The late Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost’s many accomplishments could take up much space here. For instance just to mention a few, he was Distinguished Professor of Bible Exposition, Emeritus, at Dallas Theological Seminary. He was a pastor and an author of many books. But my focus here is just a small part of one of his books, his famous work, Things to Come, A Study in Biblical Eschatology.
If books were to be recommended for reading to anyone who has an interest in biblical eschatology, I think Things to Come, A Study in Biblical Eschatology is one that should be up there near the top. I read it many years ago, but still refer to it often.
One chapter titled “The Pretribulation Rapture Theory” has arguments in support of this position. Some of the reasons listed are common ones that I hear mentioned quite often, like, the work of the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2, distinctions between Israel and the Church, and distinctions between the Rapture and the Second Advent.
But some are reasons that may be new to some. I have selected some to list here. I might mention Dr. Pentecost’s statement that we should all remember when studying Scripture, “These considerations all arise from the literal method of interpretation.”
1) The relation of the Church to governments. This is a very good point. Think about it. In 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 we are instructed to pray for the government and those in authority, and in Romans 13:1, we are told to be in subjection to the governing authorities. Bu in Revelation 13:4 we are told that Satan, the dragon—will control the government during the Tribulation. How could the Church subject herself to a satanic government or pray for it, as we are instructed to now? It could not.
As Dr. Pentecost says, “Because of the relationship of the Church to governments in this age and because of the satanic control of government in the seventieth week, the Church must be delivered before this satanic government manifests itself.”
2) The silence concerning the Tribulation in the Epistles. This could be an interesting study of its own. We find many examples in the Epistles that were written to give help and assistance to the church in how to endure persecution in this age. There is no teaching to the Church for dealing with the most severe persecution men will have ever known—the Tribulation. Dr. Pentecost rightly states “The silence in the Epistles which would leave the church unprepared for the Tribulation argues for her being absent from that period all together.”
3) The waiting remnant at the Second Advent. I have read articles which say that all believers during the Tribulation will be martyred. That notion is false. Many passages like Malachi 3:16; Ezekiel 20:33-38; 37:11-28; Zachariah13:8-9; and Matthew 25:31-40 indicate that there will be a believing remnant in Israel awaiting His return. There will also be a remnant of believing Gentiles who survive the Tribulation. These groups of believers go into the Millennium in their natural bodies, but not having experienced death and resurrection. If the Church were on the earth at the time of the Second Advent (by the post-Trib theory) those people who get saved would be saved into the spiritual Body the Church and be raptured at that time. Consequently, there would not be any saved people left on earth.
Dr. Pentecost rightly states, “These considerations make necessary the pretribulation Rapture of the church, so that God may call out and preserve a remnant during the Tribulation in and through whom the promises may be fulfilled.” (The promises in the Abrahamic, Davidic, Palestinic, and new covenants.)
4) The sealed 144,000 from Israel. When a person is saved while the church is still here on earth, he is saved into the church, whether Jew or Gentile, as indicated in Colossians 1:26-29; 3:11; Ephesians 2:14-22; 3:1-7. But during the Tribulation, Revelation 7:14 indicates that 12,000 Jews are saved out of each tribe to a special group of Jews. They are sent as representatives to the nations as witnesses of Christ. The Church was given this instruction to take the gospel to the world, indicating the Church must be absent.
5) The apostasy of the period. It’s often mentioned that the Church is obviously absent from most of Revelation when all the Tribulation events are described taking place on earth. The only organized church mentioned is the Jezebel system, Revelation 2:22; Revelation 17 and 18. The believing witnesses, converted during the period, are said to have kept themselves from defilement by this apostate system, Revelation 14:4.
Dr. Pentecost states, “Since the Church is not mentioned as also having kept herself from this system it must be concluded that the Church is not there.” (The Church has been translated out before the Tribulation.)
These are just a few of the arguments listed in a chapter in Dr. Pentecost’s book. He presents the other Rapture theories also in subsequent chapters and presents the reasons why those theories don’t work. Many other chapters deal with other eschatological issues. This book would be a valuable addition to anyone’s library. It can still be found everywhere.
May those who come behind us find us faithful.