For those of us who understand the magnitude of the trouble that is about to rise over the earth, we can find great comfort in the hope of the Pre-Trib Rapture. What follows are eleven “points to ponder” concerning the message contained in certain scriptures pertaining to the Day of the Lord and the Rapture of the true church.
True believers will not be Left Behind to endure the Time of Jacob’s trouble.
To have a clear understanding of the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine is to have a clear understanding of God’s dealings with the nation of Israel. It’s through a soft heart toward God that you obtain salvation and likewise it’s through a soft heart toward Israel that you obtain understanding of the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine.
I’ve yet to meet a person who has hope in the Pre-Trib Rapture and at the same time hates Israel. No one can receive salvation through a hardened heart, it’s just impossible. Your heart has to be broken over your sins as the body of Jesus was broken for your sins, in order to receive God’s gift of eternal life.
Likewise, those who hold on to a blind hatred of Israel cannot receive God’s gift of understanding via the Holy Spirit. They will not understand that there is indeed a difference between God’s management of the nation of Israel and His management of the true church.
Nowhere in the Bible does God say that He has permanently cast aside Israel. In fact, God shares His deep love for the nation of Israel through His Apostle Paul:
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites” (Romans 9:3-4a).
God only says that He has caused a temporary blindness to happen to Israel:
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26a).
Far too many Christians are wise in their own opinion through a hardened heart toward Israel and thereby they remain ignorant of the mystery of the temporary blindness. For some mysterious reason they cannot “see” how clearly the scripture says “until the fullness of the Gentiles…” No, that did not happen in A.D. 70 and yes, “until” still means until an appointed time in the future.
They also clearly ignore the equally obvious promise that “All Israel will be saved.” Does that mean that every single Jew who rejects Yeshua will somehow be saved anyway? Of course not, but we are not talking about every single member of the Jewish race here, we are talking about national Israel.
The FACT that God is simultaneously maintaining two different programs for the administration of Israel and the administration of the church cannot be ignored. The church has NOT replaced the nation of Israel. Just because someone says it’s so doesn’t make it so.
Now let’s look at point to ponder.
1.At the Rapture true believers will suddenly be “caught up” in the air to be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, not with thunder and flashes of lightning. He will come like a thief who will steal His bride from an unsuspecting world.
Likewise, the day of the Lord will also arrive suddenly as a thief in the night for the wicked:
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (2 Thessalonians 5:2).
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10a).
However, it will not end as a thief in the night:
“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:26-27).
2. At least half of all people on earth will perish as a result of the Seal and Trumpet judgments during the Tribulation (Revelation 6:8, 9:15). When Paul taught that “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up,” he considered himself to be one of those who would be alive at the coming of Jesus. How could he have been sure he would have been among those who are alive if at least half of the earth’s population would die during the Tribulation, before the Rapture even took place?
Why did Paul not mention that half of his readers may not even be among those “who are alive and remain” at the coming of the Lord? Because he expected Christ to return suddenly and at any moment for His church, and therefore, Paul knew that all of the Thessalonians including he himself would be alive if Jesus came the moment his letter was read by the church.
3. During the day of Lord, Jesus will judge each individual member of His church for their service to Him. He will also judge the rest of the world for their rejection of Him. This time period is also known as “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble”, “the 70th Week of Daniel” and “the Day of Christ.”
The church will be judged in the place where they stored up their treasures: Heaven. The world will be judged in the place where they stored up their treasures: Earth. The timing and place of each judgment fits with each group and makes perfect sense.
4. Currently, the church has the power to prophecy and preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 12:28). Granted, the church is currently not excelling in this mission but you can imagine the huge void that will be left in the area of prophecy and sharing the gospel when the true church is absent from the earth, especially during a time of such worldwide calamity as the Day of the Lord.
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’” (Romans 10:14-15).
What will happen when all of God’s true preachers are removed from the earth? God will then grant two witnesses and an angel the power to prophesy and preach the everlasting gospel to all “peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations” (Revelation 11:3-9, 14:6).
If the church is to remain on the earth during the first half of the Tribulation, then why are the two witnesses granted the power to prophesy to the entire world during this same time period? God never said the light of the church would go out while the church was still on the earth.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15).
If the church is left on the earth during the entire Tribulation, then why is the everlasting gospel preached to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people by the angel flying in the midst of heaven during the last half of the Tribulation (Revelation 14:6)? The true church currently preaches the gospel alone through the power of the Holy Spirit and the veiled work of angels.
It is only after the church and its ministry of prophecy and preaching is completely removed from the earth before the Tribulation that the Lord will unveil other supernatural powers to share the light of the gospel and prophecy.
5. When Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, the members there were troubled concerning the day of the Lord. They had been led to believe, through false teachers, that the day of Christ had already arrived.
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
They were troubled because Paul clearly taught that all believers should strive for rejoicing during the Day of Christ, not tribulation:
“Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Philippians 2:16).
Paul expected to be rejoicing during the Day of Christ yet the Thessalonians were troubled that they had entered the Day of Christ. Obviously Paul had to lead them back to the comfort of the Rapture.
“They will be condemned” during the Day of the Lord but you will not be condemned “because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:12 and 13).
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17).
6. I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating:
If Paul had always taught the Thessalonians that they would have to endure the Day of the Lord that arrives as a thief in the night, how could he have been so confident that the Day wouldn’t arrive before his letter did?
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)?
Why would he so boldly write in his letter that it had not yet come? One can only imagine that it took several days, if not weeks, for a letter to travel over 300 miles from Corinth to Thessalonica in the first century. How could Paul know that his letter would arrive before the day of the Lord would arrive?
Because he knew the church at Thessalonica would not be on the earth during the Day of Christ so it would be impossible for the church to read his letter during the Day of Christ.
He had already taught them that they would be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at the rapture of the church before the day of the even Lord begins. That is how he could clearly operate under the assumption that if indeed they were reading his letter, then the rapture had not yet taken place and thereby neither had the Day of Christ yet arrived.
7. Let’s consider another portion of Paul’s second letter to Thessalonica:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and now you know what is restraining, that he (the Antichrist) may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:3a, 6-8a).
Apostasy works both ways; people can forsake God, and God can forsake people.
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).
“But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity’” (Luke 13:27).
“Falling away” or “apostasy” means to defect, forsake, revolt, leave, and depart. The day of the Lord will not come until the Restrainer first forsakes His restraining ministry.
8. Paul also taught that Jesus will ‘complete” the good work He started in us until the Day of Christ. (There’s that word “until” again.) It’s no wonder that some of the Thessalonians were troubled if they indeed believed that the Day of Christ had already begun. They knew they were not yet “complete” and they expected that they would be made complete upon the arrival of the day of Christ:
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
The Thessalonian believers certainly did not feel as if Christ had finished His good work in them. They were still suffering, they were still troubled, and they were still being deceived. How could that be the completed good work of Christ?
Paul also likely taught the Thessalonian believers the same thing he had taught the Hebrew believers; that the race which they ran would be complete upon the commencement of the Day of Christ. They were to look for Jesus Christ, not tribulation:
“” us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 2:1b-2a).
Notice how Paul here again refers to Jesus as the “finisher” of our faith. At the Rapture, Christ will complete or “finish” the good work of our faith that He began in us at His resurrection.
“Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end…” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22-24a).
After Christ comes for His church comes the end when He will deliver the kingdom to God the Father and put an end to all rule and authority through His judgment during the Day of the Lord.
9 The true church is to be brought grace at the commencement of the Apocalypse, not tribulation.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
Yes, the word Peter uses for “revelation” is indeed the same word John uses for the book of the “Apocalypse”, otherwise known as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1a).
10 During the current Age of Grace, God has been dwelling on the earth through the presence of His Holy Spirit, sealed within born again believers:
“In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
When the Restrainer is lifted, so are we, at the rapture of the church. God’s Holy Spirit will in a sense “desert” and “withdraw” from this evil world. He will cause His children to “withdraw” with Him away from the corrupt worldwide religious system that is about to emerge upon the earth. (The powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit will continue upon the earth after the rapture, similar to His ministry prior to the Age of Grace.)
After the rapture, the walls that currently contain Satan’s area of operation during this Age of Grace will be torn down. After our heavenly Father lifts away what is holding back, the fullness of Satan’s power can be revealed with all power and lying wonders.
During the great Tribulation, evil will know no bounds; all restraint over the power of evil will be removed. The ties that currently bind Satan will be broken. This can only happen after the true church has been removed from the earth.
11 When God judges the earth, He will be “rejecting” the entire world system. He will completely forsake its false religion and His Holy Spirit will “leave” it behind to be judged by the Lamb; Who alone is worthy to open the seals of the judgment scrolls.
“Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see’” (Revelation 6:1).
As noted above, apostasy does not always mean that people can depart from God; it also means that God can depart from people. There is however one group of people from whom God will never depart:
“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6).
So the great departure that takes place before the revealing of the Antichrist will not constitute a departure of God from the church, but a departure of the church from the earth.
“And then”, after this departure, “shall that Wicked be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
Like the angel who guided Peter in Acts 12:10, the Holy Spirit guides us through our trials until we are “caught up” from the midst to meet the Lord in the air.
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught” (2 Thessalonians 2:15a).
May we all soon meet in the presence of our eternal King!