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Chapter 9

POST-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

(Tribulation of the Saints)

 

While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.  Daniel 2-34,35 NIV

 

The passage above speaks of a rock that was hewn from a mountainside without human agency, meaning it was an act of God. The rock represents the Church, though most would say it represents Christ; in fact, it means both. 1Peter 2,4-8 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for.”

 

"Conglomerate" is a type of rock that is composed of smaller rocks cemented together by fossilized sediment. Peter said, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house….” The rock that was hurled at the base of the statue and smashed it into little pieces was composed of many tiny rocks that made up the one big rock, who is Christ. This should not be hard to understand, but we have been erroneously taught for decades that the Church will not be here during the last day’s events, because of a misguided pre-tribulation Rapture theory. There will be a Rapture, but not when most people say it will occur. This all-encompassing belief of a pre-tribulation Rapture that people refuse to abandon obscures our view of understanding many crucial principles of Scripture, and for this reason, we have a flawed scenario of endtime events.

 

The pre-tribulation Rapture sounds good; it makes sense; it wraps up nicely; it makes us feel good, but it just doesn’t stand up to Scripture. God intends to keep His Church here longer than most people anticipate, because He wants to use His bride to destroy the antichrist’s one-world empire, but not in our delirious state of apostasy. Heresy is generated, not from heretics who have no idea what they are teaching, but from the multitudes who would listen to them. There is no freethinking in the Church today, by evidence that if you are not the pastor of a Church or some other authoritative figure you cannot tell anyone anything, and there are hardly any critical thinkers fostering the doctrines that churches embrace. Instead, they accumulate teachers in accordance with their own desires, who satisfy an itch they have for a certain brand of truth. It is why so many people know so little about God and have come to believe so many heresies about the Bible. It would be okay if their inaccuracies were harmless, but few heresies are harmless, since Satan is usually behind them, and he has no interest in hatching harmless heresies. It seems ninety percent of all Christians believe the Church will not be here during the tribulation, which means they don’t think they will have to prepare for hard times. That is going to fester into a very serious problem as we draw closer to the end.

 

When you think of the unrighteous steward and the strategy he used to make a living, he minimized the debt that people owed his master; Lk 16,1-13); the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine follows this pattern. Pastors have been teaching their congregations for generations easy-to-believe pre-tribulation Rapture theology to keep the people happy and coming back to their churches and tithing. All false doctrine leads back to money in that Satan needs to reward those who perpetuate his lies, suggesting that people paid for a more appealing rendition of the gospel. People don’t want to be Raptured to heaven so much as they just want to escape from hardship associated with the antichrist coming to power. They are missing the point of being endtime Christians. The privilege is not in being Raptured, but in being constituents of a worldwide revival that will win millions of souls to the kingdom of God. What do you think happens to those who try to warn people about God’s merciful intensions of keeping us here so others can be saved, and using adversity to cleanse the Church in preparation for receiving His glorious kingdom? They are squelched! When you have a large population with itching ears and a lot of teachers who are willing to tell them what they want to hear, you get a spoiled Church that embraces a lot of false teachings, and are ill prepared for hard times.

 

Pre-tribulation theorists rightly believe God will deliver us from the antichrist, but what they fail to realize is that He will deliver some of us as martyrs for Jesus. Most churches today teach that God will spare us from Satan’s wrath, even though such theology flies in the face of the word “delay,” which was the term Jesus used to describe His second coming in the parable of the ten virgins (Mat 25-5). God wants to give us an opportunity to mature and serve Him as His dedicated worshipers before He takes us home. Most Christians think it would be evil of God to leave us here, but why should He deliver us from the very problems we have created through our own apostasy?

 

We are in fact living in the age of the ten virgins, which is a parable about apostasy. Both the wise and the foolish fell asleep, but the first trumpet of seven will awaken them. Rev 1-10 says, “On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,” and Rev 4-1 says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this" NIV. We have the first two instances of the word “trumpet” in Revelation sounding like a voice, so that when the first trumpet of seven sounds at the onset of God’s judgment, it is tantamount to the sound of an angel’s voice. Therefore, in the parable of the ten virgins, when they hear a shout, it is the first trumpet. This means the ten virgins are asleep during the seals of Satan’s wrath. It is up to us to stay awake and remain vigilant, but when we fall into a spiritual asleep, it is up to God to wake us up, for we cannot wake up ourselves. This is in accordance to the way that Jesus spoke in Mat 5-13, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” By translation, ‘You are the watchmen of the earth, but if the watchman falls asleep, how will he awaken? He is responsible for those who will fall victim to the enemy, because he did not sound the alarm.

 

The great endtime revival will begin at the first seal; the gentile Church will struggle to unite but will find it difficult because of all the teachings and theology that conflict with the many denominations of Christianity that have formed over the last two thousand years. Then, prior to the trumpet judgments God will raise up His two witnesses who raise up His 144,000, who will lead the Gentile Church into one faith and one truth and then into the wilderness and victory over Satan’s wrath. Both the wise and the foolish will awaken at the first trumpet, but the foolish will not be prepared for revival. God will require them to have a genuine faith in Jesus, not a broken-down religious representation of faith. When God calls them to trim their lamps, the wise will shine in a darkened world, but the foolish will realize their lamps are fading and will walk away from God by their own volition. This will happen during the seven trumpet judgments, when God hides His Church in the wilderness. This parable means two things: the foolish virgins will fail to participate in the endtime revival; consequently, they will fail to participate in the Rapture. At the seventh trumpet the dead will rise first, beginning with the two witnesses who have been killed by their enemies. Then the Rapture will occur and the door will be shut. The foolish virgins will knock on the door, asking God to open it for them, and He will tell them, “I never knew you.”

 

A time is coming when we will need to have a personal relationship with God or we will side with the antichrist. We want God to use His Rapture to deliver us from adversity, but God wants to use adversity as a catalyst for growth, requiring us to trust Him through the coming tribulation. He wants to keep us here, because He has plans on using us to derail the kingdom of antichrist as an opportunity to prove for the sake of eternity that the goodness of God dressed in the frailty of human flesh triumphs over all the power of evil. The lesson He earnestly desires to prove to Satan and to the rest of His creation is that rebellion has no power, and that the attributes of God compose the absolute truth, not just because He said so, but because He proved it… twice, first through the flesh of His Son on the cross, and now a second time through the flesh of His beloved people. Are you ready to defend God’s truth with your life?

 

God has the perfect opportunity to fulfill Scripture by leaving us here among our enemies, knowing that difficulties will inadvertently foster unity, which is all God has ever wanted for His people, and we have yet to realize it. If the Rapture doesn’t occur in a timely fashion many "Christians" will get mad at God and quit believing in Him. Remember, God allowed Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den for continuing to worship his God against the law of the land. Also, Shadrach, Meshach and Aded-nego were thrown into a furnace of fire, refusing to worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar set up (analogous to rejecting the mark of the beast and refusing to worship his image). This is the attitude God wants to instill in His people; listen to their statement of faith,

 

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."  Dan 3,16-18

 

Note that God did not deliver Shadrach, Meshach and Aded-nego, or Daniel, or Moses from their trials, but through them. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this is God’s plan of deliverance for the last days. Had they read their Bibles a little closer, they would have known better than to teach the Rapture as God’s tool of deliverance, since God intends to use the very suffering they are trying to avoid as a way of escape. God’s only promise of the Rapture was that He would delay, but this is not what the Church wants to hear, so they have done what Paul prophesied they would do in 2Tim 4-3,4, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” NASB. Now that the Church has removed the threat of personally experiencing the horrors of endtime prophecy from their theology, people don’t have to prepare for hardship, so they no longer need to take their faith seriously, freeing them to live anyway they choose. While it is true that God will not judge His people along with the unbelieving world, that doesn’t mean He has to Rapture the Church, any more than He Raptured Abraham’s brother, Lot and his family during the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, or Moses and the Israelites during the plagues of Egypt. Rather, He instructed Lot and his family to flee from the city into the wilderness, and he instructed Moses to remain in the land of Goshen.

 

Contrary to popular belief, the Church will be here to see Satan’s mark of the beast. The mark proves two main points of endtime prophecy and puts them into proper sequence. First, it proves that a massive spiritual revival unlike the world has ever seen will precede the mark (see: Joel 2-28; Rev 7,9-17) in that the whole purpose of the mark is to expose Christians. Secondly, the mark proves that the Rapture has not yet occurred, since you cannot have the antichrist rounding up Christians of a revival that doesn’t exist. God would not Rapture a disorderly mob of undisciplined scoffers into His presence, nor would Satan be concerned about them. Instead, God intends to present to Himself a Church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing short of being holy and blameless (Eph 5-27). This requires a spiritual revival that will pull together those who presently reside in the Church, who love the Lord and are willing to repent of their religious complacency, while adding millions more to their numbers. There are those who would tell you that if there were such an endtime revival, it would pertain to those who were left behind from the Rapture, but they don’t understand the magnitude of this revival, far greater than a mere remnant. Those who are left behind, who are saved after the Rapture will be a mere drop in the bucket compared to God’s plan of filling up his kingdom at the end of the age. An early Rapture cannot account for the following passage that predicts a massive influx of souls into the kingdom of God.

 

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands…. Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes-who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7,9-14  NIV

 

This passage is a description of those of us who will be Raptured, not of the remnant who will be left behind. Do you remember the story of Samson, whose strength was in proportion to the length of his hair? In Old Testament times, people attributed greatness with the number of people they killed, but in New Testament times the Church attributes greatness to the number of people that get saved. Thinking about it in this way makes the story of Samson an analogy for the endtime revival. As the story goes, the enemies of Samson recruited Delilah to tease the truth from him regarding the source of his strength so they could bind him with fetters, and he finally gave into her seductions and revealed his secret to her, after which she cut off his hair while he was asleep, and the guards who were waiting outside quickly bound him and hauled him to the king’s dungeon. However, Samson’s enemies didn’t notice that over time his hair started to grow long again, and he was starting to regain his strength, but instead of immediately destroying his enemies, Samson waited for their biggest annual feast, which they celebrated in the town cathedral, and when they displayed him as their showpiece, tying him between two pillars, he used his growing strength to pull down the pillars that held him, and the whole building fell on everyone, killing them all, including Samson. In this way he killed more people in his death than throughout his whole life (Judges 16-30). This is the way it will be with the Church in the last days. More people will be saved during the time of the end than throughout all of Church history.

 

This throng of people described in Rev 7,9-14 is more than a mere remnant; it is the Church itself. There is convincing evidence pinpointing the scheduled sequence of the Rapture between the trumpets and the bowls of God’s wrath. The Bible explicitly says that the last trumpet signals the Rapture. This is a far cry from the Church’s pre-tribulation Rapture theory. They are expecting it to occur before the trumpets of God’s judgment and even before the seals of Satan’s wrath. They support their view mostly on a single premise that the Church is never mentioned again after Revelation chapter three, but this doesn’t prove anything. Those who predict an early Rapture may abandon their faith from frustration and discouragement. Falling away from the faith is the most common consequence of false doctrine; beware of it. When His disciples asked Him to elaborate on His scenario of endtimes, Jesus first and foremost advice was, “See to it that no one misleads you” (Mat 24-4 NASB). The apostle Paul had the same advice.

 

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him [the Rapture], that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called God or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you remember that while I was with you I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time, he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains him will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to and end by the appearance of his coming.  (2The 2,1-8; NASB; emphasis added)

 

Pre-trib advocates use this passage as a cornerstone of their theology, sealing their early Rapture beliefs in solid rock, or so they think. If you notice, Paul used the phrases gathering together to Him and day of the Lord in the same context, even within the same sentence, indicating that they are synonymous. They ignore the fact that Paul just alluded to Satan setting up His kingdom before the Rapture, meaning the Church will unquestionably see the antichrist come to power. This means we will be here for the Seals of Satan’s wrath found in Revelation chapter six. Paul’s discourse was prompted by some of the Church members’ concern that the day of the Lord had already come, that they had missed it. If the day of the Lord referred only to darkness and gloom, billows of smoke and God’s horrible judgment, then why were the Thessalonians afraid they had missed it? If the Bible states that our gathering together to Him, which clearly refers to the Rapture, comes after the man of lawlessness is revealed, then why do pre-trib believers still lean on this passage to support their early Rapture doctrine? Some define the apostasy as the appearing of Satan in the flesh as the antichrist instead of the Church's falling away of the faith, but in fact it means both. More importantly, many attribute “the day of the Lord” to mean the period of God's fiery judgment instead of the Rapture, but in fact these also are one and the same.

 

Joel 2-30,31 says that the day of the Lord is about “wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” NIV. The Scriptures clarify that the day of the Lord involves a time of punishment and terror. However, it is also equated with the great endtime revival. It says, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2-28,29). This is the revival; then he continues in Joel 2,30-32, “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” According to Joel, we can’t have the day of the Lord without a great endtime revival and according to logic we can’t have a revival without Christians, so the Church will certainly be here to see the moon turn blood red, which epitomizes the last days. Rev 6,12-14 also speaks of this, “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” Some say that the sixth Seal marks the day of the Lord/Rapture, but 1Cor 15-52 says it will occur at the last Trumpet.

 

The key that unlocks the knowledge of the Seals, the Trumpets and the Bowls is to understand how each pertain to the day of the Lord and what they are intended to accomplish. The Seals pertain to Satan’s wrath against mankind and especially against the Church. The Trumpets will follow the Seals as a microcosm of the Bowls, as a correction for the world’s martyrdom of the saints. It will affect one third of the earth, meaning there will be ample opportunity to hide the Church and protect His people from His judgment against the unbelieving world for rejecting Christianity presented to them through signs, wonders and miracles during the great endtime revival. When the world refuses to repent after the Trumpets, the bowls will ensue, which will blanket the earth in a bloodbath with no place to hide, thus the reason for the Rapture.

 

Second Thessalonians chapter two never does indicate the identity of the person described as “he,” when it says, “he who now restrains him will do so until he is taken out of the way.” Depending on your Bible translation, the NASB is very meticulous in its use of the word “he.” Whenever it is referring to God, it always capitalizes it, but the word “he” is not capitalized in this passage. Admittedly, that doesn’t prove much. It could have been a mere typo, or maybe even a passive interpretation by the translators, but nor does it support the pre-tribulation argument. Pre-trib believers assume that “he” is referring to the Holy Spirit restraining the antichrist from coming to power, which makes good sense, but is it true? Actually, it couldn’t be true, because the sequence is wrong. Paul just said that the kingdom of Satan must come first, but pre-trib advocates insist that the Rapture comes first, before the man of lawless is revealed.

 

Pre-trib advocates also say when “he,” the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the way, “then that lawless one will be revealed…” Of course they say that the “taken out of the way” part refers to the Rapture, so according to them even the Holy Spirit is taken from the world, but this makes no sense. All pre-trib advocates believe that Jesus would never leave us nor forsake us, according to Heb 13-5 and Mat 28-20, and they also know that no one can be saved without the Holy Spirit (Jn 14,16-21; Jn 15,1-11), yet they have the Holy Spirit leaving the world and letting God’s people fend for themselves, who would desire to be saved in the aftermath of the Rapture. Pre-trib advocates also believe in an endtime revival, but they believe it will occur after the Rapture. In other words, after the Holy Spirit leaves the world with the Church, they expect a revival. Their doctrines indicate that God will abandon the endtime revival saints. How can you have a revival without the Holy Spirit? Perhaps they believe this because their own relationship with God does not incorporate the Holy Spirit. They say that the Holy Spirit will return after the Rapture, but there is just no Scripture to support any of these claims. Rather than abandoning their theology that inadequately explains endtime events, they invent doctrines that describe God abandoning His own people, which borders on blasphemy!

 

To attribute the word “he” to the Holy Spirit doesn’t work, because God would never remove the Holy Spirit, especially not while people are being saved. Therefore, the question remains, who is “he?” It would actually be better to ascribe “he” to the dragon (Satan), though it may not seem immediately logical until you bring in other verses to show the correlation. The apostle Paul called Satan the “prince of the power of the air” in Eph 2-2, suggesting that he spiritually resides above mankind in authority and power in his ability to influence humanity on a subconscious level. This enables him to see the big picture as god of this world (John 14-30; 2Cor 4-4). The Bible says that in the last days Satan will lose his lofty position through a spiritual battle that will ensue between the angels of God and Satan’s minions, the fate of which will be in the hands of the Church. Jesus defeated Satan on a spiritual level at the cross; now it will become an angelic battle to destroy Satan in the world powered by the prayers of the saints with the souls of humanity hanging in the balance.

 

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him… When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.  Rev 12,7-9,13,14 NIV

 

Then he [an angel] continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come."  Dan 10,12-14 NIV

 

This statement about Satan being “hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” is the same as being “taken out of the way” according to 2The 2-7. The passages above depict a spiritual battle that transpires beyond our human perception. Revelation chapter 12 depicts the original battle in heaven long before man was created, but mentioning it in context with the last days is to bring across the point that a mirror image of evicting Satan from heaven will once again occur; only this time he will be removed from the heavens surrounding the earth, symbolic of social consciousness. The concept of being thrown to the earth is that of being extricated from the spirit realm, suggesting that the moment Satan is expelled, he will be forced to take on human flesh. He will possess the antichrist (the pope), right outside the Jewish temple after being rejected as the Jewish messiah and removed from their temple, which has not yet been built. This suggests that Satan doesn’t really want to possess the antichrist based on these words, “he who restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way,” and since it is far more effective to rule the world as Satan, the dragon prefers to remain in the spirit, until this option is taken from him by God’s angelic supremacy. There are certain risks of exposure and limitations associated with possessing human flesh. Demons need to remain in the underworld, hidden from view to be truly effective, suggesting when Satan possesses the antichrist, it is a sign that God is forcing him into a corner, requiring him to accept the natural realm. There is one more verse in the book of Daniel that dovetails with this subject of Satan being evicted from the spirit realm and forced to possess the antichrist.

 

The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.  Dan 7-4 NIV

 

This lion in Daniel’s dream represents Satan’s antichrist, which had the wings of an eagle, enabling him to hold his office as prince of the power of the air. Then his wings were torn from him during the angelic fray and given to the saints, who became the new princess of the power of the air, after gaining access to the spirit realm through prayer, implying that they wielded tremendous influence on the world through their message of eternal life during the great endtime revival.

   

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In looking closely at Second Thessalonians chapter two we saw that it not only did a lousy job of proving the Rapture will occur at the beginning of the tribulation; it actually did a better job proving it will happen closer to the end of the tribulation. The bowls of God’s judgment are thus not part of the tribulation, for inherently implied in the word “tribulation” is the tribulation of the saints. This means the bowls that happen directly after the Rapture is technically not part of the tribulation. Moreover, there are other verses that more succinctly place the Rapture at the end of the trumpets and before the bowls.

 

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words”  1The 4,15-18  NIV.

 

1 Thessalonians chapter 4 is by far the most specific passage in the Bible about the Rapture. As previously mentioned, a shout from an angel or from the Lord Himself is tantamount to a trumpet blast. First Thessalonians chapter four says that the Rapture will occur after the dead are raised, which happens after a trumpet blast, but which one?

 

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  (1Cor 15,50-53  NIV emphasis added)

 

So, the Rapture will occur after the last trumpet, after the dead are raised. All we have to do now is look back in Revelation where it speaks of the seventh and last trumpet and look for evidence of the Rapture. If there were a verse in the Bible that speaks about the resurrection of the dead in conjunction with the last trumpet we would be well on our way to understanding God’s plan of salvation. There just so happens to be a passage that fits this description regarding the two witnesses who were killed and were resurrected from the dead just prior to the last trumpet. It is not a stretch to say that these two were not the only ones to be raised at that time, but were part of the First Resurrection. Shortly afterward the seventh and final trumpet will sound. The two witnesses will lead the dead in Christ to victory, in rising from the dead in the presence of their enemies. Before examining the passage of Scripture below there is another verse that sheds further light on the fact that the Rapture occurs shortly after the seventh trumpet. Rev 10-7 states, “But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets” NIV. The mystery of God is the Church in the world. 1Tim 3-16 uses the term “mystery of godliness” to denote the miracle that goodness, righteousness and truth could exist in a world that is under the power of Satan. Therefore, Rev 10-7 is alluding to the miracle of the Church finishing its purpose in the world and consequently being Raptured. The following passage proves it.

 

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed [trumpet judgments]; the third woe [the bowls] is coming soon. The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."  Rev 11,11-15  NIV

 

Within five verses all the key elements of the Rapture are mentioned. There was a shout saying, “Come up here” (Jn 5-28,29) and the two witnesses were raised from the dead denoting the first resurrection. The last trumpet sounded and there were loud voices proclaiming the beginning of God’s eternal reign, implying that everyone was present and accounted-for in the kingdom of God, thus depicting the Rapture.

 

1Corinthians 15 is both more specific and more general in its details about the Rapture than 1The 4,13-18. It is more specific in that it specifies the last trumpet, indicating that there is more than one, which should open our mind to understand that Paul is referring to Revelation’s seven trumpet judgments. However, it is more general in that it doesn’t say how long after the dead are raised that the Rapture will occur, but then, neither does 1Thessalonians 4, which merely promises it will occur “After that.” Jesus described that moment in this way, “No one knows the day, nor the hour” (Mat 24-36), suggesting that we will know the year, month and possibly even the week, meaning that the time of the Rapture will become more and more obvious the closer we get to it.

 

Based on the above verses, the events of the Rapture will unfold according to the following sequence:

 

1) The two witnesses will rise from the dead in the presence of their enemies (Rev 11,7-17)

2) The last trumpet will sound (1Cor 15,50-56)

3) The dead in Christ will be raised imperishable and ascend to heaven following the two witnesses (1The 4,15-18)

4) The Rapture of the Church will occur. (Mat 24,29-31)

 

Listen to Jesus’ own words about the sequence of endtime events, involving the Rapture.

 

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. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 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.  (Mat 24,29-31 NASB)

 

The Rapture is post-tribulation in that we are talking about the tribulation of the saints. These verses clearly speak of the Rapture, and look when Jesus said it would occur, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days.” It sounds like our Master just said the Rapture would occur after the tribulation. In fact, that’s exactly what He said. Unfortunately, we have to put on the breaks here, because pre-trib advocates say that these verses are not referring to the Rapture at all, but to a time after that when Jesus comes to establish His millennial kingdom on the earth. They defend their view with other translations of the Bible that use the word “heaven” in place of “sky” in the phrase, “…from one end of heaven to the other” KJV. They say that this passage is referring to Jesus collecting His saints from actual heaven and bringing them to the earth to set up His millennial kingdom. The problem with this interpretation is that Mat 24,29-31 fits so well in context with what Paul said in 1The 4-17 that it can't be speaking about anything else, “…we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” That is exactly what Jesus is saying, so why change it? Pre-trib advocates have to change it, because Jesus prefaced this passage with, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days,” and that doesn’t fit their pre-trib doctrine. My advice to interpreting the Bible is: don’t! The more you jam the Scriptures into your pet doctrines, the more you stray from the truth.

 

The passage that speaks of the time

 

There will be many earthquakes, but there will be three major ones to fulfill endtime prophecy: one at the end of the seals, one at the end of the trumpets and one at the end of the bowls. The earthquake at the end of the seals promises to rock the mountains, while the earthquake at the end of the bowls promises to remove them altogether, suggesting that the middle earthquake at the end of the trumpets is also middle in severity, which fits the pattern of an escalating sequence of judgments from God. However, the quake that happens at the end of the trumpets will be triggered by a giant asteroid that will hit the earth to fulfill prophecy, triggering the largest earthquake at the end of the bowls acting as God’s grand finale, shaking the earth with such violence, as Jesus put it, to make the stars appear to fall from the sky. He also said that the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. This denotes an ash plume, promising that he will come on the clouds of the sky. The reason an asteroid is necessary to fulfill these prophesies regarding the Rapture is that the ash plume of a volcano moves very slowly, taking possibly months to wrap around the earth, whereas the ash plume of an asteroid could easily circle the globe in a matter of hours. It is fun to imagine Jesus coming for His bride on white, puffy clouds, but He was more likely referring to the dark, foreboding kind in keeping with the mood of the day. God has hidden behind such ash plumes in the past, namely when He hid His face from Israel on Mount Sinai after their exile from Egypt.

 

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.  Ex 19,16-19 NIV

 

This is an account of God introducing Himself to the children of Israel even with a trumpet blast. It also had earthquakes, and smoke capable of blocking out the sun, turning the moon blood red, which is by far the most common description of the last days throughout the Old and New Testaments (Isa 13-10; Isa 24-23; Ezek 32-7; Joel 2-10; Joel 2,28-32; Joel 3,14-17; Mat 24,29-31; Mark 13,24-27; Luke 21,25-28; Acts 2,16-21; Rev 8-12). For this to be mentioned so many times throughout Scripture, in each case having the context of endtime prophecy, makes this ash plum the unquestionable “sign of the Son of Man [that] will appear in the sky” as Jesus put it. An asteroid that strikes the earth so violently that it wraps an ash plume around the earth accounts for many if not all the judgments of the bowls that happen after this event. So, when we hear a heavenly trumpet sound, and see a giant asteroid dashing across the sky and a massive ash plume enveloping the horizon, we can know for certain that the moment has come to finally meet the one who loved us and gave His life for us. Little did Israel know that when God introduced Himself for the first time to His people on the top of Mt. Sinai, it stood for a poignant analogy of the second coming of Christ, only instead of hiding from His chosen people behind the clouds of smoke on Mt. Sinai so that the children of Israel could not see His face, He will invite His people behind the veil of smoke that hides His glory from the world.

 

In summary, God is keeping the Church here for a few good reasons. First, He is using His people to do battle with the dragon (Satan) to prove that good triumphs over evil, even dressed in the weakness of human flesh. Second, He is keeping the Church here as an act of mercy to the world, giving them time, reason and opportunity to repent for those who have not taken the mark, but also if they don’t repent, He will use His mercy as a measuring stick to determine how severely He should punish the world for its unbelief. The two witnesses appeared and have raised up the 144,000 Jews, and the gentiles will have ended their millennial religious schisms and finally repented of their insolent disobedience and united around the ministry of the 144,000 Jews to become part of the colossal endtime revival. The two witnesses have sent plagues on the earth in response to the world’s unbelief. After they were killed, they rose from the dead and ascended to heaven before their eyes. The world has witnessed the first resurrection of the dead in Christ, rising from their tombs and doing a short walkabout. They have seen entire books of the Bible coming to pass before their very eyes, Satan manifesting in human flesh as a sign they are living in the fulfillment of last day’s prophecy, and still they will not repent. The bowls of God judgment will prove His measuring stick to be very severe.

 

Had the Rapture occurred before the tribulation, the mark of the beast would not be necessary, since the whole purpose of the mark is to draw out the saints from the wilderness to destroy them. Therefore, the Rapture will not occur until the antichrist has had a chance to implement his mark, but the mark will not appear until the two witnesses and the 144,000 are revealed. The mark of the beast will have an inadvertent side-affect of purging the Church of false brethren, who would not dare associate with the very people the antichrist has targeted for extermination. These are the ones who know that receiving the mark will condemn their souls to hell, but don’t want a genuine relationship with Christ either. These are the five foolish virgins. They refused to take the mark of the beast; that’s what made them virgins, but they also refused to have a relationship with Christ; that’s what made them foolish (Mat 25,1-13). God will require every member of His body to have a relationship with Him as a means of surviving this arduous 3 ½ year period of the trumpets, which is what the five foolish virgins lacked. They will leave the true believers in search of the anointing, and many will not find it. Instead, they will find the dragon, who is waiting for lost stragglers wandering from the wilderness, who make their way back to civilization and to the mark of the beast. Jesus promises that half the contemporary Church will go the way of Satan.

 

Ironically, the majority of these foolish virgins will be pre-tribulation Rapture advocates by evidence of how little oil they brought with them, being a measure of their prediction of Christ’s return. They will be awakened by the shout of their master’s voice realizing only then that their relationship with Christ was reduced to a mere flicker with no oil in reserve to keep the flame going. Can it be any clearer that heresies, such as the pre-tribulation Rapture, innocent as they may seem, are in fact very damning theology? As the antichrist comes to power and millions of Christians are martyred, there will be a large segment of the contemporary Church who claim to believe in Jesus will walk away form their faith, being unwilling to serve a God who would allow His people to suffer. It says that both the wise and the foolish were asleep. Their minds were asleep to the lateness of the hour, for the end of time had come upon them without warning as His voice rustled them from their slumber, for He is coming to receive only those whose lamps are lit.

 

 

James R. Wuthrich

www.jeansbiblestudy.com

 

Mystery of Iniquity

 

4 Reasons We Don't Believe in a Pretribulation Rapture

 

For further study on the Mid-tribulation Rapture see commentary on this website:

 

Mat 24,29-31

 

1Cor 15,50-58

 

1The 4,13-18

 

Rev 11,11-15

 

Review other websites with similar Mid-Trib views