Rapture or Wrath? :: By Gary W. Ritter

One of the most important yet least discussed issues in Christendom is that of whether Jesus snatches believers away from this world in a pre-Tribulation Rapture or if they must endure the atrocities of this coming most horrific seven years of all times.

The reason this is such an ignored topic is that the majority of people in the church apparently believe that God intends for Christ-followers to enter the 7-year Tribulation. There is some difference among the adherents to this idea, such as whether they might be Raptured mid-Trib or post-Trib, but the bulk of those who entertain this notion see the church hunkering down, gritting its teeth, and suffering the atrocities of plagues and martyrdom. Well, count me out of that consideration.

If someone wants to call me an escapist, or even satanic as some have done, for my fervent belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, I say, “Go for it.” I am more than happy and willing to not experience the worst time ever on planet Earth, of which Jesus said in Matthew 24:22:

And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

To address this topic to some extent, first we need to identify who is destined for the Tribulation, and based on the above verse, who are the elect?

The Bible is extremely clear about who must go through the Tribulation. There are two groups:

  1. Christ-rejecting Jews, i.e. the nation of Israel
  2. The unbelieving Gentile world

As to the first group, anyone who reads and understands the Old Testament sees the fate of those in this category. My intention is not to discuss them right now other than to point out God’s everlasting covenant with Israel and His intention to redeem its people. Jews throughout Biblical history have inevitably been – as the Bible tells us – a stiff-necked people, always seeking other gods rather than the One true God. Israel rejected Jesus Christ, but God has promised that a day is coming when those remaining in this nation will acknowledge Him as Messiah, Savior, and Lord.

This is uncontestable. For this to happen, Israel will go through the entire Tribulation period and experience God’s wrath in doing so.

There are plenty of pro-pre-Trib Rapture passages in Scripture. However, I want to concentrate on why I maintain it is unbelievers who must enter the Tribulation. Let’s consider several verses that make this easy to see.

First, here is Isaiah 13:9,11:

Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”

The Day of the Lord is obviously speaking of the Tribulation period. Who does Isaiah tell us are the recipients of God’s wrath and anger? Sinners – the world for its evil – the wicked for their iniquity – the arrogant – the ruthless. That seems pretty clear.

Now we’ll look at Romans 1:18:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Again, we’ll ask what this says as to whom the wrath of God is revealed?

The answer is plain: the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men – those who suppress the truth.

Next, we have Romans 12:19:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'”

Our prior verses showed for whom God’s wrath is directed. He says in this passage that He’ll take care of the vengeance that needs to be exacted upon such people. For those who have died in their sins, that was a straight trip to hell, and at the judgment, they’re headed to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. But God also has a time of wrath He’ll unleash upon this world, as Isaiah points out. For those living who enter this period and require the Lord’s vengeance, He will subject them to it.

Just to reiterate, who requires God’s vengeance to be enacted upon them? Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 specifies:

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

Once the satanic Antichrist has come during the Tribulation, those who meet God’s wrath are the ones who are perishing, those who refuse to love the truth, those who will not be saved.

Given this Scriptural proof of those upon whom God pours out His wrath during the Day of the Lord, it couldn’t be any more evident that it is unbelievers for whom this is intended.

If you are a God-fearing, Christ-following, blood-bought believer in the Lord Jesus, you can see there is no place for you in these descriptions and as a recipient of what God intends for this world during those terrible days.

From the very first, even Abraham knew this to be fact, as shown by his statement in Genesis 18:25, where he says to the angel of the Lord concerning Sodom and Gomorrah:

Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?

Thus, a pre-Tribulation Rapture is the only position regarding this issue that is Biblical and aligns with the Word of God. In fact, I believe this is so concrete and evident that the pre-Trib Rapture should be considered solid, Biblical doctrine.

Briefly, who are the elect that Jesus mentions in regard to this period?

Since true believers don’t go into the Tribulation, and we see several scenes in Revelation of believers standing before the throne of God because they’ve lost their lives, they are obviously Tribulation saints who die at different timeframes during those seven years.

In Romans 15:18, Paul describes exactly what occurs with such people:

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed.”

These late-comers have finally come to the saving grace found only in Christ Jesus. The Word of God penetrated their hearts, and they came to obedience by their deeds, i.e. by standing on their testimony, believing what the Lord did to save their souls.

As a result, as Romans 8:1 tells us:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

It was a long time in coming for these folks, and they had to endure much in the way of trials and tribulations, but God no longer condemns them. How marvelous is that?

Here are the money verses explained in Romans 5:8-10 for these new believers who now realize the Lord’s mercy:

… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

For those of us who were born-again prior to the Tribulation and escaped it through the blessed hope of the Rapture, God’s wrath didn’t touch us. For those who didn’t choose that earlier rescue, He delivers even those who experience His wrath in the Tribulation with martyrdom. Yet, regardless of what they face, these newly minted saints, at the very least, escape the torments of eternity. They are the elect who are kept by God – for a shorter or longer period of Jacob’s trouble – by faith in the midst of the fiery furnace.

Early or late in the Tribulation, they will bow down and glorify God, saying, “Holy, holy, holy.”

It’s a miracle in itself that so many will come to the Lord during these seven years of judgment.

Praise God for that. What I’m even more thankful for is that God has shown that He is merciful to those of us who choose prior to that time to follow hard after Him. It’s we for whom the promise is stated and remains that we are not destined for the wrath of God, this time of trial that will come upon the whole earth.

Gary Ritter website: books & blog


Kindle Vella story: Tribulation Rising


Please note: For anyone wishing to hear this article read out loud, please click on this link: