Five Scriptures About the Tribulation
Today's Christians will avoid God's coming wrath, but what about after the Rapture?
A couple years ago, while researching my book Tipping Point, I read another book about the end times that stated emphatically that Christians would go through the Tribulation. I won’t link to it because I don’t agree with the author, who tried to argue that the Bible does not teach that Christians will be raptured before the Tribulation. Based on how God protected the Jews in Goshen from His judgments on Egypt, this author speculated that believers would then be supernaturally protected from the Antichrist’s persecution.
If you subscribe to these articles or have heard me teach on the end times, of course, you’ll know immediately that I disagree with both of those positions. In fact, I want to point you toward five specific passages of Scripture that refute this teaching.
Delivered from the wrath to come
In his letter to the Church in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul told believers that Jesus would deliver us from God’s coming punishment:
For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.—1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
Paul addresses the return of Christ in every chapter of 1 Thessalonians. At the time of his writing, a rumor had been circulating that the Rapture already happened and Jesus had left the Thessalonians behind. Paul wrote this letter to comfort and encourage them, and introduced the topic by stating that those who “serve the living and true God” will be protected.
That’s good news, because you cannot possibly comfort me by telling me I will go through the Tribulation.
Not appointed to wrath
The above passage isn’t the only place Paul wrote about God’s wrath, however. He followed it up a few chapters later with his famous passage about Jesus coming like a “thief in the night.” Paul describes the eventual wrath of God as being similar to the pains experienced by a woman in labor—except the pain is felt by the entire planet:
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.—1 Thessalonians 5:6-11
We are to be ready for the return of Jesus at any moment. But as we keep watch, we also take comfort knowing that God “did not appoint us to wrath.” The Tribulation is more than judgment—it is the wrath of Almighty God poured out on the whole earth. But God is overflowing with grace and mercy. His love for you knows no end. This wrath is not for believers. Those who follow Christ today will not experience the Tribulation because our God has not appointed us to wrath.
Worthy to escape
Jesus also indicated that His followers would be able to avoid the coming judgment:
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”—Luke 21:34-36
In this passage—which is one of the most graphic, detailed end-times passages in the Bible—Jesus teaches the disciples about the judgments that would come upon the world during the Tribulation. In that context, He directs them to pray that they will be able to “escape all these things that will come to pass.” Not just some of the things, but ALL the things.
In other words, He is telling us to pray that we will rescued by Him via the Rapture., which allows us to escape all the judgments of the Tribulation. He didn’t tell us to pray that we could endure that coming wrath, but that will will avoid it altogether. That is absolutely a prayer that I continue to pray. Yes, I’m an escapist, but I’m an obedient escapist!
Thankfully, followers of Jesus will be raptured. When this event happens, all those believers on earth will then avoid the Tribulation. But the Bible makes it clear that many will decide to follow Christ after the Rapture—and those new followers of Jesus will face exceedingly severe times. The author I mentioned earlier believed these new saints would be supernaturally protected from persecution.
I would love to believe this, but Scripture does not support it. Consider this passage from Daniel about the end times:
I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. 23 Thus he said:
“The fourth beast shall be
A fourth kingdom on earth,
Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,
And shall devour the whole earth,
Trample it and break it in pieces.
24 The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.”
The “horn” refers to the Antichrist, who is making war against the saints. (Daniel 7:8 also refers to this “little horn.”) It makes clear that saints alive during the Tribulation period will be persecuted and martyred by the Antichrist, a beast who will “prevail against them” and trample the earth.
I have written previously about how beheadings will increase in the last days, and how this horrific form of murder will be one of the Antichrist’s signature ways to control the world. The book of Revelation makes this clear:
Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.—Revelation 20:4
Daniel is a book in the Old Testament. Revelation is part of the New Testament. But both of these prophetic narratives clearly state that saints who are living during the Tribulation period will be persecuted, and even beheaded, by the Antichrist.
Comforted and compelled
So regarding the Tribulation, I am confident in two things:
Believers will be raptured by Jesus before the Tribulation begins, and will be saved from God’s wrath. This comforts me. It is encouraging to know that I, along with my friends and family, will avoid the horrors of the Tribulation.
Those who wait to receive Christ until after the Rapture will suffer horrible persecution and even death, especially after they refuse to worship the beast and receive his mark. They will be rewarded with an eternity in glory, but still this compels me to lead others to Christ today. I want them to escape the Tribulation. I would rather they know and serve Jesus now than turn to Him after the Rapture occurs, when the world will be in chaos and when they could face enormous persecution.
Regardless, I am pointing you to these passages from the Bible to let you know that we are not destined for the wrath of the Lamb. We are destined for the marriage supper of the Lamb! As the world goes through seven years of hell on earth, we will be going through seven years of delight and blessing in the presence of Jesus. I am so thankful for Bible prophecy that gives us the knowledge of the future in advance so we can be encouraged and comforted in very difficult times.