How can the Rapture be anything but Pre-trib, if it comes as a "thief in the night"?


Email Received:

1 Ths. 5:2 indicates that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. The Rapture will be a silent event that happens just prior to the day of the Lord or tribulation period. Therefore, how can the Rapture be anything but Pre-trib?


Ted's Response:

You did not finish your first sentence. The Day of the Lord will come as a "thief in the night" for people who are unbelievers. It will not come as a "thief" for believers. For the individuals of the world who do not know God, the Day of the Lord "will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman [Isaiah 13:8], and they will not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:3). But then Paul addressed those he considered to be "brothers" (believers) who "are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness" (5:4). In other words, the onset of the Day of the Lord will not be a surprise (and come like a "thief") to perceptive believers, but only to unbelievers and to believers who do not "wake up" (Revelation 3:3).

The Rapture, and God's subsequent "day of vengeance," will not take observant believers by surprise, as a thief. Quite the contrary. The cosmic disturbances of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12,13) will be the sign Jesus' disciples asked for (Matthew 24:3), preceding His appearance in the clouds to catch up His elect. While most of the unbelieving world will be running to hide in caves and under rocks (Revelation 6:15,16), believers will be looking up in expectant anticipation of their ultimate redemption and transformation.

Jesus said nothing about a catching-up event at the beginning of His Olivet Discourse. As a result, this has led many who embrace the idea of the Pre-tribulation Rapture to assume, and insist, that the Rapture must be a "silent event," with no warning prior to its occurrence. But wouldn't it have been remiss, on Jesus' part, not to describe the most important and gigantic event in the history of the church (the Rapture), especially since God has a long "track record" in the Bible of notifying His people prior to moving in great and colossal ways?

In fact, it would have been remiss of Jesus not to describe His luminous, brilliant appearance to the world; and He did so when He described His coming in the clouds (not down to earth) to gather His elect to be with Him. This will take place immediately after the events of the Sixth Seal:

Immediately after the distress [great tribulation] of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken [cf. Revelation 6:12,13]. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other (Matthew 24:29-31).
As a prior adherent to the Pre-tribulation Rapture view, I am well aware of the reasons why people embrace that popular view. Here are some of the reasons: Pre-Tribulation Rapture (Pre-TR), followed by why I feel they are invalid: disputes with Pre-TR.

Commonly, the so-called "tribulation" period of seven years is equated with the Day of the Lord. However, the Day of the Lord will not begin until after the opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1). It is not until the First Trumpet Judgment (8:7) that God's supernatural wrath will begin to be poured out upon the earth, and it most likely will take place for about a year (see The Seventh Year).


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