Rapture or Wrath?

Proving Premillennialism.

There is confusion today about when the Church will be raptured, in relation to the time called the Great Tribulation. Will it leave before the Tribulation begins, during the middle, or at the end? Now the Church is the body of Christ and is composed of saved, born again, people: those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Will those people have to go through even a part of the Tribulation? What different denominations teach is irrelevant to what God says. The Bible will have the answer.

The next 1,000 years, or so, is clearly outlined in Bible prophecy. The Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth (the Second Advent) and wage war according to Revelation 19:11-21. After that he will reign 1000 years (Revelation 20:4-6). Christ comes back just before the Millennium (1000 years in Latin). The Bible gives several names to the seven years before the Millennium begins. It is called the Tribulation, the time of “Jacob’s Trouble,” and Daniel’s Seventieth Week. This seven years is the last phase of a prophecy spoken of in Daniel.

Daniel 9:24,25,26a
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and uponthe holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an endof sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision andprophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forthof the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore andtwo weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26a And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cutoff, but not for himself…

According to these verses there are 69 weeks before Messiah is cut off (seven weeks + threescore and two weeks). A “week” in this case means seven years just as it did in Genesis 29:27, where Jacob had to serve seven years for Rachel. The fulfilling of this prophecy began in Nehemiah 2 in 450 B.C. and the first sixty-nine weeks did not end until Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was crucified, or “cut off,” in 33 A.D. That totals 483 years. (If the beginning calendar date, e.g. 450 B.C., is off by a few years, the date of the crucifixion would also be off by the same amount of years. The time between the dates would still be 483 years.) The remaining “week”, of seven years, will be fulfilled during the Tribulation, the time of “Jacob’s Trouble,” not the Church’s trouble. Jesus, himself, tells what this time will be like.

Matthew 24:21
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Verses 29-31 tell of Christ’s coming in the clouds after the Tribulation to gather his elect, both the living and the dead. As with the rapture of the Church, the dead will be resurrected and the living will be changed. These will include the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth during this time (Revelation 14:1-5) and their converts. After this comes a judgment in Matthew 24:42-51. This same judgment is mentioned in Revelation 20:1-4.

Matthew 24:46,47
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shallfind so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment wasgiven unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The Tribulation saints will be raptured just before the Lord comes back for the battle of Armageddon. After which the lost will be appointed their portion (Matthew 24:51) and Satan shall be bound for 1000 years. (Revelation 20:2)

The rapture of the body of Christ takes place before this period of Tribulation. Jesus’ bride is waiting for him, not for the wrath of the Tribulation.

I Thessalonians 1:9,10
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

These verses say that Christians are to be waiting for Jesus and that he has delivered them from the wrath to come. The following verses further verify this.

Matthew 3:7b
…O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

In this verse John rebuked the Jewish Pharisees and implied that if they had believed that Messiah was coming and had been baptized (and thus later received him as Saviour) that they would be fleeing the “wrath” that was to fall on the nation of Israel.

These next two verses tells the Church Age saints that they will not see God’s wrath on Israel.

Romans 5:9
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

I Thessalonians 5:9
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

This last verse records the plea of one experiencing God’s wrath during the Tribulation.

Revelation 6:16,17
…Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The Church, Christ’s body, has not been appointed to wrath. It will be raptured before the Tribulation begins. Two passages describe this.

I Thessalonians 4:16,17
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:51,52
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The bodies of living and dead Christian’s will be redeemed at this time, since the soul and spirit are redeemed at the time of salvation. According to Romans 8:11-23, at the rapture, the Spirit will quicken the mortal bodies of living saints. This is called the adoption, or the redemption of the body. And, of course, dead saints will be resurrected. All our bodies will be glorified and raptured to heaven!

We will not receive the wrath of the Lamb because we are going to be with him in heaven. We will not receive the wrath of Satan (Revelation 12:12) because we have already overcome him according of I John 3:2-10. We will not come under the wrath of God because according to Isaiah 53, it fell on Jesus Christ when he took our place at Calvary. THEREFORE we are NOT appointed to wrath, or Tribulation, but to salvation, or Rapture!

Also, if Christians go through the Tribulation, when do they appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ mentioned in II Corinthians 5:10? This judgment takes place before the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, which takes place after the Millennium. The Church has already been judged before the Marriage Supper in Revelation 19:7-9, where the saints are arrayed in white linen. This is their righteousness. When Jesus Christ comes back in verse 11 they come with him as the armies of heaven in verse 14. The Church comes out of heaven with him, so they must have been taken up earlier. In I Thessalonians 4 Jesus comes back for the saints, and in Revelation 19 he comes back with the saints.

The chronology of the book of Revelation also shows that the Church must go out before the Tribulation. Revelation 2 and 3 devotionally speak of characteristics of the Church Age. The seven churches picture seven epochs in Church Age history from 33 A.D. to the Tribulation. In Revelation 4:1 a door in heaven opens and John, the beloved apostle, a type of the Church, is taken up to heaven. The word “church” does not appear again. Revelation chapters 5-19 concern the Tribulation. Then in Revelation 19, heaven opens again and the Lord Jesus Christ comes down with his saints. The Church goes out before the Tribulation and comes back after it is finished.

Also, the Tribulation is Daniel’s Seventieth week, and is determined on Israel, not the Church.

Daniel 9:24
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people…

Daniel’s people were Jews, not Gentile churches. God will not be dealing with the Church during the Tribulation, just as be did not deal with it during the Old Testament. God began dealing with the Church after Israel had rejected the Messiah and had been taken out of the way. When God begins to deal with them again he will take the Church out of the way.

Besides that, if the Church was going to go through the Tribulation we would be looking for the abomination of desolation spoken of in Matthew.

Matthew 24:15a,21a
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel…21 For then shall be great tribulation…

According to Paul we are to look for something different.

Philippians 3:20,21a
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body…

We are not looking for the Antichrist or for the Jew to rebuild the temple.

Titus 2:13
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Finally, Enoch is a type of the translated Church, and he was taken up to heaven before the flood, which is a type of the Great Tribulation. Noah is a type of believing Israel that will be sealed according to Revelation 7 and taken through the Tribulation protected by God’s power. Concerning Enoch the Bible says:

Hebrews 11:5
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

The word “translation” is mentioned three times. According to I Corinthians 15:21-24 there are three parts to the First Resurrection.”Christ the firstfruits” include Old Testament saints who arose at the time of Christ’s resurrection and appeared in Jerusalem according to Matthew 27:51-53. They are also mentioned in Ephesians 4:8-10.”They that are Christ’s at his coming” is the rapture of the Church Age saints mentioned in I Thessalonians 4.”Then cometh the end” speaks of the Tribulation saints raptured in Revelation 7:9-14. More on this shortly.

One attempt to refute the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is to teach that the trumpet of the seventh angel in Revelation 11:15, at the Second Coming of Christ, is the same as the “trump of God” in I Corinthians 15:51. The trumpets are not the same because one is an angel’s trumpet and the other is the trump of God. In Joshua 6 there is a type of these seven trumpets in the story of Jericho, the accursed city. Babylon is that accursed city in the Tribulation not the Church Age. Joshua’s conquering Jericho is a type of the taking of Babylon in the Tribulation. Joshua’s people and seven priests with seven trumpets march around the city seven times on the seventh day and then blow the seven trumpets and shout. The walls fall flat.

The last trump in I Corinthians 15:52 also has a type in the Old Testament. Notice that it is the last trump, not the seventh. It is the last of two trumps. In Numbers 10 God tells Moses to make and use two trumpets.

Numbers 10:1,2
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.

Silver is a picture of redemption (Matthew 27); and the trumpets were blown for the assembly, then the journeying. The first trumpet will be blown in the Rapture for the assembling of the Church and the second for the calling out. For a conclusion we’ll look again at the three parts of the first resurrection.

I Corinthians 15:22-24a
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end…

The first part took place when Jesus Christ brought up the Old Testament saints at his resurrection.

Matthew 27:52,53
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Ephesians 4:8
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

This happened at the time of the Passover.

The second part takes place at the rapture of the Church (I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15) and will coincide with the feast of Pentecost. The third part will occur at the end of the Tribulation, at the feast of Tabernacles spoken of in Zechariah 14:18,19 and will include the Tribulation saints in Revelation 20:4,5. This first resurrection of the righteous does not include anyone who is lost and facing the second death (being thrown into the lake of fire). Jesus tells the Sadducees of this in Matthew 22:30-32 after they try to trick him concerning the resurrection.

Matthew 22:30-32

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

All three parts of the first resurrection will be of the “living” (spiritually alive or saved) only. There is a type of this in Deuteronomy 16:16.

Deuteronomy 16:16
Three times in a year shall all the males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread {Passover – the firstfruits}, and in the feast of weeks {Pentecost – harvest of the Church}, and in the feast of tabernacles…{gleanings of Tribulation saints}

These feasts were scheduled according to the times of harvest in Israel, just as God will harvest the earth in the first resurrection. Every harvest has three crops: The firstfruits; (that ripen early, before the main harvest), then the main harvest; and then the gleanings (that ripen later). So is the first resurrection!

The resurrection of the lost dead (those who will suffer the second death) takes place in Revelation 20:11-13:

Revelation 20:11-12
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

This resurrection occurs at the end of the Millennium, 1000 years after the last part of the first resurrection of the righteous – the gleanings of the Tribulation saints.

Heretical teachings about the Rapture affect the believer in the same way as other heresies. These false teachers try to rob the Christian of several things: their peace and security, by teaching that they can lose their salvation; their hope, by teaching that they will go through the Tribulation; their Saviour, by denying the deity of Christ; and their authority, by trying to destroy the infallibility of the King James Bible. Knowing and believing the truth will give a Christian peace and assurance.

Parts of this booklet were taken from an uncopywrited tract called:

“TRANSLATION OR TRIBULATION” by:
Dr. Greg Estep

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