Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Lord Jesus Christ Will Catch Up the Saints Before the Tribulation Begins (part two)

Some might argue that the pretribulational, premillennial rapture of the saints doesn't have a historical basis. Some might say that amillennialism is the preferred position because this was the view of Augustine and then the Reformers. Others call for a postmillennial return of the Lord because this was a dominant eschatalogical position in 19th century America and England. Charles Hodge espoused postmillennialism. The premillennial return of Christ is the oldest historic position, because it is what one reads in the patristics (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines [San Francisco, California; Harper & Row, 1959], 464-89), including a pretribulational rapture in the writings of Irenaeus and Hermas. J. C. Ryle was a strong premillennialist in the 19th century (Nathaniel West [ed.] Premillennial Essays of the Prophetic Conference held in the Church of the Holy Trinity, New York City [Chicago, Illinois: Fleming H. Revell Publishers, 1879; reprint, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Klock and Klock Christian Publishers, 1981], 332). One will find it difficult to discern historically whether someone was post, mid, or pretribulational rapture. Charles Spurgeon was most clearly post-tribulational, but he was not dogmatic, rarely preached eschatology, and saw it is a difficult issue to discern.

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.

15 comments:

Stephen Garrett said...

I think Rev. 3: 10 refers to the tribulation and it "comes on ALL THE WORLD" to "try" everyone, not just the Jews. I think other scriptures also show that it is not only with a single design for a single nation. The Gentiles will also be tested and tried in the tribulation.

About the wrath thing. You might have an argument if you could show, from the Apocalypse, where any believer suffers the wrath of God. We find them suffering the wrath of Satan, the wrath of the nations, but not the wrath of the Lord.

Besides, we have an analogy in the Exodus redemption. God then poured out his "wrath" on the entire land of Egypt. This land had both believers and unbelievers. By your reasoning the believers were in tribulation and therefor in wrath. But, this is not the case. They were protected from wrath, but they were there in the midst of it all.

I want to see those citations from the early church fathers that show they believed the tribulation would come after the coming of Christ and the rapture. Just to say that because some believed in some king of "imminencey" and therefore were "pre-trib" is a non sequiter.

Mary Magdonald began this new view that you are espousing.

Anyway, these are my thoughts. If I have another worth making, I trust I can add it later.

God bless my brother.

Stephen Garrett
www.baptistgadfly.blogspot.com/

Kent Brandenburg said...

Stephen,

First, regarding some patristic evidence of pre-tribulationalism, consider this quote from the Shepherd of Hermas: "You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then you prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and you spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly. Cast your cares upon the Lord, and He will direct them. Trust the Lord, you who doubt, for He is all-powerful, and can turn His anger away from you, and send scourges on the doubters."

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02011.htm

I have no doubt the tribulation will try everyone on the earth, but that is the thing, those saved will be spared from that, and it is tell-tale that this comes in Rev. 3.

Rev. 6:16 says that it is the "wrath of the Lamb." Who is the Lamb? Rev. 6:1 says it is Jesus. So that settles this propositions. Jesus was the one who opened up the seals of wrath, so the wrath was coming from Him.

I don't understand your Exodus teaching. It seems like a stretch.

Thanks.

Jerry Bouey said...

When I was a young believer, I was not convinced of the Pre-Trib position. Partly, I believe, it was due to some poor arguments and/or poor defenders of the position, and partly due to faulty Bible versions which changed the text enough to give a different view. Then for about two years I got caught up in the Pre-Wrath position - but there was always a couple of points that never seemed to fit (and looking back, I see how even the proponents of that position still had to play with the text of whatever Bible they were using to come up with all their points - PLUS, they actually redefined other end-times doctrines, including Who it was who hindered the Antichrist from coming in 2 Thessalonians 2).

Then in 98, I remember reading Luke in the NT while I was working through Isaiah in the OT, and saw two passages that were speaking about the same time period - the Tribulation.

Notice Luke's comments:

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 draweth nigh.

The Pre-Wrath people will point to verse 28 and try to "prove" that the wrath was coming after that point; therefore their position was the right one. But Isaiah uses very similar language in his prophecies:

Isaiah 13:6-13 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

According to Isaiah, those in Luke (same description, same reaction of the people - covering the same period of time) were ALREADY IN the Day of the Lord, already in the time of God's wrath!

Ezekiel 21:7 And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Wherefore sighest thou? that thou shalt answer, For the tidings; because it cometh: and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord GOD.

Anonymous said...

I could never understand why people (in the USA) never thought that we would have to endure persecution. Christians since the beginning have been tortured, killed, etc.
We choose to believe that we are going to sail through life and then be whisked away when the going gets tough.
I think God chooses not to let us in on what is going to really happen, because we would not be able to stand it mentally.
I look back on years past, and today Christians are being persecuted on a much greater scale than ever before.
It is time to wake up and smell the coffee. Peace Peter

Jerry Bouey said...

What does persecution have to do with whether we will be here for the Tribulation or not? The 7 year Tribulation period involves a lot more than persecution by evil leaders - it involves the pouring out of God's wrath on this world - something true believers are promised they will never have to endure. No one is saying no Christian will suffer persecution, but we will not suffer God's wrath.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Exactly, Brother Jerry.

Anonymous said...

Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source trib·u·la·tion (trĭb'yə-lā'shən) Pronunciation Key
n.
Great affliction, trial, or distress; suffering: Their tribulation has finally passed. See Synonyms at trial.
An experience that tests one's endurance, patience, or faith.
Most christians consider the tribulation as not from God's wrath, but because of God's wrath. In other words I know God will protect me, but I may have to endure what the neighbor may do to my family members, etc.
Christians throughout history had to endure the firery furnace, lions dens and the like. By their faith they were saved, but they were still put in place of danger and were willing to die if necessary.
why do you believe that you will not see anything like this but will be spirited away? Why do people assume that the tribulation period is only about God's wrath. Do you believe that Satan and his minions are not going to retaliate in some form?
Friends, we are going to see, feel and live the tribulations of these last days, but how strong our faith in God will be how easy to sail through it. Peace Peter

Jerry Bouey said...

Peter, it all comes down to whether you believe the Scriptures or not. The Bible itself defines the Tribulation (singular, not plural) as a period of God's wrath. Those passages quoted above in Luke 21 and Isaiah 13 do so. These do as well:

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?

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.

Revelation 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.

Revelation 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.

Revelation 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.

Revelation 16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

But the believer is promised complete deliverance from God's wrath:

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bouey: I do believe in scripture and read the Bible:
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Or Romans 8:18 For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Also 2 timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.and 2 Timothy 3:1 But know this in the last days perilous times will come.
Friends, we must all get prepared for hard times to come for God does not promise to deliver us from persecution or tribulations, but does promise to deliver us through the persecutions and tribulations. Peace Peter

Anonymous said...

Matthew 24 explains the tribulation. Vs 4: Take heed that no one deceives you.
Vs. 9: Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. vs. 15 starts off with Therefore when you see ... Vs 23 : Then if anyone says to you.... and vs 31: He will send His angels-they will gather together His elect...
If I read my Bible correctly and understand scripture, then I read where we will be here to witness God wrath, as did all the saints and prophets of old. How else would you be able to say "you will see" or "Let no one deceive you" No one could deceive you if you are in heaven-you would have to be here living on earth in order to be deceived.
Verse 22 even states that the days will be shorten-for the elect sake; in other words-those who are living will have to endure the tribulation along with the rest of the world- It rains on the just as well as the unjust.
Our faith in God is to see us through any and all tribulations-no matter how minor or major. Lisa Ransdell

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jerry,

Thanks for taking the time to answer here.

KB

Jerry Bouey said...

Lisa, Context is very important when it comes to determining what the Bible teaches on something. The context of Matthew 24 is to the nation of Israel, not to the church. That is why you see references to the sabbath (which Christians have never been bound by), the temple, the Judean hills, etc. The people that are being warned about upcoming events of the Tribulation are the Jews that will be alive then, not those in the church age.

Anonymous said...

Jerry: I have often been called sola scripturia. I do take the Whole Bible litterally, it has proven so thus far.
I know that man changed the Sabbath law around 300 a.d. As far as I know God did not change the Sabbath. Jesus even said "I come not to change the law, but to fulfill it. One only has to look at our holidays to know that man has followed traditions instead of God's instructions since Adam and Eve (I believe they were real also).
I am not convinced that Matthew 24 is warning for the Jewish people either. Not many Jewish people read our Bible with the same understanding as Christians, and if it were for the Jewish Christians then the meaning of the chapter would apply for them as well as 'gentile' Christians.
Many theologians have studied the Bible to great extent. I am certainly not a theologian, all I can tell you about the Bible is what the Holy Spirit whispers to my heart about. Lisa Ransdell

Anonymous said...

Hi!

Just in response to Peter, I think there is a response to his comment that God doesn't tell us about the end times because we can't handle it mentally. According to Scripture, we CAN handle it BECAUSE He DOES tell us.
"Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amose 3:7)


I found online the following commentary regarding this verse (http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/3003.htm)
“Such secrets of God are revealed to them, that they may inform the people; that, by repentance and conversion, THEY MAY AVOID THE EVIL, and, by walking closely with God, secure the continuance of his favour.” (Clarke, emphasis mine)

God bless you.

Jonathan

Anonymous said...

In response to Peter who suggested that God will hide knowledge of the Rapture and Tribulation from us because we cannot mentally handle it, while the LORD's wrath will be amazing in His Glory, I believe He will and has shown truths about the time to come.

"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

God bless you,

Jonathan