Nearly all Christians will tell you that they believe the next apocalyptic event on God’s calendar is the Rapture of the Church and the coming of Jesus Christ for His Bride. This was believed in the early church, and they greeted each other with the phrase “Maranatha,” meaning the Lord is coming! In fact, the believers in Thessalonica believed in it so strongly that they thought they missed it! Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote Thessalonians I and II in order to set them straight. Thessalonians is all about a Pre Great Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Lost people will believe peace and safety will prevail and sudden destruction will come upon them. This time period, however, will not catch the discerning Christian by surprise.
Revelation 3:10 King James Version (KJV)
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
I believe the Bible gives strong credence to ONLY a Pre Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Why? For one thing, the Lord never judged the just (those saved by faith) with the unjust at Noah’s Flood, at Sodom and Gomorrah, or even in Jericho. In each case, believers were taken out and protected from God’s universal judgment. God says about Himself: “I am the Lord, I change not.” The hermeneutical first mention principle tells us that God will totally exonerate believers from the worst “one of a kind” judgment to ever strike planet earth. Christians erroneously tell me that since we must endure trials and tribulations, this proves we must endure at least part of the Great Tribulation. This is convoluted logic. The tribulations we endure in our daily walk have absolutely NOTHING to do with a just and holy God treading the wine press and unleashing His fury on a Christ rejecting world. The Great Tribulation is called Jacob’s Trouble, and there is no period in human history to compare it to. We are talking total hell on earth. Our tribulations are 1) getting fired from a job because of our faith, 2) an unbelieving spouse leaving us, 3) being ostracized by people because of our faith. To compare the Great Tribulation to our persecution, trials and tribulations is comparing elephants with apricots- no can do.
Furthermore, the major prophecy conferences such as Joe Van Koevering’s “International Prophecy Conference,” and the “Prophecy In The News” summits in Orlando, Pike’s Peak and elsewhere, all promote a Pre Tribulation Rapture. These conferences typically host up to twenty speakers and their eschatological theology is of one accord. The following household names all believe in a Pre Tribulation Rapture: Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye (Left Behind Series), Jack Van Impe, Thomas Ice, David Jeremiah and John MacArthur.
Now, why else do we know that the Rapture will happen before the Great Tribulation? The alternatives do not make any sense. A Post Tribulation Rapture would place the Rapture at the same time as Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, when He comes to the earth in judgment at the end of the Great Tribulation period. The Mid Tribulation idea is just as faulty because it “dates” the Rapture. How so? The Great Tribulation will commence with the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and the Antichrist. If the Mid Tribulation theory was true, the Rapture would happen three and one half years after the peace treaty and we would know all that time in advance when the Lord would come for His Church! We would have a date set years in advance. How absurd.
The ONLY way that the Rapture can always remain immanent, is if it occurs BEFORE the Great Tribulation period commences. Any other time would place a date on it. If that were the case, the next apocalyptic event would NOT be the Rapture, it would be the signing of the peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel. People who believe in a Mid or Post Tribulation Rapture are waiting for the appearance of the Antichrist. Folks like me who believe in a Pre Tribulation Rapture are focused on the coming of Christ for His Bride, the Church. Praise God, I can say: “Maranatha, the Lord is coming!”
“Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” Luke 12:40 One cannot believe this verse unless they understand the Pre Tribulation rapture!
Blessings, Pastor Steve