TIMING OF THE RAPTURE EXPLAINED FROM SCRIPTURE

Another excellent video from Nelson Walters of The Gospel in the End Times.

Jesus said his coming would be like the Days of Noah, that unbelievers would be living relatively normal lives up to that point. Do the details of the Flood account along with Daniel’s 70th Week give us an idea of how long the wrath of God is? Watch this video to learn from Nelson’s explanation from important but less explored Scriptures relating to the timing of events prior to Jesus second coming.

ALL THESES ARE THE BEGINNING OF BIRTH PANGS NOT THE DAY OF THE LORD

Alan Kurschner of Eschatos Ministries does a creditable job to explain that Matthew 24:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:3 do not explain the same events, which provides support for the PreWrath Rapture position: the Rapture occurs after the tribulation and great tribulation but before the wrath of God is poured out at the Trumpet and Vial judgements.

“Pretribulational proponents believe that the beginning of birth pangs that Jesus mentions in his Olivet Discourse refer to when the day of the Lord’s wrath begins and typically place it at the beginning of the seven-year period.

In an attempt to make the “beginning of birth pangs” in Matthew 24:8 describe the day of the Lord’s wrath, pretribulationists assert that this is parallel with Paul’s usage of “labour pains” in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, which clearly refers to the beginning of God’s wrath. However, it is obvious the respective contexts show that Jesus and Paul are not describing the same event, but actually very different events. The metaphor “birth pangs” is not a technical phrase to denote the day of the Lord as some wrongly claim. Context must determine the application of the usage of the common metaphor of birth pangs.

Let’s compare both verses:

“And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matt 24:8)

“For you yourselves know perfectly that THE DAY OF THE LORD so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

There are six differences that demonstrate that Jesus and Paul are using it for two separate and distinct periods.

1. Jesus’ usage in Matthew 24 describes events before the great tribulation; Paul’s usage is found at the inception of the day of the Lord. Jesus uses the birthing metaphor to warn that the end has not arrived (“Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. . . All these things are the beginning of birth pains”). Paul uses it to announce that the end has arrived (“then sudden destruction comes on them, like labour pains,” cf. Isaiah 13:7–8).

2. Accordingly, Jesus emphasises the tolerable stage of “the beginning of birth pains” (Matt 24:8); hence, the reason he reassures, “Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matt 24:6). In contrast, Paul is drawing from Isaiah’s labour imagery focused on the intolerable stage of actual giving birth, “cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth” (Isaiah 13:8).

3. Jesus teaches that the “beginning of birth pangs” is what Christians are destined to experience (Matt 24:4–8); Paul teaches just the opposite that Christians are promised exemption from the hard labour pains, the time of God’s wrath (1 Thess. 5:9).

4. The labour pains in Matthew 24 refer to natural events such as false christs, wars, famines, and earthquakes (Matt. 24:5–8). Paul’s reference is to the supernatural event of the day of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:5–8).

5. Jesus’ usage of the beginning of birth pangs occurs before the celestial disturbance happens (Matt. 24:8–29). But in the Isaiah passage that Paul is drawing from associates the birth pangs of the onset of the day of the Lord with the celestial disturbance (Isaiah 13: 8–10).

6. Jesus uses the birthing metaphor to apply to both unbelievers and believers (Matt 24:5–8). While Paul uses it exclusively applied to unbelievers (1 Thess. 5:3–4).

The interpreter must be careful not to fall into the similarity equals identity fallacy. Context is key.”

ARE OUR CHURCHES PREPARING US FOR THE COMING TRIBULATION?

Jesus taught explicitly that one of the ways you will know His return is imminent is you will see the Antichrist claiming to be God in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.

“So when you see the abomination of desolation–spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place. . .  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:15-22)

Paul confirms that the Antichrist will come before Jesus returns to Rapture the Saints:

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God”                         (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).

John records numerous instances in the Book of Revelation of Jesus warning the saints to become Overcomers of the beast’s system (e.g. Revelation 14:9–12).

In the light of all these Scriptures, why do so many hold on to the Pretribulation Rapture position? Could it be, because we don’t want to believe that God would put us through the intense persecution that the Bible tells us Christians will endure during the last seven years before Jesus returns? It is described as a time of tribulation and great tribulation after the midpoint when the Antichrist “takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God”.

None of us like the thought that we may have to die for our Christian faith under the regime of the Antichrist. But it is God’s will that ultimately matters. He knows better than us, therefore we need to trust His will because it is all-wise, all-good, all-sovereign.

I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways”, says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts your thoughts.” 

It may be God’s will that we confront the Antichrist system. We need to trust God, as have many martyrs before us, that He will be with us in the ordeal. What an honour it would be; to be a witness for the true God of the universe, to give glory to Him and to receive a martyrs crown. Pray God will give us the strength to stand up boldly for Him.

God may very well call us to be a Daniel and stand up to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol. Or Daniel’s companions, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach) and Azariah (Abed-Nego) confined to the fiery furnace. Or to be a David and stand up to Goliath when he mocked and blasphemed his God. 

Many churches in America and many in Australia stay away from the  subject of “end times” altogether, but many also preach the Pretribulation Rapture position, in both cases they are not preparing their congregations for the coming tribulation. Even worse they are not challenging their congregations about the urgency of the hour and the need to get about our Father’s business and obey Jesus command to preach the Gospel and make disciples.

 

 

PREWRATH RAPTURE VERSUS PRETRIBULATION RAPTURE

Alan Kurschner on the flaws of a Pretribulation Rapture

Prewrath eschatology has exposed a fatal flaw in pretribulationism. It has shown that there are clear passages in the Bible that teach that certain, discernible, prophesied events will occur before the day of the Lord: the Antichrist and the apostasy (2 Thess 2:3), celestial disturbance (Joel 2:30-31), Elijah will return (Mal 4:5), the wicked saying “peace and safety” (1 Thess 5:2–3).

Pretribulation theology has traditionally taught that the rapture will occur on the same day that the day of the Lord begins, then any event that occurs before the day of the Lord will also have to occur before the rapture. This, of course, is problematic for the pretribulation position, because their entire theological pretribulation system is based on imminence, the belief that no prophesied events or signs can happen before the rapture.

Because of this crack in their system, untold numbers of pretribulational Christians in the last two decades have become prewrath in their eschatology and have rejected their previous pretribulation belief system. To be sure, there are many “pretribs” who have attempted to explain away this biblical contradiction to their system in various ways.  One of the most common attempts to do so, and one that is growing in more popularity, has resulted for them needing to create a new dispensation and forcing it between the rapture when the church age dispensation is completed and the seven-year tribulation dispensation. So in essence they are creating a “gap” between the rapture and the seven-year period, a gap of time they claim that these “before the day of the Lord” events will occur. In this way, they attempt to maintain the doctrine of imminence. To place these events before the rapture in their system would be fatal to their theology.

Here is the problem: Their claim that the rapture is disconnected from the day when the day of the Lord’s wrath begins is without support. In fact, Scripture is quite consistent that the rapture and the beginning of the day of the Lord’s wrath occur on the same day, they are back-to-back events, not separated by days, weeks, months, or—I have even heard some pretrib teachers claim—years. I have covered this before herehere, and here.

Their interpretation is a  deus ex machina in order to protect their imminence theology, so much so they are willing to grab out of thin air and inject a whole, new, distinct dispensation into God’s redemptive plan. Their dispensation-itus condition exposes their flawed theology when they feel the need to contrive a new dispensation in God’s plan when a contradiction is pointed out to them.

Let me give a plug for Alan’s book Prewrath: A Very Short Introduction to the Great Tribulation, Rapture, and Day of the Lord