born again since Jesus rose from the dead. If the tribulation is what purifies the Church, where does that leave all the rest of the Body? That means the rest of the Body which has already lived left this earth left unpurified.
8. People have gotten this glamorized idea that persecution, tribulation, and hardship are good for the Church. That contradicts scripture. We are told to pray for quiet, peaceful conditions so the gospel can be preached. I Tim 2:1-4
1. The U.S. is not a covenant nation like Israel. We were founded by Christians on Christian principles and God has blessed us as a Christian nation.
2. However, God did not enter into a covenant relationship with America. He has only done that once, with Israel. You can’t take OT verses about the covenant between God and Israel and apply them to the U.S.
3. People often say that God has to judge America or He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. That statement has been taken way too far.
a. God isn’t going to judge America while the Church is here. He would have spared Sodom for ten righteous. America has more than ten. Gen 18:23-33
b. God spared Israel for the sake of one man, Moses. Ex 32:7-14
c. A large portion of the Church lives in America. The majority of money to finance the gospel around the world comes from America.
4. America will be judged with the rest of the world during the tribulation.
5. Right up until the judgment of the tribulation begins, people will be saying peace and safety. To the unsaved world, things will look good, and when the Antichrist first comes, they’ll look even better. I Thess 5:2,3; Matt 24:36-39
a. That doesn’t mean there won’t be problems, but there will be enough “peace and safety” for the world to deny the birth pangs that are occurring. Matt 24:4-8; II Peter 3:3-7; II Tim 3:13
b. Evil men will grow worse, and their behavior will vex us. II Pet 2:7
1. There is not a single warning to the Church to prepare for the rapture, but there are many to Israel. We the Church, are exhorted to be looking for and expecting Jesus. I Cor 1:7; Phil 3:20; I Thess 1:9,10; Heb 9:28, 10:25; I Pet 4:7
a. Imminency (the idea that Jesus could come at any moment) pervades the NT. John 21:20-23; II Cor 11:23
b. If the rapture is mid or post trib, we’d be looking for the Antichrist, and we’d know that Jesus’s coming was either 3 1/2 or 7 years away.
2. Titus 2:13; I Thess 4:18–The coming of Jesus is to be a source of hope and comfort for the Church. A mid or post trib rapture destroys both.
3. The pretribulation rapture is the most consistent with literally interpreting scriptures about the Second Coming.
1. You’d get the idea that the Lord Jesus is coming back for His Church to take us to Father’s house before the tribulation begins, and that we are to live our lives looking for Jesus, expecting Him to come at any moment.
2. All the “fear and store stuff up” preaching that is so common today has the focus on looking for the Antichrist, the mark of the Beast, the coming persecution of Christians — but not for Jesus!!
3. The time will come when time (space to repent) will end and God will get on with His eternal program. We may be the generation to see the Lord return.
4. How close are we? We are the first generation to see Israel back in the land, weapons of mass destruction capable of destroying the world, and technology in existence that will make a one world government system possible.
a. Don’t be alarmed when you hear things about global organizations or a cashless society or implanted computer chips. The stage is being set for a world government, economy, and religion to suddenly fall into place.
b. A thousand years is as a day to the Lord. II Pet 3:8
1. From the time of Adam to Christ = 4,000 years or 4 days. Jesus has been back in heaven almost 2,000 years or 2 days. (4 + 2 = 6)
2. In the Bible, the 7th day is a day of rest. What if the millennium (1,000 years or 1 day) is God’s spectacular day of rest for us?
c. Hosea 6:1,2–Chap 5 states the judgments which will come on Israel for her disobedience. After two days God will heal and restore them.
1. For almost 2,000 years (2 days) God has not dealt directly with Israel.
2. Could the third day when He’ll restore them be the millennium?
5. In light of all of this, how shall we live? Plan as though Jesus won’t be back for 100 years. Live as though He’ll be back today! Continue in the things you know. Live your life looking for, expecting Jesus. II Tim 3:13,14; Titus 2:11-13
6. Remember Phil 1:6–And I am sure that God who began a good work with you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until is task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns. (Living)