By Todd Baker, ZLM Staff Theologian
Q. Many people believe that the Church will be Raptured out, but that’s not true. They must go through the Tribulation to purify the Church. I have been a Believer my whole life and have taught friends about the 7 Feasts using Zola’s booklet The Seven Feasts of Israel. –J.Van S.
A. Thanks for sharing your views—and Zola’s booklet. The Bible uniformly teaches a pre-Tribulation Rapture. Below are some solid reasons why the Church will not go through any part of the Tribulation period as you suppose.
1. The Tribulation Period is signified as the wrath of God upon an ungodly, unbelieving, and unrepentant world.
Luke 21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
Revelation 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 6:17 For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
Rev. 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb
and again in verse 19:
Rev. 14:19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Rev 15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
Rev 15:7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
Rev 16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
The Church however, does not have this same fate
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
I Thess 1:10 And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
I Thess 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The Tribulation Period is not intended to purify the Church. Only the blood of Christ can wash us clean of the iniquity and sin.
The Tribulation period is referred to as “The Time of Jacob’s trouble,” and God will supernaturally deliver the Jewish people. We must be careful to distinguish between God’s plan for the Church, and His plan for Israel. Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
The Tribulation period is the time of Jacob’s trouble-not the Church’s
It is also commonly referred to as Daniel’s 70th Week. We don’t have enough time and space to discuss Daniel in-depth, but here is the reference for you to do some research on your own. Perhaps at a later date, we will do an article dealing specifically with Daniel’s prophecy.
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
The 70th Week prophesied in Daniel is a period of seven years. This is perfect harmony with the fact that the Tribulation period is 7 years.
3. The doctrine of Imminence is only maintained with a pre-Trib Rapture
If there is one theme throughout the New Testament, it is that of the imminent return of Christ. Any view that holds that other events (most notably the Tribulation) must precede the Rapture of the Church, violates the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ. We can infer from the writers and writings of the New Testament, that the early believers expected Christ at any time. Here are just a few verses that are crucial to the doctrine of imminence (which is only preserved with a pre-Trib view).
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.
Mark 13:33-37 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
4. The Tribulation period will be full of signs, and fearful happenings that would alert any astute Christian that the time would be near.
The student of prophecy also is aware that the “abomination of desolation” (which is marked by the antiChrist sitting in the Temple claiming to be God Himself) takes place in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. It wouldn’t take a mathematician to realize that exactly 3 and one-half years later, Christ will return (bodily) to the Earth, thus destroying the element of imminence. (Side note: Again, the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel and Jesus is beyond the scope of this generic article. There are volumes of studies written about the Tribulation period and should be further studied in-depth.)
5. The restrainer must be removed before the antiChrist can be revealed
II Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming:
This passage is one of the most misunderstood passages in the entire Word of God. We could devote a whole article to just this one passage in II Thessalonians. But briefly, let me just point out a few things. Notice the mystery of iniquity is already at work. John tells us that “there are many antiChrists” and evil has been at work in the world for many years. But the passage in II Thessalonians is not referring to just “an antiChrist” but “THE” antiChrist (referred to as “that Wicked in the above text). I want you to notice something very important here. Notice right now, someone is hindering, restraining, or as the text stated above “letting” (old word for restraining/hindering). This restrainer is none other than the Church full of God’s Holy Spirit power. Right now, the overcoming Church is the salt and light that is keeping this world from becoming an absolute cesspool of debauchery. The antiChrist could not rise to power as long as the Church is on the Earth. I know you might be wondering “how can that be?” … well, let me show you from the Scriptures.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
We know that when the man of sin is revealed, that he will have a government so powerful that the whole world will say “who is able to make war with the beast?” But Jesus has promised that as long as His Church is on the Earth, the government of hell will not prevail against it.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
I John 4:3-4 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antiChrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
I hope that you can see from just these few passages, that the Church is indeed restraining the antiChrist. He cannot be “revealed” (II Thess 2:8) until we are taken out.
6. We can look at past examples of God removing His people before judgment
II Peter 2:5-9 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
Here we see the character of God revealed in these two Old Testament examples. Both Noah and Lot were spared from the wrath of God, while the sinful and unbelieving were punished. The LORD definitely wants us to learn from these two examples. These two Old Testament figures are pictures of the end-times fulfillment. Jesus also referenced these two men in His preaching about the last days:
Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
Luke 17:26-30 And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
So we can see that even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, there are those like Noah and Lot who will find grace in the eyes of the LORD and be spared from the terrible Tribulation period.
7. The Church meets the LORD in the air, not on the Earth
I Thess 4:16 For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
For those who believe the Church will go through the Tribulation, there is a big problem. When Jesus comes for His Church, He comes to the clouds and stops. When Jesus returns to the Earth (the 2nd Coming, not the Rapture), He will set His feet upon the Mount of Olives to rule and reign forever more:
Zechariah 14:4 And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
Israel (and the remnant of the nations that are alive when Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation) will meet Jesus on the Earth. The Church will meet Him in the air and evermore shall be with Him. Let’s explore this even further by looking at I Thessalonians again, but this time contrasting the pronouns:
I Thessalonians 4:17-5:11 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 5:7 For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 5:8 But let us, who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Ok, I know that’s a lot to digest. But I’ve bolded the pronouns so you can clearly see who is being addressed. We (the Church) are in the clouds while they (those left behind) are on the Earth receiving wrath. I don’t think it could be any clearer. I might also add, that the message of the Rapture of the Church brings comfort (note verse 11 above), but the message of pending wrath brings anxiety and stress. It’s hard to comfort someone with the fact that they are about to endure the wrath of God.
8. Some things to notice that are different about the Second Coming and the Rapture (the appearing):
At the Rapture, only those who are looking for Him will see Him :
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Now contrast that with the Second Coming to the Earth
Rev 1:7 Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.
At the Rapture, Jesus comes FOR His Church :
I Thessalonians: 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
However, at the Second Coming (after the Tribulation period), Christ comes WITH His saints.
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
At the Rapture, the LORD calls His Church up to a wedding/marriage.
Matthew 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
But at the Second Coming to Earth, He is returning from a wedding.
Luke 12 12:36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when He will return from the wedding; that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
When the Lord comes to the Earth bodily (the Second Coming), the Jewish people will have had to flee to the wilderness, and much of the Earth and its population will have been destroyed. (Some believe close to 2/3s of the Earth’s population will be destroyed during the Tribulation). However, the psalms tell us that Christ is coming when Israel (Zion) is being built up.
Psalm 102:16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.
But the most convincing evidence that the New Testament Church will be Raptured prior to the Tribulation …
… can be summed up in Luke 21:36 and Revelation 3:10:
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Jesus was clearly talking about the horrors of the Tribulation hour that is coming upon the world. The very fact that He instructed us to pray that we may be accounted worthy to escape this tribulation, is evidence enough to me that we most assuredly can escape this terrible time (otherwise that verse makes no sense whatsoever).
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
This promise was specifically to the church of Philadelphia, but it applies to all that are over-comers by their faith. This “hour of temptation” indicates something much deeper than just the everyday trials of life that we all must endure as good soldiers of Christ. This is a “worldwide” hour of trouble that most assuredly is a reference to the Tribulation period.