Among all of historic theology, I place the least emphasis on eschatology. Why? Daniel 12:4, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." I believe that here we see authoritative teaching that as we get closer to the end, knowledge concerning the things Daniel wrote about, that is, prophetic material, would increase. Eschatological knowledge of Scripture increases as we get closer to the end. This position can be seen in the history of eschatological doctrine. For instance, postmillennialism was popular in the 19th century because theologians saw the Victorian age blooming into a golden era capped off by the return of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, before them, the reformers found in the Antichrist a prophecy of the Papacy of Roman Catholicism. The oldest eschatology is Biblical. If we see it in Scripture, then that is the right position.
In the first article in this series, we saw how that the doctrine of imminency supported a pretribulational rapture of the saints. Imminency was apostolic doctrine as seen in the New Testament. This continued as the belief of Christians. Concerning the parousia or coming of Christ, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1901, V, 66) says, 'Primitive Christianity believed the event to be imminent and this belief has been revived from time to time in the history of the Church." Christians historically have looked for the any moment return of Christ. This doctrine necessitates a pretribulational rapture.
Not only does imminence require this, but....
2. THE ABSENCE OF THE CHURCH IN THE TRIBULATION REQUIRES A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE
The tribulation is a time for Israel. Not in one place does Scripture, either Old or New Testaments, speak of the church in relation to the tribulation, except as gone to heaven. This silence speaks as loudly as any actual statement in Scipture, especially in light of what God says concerning Israel and the tribulation.
And there are statements that explain why the church is missing from the tribulation.
Romans 5:9, "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."
1 Thessalonians 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."
Revelation 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."
The tribulation is wrath.
Revelation 6:16, 17, "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: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
If God spares His children from wrath, then we would expect not to find the church in the passages of Scripture dealing with the tribulation. We don't. You can read Revelation 2 and 3 and find nineteen mentions of church or churches. In Revelation 4 through 19, you will see none. The churches are gone.
On the other hand, Israel is in Revelation 4-19, because the tribulation period is for Israel, for her restoration (Jeremiah 30:3, 10), and for a Christ-rejecting world (Revelation 14:8, 18:8) to judge the Gentiles (Jeremiah 30:11). The tribulation is a time of God's retribution on the nations and defending Israel (Zechariah 12:8, 9), not on those who have placed their faith in Him. The tribulation period is the time of Jacob's trouble--the emphasis is Jewish--and this prophecy goes all the way back to Deuteronomy 30:1-8 in three parts.
God gathers Israel from the wicked nations (Deut. 30:3).
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
God brings Israel to the land (Deut. 30:5).
And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.God judges the enemies of Israel (Deut. 30:7, 8).
And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
God raptures the saints because His plan is finished for His churches. However, He isn't done with Israel (Daniel 9:24-27), and this is why the tribulation passages are full of Israel with the church being completely absent. Surely, if God has a plan for His churches, He would have included in the New Testament what they needed to minister during the tribulation period. He didn't and this fits right with the pre-tribulational rapture of the saints.