When will the "Rapture" Occur

There has been a relatively new belief about the future that was completely foreign to the ancient Jews and to all but modern Christianity that has engulfed many Christians today, and is the basis for the fiction book and movie series written by Tim LaHaye called, "Left Behind."

It was apparently first taught by the founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church, Edward Irving in the late 1820's.  Plymouth Brethren pastor John Nelson Darby then picked up this new teaching, and began preaching this view in 1843.  C.I. Schofield made this belief popular in America in the late 1800's with his revised Bible notes published in 1917. What I am referring to is the belief in a pre-Tribulational "rapture." 

Some Christians have put forth some vague examples of a pre-Tribulational "rapture" being taught before Darby or Irving. However, these are typically quotes of heretics not accepted by the majority of Christians. The fact that there were at most a few vague examples at best before Darby or Irving should make it obvious that a pre-Tribulational "rapture" was NOT the common belief among early Christians through most of Christian history.

The earliest view among Christians was the belief in a post-Tribulational rapture. This is confirmed by renown pre-Tribulational rapture promoter, Tim LaHaye, in his book, "Rapture Under Attack", page 197:

The post‑Trib position (in its primitive form) is the oldest point of view.

Some Christians have argued that the development and understanding of this and other Christian doctrines were not yet complete. I would argue that the development and understanding of such doctrine was in fact complete:

Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

How can one "contend earnestly for the faith" if it was not made clear? One cannot. One cannot contend for a faith they do not UNDERSTAND. Our entire faith including all its doctrines (not just "salvation" doctrines) were "once and for delivered to the saints" by God's direct guidance through the Apostles, not only in the form of the New Testament, but through all the sermons they taught, which gave the proper interpretation of the Bible. No doubt that many of the "Early Church Fathers" began to quickly get such clear teachings garbled and confused with their own added commentaries, many of which contradicted each other. Even in spite of this confusion, the post-trib rapture position was the view of the early church.

The Bible does speak of a rapture (literally, being "caught up"), but during most of Church history, it was always believed that Christians would be resurrected (or "raptured") after the tribulation, and it would coincide with Jesus Christ's physical return to the earth as described in Revelation 19:11 and the following verses in that passage.  The new belief in a pre-Tribulational "rapture" has to do with a special resurrection of believers that occurs BEFORE Daniel's "70th Week" (the tribulation) occurs.  When does the "rapture" occur according to the Bible?  

There are a number of passages in the Bible that describe the believer's resurrection, but only two CLEARLY tell us when this resurrection will occur in relation to other predicted events.  The first one is 1 Cor. 15:51-52-- Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMPET.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  A logical place to look for where this "last trumpet" is talked about is in the last book of the Bible.  We find the sounding of the "last trumpet" in that book in Revelation 11:15-- Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"   This verse in the chronology of events is obviously very near the END of the Tribulation.   According to Strong's Dictionary, "last" in this verse is the Greek word "eschatos," which means, "farthest, final (of place or time)."  To assign the last trumpet to anything earlier than the last trumpet mentioned in Scripture chronologically in prophecy constitutes a major error.

There is actually a LATER trumpet blown according to end times chronology, but this trumpet is found written in another book, Matt 24:29-31-- Immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  THEN the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and THEN all the tribes of the earth will mourn, AND they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  AND He will send His angels WITH A GREAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.   The resurrection event  mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:51-52 MUST therefore occur right AFTER the end of the Tribulation and AFTER all the world sees him!  Even if the Revelation 11:15 passage somehow signified another resurrection other than the Matthew 24/1st Corinthians 15 resurrection, neither could occur until most of the Tribulation has past time-wise, thus there is still no pre-Tribulational "rapture."

It appears that "pre-tribbers" are forced to interpret the gathering of believers in Matt 24:29-31 (and 2 Thess. 2:1-4) as referring to ANOTHER gathering of believers APART from the rapture.  If this "gathering" is not the rapture, what purpose does it serve to gather Christians from all parts of both the earth and heaven?  Why would God have to re-gather believers that are ALREADY with Him forever (1 Thess 4:16-17)?  We are only said to be gathered once to Christ.  Also, the fact that angels are doing the collecting clearly shows us that these are non-resurrected believers that need supernatural help to be "gathered."  They would not need angelic help at all in being gathered if the believers being gathered were already in their supernatural resurrection bodies.  On top of that, the picture of a trumpet being used along with the gathering of believers finishes the picture of this passage clearly being the time of our resurrection, when compared to all the places where resurrection is directly mentioned.

Some Christians believe those part of the "gathering" in Matt 24:29-31 are only JEWS. Those Jewish believers that Jesus spoke to that day  probably believed this.  That was because the MYSTERY of the Church (God would save both Jews and GENTILES) was not yet revealed, even though Jesus did hint at this mystery, along with other passages doing the same in the Old Testament.  When the Bible uses the term, "the ELECT," whether it refers to angels or humans, it refers to those in TOTAL that believe and serve God.  Keep in mind that the Bible speaks of various RACES OF ANGELS also, yet God crosses all angelic racial boundaries when He consistently refers to His "ELECT angels."  There is NO reason to believe that the "elect" believers referred to in Matt 24:29-31 are anything but ALL believers in Jesus Christ, both Jew and GENTILE.  Christians who argue that these "elect" are only Jews are not consistent in how they interpret  the word "elect" in the Bible.  They typically will use it to mean ALL BELIEVERS everywhere else in the Bible, such as these passages also spoken by Jesus BEFORE the "Church Age" started:

Mark 13:20  "And unless the Lord had shortened {those} days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days."

Mark 13:22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.

Luke 18:6-8
6    And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said;
7    now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
8    "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

The book of Romans, was mainly written to GENTILE believers:

Rom 1:5-7
5    through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about {the} obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name's sake,
6    among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7    to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called {as} saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet the book of Romans uses the same exact term, "elect" to clearly refer in context to both JEW and GENTILE believers:

Rom 8:32-34
32    He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
33    Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
34    who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

1 Thes. 4:16-17 is usually used to try and prove a "pre-trib rapture"-- For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.  The argument hinges on the assumption that we go from "the clouds" and "the air" into Heaven before the tribulation because Christ does not appear to fully come down to the earth.  Now compare this to Matt. 24:29-31 (covered in the last paragraph).  AFTER the tribulation, Christ, while on the clouds of heaven, will send His angels, without Himself ever touching the ground, to gather all of His believers from all over the earth with the sound of a trumpet.  Clearly, the chronology of Matt. 24 teaches us that the tribulation is over by the time that He gathers His children in the "rapture."  Christ clearly comes to the earth to set up His 1000 year "millennial" reign on earth, and we will be with Him.

There is a Bible passage that would make no sense at all if Christians are "raptured" out before the Tribulation.  It is 2nd Thess. 2:1-4-- Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ AND OUR gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.  Let no one deceive you by any means; for THAT DAY will not come unless the falling away COMES FIRST, AND the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  What made these early Christians so fearful about possibly missing Christ's coming?  It was the fear of missing what happens WITH His coming, "OUR GATHERING TOGETHER TO HIM."    Paul was NOT referring to the gathering of some supposed future believers that miss a pre-Tribulational "rapture," but he was clearly referring to the believers living in Paul's day.  Paul was comforting believers by telling them that they therefore were not forgotten and left behind by Christ as the rumors were saying at the time of Paul's writing of 2nd Thessalonians, but that they would be gathered AFTER some point during or after the reign of the anti-Christ .

Many Christians insist that verses about "the day of the Lord" where He comes "as a thief in the night"  refer to a "secret" coming, where He sneaks in and out like a modern-day burglar to snatch out believers without being noticed, and then returns with them (all in resurrected bodies) to heaven. In the ancient world, a "thief in the night" did not act like our modern-day burglars.  What thieves in ancient times would do was suddenly come upon a house, and before the family at the home could properly act, the thief would have subdued the "strong man" of the house, and then begin to plunder the house much like the current "home invasion" robberies in the USA.  These robberies were not some quiet, James Bond in-and-out missions where no one notices.  In fact, Jesus tells us in John 10:10-- "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  If the reader is still convinced that Christ will come in "secret," then check out the four following passages in the Bible to see HOW Jesus comes "as a thief in the night: 1 Thess. 5:1-6-- "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  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 labor pains upon a pregnant woman.  And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day.  We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober."  2 Pet. 3:10-- "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."  Rev. 3:3-- "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.  Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you." Rev 16:15-16-- "Behold, I am coming as a thief.  Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon."  In none of the verses or contexts is there indication of a secret and quiet "rapture."  If fact, the analogy's emphasis has to do with its suddenness, its loudness, and its destructiveness.

Please note chronologically where Christ is said to come "as a thief" in the book of Revelation:  Rev. 16:15-16-- ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame.")  And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-MagedonThis battle of Armageddon occurs right when Christ returns.  Notice that Jesus did not say "I already came like a thief" by this point in the book's chronology, which is very near the end of the tribulation.  At this point, Jesus is saying that He is still YET TO COME as a thief!

Also, there is no verse in the New Testament that uses the word "thief" as referring in any way to a "secret" gathering or resurrecting of believers.  Look up the verses to see for yourself: Matt. 24:43; Luke 12:33-39; John 10:1-10 and 12:6; 1st Thess. 5:2-4; 1st Pet. 4:15; 2nd Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:10 and 16:15.

Christians who believe in a "secret" pre-trib rapture are forced into believing that trumpets are very quiet instruments.  Consider once again a relevant passage on this: 1 Cor. 15:51-52-- Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  Based upon my years of playing trombone and being around trumpet players, I can guarantee that trumpets are VERY LOUD AND HAVE A PIERCING SOUND.  I recall being taught that the famous musician/composer Mozart actually fainted when he heard for the first time the loud and piercing sound of a trumpet.  I suspect that the angel that will play this "last" mother of all trumpets to wake the dead and gather living believers would be blowing leagues louder than any amplified music group today.  Even my neighbors cannot sleep when I practice my trombone, which is even less noticeable than any trumpet playing.  Even if a literal trumpet is not blown, would the Bible use such an obviously loud and obnoxious instrument in it's analogy for a "secret" resurrection?  It is because the believer's resurrection is going to be part of a set of very loud and noticeable events, namely the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation.

Many Christians use these following verses to try and prove that believers will be taken directly into Heaven after their resurrection: John 14:1-3-- "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, {there} you may be also.    The word translated "house" (oikia) has also been translated numerous places to mean something referring to family and what the family owned.  This is how the word used in family titles, such as "the house of Windsor."  Here is a good example of this in the Bible:  Heb. 3:5-6-- Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ {was faithful} as a Son over His (the Father's) house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.  Here, we are told that we are literally part of God's "house."

The question now is WHERE are these dwelling places that we will be in, and when will we enter these places?  Maybe it would help if we use the more understandable translation, In My Father's family are many dwelling places.  This verse is speaking more about the Father's ownership of such dwelling places, not so much on where these dwelling places will be when we actually dwell in them.  

Keep in mind that John 14:1-3 was spoken by Christ BEFORE the time believers were EVER allowed to enter Heaven in any form, physically or in spirit form, with only TWO POSSIBLE EXCEPTIONS.  Throughout history, believers had to go to Abraham's Bosom (part of Hades) until Christ died for our sins, and took "the captives" up to heaven some time after His Own resurrection (Eph. 4:8-10).  Could this be what John 14:1-3 is referring to?  Considering the time Jesus told us about His preparation for these places, and the fact that believers were not as yet allowed to "dwell" in Heaven, this appears to be a better possible understanding of our Lord's words here.  Yet, I think that there is yet a better understanding of what Jesus meant.

Since "house" can (and by the context here does mean) family, the location or locations of our "dwelling places" does not have to be limited to just being in Heaven.  Even if our dwelling places are in Heaven now, Jesus could easily bring them down from Heaven, especially since these places were probably not meant to be lived in for only seven years.  In my opinion, these "dwelling places" Jesus referred to will ultimately be found in the future New Jerusalem, which we won't live in until after His 1000 year reign: Rev 21:1-3-- And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth; for the first Heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer {any} sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle (means literally, "dwelling place") of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them... Rev. 21:16--  And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. Rev 21:23-24-- And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp {is} the Lamb.  And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it. Rev 22:1-5-- And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve {kinds of} fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name {shall be} on their foreheads.  And there shall no longer be {any} night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever. I believe that this is the ultimate fulfillment of what Jesus said in John 14:1-3.

I earlier stated that there were TWO POSSIBLE EXCEPTIONS to believers NOT going to Heaven before Christ's first coming to earth.  They were Enoch and Elijah (Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11).   I have attended churches where they teach that believers all the way back to Adam and Eve went directly to Heaven after they died, and they would reference Enoch and Elijah as "proof" of their belief on this matter.  But that poses the question: WHY did God SPECIFICALLY single out in the Bible two believers going to Heaven before Christ's first coming, IF all believers went to Heaven back then?  I suppose that they might say that it was because they went in PHYSICAL BODIES, which was the exception.  The Bible NEVER said either of them went into Heaven in physical bodies.  The Bible simply states that "God TOOK" Enoch.  Interestingly, the Bible does not even say WHERE HE TOOK HIM TO BE. We ASSUME Heaven, but the Bible is NOT clear here.  2 Kings chapter 2 is CLEAR that Elijah went to Heaven.  However, it is NOT clear that he BODILY went into Heaven.  But as I asked before, WHY does the Bible single out ONLY these two believers (as I will assume) to Heaven, IF all believers go to Heaven after they die?  I would argue it is simply because God wanted us to know that they were EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE.  The argument that they actually went up BODILY to Heaven only acts as more argument that they were exceptions, since I know of no believers that think that ALL believers before Christ's first coming went BODILY into Heaven right after they died.  

Still another argument attempted to be made for a "pre-trib rapture" is the picture of the "24 elders" surrounding God's throne BEFORE the start of the tribulation.  Here is the entire passage in question:

Rev 4:1-8-- After these things I looked, and behold, a door {standing} open in Heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like {the sound} of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in Heaven, and One sitting on the throne.  And He who was sitting {was} like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and {there was} a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.  And around the throne {were} twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones {I saw} twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.   And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And {there were} seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;  and before the throne {there was,} as it were, a sea of glass like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.  And the first creature {was} like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature {was} like a flying eagle.  And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, {is} the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come."

First off, the Bible does not say that these "24 elders" are human. Some versions of the Bible translate Rev 5:9 like this--
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed US to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (King James Version).  In the actual Greek, the word "us" was added to the translation.  Here is the same verse in the more literal New American Standard version-- And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood {men} from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  Notice that this translators admitted that "men" (in brackets) was not in the original language.  We cannot even begin to build the foundation for the "pre-trib rapture" view here since the Bible does not say whether or not these "24 elders" are human.  The words of the song above seem to indicate praise to God about beings other than themselves being saved by God, if anything.

Many if not all of the beings around the throne are angelic creatures (Rev 5:11)-- And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands."  Second, even if the "24 elders" (or "the sea of glass") were humans, where is the proof that they are in resurrected bodies?  Why can't the "24 elders" (and maybe the entire "sea of glass") be humans in merely spirit form?  The angels around God's throne do not have physical bodies, but they are still there, and are just as "real."  Is this not a classic case of circular reasoning, where the "pre-tribber" assumes that the "24 elders" (and "the sea of glass") are not only humans, but are also resurrected humans?  I will agree with "pre-tribbers" that what we are seeing at this point in Revelation chapters 4 and 5, is what is happening behind the scenes in Heaven mere hours or even minutes before the tribulation begins, with the opening of the seals on the scroll that only the "Lamb" is worthy to open.  This is a major beginning of the "revelation" of Jesus Christ to the earth (as the full title of the book says), and here, we see the fact that it is HE who is behind the changes that will lead to "the end of the world" and the starting of His Kingdom there.

How about the fact that John went up to Heaven before seeing a preview of the tribulation? Is that really symbolic of the rapture?--

Rev 4:1-2-- "After these things I looked, and behold, a door {standing} open in Heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like {the sound} of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."  Immediately I was IN THE SPIRIT; and behold, a throne was standing in Heaven, and One sitting on the throne."

I took a look at the various passages in the Bible that use the phrase "in the Spirit" (en Pheumati), and they ALL refer a state certain believers are in while still in their physical, but NOT resurrected, bodies.  Could John have been allowed to enter Heaven with his mortal body?  Apparently no, because mortal "flesh and blood" cannot enter such a place (1 Cor 15:50).  We cannot face God in His full glory in our mortal bodies and keep living (Exod 33:20).  It is true that both elect and fallen angels are allowed to have access directly to God's throne room, but they do not have physical bodies.  The Apostle Paul did not know whether or not he was in or out of his body when he saw Heaven before his death (2 Cor 12:3). Paul certainly knew enough of the Bible to know that even if he was allowed to enter any part of Heaven, that he could NOT in his mortal body, stand before GOD.   

Regardless of whether John had a physical body or not in his visit to Heaven in Rev. chapter 4,  John clearly was NOT in his resurrected body at the time of his visit.  Also, even though his getting "in the Spirit" was immediate, an actual blowing of a trumpet did not occur (as it will in our resurrection), but a VOICE  LIKE the sound OF A TRUMPET SPOKE TO HIM.  As the reader should know, if something is LIKE another thing, it does not follow that they must be equal.  The word "like" simply creates an analogy between one or more aspects that are similar between two things.   Granted in all fairness, I believe that this passage's symbology appears to lend itself somewhat to the "pre-trib rapture" view.   Nevertheless, the symbolism still is inconclusive at best here.  Keep in mind that we should ALWAYS trust plain Scripture over any supposed symbolism (especially if it is not clear) to confirm or deny doctrinal truth.

Another alleged argument (using only supposed symbolism again) for a "pre-trib rapture," is that the church appears to be missing after Rev. chapter 3.  Up through Rev. chapter 3, we see the often repeated sentence, (as in Rev 3:13)-- 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'  After Rev. chapter 3, and clearly into the tribulation, we never again see the word "church" or "churches" used again, until much later after the tribulation.  According to "pre-tribbers," Rev. 4 marks the end of the "church age," and the re-starting of the "Jewish age."  In a sense, they are right, in that God is at this time putting a greater focus on Israel, in order to finish up His plans for human history.  I go into more detail on this in my article, The purpose of History.  But this  is important: One cannot prove the "church" is missing on the earth just because it is not mentioned by name in certain places.  If we continue to use this same logic, the "church" will then not return to the earth until AFTER Christ's 1000 year reign on the earth, since they are not again mentioned until Rev. 22:16!  Obviously, we must look upon verses outside of the book of Revelation to be certain of when Christians will get resurrected.

Regardless of what symbolism one sees in Scripture, the clear and literal portions of the Scriptures always take higher priority.  2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 clearly and literally teach that the Antichrist must be revealed and make his claim to be God before there can be ANY  resurrection.  The Antichrist does not exalt himself in such a way until we reach half-way through the seven-year tribulation, otherwise known as the middle of Daniel's "70th week" (Daniel 9:27).  Even if somehow there will be multiple "raptures" or resurrections, NONE of them can occur before this point.  The ONLY other places that the Bible clearly talks chronologically about our "rapture" or resurrection is in Matthew 24:29-31, and 1 Cor. 15:51-52 (due to the reference, "at the LAST trumpet").

One of the main arguments for the rapture occurring before the tribulation starts is based upon these verses:  II Thess 2:6-7-- And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains {will do so} until he is taken out of the way.   Many have argued that it is the Holy Spirit that is restraining the Antichrist from coming to full power, and that when the Holy Spirit takes off His restraint, that He must also leave the earth along with Christians.  There is no passage that says that the Holy Spirit LEAVES the earth when He stops the restraining of the Antichrist.  In fact, there are at least a few passages that indicate that the Holy Spirit will work very powerfully among various believers in Christ during the Antichrist's reign: Rev. 11:3-12; Rev. 12:11; Rev. 14:1-7.  Also, God would be breaking His promise in not giving His Holy Spirit to those who become believers during the tribulation: Rom. 5:5; Rom. 14:17; Rom. 15:13 and 16; 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Cor. 12:3; 2 Cor. 6:6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 1:13-14; Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 1:5-6; 1 Thess. 4:8; 2 Tim. 1:14; Titus 3:5; Heb. 2:4; Heb. 3:7, Heb. 6:4; Heb. 10:15; 12 Pet. 1:12; 2 Pet. 1:21; Jude 1:20.  Think about it. ALL of these verses would be meaningless to followers of Christ during the tribulation if the Holy Spirit was truly taken away from the earth!  Obviously, the Holy Spirit will still be here, and will be working powerfully through His children during the tribulation period.

A "pre-tribber" sent me the following argument for a pre-trib rapture.  The argument focuses on some pre-King James Bible English translations of the word "apostasia" in II Thess. 2:3-- Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy ("apostasia") comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction... The claim is made that some of these early English translations translated the word "apostasia" to mean "the departing."  Somehow, this difference in translation supposedly refers to the rapture.  First off, most scholars would not recognize such translations of this Greek word as being more accurate.  Secondly, this other translation does not rule out the accepted meaning of "apostasia."  Also, the two only other  usages of forms of the word "apostasia" clearly support the commonly accepted translation.  Let's look at the two other passages in the New Testament that uses the Greek work, "apostasia," and see how it is used in those contexts:

2 Tim 4:3-4-- For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears
tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away (verb form "apostrepsousin") their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Acts 21:20-21-- And when they heard it they {began} glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the  Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake (verb form "apostasian") Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.

In both cases, we see that "apostasia" is not used in any form of physical departing, but a turning away from God's truth and from obedience to Him.

Some "pre-tribbers" have argued that a post-trib rapture cannot qualify for being the "blessed hope," since Christians would not be spared from having to go through the tribulation.  Pre-tribbers forget that the "blessed hope" is for ALL true believers in God throughout ALL of our roughly 6000 years of human history, not just the ones who are alive for a rapture to save one generation from some suffering.  Let's look at the verse in question:

Titus 2:13-- looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;

When will Jesus appear in glory?  Only at the end of the tribulation.  Even pre-tribbers quickly agree with this.  Also, if one can justify separating "the blessed hope" from being part of "the appearing" of Jesus, then those who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus would be justified to separate "our great God and Savior" into two people, the Father ("our great God), and Jesus ("and Savior, Christ Jesus"), just as many cults do in their arguments against the deity of Jesus.  Let us not be inconsistent with our Biblical exegesis, especially when we are dealing with the same sentence structures in the very same verse. The appearing of Jesus in glory is "the blessed hope," just as much as Jesus is "our great God and Savior."

Some say that Christians cannot be here during the Tribulation because God will be pouring His "wrath" upon the earth at that time, and we are promised that we will not be exposed to the "wrath of God."  First off, God in the past had no problem raining His wrath down on unbelievers with believers right in their midst.  If you doubt this, read about the ten plagues God put onto the Egyptians according to the book of Exodus.  Also, how about the Christians that are said to be here during the Tribulation?  Obviously, God will protect tribulation saints from His "wrath." This does not mean that God will save us from man's or Satan's "wrath."  

Also, how about all the millions of Christians today and for almost two-thousand years who have suffered and been put to death for their beliefs?  The Bible clearly promises us that "we WILL have tribulation" in this life: (John 16:33 33)-- "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world YOU WILL HAVE TRIBULATION; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Also, 1st Thess. 3:1-4 --  "Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer TRIBULATION, just as it happened, and you know."

Comparisons of how the word "wrath" is used in all the other places in the Bible is important.  Take a look at a few examples:

(Rom 1:18-19)- "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them."

The aorist tense for "revealed" is used in verse 18.  Thus, the more literal translation would be, "For the wrath of God keeps being revealed."  In the Greek,this "wrath" certainly cannot be limited to only the future tribulation.  It is a constantly "now" event.  It is "wrath" being poured out upon unbelievers while Christians are still living among them, including the present moment as you are reading this.  

What is the specific "wrath" in this passage?  Keep reading a bit further in the same passage:

Rom 1:24- "Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be
dishonored among them."  This is a general explanation of how "God's wrath" is being poured out RIGHT NOW on unbelievers.  Then Paul gives specific examples of what lusts he gave them over to in His wrath (notice all the PAST TENSE verbs):

Rom 1:26-31-- "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural
function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman
and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own
persons the due penalty of their error.  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness,
greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; {they are} gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;"

What will God's ultimate "wrath" consist of?  I will try and provide a few examples of the most common usages of the word "wrath" in the New Testament:

Luke 3:7-- "He therefore {began} saying to the multitudes who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of
vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"  John the Baptist was clearly not talking about the Tribulation, since his audience would not be around for it, unless they could live to be about 2000 years old or more.

John 3:36-- "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the
wrath of God abides on him."  Jesus is clearly not talking about the Tribulation either here also, since this audience has been dead for many centuries.  What "life" do those who have "the wrath of God" abiding on them miss out on?

Rom 2:5-8-- "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation."

Paul was talking to people of his day about the wrath being stored up for them.  These people, along with many generations of
unbelievers are included in this, and they are clearly not going to be around for the Tribulation.  Notice that continual unrepentance constantly creates more of a build-up of God's "wrath."  Also notice here that the opposite of "wrath and indignation" is immortality, eternal life," not merely some escape from the Tribulation.

Rom 5:9- "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath {of God}
through Him."  Who was Paul speaking to?  Not to just us today.  Are you getting the idea?  Every time Christians are said to be saved from the  "wrath of God," it has to do with us being saved from the final and eternal judgment, a judgment which is the end result of rejecting the blood of Christ for our sins.

Let's look at a popular verse that some use in order to try and equate "wrath" with the Tribulation:

1Thes 5:9-10 "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him."

The opposite of wrath here again is eternal life, our salvation.  Jesus died for us and provided salvation not from the Tribulation, but from the "wrath" of eternal damnation in the lake of fire.  He again here is speaking to those of His day when on earth during His first coming.  Also, if this "wrath" referred specifically to the Tribulation as a whole, then God is a liar, since He would be allowing believers to be on earth during at least some part of the Tribulation, by God allowing them to be saved after a hypothetical pre-trib rapture.  Clearly, God's promise in 1st Thes 5:9-10 applies to ALL believers, in or out of the Tribulation.

There is an interesting Old Testament passage that might seem to make it appear that no believers could possibly be on earth when God's wrath is poured down upon the earth during the tribulation:

Zeph 1:15-18
"A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry, against the fortified cities and the high corner towers.  And I will bring distress on men, so that they will walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.  Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD'S wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of ALL the inhabitants of the earth."

The passage by itself sounds as if no believers would be on earth during this "complete end" "of all the inhabitants of the earth,"  thus necessitating a rapture before this wrath begins.   This last Bible passage is a great example why it is important to read all Bible passages in context in order for it to not be misunderstood.  Let's look at the very next verses following the passage in question:

Zeph 2:1-3 "Gather yourselves together, yes, gather, O nation without shame, Before the decree takes effect-- the day passes like the chaff-- before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD'S anger."

In the midst of such amazing wrath, God gives Israel, and apparently all of the earth, one last chance to seek God before He pours out His climatic Tribulational wrath.   According to Strong's Dictionary, the word "hidden" is the Hebrew word "cathar" (saw-thar'); a primitive root; to hide (by covering), literally or figuratively:  and in the KJV, has been translated as -- be absent, keep close, conceal, hide (self), (keep) secret, X surely.  This passage, coupled with the next one I will quote, shows that some will not be destroyed, but will be "gathered in" and "hidden" from such wrath:

Zeph 3:18-20 "I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts-- they came from you, {O Zion;} {the} reproach {of exile} is a burden on them. "Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors, I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. "At that time I will bring you in, even at the time when I gather you together; indeed, I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes," says the LORD.

Could this passage be talking about the rapture?  I think that it most likely includes it.

Regarding the use of the word "wrath" in Scripture, looking at the context of all the verses about CHRISTIANS being spared from God's "wrath," they ALL are talking about being spared from the FINAL wrath of ULTIMATE and ETERNAL judgment in the Lake of Fire.  Let's move on to some of the other arguments that have been used to try and support a "pre-trib" rapture.

The following verse is also used as supposed proof for a pre-trib rapture: Matt 24:38-39-- "For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."  

First off, notice who is being taken away.  UNBELIEVERS are being taken away.  That alone destroys the notion that this passage teaches a pre-tribulation rapture.

Even though there will be great judgment upon the earth throughout the tribulation, where at least a third of mankind will be destroyed, the majority of the world does not gets more fully judged until Christ returns in Revelation chapter 19. In the midst of God's wrath, God still allows for chances for repentance all the way up to at least this point in the tribulation: Rev 16:10-11-- "And the fifth {angel} poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, and they blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds In comparison, God was past ANY mercy at the start of Noah's flood.  There was no more room for repentance of sin at that point, since it was too late to enter the Ark once the doors were sealed shut.  Clearly, God indicates that there is still room for repentance as late as Rev 16:11!  The judgment of God is not fully given until the time when ALL unbelievers face the Son of Man at His second coming when "every eye will see Him" (Rev 1:7).  If you think about it, at the moment an unbeliever dies, God removes His mercy from the person, and begins to pour His "wrath" on Him, wrath that will continue for eternity.

One alleged "problem" some pre-tribbers say there is with the post-trib rapture view, is that if the rapture occurs after the Tribulation, then the only people left to populate the earth during the 1000 year reign of Christ would be unbelievers.  Well guess what, many UNBELIEVERS will survive the Tribulation, and thus, enter Christ's Millennial Kingdom.  Here is one clear Old Testament teaching that contradicts their belief that only believers will start being part of this Kingdom:  Zech. 14:16-17-- Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.   There will be survivors that are unbelievers that will continue to populate the earth. However, many of their OFFSPRING will later become believers.  Also, Jesus Christ will not give overt religious freedom during His "rod of iron" rule, unless they are willing to tolerate drought conditions in their own countries.

If the "churches" are completely taken out before the tribulation, then why does Jesus say this: Rev. 22:16 -- "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things FOR the CHURCHES.  I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."  "These things" talked about in the book of Revelation is primarily about the Tribulation.  Quite a few statements in this book were specifically written for those believers who would go through the Tribulation, to encourage them and give them some guidance and warnings: Rev. 4:11; 7:14-17; 8:3-4; 12:17; 13:7; 13:10; 14:12; 15:2; 17:6; 18:4; 18:20; and 18:24. These verses, among others, are important for guidance on what to do for survival, such as leaving "Babylon" before we chronologically reach Rev. chapter 18.  Currently, I believe the description of this city is about Jerusalem. I save the argument for that elsewhere.  It appears very logical to conclude that Tribulation saints therefore are considered part of the "churches."

Let me now address the supposed typological "proofs" (other symbolisms) of a pre-Tribulational "rapture" that I am aware of.  Remember, if a typology contradicts clear Bible verses, then the assumed typology is incorrect.  That is because alleged symbolism is always inferior to plain and clear Scripture on any particular matter.   Nevertheless, I will still try to address these symbolisms for the sake of the reader.

One of the supposed pre-trib "rapture" typologies is Noah.  He was saved from the world-wide flood.    Noah floated above the floodwaters which even covered the highest mountains, as if  they were in the "air."  This supposedly correlates symbolically to where believers will meet Jesus in the "air" in 1 Thess. 4.  Enoch was also taken away (supposedly a pre-trib "rapture" type also) to Heaven before this flood.  What makes this typology attractive to "pre-tribbers" is because Jesus Himself sets up some kind of typology between Noah and End Times events.  The problem with this alleged typology is that Noah does not actually go into the "air,"  Since the ark is always partially UNDERWATER (as all ships are).  Also, if there is a valid typology here at all, why can't  it symbolically stand for the time when God protects certain Jews in the wilderness for 3.5 years (Rev. 12), when the Antichrist is said to try to "flood" them with water?  Also, Noah was still on the earth in the very midst of what was doing the destruction (water), yet he was surrounded by God's protection in the form of the ark.  One could just as easily argue that this typology actually argues for a post-trib rapture!

Another analogy that some say teach a pre-trib rapture has to do with Noah being in the ark a whole week (seven days) before the flood water started to come.  The picture is of Noah, his family, and all the animals, supposedly all waiting in the ark for seven days all safe and secure from the judgments.  These seven days are thought by some to symbolize the seven year Tribulation, and that this supposedly teaches that Christians will be raptured before it.  Let us take a closer look at the passage in question:

Gen. 7:1-17-- 1 Then the LORD said to Noah, "Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you {alone} I have seen {to be} righteous before Me in this time. 2 "You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; 3 also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.  4 "For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made." 5 And Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him. 6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood.  8 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, 9 there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.  10 And it came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth.

At this point, the passage seems to sound as if Noah, his family, and all of the animals quickly got into the ark, and then they all just waited an entire week for the floods to start.  The analogy already breaks down with any supposed pre-trib rapture, because even if  the seven days they waited in the ark can represent 7 YEARS symbolically, they all occur completely BEFORE any judgment.  Now, if the actually FLOOD lasted seven days, that would better fit "pre-tribber's" beliefs, but the flood lasted 40 days and nights.

Read the next verses right after the last quoted passage, and notice a backtrack chronologically to cover more detail of what actually happened.  This is not unlike how Genesis chapter two chronologically backtracks some to cover more details related to Genesis chapter one:

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.  12 And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.  13 On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark,  14 they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds.  15 So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life.  16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed {it} behind him.  17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days; and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.

Notice that THE FLOOD BEGAN  ON THE VERY SAME DAY that everyone, INCLUDING ANIMALS, were finally on the ark!  The animals that migrated up near to Noah and the ark were STILL ENTERING the ark all the way up through the very day of the start of the flood!  It obviously took at least a week for this herding onto the ark to complete.  Only God knows how long God caused this animals to migrate BEFORE this time to get to the vicinity of the ark.  Also notice that God did not close the door to the ark UNTIL the day of the flood was reached. They were not all snug and secure until arrival of the very day of destruction.  

Another supposed typology used is the traditional Jewish wedding, which supposedly depicts the pre-trib "rapture" view in detail.  Much of this is built on how the groom traditionally came to get his bride.  The problem with this argument is that this typology fits just as well for Christ coming for us AFTER the tribulation, maybe even better, since Christ comes for us in any rapture scenario.  If you are interested in more details about Jewish weddings, check out Greg Killian's article.  Interestingly,  Greg is a Jewish Christian, and holds to a post-Tribulational "rapture" view also.

Some consider the book of Ruth as having a pre-trib "rapture" typology as well.  Ruth, the gentile bride of Boaz who was her "kinsman redeemer," was born in Bethlehem (like Jesus). Ruth laid  at his feet on the threshing floor during harvest time.  Boaz "saves" Ruth from being single and redeems her.  The threshing floor is supposedly symbolic for the Tribulation.  An obvious problem with this typology is that Ruth is the one who comes to Boaz, not the other way around.  Also, Ruth was not saved from being on the threshing floor, which would be the typological equivalent to God's wrath, being consistent with "pre-tribbers" logic.

The following verse has also been used to try and prove that there is a pre-trib rapture: Rev. 13:6-- And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, {that is}  those who dwell in Heaven.  First off, angels also dwell in Heaven.  Disembodied human souls of believers now dwell there also.  This is no verse proof that anyone is resurrected at that point, apart from Jesus Christ.

I also heard this verse used to try and teach a pre-trib rapture :  Luke 21:36-- "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." The only requirement to be "raptured" was to be a child of God through faith in Jesus' work on the cross for our sin.  Do we need to have our OWN strength to be "raptured?"  NO.  One would have to pervert core Bible doctrine in order to force a pre-trib rapture into this verse, therefore.  This passage obviously is talking about ENDURE (not away from) the things that will happen to the earth.

Many believe that the pictures of Noah entering the ark and of Lot leaving Sodom are symbolic for a pre-trib "rapture" in the following passage.  Let's see if this is true:  Luke 17:24-37-- "For just as the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.  "And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until  the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. "It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from Heaven and destroyed them all. "It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.  "On that day, let not the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house go down to take them away; and likewise let not the one who is in the field turn back. "Remember Lot's wife.  "Whoever seeks to keep his life shall lose it, and whoever loses {his life} shall preserve it.  "I tell you, on that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken, and the other will be left.  "There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken, and the other will be left.  ["Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left."]  And answering they said to Him, "Where, Lord?" And He said to them, "Where the body {is}, there also will the vultures be gathered."   Note again that the flood came and destroyed them all THE SAME DAY Noah entered the ark according to this passage  Also, God completely destroyed Sodom the very same day as soon as they were a safe distance away (Gen. 19:22-24).  Please also notice the urgent need to be prepared to leave so as to escape the coming "day." We will not even have time to pick up supplies or even look back before final judgment comes!  Take a careful look at ALL that occurs on this specific day.  It is referring to the day Jesus is REVEALED to the world, and to the destruction He causes as He and His armies from Heaven cause in Revelation chapter 19 and elsewhere.

Here is something the "pre-tribbers" consistently miss in light of their rapture belief.  Jesus is not revealed until He returns at the very end of the tribulation.  Christians will be "revealed in glory" at the very same time that Jesus is revealed to the world (Col. 3:4).  The following verses should make it very clear exactly what happens when Christ is "revealed," thus, telling us when He will be "revealed:"  II Thess. 1:6-10-- For after all it is {only} just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,  when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed.  Christ's "revealing" is when He comes out of Heaven and brings final judgment at the very end of the tribulation (Rev. 19:11-16).  Notice what happens to the bodies that are not taken according to the Luke 17:37 passage: vultures are gathered around them.  The believer's resurrection will be the same day Christ comes back to reclaim the world.  The vultures are clearly the same birds referred to in Rev. 19:17-18 that will feast upon those who try to stand against Jesus the day He returns.

I am reluctantly aware of the implications of what a lack of a "pre-Tribulational rapture" means.  It means that Christians will go through THE Tribulation, and many will suffer, be imprisoned, and even put to death.  I wish I was wrong about my views on a post-tribulation rapture, but I cannot ignore the clear teachings of when we are resurrected, and it is not until AFTER the Antichrist reigns when Christ makes His physical return to the earth.  It appears that Christ sees the need for all Christians to get our "robes cleaned" during this coming Tribulation.  The spiritual state of the end-time Church was predicted to be in very bad shape, and that "the love (AGAPE) of many will grow cold" towards the very end of the age (Matt. 24:12).  Many Christians are predicted to be more interested in getting their "ears tickled" (be entertained) than anything else in the end times.

I know of very few pastors today who do not completely cater to the fleshly desires of their congregations.  The sixth "church" of the book of Revelation is told the following (Rev 3:10): "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."  The seventh church (seven is the number of completeness) is NOT given any such promise, but only stern words that I believe apply to today's generation of believers (Rev 3:15-22):  "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Jesus is not talking to unbelievers here, as some like to think.  He is talking to believers!  Jesus is not a shepherd over an UNSAVED church!  The "bride" of Christ is not ready for "marriage" until Rev. chapter 19 (she has not cleaned her "linens" yet), the reproving and disciplining by God of Christians will not end until Christ returns in full glory.  God is going to purge and refine the church to perfection by the time He conquers the Antichrist in Rev. chapter 19.  And He does that through the refining fires of the Tribulation!  I doubt that God would ignore the currently pathetic state of today's church, and just "rapture" them out at this point.  I doubt Jesus would be desirious of how His "bride" spiritually looks and acts down here right now.  I am not surprised why Jesus wants to puke because of us!

Here is another argument for a post-Tribulational "Rapture." Ironically, this is very related to dispensational thinking, in that the JEWS play a significant role in not only causing Jesus to return to the earth, but also the salvation of GENTILES, and our RESURRECTION!

Most Christians gloss over the last thing Jesus PUBLICLY said to the Jews before He was killed: Matthew 23:39 "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ' BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" This is a direct quote of Psalm 118:26, which was clearly understood by the Jews to be talking about the Jewish MESSIAH. It was so clear to the Jews this was so, because on the day Jesus presented Himself as the Messiah, riding on into Jerusalem on a donkey, the Jewish crowds quoted this passage: Matthew 21:9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,"Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD;Hosanna in the highest!"

However, the LEADERSHIP of the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, and even told Jesus to tell the crowds to quit saying what they were saying.

So, we are clearly told that Jesus would NOT be seen by them again until they quote that passage again to Him. The Old Testament appears to show the time in the future when the Jews, INCLUDING THEIR LEADERS, at the END of the Great Tribulation, will repent of their rejection of their Messiah (whom THEY had "pierced"): Zechariah 12:9-15 9 "And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 11 "In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 "The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. Zechariah 15 continues with talking about the immediate changes of attitude and behavior of the Jews. Zechariah 15:8-9 makes it clear that God will lead only one-third of the Jews to salvation, and refine them through fire: 8 "It will come about in all the land," Declares the LORD, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. 9 "And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

Even Christians who hold to a pre-Tribulational rapture believe that this "fire" that the Jews will go through is the Great Tribulation, and that this repentance occurs at the END of it.

Zechariah chapter 14 continues with the theme started in Zechariah chapter 12, in how God will destroy all nations that come against Jerusalem, and that He will PERSONALLY fight against them. Please note, that it is JESUS, who is supposed to come back the same way He left, ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES: Zech 14:2-4 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

It is clear from the rest of this chapter that this is the second coming of Jesus Christ. But what does all this have to do with the Jews acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah, and OUR RESURRECTION? Let's go and read Romans chapter 11. Please read for yourself to see that Paul has been talking specifically about the nation and people of ISRAEL as the main subject since Romans 9:1 and continues to do so through all of chapters 10 and 11. Now, let's focus on this key part, found in Romans 11:11-12, 15

11 I say then, they [the Jews] did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their [the Jew's] transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 15 For if their [Jewish] rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be BUT LIFE FROM THE DEAD?

Some Christians seem to consider the differences between believers beliefs regarding the timing of the "rapture" is minor.  I know that a lot of believers simply say that if the "rapture" does not happen before the tribulation starts, that they would just deal with the unexpected and unlikely situation then.  As a person with a Masters in Counseling Psychology, it is my opinion that it will be difficult at best for many (if not most) Christians to make such an adjustment in a positive way.  In fact, I am concerned that the "falling away" of Christians predicted in 2nd Thess. 2:3 could be primarily caused by this very disappointment!  Here is the verse once again: Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy (lit. "falling away") comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction... It took me quite a few years myself to emotionally overcome my previous belief in a pre-trib "rapture."  Satan is not a gentleman, so he will certainly try and take advantage of believers who drift away from God in such a way.  They will be ripe for being fooled by the supernaturally amazing deceptions and power of the Antichrist.  Even if they don't fall for the lies of the Antichrist, they will be too wrapped up in depression, denial, anger, and pity parties to make much of a good impact for their Lord and Savior, thus giving the forces of darkness plenty of room to maneuver around them.  Maybe this is why it is perfect timing for God to switch to ministering to the world through the 144,000 Jewish Christians and a certain number of prophets, most likely Jewish Christians also.

The following is from an e-mail sent to me, and my reply to it:

I find that most of your arguments for post trib rapture are very compelling, and I find myself swayed to that point of view, however... the quotes in Revelation 9:3,4,5,&6 cause me to wonder... are we to be subject to this torment?

REVELATION 9:3 - Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth; 4 they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads; 5 they were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion, when it stings a man. 6 And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death will fly from them. (RSV)

I understood that the Seal Of God was to be put on the 144,000 jews that were chosen by God.  If that is true, and the rapture is after the tribulation, doesn't that mean that we will be subject to it?

It appears clear that we would be subject to such torment if we were not part of the group that is sealed by God.  It seems that the question here has more to do with the seal of God,  and who has it.  IF only the 144,000 Jews mentioned are the only ones protected, then it seems possible to me that God  will allow at least SOME Christians, regardless of when the rapture occurs, to suffer this torment, since there doubtless will be a number of converts to Christianity during the Tribulation who cannot be part of the 144,000 due to their not being Jewish.  Of course, there is the possibility that Satan will be so efficient to have killed off all gentile Christians by then, but I doubt it, based upon reflection upon the verse dealt with in the next question e-mailed to me.  It is also possible that God may provide a seal of protection for Christians that are not part of the 144,000 Jewish Christians, even though it was not mentioned. 

The following is from another e-mail to me, and my reply to it:

Jesus told them to:  "WATCH ye therefore, and PRAY ALWAYS, that ye may be ACCOUNTED WORTHY to ESCAPE (be raptured) all these THINGS (the Tribulation) that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

The word for escape is EKPHEUGO, "escape OUT OF or AWAY FROM." We get our word EXIT from the  prefix, "EK." Strong's gives "vanish" as an alternate meaning for EKPHEUGO. From ESCAPE to VANISH, not the slightest hint of "survive through" (Luke 21:36).  Therefore, Watch and Pray that you be accounted worthy!

My response:  

Here is the "hint" that you missed:  Check the Greek words you claim should be translated "accounted worthy."  It is from the word "katicshuo," which literally means "to overpower."  The KJV translate this same word other places as "to prevail (against)."  The New American Standard version, which most scholars say is the most accurate English translation, translates the verse like this:

Luke 21:36 - "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you MAY HAVE STRENGTH to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Clearly, this is not referring to a rapture, since it is not OUR strength that would cause us to be raptured.   Why would we have to PRAY to be part of the rapture?  We do not have to continually pray the "sinners pray" to be saved.  Also, notice that the word "MAY" is used, not "WILL."  If this was referring to the rapture, then according to your interpretation, all Christians may not be raptured at the rapture.  That would contradict quite a few other verses regarding the resurrection of believers.  Obviously, this verse is teaching that IF we are careful to be watchful and prayerful at all times, we MAY have the strength to survive the Tribulation, and see the coming of Jesus Christ after the Tribulation is over.  From what I read in all the end times Bible prophecies, we certainly will need this strength.

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