10 Reasons to Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture (Part Two)
Reasons 6-10 in a two-part series: Why the Rapture will come before the Tribulation
|Jimmy Evans||Jul 28|| 51||3|
In a previous post, I began listing the first five of ten reasons I believe the Rapture of the Church will come before the Tribulation, based on what the Bible says. This post includes the final five reasons.
First, a couple of definitions. The Rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as the moment, “in the twinkling of an eye,” when present-day believers will be removed from earth to heaven. Meanwhile, the Tribulation is the seven-year period of trial and trauma that those remaining on earth will experience before Christ’s visible return. I believe the idea that Christians will be removed prior to the Tribulation is a great comfort for those who follow Jesus.
In these lists, I’m referring to the “Pre-Tribulational Rapture” view as PTR. Here are the first five reasons I listed. I encourage you to read the original article to learn more about them.
1) Only a Pre-Tribulational Rapture (PTR) protects us from God’s wrath.
2) Only a PTR explains how the world could be experiencing “business as usual” when Christ comes.
3) Only PTR makes space for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
4) Only a PTR explains the absence of the Church in the Great Tribulation of Revelation 6-16.
5) Only a PTR makes logical sense.
Here are the next five reasons:
6) Only a PTR explains how Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will be populated.
After Christ returns, He will establish His thousand-year reign upon the earth. This “Millennium” will be a golden age during which God fulfills all His promises to the Jewish people. However, it will still include some death and suffering, albeit on a limited scale (see Isaiah 65:20-25). The Millennium will also include un-resurrected unbelievers who live on the earth, under Christ’s rule (Revelation 20:7-9, Zechariah 14).
This creates a problem those who believe in a Post-Tribulational Rapture, because when Christ returns, He apparently destroys everyone on earth who does not know Him (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Revelation 19:11-21). So in reference to those un-resurrected unbelievers who populate the earth during the Millennium…where do they come from? Did they not all die in the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon?
The solution for the PTR view is simple: the Millennial Kingdom will be populated by resurrected believers who were raptured, and return to the earth with Jesus. It will also be populated by un-resurrected believers who survive the Great Tribulation, of which there will be a great multitude (Revelation 7:9, 14). Gradually, these un-resurrected believers will have babies, who have babies, who have babies—some of whom become unbelievers, further populating the Millennial Kingdom with people who will ultimately rebel against Christ (Revelation 20:7-9).
7) Only a PTR distinguishes properly between Israel and the Church.
The Church exists because of Israel, but the Church does not replace Israel. Israel and the Church are two distinct peoples, with two distinct sets of promises, and two distinct redemptive programs. This becomes especially clear in Romans 9-11, where the Apostle Paul plainly declares that one day, “all Israel will be saved.” If Israel is the same as the Church, this statement is redundant.
Maintaining this distinction helps us properly interpret passages like Daniel 9:24-27, where the Church is raptured from the earth in order for God to deal with Israel during the “70th week,” which is the Great Tribulation. Even though this seven-year period will be one of tremendous suffering, it will fulfill God’s promise of mass revival among the Jews in the end-times.
8) Only PTR depicts Jesus as capable of coming back at any moment.
Jesus repeatedly states that we should expect Him to return at literally any moment. In fact, He goes so far as to say that the date of His return is not even known by “the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). Clearly, Jesus wants us to be ready for an “any-moment” rapture! He says as much in the very next verse: “Take heed, watch, and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”
Again, this creates a problem for those who believe in a Rapture after the Tribulation. Take, for instance, this list of signs that must occur before Jesus returns, according to the theologian Wayne Grudem, who believes in a post-tribulational rapture:
Gospel preached to all nations (Matthew 24:14)
Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:15-22)
False prophets, signs and wonders (Matthew 24:23-24)
Signs in the heavens (Matthew 24:29-30)
Coming of the Man of Sin and the Rebellion (2 Thessalonians 2:1-10)
The problem with this list, which I’ve derived from pages 1097-1099 in Grudem’s book, Systematic Theology, is that it conflates the Rapture with Christ’s ultimate return, as if they are the same thing. For instance, of course it’s true the Great Tribulation must happen before Jesus returns in Judgment; but seven years before that, He will return to rescue His bride, through the Rapture!
If you truly believe that all these signs must precede Jesus’ coming, then you don’t expect the Rapture at any moment. Quite the opposite, you might even be encouraged to disobey the command of Jesus to be ready.
9) PTR best explains who the “Restrainer” is.
Here’s the text of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, in which the Apostle Paul paints a picture of the Rapture of the Church:
And now you know what is restraining, that he 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.
Who is the restrainer? I explain the meaning of this passage in my book Tipping Point:
“So, who is the ‘He’ that is restraining? The fact that the pronoun ‘He’ is capitalized tells you that it is God Himself. More specifically, it is the Holy Spirit in the Church that is restraining sin and evil in the world today. And that will continue until the Rapture occurs and God’s restraining force in the world will be removed.”
Without a Rapture that precedes the Tribulation, this verse makes little sense.
10) Only a PTR comforts us.
In his most explicit passage about the rapture, the Apostle Paul tells us his reason for describing it: “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
I don’t know about you, but living through the Great Tribulation doesn’t comfort me at all. Bodies of water will be turned to blood, the earth’s vegetation will be scorched, demonic armies will be unleashed, and the Antichrist’s reign of terror will lead to martyrdom on a scale that the world has never seen. If the Apostle Paul believed in a rapture after the Tribulation, how would these words be comforting?
I’ll leave you with one more quote from my book:
Why is it so important to me that you know you won’t see the horror of the Tribulation? I have the same motivation Paul had. I want to comfort you. I want you to know God is overflowing with grace and mercy. His love for you knows no end. Believers, we will not experience the Tribulation because our God has not appointed us to wrath. He will not judge us along with the world. We are already part of His new creation, not the old one. He will come to rescue us in the Rapture, just as He delivered Noah and Lot. We will not go through seven years of hell on earth, where billions will die and those who live will endure unspeakable torment. No, you and I will be marrying Jesus in heaven. We have nothing to fear!
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Tipping Point, my new book about what the Bible says about the fascinating times we are living in. More than anything else, it focuses on the fact that we can have hope and peace—even though signs of the end times are all around us.