Sunday, March 28, 2010

12 Reasons I Believe The Rapture Will Occur Before The Tribulation #Tribulation #Rapture

Why I believe the rapture will occur before the Tribulation:

1) Because the Tribulation is the time of "Jacob's trouble", not the churches' (Jeremiah 30:7). 

The Tribulation is for Israel and the inhabitants of the earth (Jer. 30:4-7; Mt. 24-25; Rom. 11:25ff.; Rev. 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12-13; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:8). It is the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7), "concerning Israel and concerning Judah" (Jer. 30:4), and Jacob shall be saved out of it (Jer. 30:7), in keeping with God's gifts and promises to Israel, which are without repentance (Rom. 11:29; Jer. 3:17-18; 31:31-37; 32:37-41; 33:24-26; Eze. 34:22; 34:22-32; 37:21-28; 35:25-29; ). 

This will occur after the fullness of the Gentiles (church age) has come in (past), according to Romans 11:25, and then, in the "manner written", "all Israel shall be saved" (Isa. 11:11-16; 45:17; 54:6-10; Jer 3:17-23; 30:17-22' 31:31-37; Jer 32:37-41; 33:24-26; Eze. 34:22-31; 37:21-28; 39:25-29; Eze. 40:1-48:35; Ho. 3:5; Joel 3:16-21; Am. 9:14,15; Mic. 7:15-20; Zep. 3:12-20; Zec. 10:6-12; Rom. 11:26; Rev. 7:4), when the deliverer comes out of Zion (Rom. 11:26; Ps. 14:7; Isa. 59:20).

The 144,000 sealed from "all the tribes of the children of Israel" (Rev. 7:4), are the "election" (Mt. 24:22, 24, 31; Rom. 11:28), which shall be gathered from the four quarters of the earth (Isa. 11:12; Mt. 24:31), and saved at the end of the Tribulation, when Christ returns to earth with His wife, the church (Isa. 50:1; Jer. 3:8; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31-32; Rev. 19:7-8, 14), to the marriage supper of the Lamb on earth (Rev. 19:7, 9). 

2) Because the rapture (catching up) is not part of the Day of the Lord.

When we get to Revelation 19, which contains the most detail about the return of Christ to earth, after the Tribulation, where do we see anything about a rapture? There is none! There is no rapture when Christ returns to earth, from heaven, with the bride, which is the church, in Revelation 19. If there is no rapture during the day of the Lord, then when does it occur? 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul has to educate them about the rapture of the church, and our being caught up together with Him in the air. By sharp contrast ("But") to the events of this rapture, he tells them they already knew full well about the events of the "day of the Lord"--the time when Tribulation judgment would fall on the inhabitants of the earth. 

Now how could they know full well about the Tribulation, but nothing about the catching up (rapture) of the church? It seems the only way is if the rapture of the church is not part of the events of the Tribulation, in Scripture. If that's the case, then the rapture must occur before the events of the Day of the Lord. 

It's clear from the details of both Revelation 19, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, that the rapture, or catching up of the church, is not part of the day of the Lord. And yet 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says the rapture will occur when Christ returns. If the rapture doesn't occur at Christ's coming in Revelation 19, then 1 Thessalonians must be referring to a different coming that occurs before the day of the Lord. 

3) Because God has not appointed us to wrath, but salvation (1 Thess. 5:8-11).

8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 
9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)

The reason the day of the Lord won't overtake us like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4), is because "God has not appointed us to wrath" (5:9), and not just because God informed us wrath is coming. Further, the comfort we have, and salvation we hope for, is not one of being saved in the midst of wrath, while away from the Lord, but that we "may live together with Him" (5:10). 

Even the unregenerate recognize that the events which occur at the very beginning of the prophecies in Revelation 4-19, constitute the great day of God's wrath (Rev. 6:17). The Tribulation IS an outpouring of God's wrath (Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19; 15:1; 16:1, 19), and a time of His judgment (Rev. 6:10; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14;14:7; 15:4; 16:5-7; 17:8; 19:2) and punishment (Isa. 24:21-22). 

In contrast to the drunken sleepers who will be overtaken like a thief by the day of the Lord's judgment (which includes the Tribulation, and not just eternal damnation), we, who are sober, are supposed to put on for a helmet, the "hope of salvation" (1 Thess. 5:8-10). Why? Because God has "NOT [emphasis mine] appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." 

Notice this is not referring to a salvation in the midst of wrath, while separated from the Lord, but the salvation, hope, and comfort of living "together with him [Christ]". God has not appointed us to the wrath of the day of the Lord, but to the salvation of living with Christ.  

4) Because the rapture assures us we have not entered the Tribulation (2 Thess. 2)

The Thessalonians were troubled by the thought that maybe they had already entered the day of the Lord. Paul besought them by the hope of the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him", that they should not be troubled, as if they were already in that day (2 Thess 2:1-2). 

This prospect of the coming of the Lord, and gathering of the saints to be with Him, would not be a proof for them, that they were not presently in the day of the Lord, if they had to endure the entire, or even part of the Tribulation, before they were gathered to the Lord. They could not have entered the time of judgment (and neither could we), because the gathering of church age saints (whether they sleep or are alive) to the Lord will occur first, and this is the hope by which Paul besought them.

5) Because God promised to deliver the church from the hour of temptation that tries the whole earth. (Revelation 3:10)

In Revelation 3:10, God promises to deliver the church from the very hour in which the testing occurs for "them" "that dwell upon the earth". This is undoubtedly a reference to the judgments which pour from the throne of God upon all the inhabitants of the earth, beginning in Revelation chapter 4, the 70th week, or "Tribulation". How can they be delivered from testing that falls on earth dwellers, and from the very hour in which the testing occurs, if they still dwell on earth, or in a realm where the "hour" of temptation occurs? This truth applies to whomever "has an ear" in the "churches" (v13).

6) Because John was called to heaven before the "things which shall be hereafter" (Rev 4:1)

In Revelation 1:19, John was told to write the "things which thou hast seen " (vision of the resurrected Christ), the "things which are" (letters to the "churches"), and the "things which shall be hereafter" (Tribulation wrath upon the inhabitants of the earth). The letters to the churches conclude the "the things which are". But before God shows him the "things which shall be hereafter", a door opens in heaven, and God calls John to come up thither (4:1).  

It is not until he is in heaven that he sees the judgments which shall be "hereafter", falling on "them who dwell on the earth". This is in keeping with the promise God just made in Revelation 3:10, that the church will not go through the hour of testing that falls on "them that dwell upon the earth", and that the church (addressed in the "things which are"), is not part of the "things which shall be hereafter".  

It's also interesting to note that a door opened in heaven to let John come up, and that when the bride comes back with Christ, from heaven, in Revelation 19, heaven is again "opened" to allow the return.  

7) Because Tribulation saints are not the "church".

Revelation 1-3 addresses believers as the "church" something like 19 times before Revelation 4 refers to the judgments which shall be "hereafter" falling on "the inhabitants of the earth". Then, during the time of the Tribulation, instantly believers are referred to only by terms like "saints" or "brethren" (all of which are applied to the nation Israel, throughout the Bible), and there is not one reference to the "church". Israel, and the 144,000 chosen from the twelve tribes are the subjects of God's sealing during that time, and not the church (Revelation 7:4; cf. Revelation 12).

Now, is it just a coincidence Revelation refers to church age believers, during the "things which are", as the "church" 19 times, and then instantly stops calling believers the "church" once John is raptured to heaven and the "things which shall be hereafter" begin? It seems highly unlikely to me.

8) Because the heavenly elders have crowns (Revelation 4:4)

1 Peter 5:4 says: "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."  Revelation 4:4 says "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold."

If Christ issues crowns at his appearing, and the elders in heaven have crowns before Christ pours judgment on the earth during the Tribulation, that seems to indicate Christ appeared to church-age believers before the 70th week Tribulation.

9) Because the church returns with Christ to earth, at the end of the Tribulation (Rev. 19).

2 Corinthians 11:2 says the church is being presented as a chaste virgin to Christ. Ephesians 5:27-32 says the relationship between husband and wife is a picture of the union of Christ and the church. The Lord is purifying the church for himself, so He may present it to himself without spot or wrinkle. Then, in Revelation 19, we have the bride, coming with Christ, from heaven, dressed in fine white garments, which is the righteousness of the saints. This seems to show that the church is not on earth during the Tribulation, but is with Christ, in heaven. This also seems consistent with the fact that the twenty four elders are introduced right after John has been raptured to heaven at the end of the "things which are" (church age), and before he sees the things "which shall be hereafter". 

10) Because there's no rapture (catching up) in Revelation 19.

In the coming 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 mentions, it says the dead in Christ will rise and be caught up (raptured), then we who are alive will be caught up "together with them" (indicating the rapture of those who are alive and remain immediately follows the resurrection and rapture of the dead in Christ, and it isn't referring to two events separated by a long time). Isn't it strange that Revelation 19:11-21, which gives the clearest picture of the events when Christ returns, doesn't mention anything about a resurrection or rapture (catching up)? The only believers mentioned in Revelation 19, are the bride who comes with Christ, from heaven, to earth, for the marriage supper (which occurs after, not before the marriage). 

11) Because Christ has to separate the sheep from the goats after the Tribulation.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 teaches the dead in Christ and living believers will be caught up together, to be with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15 says this resurrection event will occur in a "moment", in the "twinkling of an eye". In an instant, all believers will be separated from earth. Yet Matthew 25:31-46 teaches that Christ will have to separate the sheep from the goats when He returns at the end of the 70th week Tribulation. The catching up (rapture) of the church will instantly and automatically separate the believers from the unbelievers. Therefore, the rapture (catching up) and the sheep and goat judgment are not the same event, and shows the Tribulation survivors do not include the church.

12) Because saved but unglorified people must populate the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20).

We know that when the resurrection and rapture occurs, it will immediately transform all church age believer's bodies to their glorified state (1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 4). We also know that in the glorified state, believers do not die or reproduce (Matt. 22:30). Only believers enter the millennial kingdom of Christ (Matt. 25:32-46), yet there is reproduction, difference of age, death, and rebellion during that time (Isa. 65:20; Zech. 8:5; Rev. 20:12). This means that saved, but unglorified people must enter the millennial kingdom of Christ. If the rapture occurs any time after the Tribulation has begun up until Christ returns and establishes His 1,000 year reign on earth (Rev. 20), the Tribulation saints who enter it would possess glorified bodies incapable of marriage, reproduction, death, or rebellion. Since all these occur during the millennium that follows the Tribulation, the saints who enter it from the Tribulation cannot be the church, which looks forward to the rapture and translation (1 Thess. 4).

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