Can you give me a logical, sequential order of the Pre-wrath Rapture, and also explain why this negates the possibility of a Pre-tribulation Rapture?
I've always been a "die-hard" believer in a Pre-tribulation Rapture. I also prefer the KJV Bible. I also have always equated the entire seven-year Tribulation with the Day of the Lord.
A friend told me that you describe the Pre-wrath Rapture view in one of your commentaries, but I have not read it yet. I will read it, though, if you can give me a logical, sequential order of your view, and convince me how this negates the possibility of a Pre-tribulation Rapture.
The "Rapture" definitely is a real event, and the "Day of the Lord" absolutely is a real period of time in the future. From what you have written, it sounds like you equate the "Day of the Lord" period with the final seven years (the so-called "tribulation"). I completely disagree with this premise. To understand why, follow my explanations and logic below. Even though I use the NIV, all references in my response below will be taken from the KJV, since that is your Bible preference.
First of all, we know that believers have not been appointed to suffer wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). I think most will agree that true believers will be removed from the earth, via the Rapture, prior to the pouring out of God's wrath. The question is, What constitutes God's wrath?
In the Book of Revelation, the first occurrence of the word "wrath" is after the opening of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:16,17). At that point, people will be running and hiding from "the face of him that sitteth on the throne," knowing that the wrath of God is imminent. After a brief period of silence in heaven accompanies the opening of the Seventh Seal, the first wave of God's wrath will begin with fire being cast upon the earth, along with thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake (8:5). His wrath will continue with the First Trumpet judgment (8:7).
We can get an idea approximately when, during the 70th Week (final seven years), this will take place, if we first look at the prophecy in Daniel:
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27)Now, let's look at something Jesus said:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place.... (Matthew 24:15)Of course, Jesus was referring to the prophecy of the 70th Week in Daniel 9:27. Most would agree that, according to that verse, the "abomination of desolation" will be set up just prior to the second half of the seven years.
Jesus next said,
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains. (Matthew 24:16)Pertaining to the "fleeing" of this remnant of Israelites, John wrote this:
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (Revelation 12:6)This is further confirmation that the "abomination of desolation" will be set up just prior to the final 1,260 days or 3˝ years of the 70th Week. Once those in Judea flee, they will be fed and cared for by God during that 1,260-day period.
After Jesus gave a description of those who will flee at that time (Matthew 24:17-21), He said the following:
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. (Matthew 24:21,22)Thus, the Great Tribulation period—the worst time in human history up to that point—will commence at the beginning of the final 3˝ years. The Great Tribulation will be a time of Satan's ruthless, brutal administration of world affairs. It will not be part of the Day of the Lord and will have nothing to do with the rule or wrath of God. It will consist of Satan's wrath and fury, not God's wrath and vengeance.
Furthermore, Jesus indicated that for the sake of the elect, those days of (great) tribulation would be shortened. What will shorten them? These eerie phenomena, observed in the sky, will portend what is about to happen:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)Now, look at what John wrote that parallels this verse:
[T]he sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. (Revelation 6:12,13)Thus, Jesus' depiction of the events that would cut short the Great Tribulation period, for the sake of the elect, were some of the same as those of the Sixth Seal, described later by John. Finally, here is what will take place after the opening of the Sixth Seal and the changes in appearance of the sun, moon, and stars (Matthew 24:29):
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)Now, some believe that the events of the Sixth Seal are at the very end of the 70th Week. Those who embrace the idea of a Pre-tribulation Rapture believe that Matthew 24:30,31 depicts the second advent (bodily descent) of Jesus back to earth. Those who embrace the notion of a Post-tribulation Rapture believe that Matthew 24:30,31 is an illustration of both a Rapture event and Jesus' return to earth.
However, both of these views either overlook or ignore the fact that following the distinct signs of the Sixth Seal, there still is the Seventh Seal to be opened and the trumpet judgments to be blown out, with Jesus' second advent back to earth to take place at the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet. So the following events will take place in sequential order:
So then, what momentous event will occur soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal (and after the sealing of the 144,000 Israelites), but prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal? John described it here:
After this I beheld, and, lo, a 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 palms in their hands [Leviticus 23:40]; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9,10)When asked, by one of the elders, who were these in white robes and from where they came (Revelation 7:13), John replied that he didn't know (7:14). So the elder proceeded to explain this information to John:
These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)So the great multitude that John saw, in front of God's throne in heaven, were those from every nation, kindred, people, and tongue who had come out of the Great Tribulation. Remember, Jesus indicated that the days of the Great Tribulation would be shortened, for the sake of the elect (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:20). He further implied that, for these people, it would be the signs of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24,25) that would "cut short" the Great Tribulation.
As such, the great multitude, seen in heaven at that time, will be the enormous number of saints raptured soon after the Sixth Seal has been opened. This will be a Pre-wrath Rapture, or Pre-Seventh-Seal Rapture, because it will take place prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal, at which time God's wrath will begin to be dispensed upon the earth.
Another implication of this is that Matthew 24:30,31, Mark 13:26,27, and Luke 21:27 are not a depiction of Jesus' second advent back to earth. Rather, they are a picture of Jesus' appearance in the clouds and the Pre-wrath Rapture event, taking place soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24,25; Luke 21:25,26). It directly parallels the description of the Rapture, with resurrected and raptured believers meeting Christ in the clouds of the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). The consequence of all of this is that there will not be a pre-tribulation Rapture prior to the beginning of the 70th Week.
What this means is that the return of Jesus in the clouds, to catch up believers, is not an imminent event that can happen at any moment. The Rapture must be preceded by "cosmic disturbances" in the sun, moon, and stars of the sky, along with a cataclysmic shaking of the earth and roaring of the sea, which will take place soon after the Sixth Seal of the heavenly scroll is opened. The latter will not happen until well into the second half = final 3˝ years of the 70th Week.
When Jesus' disciples asked Him what would be the "sign" of His coming (Matthew 24:3), the "coming" that they primarily were concerned about was His next appearance, at the end of the age, to take believers like them to be with Him. His appearance will be like lightning that is seen throughout the sky (24:27), and this "sign" will be in combination with the cosmic disturbances in the sky and a great shaking of the earth and tossing of the sea (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24,25; Luke 21:25,26). This appearance of Jesus' in the clouds of the sky will not be when He returns back to earth.
Now, if Jesus is to appear in the clouds to catch away His saints, amidst the signs of the Sixth Seal, wouldn't we expect for John to have written something about Jesus' manifestation in the sky, at some point after the opening of the Sixth Seal? In fact, John does portray this. All of the terrified unbelievers, who will run and hide while the events of the Sixth Seal are taking place, will say this 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 6:16,17)These horrified people all over the world will see "the face of Him that sitteth on the throne"—the same throne on which He is seen to be sitting later after returning to heaven, with the great multitude of saints before Him (Revelation 7:9,10). The face that the people on the earth will see is that of the Lamb, Jesus, appearing in the clouds to Rapture His saints, prior to the great day of His wrath—that is, just before the "day of vengeance" (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4) ensues with the opening of the Seventh Seal.
The people on the earth will mourn at that time, seeing "the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30). Their lamenting will be due to their deep regret at being left behind to face the day of God's wrath (Revelation 6:17) = "day of vengeance" to come.
The Rapture will not be a silent, secret event that will take place with no signs preceding it. Rather, it will be an obvious, widely-viewed phenomenon, preceded by a world-shaking earthquake, as well as astonishing changes in the sun, moon, and stars (Revelation 6:12,13). The 144,000 Israelites, who then will be sealed on their foreheads (7:1-8), most likely will become instantaneous believers in Jesus as their Messiah, having just witnessed the Rapture event, one of the most magnificent and astounding events in the history of mankind.
As you know, my complete two-part commentary on the Pre-wrath Rapture is here:
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