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As the header intends to show, there is quite a bit of confusion and misunderstandings regarding the position of the believers towards the Rapture/Tribulation period. Positions change and have changed from one extreme to the other, and their proponents seem to find verses that support their chosen view. Then, since God is not the Author of confusion, obviously the fault of all this must reside with us.

In the spirit of a free, constructive discussion, we have decided to place the different views side by side, with common layout rules, so to let the reader judge for himself. We have asked proponents of these different viewpoints to respond to 4 basic questions:

 

  • a MAIN VERSE which delimits their postion
  • SUPPORTING VERSES
  • WHY THEY PERSONALLY BELIEVE SO
  • TO DEFINE THE TIMEFRAME

    We would like to remind all Christians that is not what we singly believe about the Rapture or the Tribulation that saves us, but our active faith in the Blood Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Important as it may be, for its defining characteristics and the guiding influence that it exercise directly and indirectly in our lives, no particular tribulation/rapture credo is all that important to make us forget the love amongst brothers, manifested in common courtesy, humbleness and the willingness to listen to each other. Yes, especially humbleness, since NOBODY can prove with absolute certainty his position on this matter. IT IS UNFOLDING, this we all agree (well, except the A-millennialists), and we can be certain that all these "mysteries" will soon find their revelation.

    The principal views about the Rapture and the Tribulation period, are the following:

     

    tribulation timing chart

 

Pre-trib    Mid-trib    Post-trib    Prewrath    A-millennial

 

 

 

POSITION
PREWRATH
AUTHOR
Gary Waterlaus
e-mail
MAIN VERSE
THE RAPTURE IN MATTHEW 24:27-31

In the Olivet discourse, Jesus is answering the disciples question: "What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?". Jesus answers their question in the following verses: "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." Matt. 24:29-31

The event described in Matthew 24:29 is the single most important clue as to the timing of the Rapture. The event described in Matthew 24:29 is the sign that indicates the beginning of the wrath of God. It is clear that the Lord lifted His words directly from the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah, Joel and Zephaniah predicted that these very signs would signal the beginning of God's wrath against the wicked during a time period known as the Day of the Lord.

Joel specifically states that the cataclysmic disturbances in the sky would come before the actual beginning of the eschatological Day of the Lord when he wrote, "The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes" (Joel 2:31). This one fact alone dispels any possible notion that the entire seven year period known as Daniel's Seventieth Week is the wrath of God. It also gives us the single most important clue about the beginning point of God's wrath. The Lord states that the Day of the Lord begins immediately after the tribulation of Satan/Antichrist is cut short (Matt. 24:21-22,29).

With the universe devoid of light, a second sign occurs. The sign of the Son of Man appears in the sky (Matt 24:27, 30). All the tribes of the earth begin to mourn when they see it. Christ is then seen "coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory". Matthew 24:31 then states, "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." This is the rapture that Paul speaks of in 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

SUPPORTING VERSES
THE RAPTURE IN 1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-5:11

Paul wrote: "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: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air....For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night....But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" (1 Thess. 4:16-17, 5:2-4).

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, Paul does not give any indication of the timing of the Parousia of Christ. One knows what will happen, but nothing about when it will happen. However, once the unity of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 is recognized, the reader is able to discern a very important connection. The teaching of Paul and the teaching of the Lord in Matthew 24-25 are parallel. In fact, no less than sixteen parallels occur between Matthew 24-25 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5. Note the following parallels:

 

  1. Christ Himself returns (1 Thess. 4:16 with Mart 24:30).
  2. From heaven (1 Thess. 4:16 with Matt. 24:30).
  3. With a shout (1 Thess. 4:16 with Matt. 24:30 [in power]).
  4. Accompanied by angels (1 Thess. 4:16 with Matt. 24:31).
  5. With the trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16 with Matt. 24:31.
  6. Believers are supernaturally gathered to Christ (1 Thess. 4:17 with Matt. 24:3 1, 40-41).
  7. Believers meet the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17 [apantesis] with Matt. 25:1, 6 [upantesis and apantesis]).
  8. In the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17 with Matt. 24:30).
  9. The time is unknown (1 Thess. 5:1-2 with Matt. 24:36);
  10. Will come as a thief (1 Thess. 5:2,4 with Matt. 24:43).
  11. Will come at night (1 Thess. 5:2 with Matt. 24:43).
  12. Unbelievers are unaware of impending judgment (1 Thess. 5:3 with Matt. 24:37-39).
  13. Judgment comes as travail upon an expectant mother (1 Thess. 5:3 with Matt. 24:8 [cf. RSV]).
  14. Believers not deceived (1 Thess. 5:6 with Matt. 24:4-5).
  15. Believers are to watch (1 Thess. 5:6 with Matt. 24:42).
  16. Warning against drunkenness (1 Thess 5:7 with Matt. 24:49).

This evidence is compelling. We are able to conclude that the Lord and Paul are teaching the same sequence of events concerning the Parousia. The Rapture initiates the Day of the Lord, which is the wrath of God against the wicked.

THE RAPTURE IN REVELATION 6:1-17, 7:9-17

Just as Paul follows the end-times sequence which the Lord gives in Matthew's Olivet Discourse, so do the seals in the book of the Revelation. The beginning birth pang of false Christs (Matt 24:5) is represented in the first seal. The false Christ begins his reign by conquering nations (Rev. 6:2). The second beginning birth pang of wars (Matt 24:6-7a) is represented in the second seal of wars (Rev. 6:4). The third beginning birth pang of famine (Matt 24:7b) is presented in the third seal of famine (Rev. 6:6). The period of hard labor (persecution and apostasy Matt. 24:9-13) is represented in the fourth seal of death (Rev. 6:8). Satan/Antichrist unleash their God-ordained three and a half year campaign of persecution against God's elect. The fifth seal represents those who are killed because of their faith in Christ as the Lord prophesied (Matt 24:9). The sixth seal represents the sign that initiates the Parousia of Christ&emdash;the sign in the sun, moon, and stars (Matthew 24:29).

As in Matthew, John indicates that immediately after the sign in the sun, moon, and stars, a gathering of God's people will occur. Between the sixth and seventh seals, 144,00 Jews are sealed on earth from any experience of the wrath of God soon to fall in the Trumpet judgments. A second group of individuals is highlighted in Revelation 7:9-17. These can be none other than the raptured Saints of the ages - the Church. There are six reasons for this conclusion.

 

  1. The timing is right. It follows the persecution of Satan/ Antichrist, but precedes the wrath of God. John is told that this great multitude "are the ones who come out of the great tribulation." Thus the object of the persecution is removed from earth during the time period known as the "great tribulation".
  2. The numbers are right. John describes the raptured saints as "a great multitude which no one could count." The raptured saints of all the ages are the only ones that will literally fulfill this tremendous number of individuals.
  3. The ethnic composition is right. John proclaims that this great multitude is composed of people from "every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues." These are the very ones John indicated the Lamb purchased for God with His blood (Rev. 5:9).
  4. Their bodies are right. John determines that this great multitude is "standing before the throne [of God] and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands and they cry out with a loud voice..." These can only be individuals who have been resurrected. Paul indicates that the resurrection of the Saints will occur at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:52).
  5. The multitude sings the right song. The multitude proclaims, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." The word salvation is better translated victory here. God is not in need of physical or spiritual deliverance, which is what the term usually means. However, the emphasis here is on the victory God will have against the wicked, which is insured by the resurrection of the righteous.
  6. The promise is right. This great multitude is promised both spiritual and physical comfort forever. No hunger, no thirst, no heat exhaustion, no tears, and eternal satisfaction are the rewards of the resurrected. This is in contrast to the condition of those underneath the altar in Revelation 6:9 who must wait before they will realize their reward. The difference is that one group is raised and one group is not.

These points taken together argue strongly for the case that the Rapture occurs in Revelation 7 just before the wrath of God comes at the seventh seal (chapter 8), which is the Day of the Lord.

THE DAY OF THE LORD

The prewrath position teaches that the sixth seal of Revelation 6:12-17, which is described in the same language as Joel 2:28-32, is the beginning of the eschatological Day of the Lord. The sixth seal follows the persecution of Satan/Antichrist, and that by definition, must start after Satan/Antichrist's persecution is cut short. There are three reasons for this conclusion.

  1. The sequence is right in the book of Revelation. The sign of the sun, moon and stars is an indication to the wicked that the wrath of God is about to start. This is followed by a great multitude that no man can number showing up in heaven. Then finally this is immediately followed by the wrath of God to the nations (trumpets and bowls) and the millennial blessings. This is the same sequence developed by Joel, adopted by the Prophets and expanded in the New Testament.
  2. The reaction of the wicked is right. Isaiah prophesied that the wicked would run to hide in the rocks when God comes to "shake the earth" (Isaiah 2:12-21).
  3. The timing is right. The very first Greek word in Rev 6:17 is (hoti). It, along with the verb has come, indicates that verse 17 is the reason for the activity in verses l5-16. There are two reasons given for the wicked hiding and seeking death &emdash; the face of Him who sits on the throne (God the Father) and the wrath of the Lamb (Jesus Christ). The "face" of God is a figure of speech. God the Father does not have a literal face (John 4:24). The word face is placed in the verse to denote His presence or person. This is a very common expression in the Old Testament (Ps. 42:5, II; 1 Kings 10:24; Lev. 23:40). The wicked are seeking to get away from the presence of God the Father.

CONCLUSION

Concerning the place of the Rapture in the divine sequence of the end times, a clear pattern has emerged. Prior to AD 325, the church fathers, with few exceptions, held to a "post-persecution" return of Christ, which would result in the deliverance of the righteous and destruction of the wicked. This teaching was based directly on the teachings of Christ, specifically given in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew in many cases. The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John follows the exact same sequence outlined in the Olivet Discourse. The Rapture of the church takes place after the persecution of Satan/Antichrist (sixth seal), but before the wrath of God (Trumpet judgments). The Apostle Paul follows the same sequence in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 that the Lord gave in Matthew 24-25. The pattern is clear: the Rapture will initiate the Day of the Lord, which occurs sometime after the mid-point of the 70th week of Daniel, after the persecution of Satan/Antichrist, but before the wrath of God is poured out in the trumpet and bowl judgements.

(The above material was taken from "Leg's to Stand On" by Charles Cooper, © 1998 The Sign Ministries)

WHY DO I BELIEVE THIS WAY
Simply put, I believe this way because it is what the Bible clearly teaches. When one approaches scripture with a consistent hermeneutic and compares scripture with scripture, not trying to interpret scripture to fit a pre-conceived theology, the prewrath position is the natural result.

The prewrath rapture position harmonizes all scriptures relating to Christ's Second Coming. It harmonizes the clear teaching of Scripture, including the following facts:

  1. The church is exempted from the eschatological wrath of God (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9)
  2. The 70th week of Daniel is composed of two parts: the wrath of Antichrist/Satan and the wrath of God (Day of the Lord) (Rev. 12:12-14; Rev. 6:12-17; Rev. 15:1)
  3. The eschatological Day of the Lord follows the period called "The Great Tribulation" that begins at the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel. (Matt. 24: 27-31; 2 Thess. 2:1-8)
  4. Antichrist/Satan's persecution will be "cut short" by the removal of the object of his persecution - the Church - by rapture to heaven. (Matt. 24:21-22; Rev. 7:13-14)

I held to the pretribulation position for over 15 years, but had never really studied it. There had always been verses that bothered me and didn't seem to fit with the position. Once I sat down with an open mind to see just what Scripture really taught concerning Christ's Second Coming, it all came together and fit so well with the prewrath position.

WHERE ARE WE NOW IN THE TIMEFRAME
Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matt. 24:36). We cannot know the exact time of Christ's return. However our Lord also says in verses 32-33, "...when [the fig tree's] branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door." And in Luke 21:28 He states, "when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

I believe that the time is nearing. We have seen the reestablishment of Israel into her land in 1948. They took control of Jerusalem in 1967. And, with the tumoil in the Middle East, they are desperate for a peace accord. There are no other events which must take place before the events of the 70th week can begin. Whether it happens in my life time or that of my children's or grandchildren's, I do not know. But I do know that we are to be prepared, living in holiness, being sober and watchful.

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POSITION
POST-TRIBULATION
AUTHOR
Harry Bethel
e-mail
MAIN VERSE
Concerning the timing of the rapture, the apostle Paul wrote:
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by [concerning] the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by [concerning] our gathering together unto him....Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition" - (2 Thess. 2:1-3).

According to the Scriptures Jesus will rapture the saints on the last day of the Great Tribulation, not before it. The Apostle Peter did not believe that Jesus would return at any moment after He ascended into heaven. Jesus, before His ascension, told Peter that he would live to be an old man, which would be many years later, and how he would die to glorify God (Jn. 21:18-19). Paul knew that he was a chosen vessel unto the Lord to bear His name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). The apostle knew that the rapture would not take place before this ministry was accomplished.

Since Peter and Paul did not believe in the imminent return of Christ, then when can Christians believe that Christ could return at any moment? The answer is recorded in Luke 21:25-28. "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption [the redemption of the saints] draweth nigh." These things will happen on the last day of the Great Tribulation.

SUPPORTING VERSES
Paul wrote:
"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: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air....For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night....But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" - (1 Thess. 4:16-17, 5:2-4).

Jesus will rapture the saints with the sound of a trump. Which trump? Paul wrote, "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" - (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

When is the last trump? According to the Revelation there are seven trumpets during the Great Tribulation. The seventh and last trumpet recorded in Scripture is sounded on the last day of the tribulation: "And the seventh angel sounded [the seventh and last trumpet]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever....And the nations were angry, and thy wrath [from which the saints were delivered] 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...." - (Rev. 11:15-18).

It is imperative to know that the last day of the tribulation is depicted in six passages throughout the Revelation. It is impossible to understand the chronology of the events of the Great Tribulation without seeing this. The last day of the Great Tribulation is portrayed (perhaps within a few verses before and after) in the following passages in the Revelation: 6:12-17; 11:15-19; 14:14-20; 16:17-21; 19:11-21; and 20:9-21:8. John the Revelator wrote of events that he saw and then wrote of the last day. Then he wrote of events that he saw and then wrote of the last day. He did this six times in the Book of Revelation.

We are living in times of easy believism, easy credit, easy living, and easy exit for the saints. A major point that pre-tribulationists try to make to uphold their view is that God has not appointed us to wrath. But we must answer the question, What is the wrath to which we are not appointed? And, can saints go through the Great Tribulation without directly suffering the wrath of God, as did the Old Testament saints in Egypt when God sent his plagues because of Pharaoh?

One of the purposes of the Great Tribulation will be for unrepentant worldlings to experience the judgment of God, as have sinful societies throughout history, from the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jerusalem, and others up to the worldwide judgment of the end-time Tribulation. Another purpose will be the persecution of the saints during the Great Tribulation in order to clean us up for the return of Christ. Much of the suffering of the saints during this terrible time will be from persecution and not directly from the judgments of God. (There will, however, be suffering because of not being able to buy or sell without the mark of the Beast, etc. Christians who do not take the mark will not be able to be legally employed, pay taxes on their property, buy automobile tags, gasoline, food, or anything else.) Christians during the Great Tribulation will be like those saints of the Old Dispensation mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. They "were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" - (Heb. 11:35-38).

In Revelation 6:9-11 it says, "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held....And white robes were given unto every one of them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. In the next chapter the apostle John saw not just Jews but Aa great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes....And one of the elders [around the throne] answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation...." - (7:9, 13-14).

Some Christians argue that the word "church" is not even mentioned after Revelation chapter 3. That is true (except that "churches" is mentioned in 22:16), but the "saints" are referred to more than a dozen times after chapter 3. And Jesus said, For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened - (Mt. 24:21-22).

WHY DO I BELIEVE THIS WAY
Persecution and martyrdom is the New Testament norm. Jesus said to His disciples, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you....The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you...." - (Jn. 15:19-20). Peter wrote, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" - (1 Pet. 2:21). And Paul wrote, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" - (2 Tim. 3:12).

According to Church history all the Apostles suffered martyrdom except John who was banished to the Isle of Patmos. The apostles were thrown into prison time and again during their ministry, and suffered beatings and other persecution (Acts 5:40; 16:23; 2 Cor. 11:25; et al.). Paul was in and out of jail, suffered beatings and was incarcerated, under house-arrest, for two years (Acts 28:30) before his martyrdom.

We are not experiencing persecution in America, not because Satan has changed his strategy, but because the saints have changed theirs. Most Christians in this country have not been endued with power from On High and are not proclaiming a scriptural evangelistic message which includes remission of sins and repentance (Lk. 13:3-5; 24:47; Mk. 1:15; 6:12; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 26:19-20; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Most evangelistic messages are watered-down, easy-believism, half-truths that omit the need for repentance. (Look at the Gospel tracts in the tract rack at bookstores and in your church building, or listen to your pastor preach an evangelistic message or give "an invitation" to see if you can even find or hear the word "repent" or "repentance" mentioned.

Some church leaders teach that believing in an imminent pre-trib rapture will influence Christians to live holy lives. But the Scriptures teach, referring to the heavens and earth being destroyed by fire, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye [the saints] to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?....Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless" - (2 Pet. 3:11-14).

There has never been a time when so many Christians believed in an imminent pre-trib rapture and yet the twentieth-century church in America can be characterized by almost anything but holiness. (With all the filth of the television programs and cheap output of the press brought into our homes, divorce, the worldly dress and sports activities, ad nauseam.) Most Christians in America live and look too much like worldlings; there is no contrast, therefore in many cases there is no conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit in the lives of the lost.

Paul said, "...We glory in tribulations (thlipsis) also: knowing that tribulation (thlipsis) worketh patience" - (Rom. 5:3). This is the same Greek word used in Revelation when John saw a great multitude in white robes and one of the elders around the throne said, "These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation (thlipsis)...." - (7:9, 13-14). The Greek noun thlipsis was also used in Acts 11:19 concerning the persecution of the Church at the time of Stephen's martyrdom and is rendered "persecution."

"In the world ye shall have tribulation...." - (John 16:33). "...We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" - (Acts 4:22). "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you...for my sake....Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" - (Mt. 5:10-12).

Tribulation and persecution is not the wrath of God. Again, persecution and martyrdom is the New Testament norm. The wrath of God that Christians will be kept from is the wrath of the last day and, of course, the wrath of the Lake of Fire. Those who have been saved by Jesus have already been delivered from the eternal Lake of Fire which is the wrath to come. Paul wrote, "...Jesus...delivered us [past tense] from the wrath to come" - (1 Thess. 1:10).

Even a casual reading of the Scriptures will reveal that God takes His people through tribulation rather than delivering them from it. Beginning with Noah and his family who were kept safe in the ark which was a type of Christ, they went right through the middle of the flood with torrential rains coming down from above and all the waters from below: "...All the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened" - (Gen. 7:11).

Another well-known example is the three Hebrews who were not delivered from going through the fiery furnace which was heated seven times hotter than usual. Indeed they went right through the middle of that persecution and the Lord went through it with them. Yet another example of God sending His saints through tribulation rather than keeping them from it, is Daniel being thrown into the den of lions. He went right through the middle of that persecution, but God sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. That great saint brought glory to God in that tribulation.

Like the Old Testament saints listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 and all the Apostles who were martyred except John who suffered the persecution of Patmos, God sometimes lets His saints suffer and die for His glory.

The saints will go through the tribulation depicted in the Revelation. The Antichrist will be given power "to make war with the saints, and to overcome them" - (Rev. 13:7). Christians who are compromisers before the Great Tribulation are not going to be overcomers through it. Most Christians (especially those in the United States) are not spiritually ready to go through that which is on the horizon if it is as late as we think it is. The days of the Great Tribulation will be the worst time that this world has ever seen. Probably not many Christians will be ready to go through the Great Tribulation, but believing that you are going to be raptured out before it begins is certainly not conducive to spiritual preparation for it.

WHERE ARE WE NOW IN THE TIMEFRAME
According to the Scriptures there must come a falling away before the rapture of the saints. Never in the history of the Church has there been such a falling away from the truths of God's Word. With all the signs prevalent throughout the world---sin, lawlessness and violence as it was in the days of Noah, with the technology available to implement a "mark of the beast," and the global movement toward a one-world government to name just a few---it doesn't take much discernment to know that we are living in the very last of the last days before the Great Tribulation.
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POSITION
PRE-TRIBULATION
AUTHOR
Allen Beechick
e-mail
MAIN VERSE

Revelation 3:10 says, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from [out] the hour of temptation [testing], which shall come upon all the world, to try [test] them that dwell upon the earth."

What could be clearer than that? It doesn't say "take out." No, "take out" and "keep out" have entirely different meanings. It doesn't say "keep in." No, "keep in" and "keep out" have entirely different meanings. It doesn't say "keep in and take out." No, it takes twice as many words to express those two distinct ideas. God chose this simple word combination to communicate as clearly as possible.

Some say this means believers are protected during testing instead of from testing. But I answer, protected from what? Believers during that time are killed, not kept. (Revelation 6:9, 13:7)

Let's think deeper. The reason for the promise illuminates the purpose of the promise. The reason ("because you have already demonstrated patience in testing") prompts the purpose ("I will keep you from further testing"). Is God saying, "Since you have shown patience, I will now give you a bigger test?" No, He is saying, "You have already passed the test. Congratulations!" You have shown patience, haven't you? You have leaned on God's Word during testing, haven't you? Then this promise is for you.

SUPPORTING VERSES

First, the known day and the unknown day cannot be the same day.

"But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 25:36).

"In such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes" (Matthew 25:44). In contrast to the unknown day, we also read about a known day. The 1260 days of Revelation 12:6 coincides with the 42 months of Revelation 13:5 and the three and one-half years of Revelation 12:14. The same time span is stated in three ways, days, months, and years. There's no mistaking it. This clearly stated time span begins at the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15-16), and it ends at the return of Christ (Revelation 19:20).

The known day and the unknown day must be different days. The rapture cannot occur on the known day.It's not just the day that's unknown. The general time period is unknown. Matthew 24:44 says, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."Also Mark 13:33 says, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." The word "time" there means "season." That's why Jesus urged His disciples to be ready continually, not wait to get ready.

Second, at the end of the age the unbelievers are taken first. Matthew 13 reads:

"In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares.... the harvest is the end of the world.... As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.... So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just." Does it say, "Separate the wheat from the tares?" No, it says, "Separate the tares from the wheat." The order of gatherings at this time is opposite to the rapture.

Third, those taken on that day end up as corpses for vultures to feed on. Luke 17 reads: "I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And He said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together." "Eagles" is better translated "vultures." "Body" means "corpse" according to the parallel passage Matthew 24:28. So those taken on that day end up as corpses for vultures to feed on. Is that the rapture? No, believers have a different destiny.

Fourth, if all unbelievers are destroyed, then who will populate the millennium? Many passages teach that no unbelievers survive the tribulation. Luke 17 reads: "[Noah] entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. ... 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." Matthew 13 reads: "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity." First Thessalonians five reads: "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." [strong dual negative in the Greek] Second Thessalonians one reads: "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ... That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Malachi 4 reads: "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Now consider this. If believers receive glorified bodies at the rapture, and if all unbelievers are destroyed after the tribulation, then who will populate the millennium in natural bodies? A rapture at the end of the tribulation doesn't fit.

Fifth, by Revelation 19, the wife is already ready. Revelation 19 says: "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [literally righteousnesses, plural] of the saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called [invited] unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." Who is the wife of the Lamb? The church, all true believers in the Lamb of God. (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:31-32) How do we know she is ready? Well, just look at her. She's arrayed in fine linen. What is she ready for? The marriage supper. The invitations are about to go out. The wife is ready by Revelation 19 before Christ descends to earth. If you are a true believer, then you are in that picture. You are in heaven. You are arrayed in fine linen. Your wedding gown is complete.

Sixth, by Revelation 4, the crowns are already awarded. "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats [thrones]: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads [victory] crowns of gold" (Revelation 4:4). Who are the elders? Some may think that the elders are angels. But God doesn't award victory crowns to angels. These crowns are reserved for sinners who overcome by faith. You can say the elders are the church, or Israel, or a combination of both, or the New York Yankees, minus one player. I don't care. But definitely human. Crowns come when Christ comes according to 2 Timothy 4:8, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 22:12. Therefore, Christ must have come prior to Revelation 4:4, but after Revelation 3 when the church is still on earth. Somewhere in between there. Do you want to prepare for the tribulation? Then study the 24 elders. That's our role. That's the part we'll play when the time comes.

WHY DO I BELIEVE THIS WAY

I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture for different reasons than the typical pre-tribulationist. Although we share the same principles of interpretation, understanding the words of the Bible in their normal sense, and letting the context explain the meaning, I think taking these basic principles of interpretation to their full and logical conclusion, letting go of pre-conceived notions, letting Scripture speak for itself, we discover a harmony beyond expectation.

WHERE ARE WE NOW IN THE TIMEFRAME

We are in the church age, before the tribulation, before the 70th week of Daniel. Jesus places the tribulation immediately before His coming (Matthew 24:29). That puts it future, not past.

Paul places the revealing of the man of sin in the future. Since the man of sin will be destroyed by Christ at His coming, those events are future (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8).

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POSITION
A-MILLENNIAL
AUTHOR
Gerald Boyer
e-mail
MAIN VERSE

I believe the a-millennial concept is based upon prophecy; therefore, I submit this scripture as a sure foundation... Deuteronomy 18:20-23

"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him"

The Lord confirms WHAT PROPHECY IS! through these scriptures. The prophecy of the book of Revelation follows these guidelines. It is my studied opinion that the a-millennial concept is scripturally sound, because it presents those things that have come to pass. If the Divine key of symbolic language is properly used, this prophecy relates the historic trace of Christianity. It speaks of the events of the birth of the church, the conflicts she fought against Paganism, and the Apostasy that formed through the "Dark-Age period." This prophecy reveals the triumph of the true church as She came forth through Protestantism and then shows forth Her glory again at the end of time as She was in Her 1st. century glory. The a-millennial view presents the historical trace of Christianity which HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE, and therefore can be termed, I believe, the "More sure word of prophecy."

SUPPORTING VERSES

(2 Peter 1:19-21) "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shinneth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

According to Deut. 18: 20-23, Daniel's 70th week CANNOT BE in the future. If this WERE TRUE, then Daniel would be considered a "false prophet." Christ Himself said, all things concerning His birth, life, death and resurrection had been FULFILLED! Let us consider this message in support of our a-millennial position. The scriptures say, "Seventy Weeks are DETERMINED."

This period is composed of seven weeks, during which the city of Jerusalem is restored. Then, a period of 434 years (62 weeks) elapse until the baptism of Christ. The baptism of Christ is established because He is referred to as Messiah, the Prince, in other words, the Anointed One. There remained but one week, the seventieth, during which the ministry of Christ is executed, and during which time He is cut off in the midst (NOT MIDDLE) of the week. It is generally established that Christ ministered three and one half years before His crucifixion, when He was cut off. The remaining three and one half years was the period of time when the gospel was proclaimed to the Jews, ending with Peter's Divinely guided mission to the house of Cornelius who was the first Gentile to embrace salvation. Further, the duration of the Covenant was not limited to one week, but was ratified during that one week of prophecy. Its duration was, and is ENDLESS!

This is the NEW and EVERLASTING Covenant.
1. Christ did make an end of sins!
2. Christ did make reconciliation for iniquity!
3. Christ did bring in everlasting righteousness!
4. The Old Testament lived in prophecy.
5. The New Testament lives in history.

Christ FULFILLED ALL the prophecies at His first coming, and that He was the embodiment of ALL that had been promised through the prophets from the beginning of time. I believe Christ DID set up His Kingdom when He entered into the world the first time. On the cross, He cried out, "IT IS FINISHED!" Christ did NOT fail to accomplish what He came to do just because the Jews refused Him as the Messiah. To infer that Christ has to come back and 'do the thing all over again,' is a denial of all the prophesies that proclaimed His reason for coming into the world.

As it is written: Christ came into this world to, "SAVE MEN FROM THEIR SINS;" not to set up a literal kingdom on this earth for the Jews or any one else. The interpretation of the Revelation prophecy has been determined through symbolic understanding which God gave to those holy men of old, by Divine inspiration. Daniel gives us the keys to understanding these symbols. The a-millennial concept which I believe, simply follows these guidelines.

WHY DO I BELIEVE THIS WAY
I believe the a-millennial concept because of the previously mentioned scriptural facts concerning God's format for prophetic truth. The historical events have followed as the symbolic truth has revealed, and these events continue to be fulfilled. I believe the important and vital "link" of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, has been 'passed over' by those who present 'another age to come.' The entire book of Hebrews declares that the Old Covenant has been abolished! If the ninth chapter of Hebrews were read and accepted by the adherents of Pre-Post and 'other' millennialists, I believe this truth would resolve the issue of a "Postponed" kingdom.
WHERE ARE WE NOW IN THE TIME LINE

I believe we are in the "Evening Time" of the gospel day.

The 7th and final sealed scroll HAS BEEN OPENED, according to the Revelation prophecy. Zechariah wrote of this time. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but IT SHALL COME TO PASS, THAT AT EVENING TIME IT SHALL BE LIGHT." (Zech.14:6-9)

The Revelation prophecy speaks of the confused state of religions that have claimed to be Christianity...some clear, not all darkness. Perhaps the reason the early church is called the "morning time" church is because it's glory was so short lived. According to historians and the prophetic Word of God, the Pristine glory of that infant church only lasted until the latter part of the second century. I believe the symbolic teaching of this book of Revelation portrays the "Dark Ages" as the long day of darkness when the Popes and the Roman Catholic Church reigned over the entire world. The Bible was taken from the common man and relegated to the Priests. The 16th century then brought forth some Light as Protestantism came forth. I believe this was the fulfillment of Zachariah's prophecy when he said, "That light shall not be clear, nor dark."

On the prophetic time table, God began His "Final Restoration" in the latter part of the 18th. Century. This event, is revealed in the 6th sealed scroll message. According to the symbols, this "Final Restoration," will continue until ALL God's people have heard the call to, "Come out of Spiritual Babylon." According to the symbolic understanding that God has given, Babylon represents the religions that men's traditions have devised. All these events follow in a chronological order and therefore can be accepted as the fulfillment of God's true prophecy.

This "Final Restoration," that Christians are engaged in these last days, I believe, to be the fulfillment of that which the Lord spoke to Zechariah when he wrote: "At evening time it shall be light." The LIGHT has come forth and is shinning brighter and brighter as the Lord draws nigh. The Bible is now available to FREE "whosoever will hear" what the Word of God says, rather than the traditional religions of men. Rev. 15:1-5, declares this final restoration of God's redeemed people. They had gotten the victory over the Dragon (Paganism) over the beast (Catholicism) and over his image (Protestantism) and over his mark, and over the number of his name. I BELIEVE THEY WERE SINGING THEIR SONG OF DELIVERANCE FROM ALL THE IMAGES OF MEN'S RELIGIONS. The three unclean spirits and their deeds of deception are evident in these closing chapters of history, as we see paganism on the rise through eastern religions, cults and Satanism. The Apostate religion God has identified as "The Great Harlot" is being revived through the Pope's worlds acceptance of him as a great Potentate. Protestantism is overflowing with the New Age philosophy. These things have come to pass! This is how we may know the certainty of this Revelation prophecy. (Rev. 16:12-17).

Armageddon will NOT BE a literal battle fought on a foreign land! Armageddon is a "Spiritual battle" in which all Christians are NOW being inducted into. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."(Eph.6:12) We are called upon to reprove and rebuke the False teachings that abound in so-called Christianity.