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4 Views of The Christian Rapture

4 Views of The Christian Rapture
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 (15) For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming c will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.

-1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (HCSB)


Christians tend to be pretty bad at predicting the future. We get things wrong sometimes, so it should be no surprise to anyone that there are four different theories as it relates to the rapture. They are (1) Pre-tribulation Rapture, (2) Mid-tribulation Rapture, (3) Post- Tribulation Rapture, and (4) Pre-Wrath Rapture. Now there are other theories as well, but these are our four most common today.

The Tribulation (A Really Quick Overview)
Most Christians (evangelicals) believe in something called the Tribulation period. This period spans seven years and during this time the entire world becomes united under one leader; this leader is in actuality the anti-Christ. He will consolidate all power and all religion under one banner (Of course some will not agree). During this time to be a Christian means capital punishment. No one will be able to buy or sell with the mark of the beast. Approximately 3 ½ years into this (a little further) this will be the time of the Great Tribulation when God will pour out His wrath on the earth (before that is known as the time of Satan). At the end of the Tribulation period Jesus will return to rule and reign for a thousand years before the earth is destroyed and remade. There is a lot more to this but this is an overview.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture
In the book “Foundations of Pentecostal Theology” the author writes the following. This is a concise and easy to follow explanation (for the most part).

  • The strongest argument for a pre-tribulation Rapture is the fact that throughout the New Testament exhortation is given to look for and wait for the Coming of Jesus (Mt. 24:42, 43; 25:13; Mk. 13:35; 1 Thes. 5:6; Ti. 2:13; 1 Jn. 3:3; Heb. 9:28; Jn. 14:3). Jesus promised, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:3). Here Jesus’ Coming is for the purpose of receiving the Church unto Himself and taking her to a place in the Father’s house; this Coming cannot be the same as His coming with the Church to earth as the post-tribulationists contend. The blessed hope of an imminent Coming of Jesus is one of the strongest incentives to practical godliness and diligent service (Ti. 2:12–14; 1 Jn. 3:3). If the Tribulation must come first, with the manifestation of the Antichrist, before the Rapture, who will look for a Coming of Jesus until many of the events of the Apocalypse have transpired? The parable of the faithful and unfaithful servants recorded in Matthew chapter twenty-four teaches the tragic result of saying, “My lord delayeth his coming” (24:44–51).


Mid-Tribulation Rapture
This one kind of gives it away. People who hold to this believe that after the covenant between the anti-Christ and Israel is broken (3 ½ years into the tribulation). Then Jesus will take the Christians from the earth.

The following sequence of events is taken from “The Journal of Ministry and Theology: Volume 3.” This may seem a bit confusing and hard to follow. My hope is that this will spur you on to further research on your own.

 

  • The first 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th Week see nothing more than general trials and troubles that the world always goes through.
  • The Antichrist is revealed with the abomination of desolation half way through the 70th week.
  • The two witnesses of Revelation 11 are killed halfway through the 70th week.
  • During the 3½ days when the dead bodies of the two witnesses are left in the streets to be seen, Christians will experience tremendous and intense tribulation. This tribulation is not characterized as the wrath of God but as the wrath of man.
  • At the end of the 3½ days, the two witnesses are resurrected and raptured (Rev 11:11–12) which is a picture of the rapture of the Church. This is associated with the 7th trumpet in Revelation 11:15 (which in turn is associated with the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52—”at the last trumpet”).
  • At this point, the Church is raptured and joins Christ in the air. JMAT 3:1 (Spr 99) p. 86
  • Four things could be said about the remaining 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week:
  1. Christ remains in the air with his saints for the next 3 1/2 years, watching the ensuing developments on earth.
  2. The millennial reign of Christ begins and, thus, overlaps the judgments of the vials.
  3. The wrath of God is poured out on the earth.
  4. Antichrist generally prevails on earth.
  • At the end of the 70th week of Daniel, Christ stops his watching and comes down to earth with His saints to destroy Antichrist and to continue his millennial reign on the earth.

 

Post-Tribulation Rapture
In the book “Foundations of Pentecostal Theology.” It states that the post-tribulation position is simply taking scripture less literally and is in actuality different events describing the same thing that will occur at the end of the tribulation. The author states the following:

 

  • The Post-tribulation Rapture Theory. Those who hold this theory believe that the believers will go through the Tribulation and that the Rapture will occur simultaneously with, or immediately before, the Lord’s Coming in Judgment. They hold that the Rapture of the Church and Christ’s Return to Rule are simply different aspects of a single event which will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation, and just before the defeat of the Beast and his followers and the beginning of the Millennium.


Pre-Wrath Rapture
This view in its basis holds that we will be raptured before God pours out His wrath on the earth. This view (held by many advocates, including myself) takes passages that the other views ignore and is able to reconcile them. The largest proponent of this view is Dr. Marv Rosenthal. He sums it up in the following way. This excerpt was taken from “The Journal of Ministry and Theology: Volume 3”

 

  •  The first 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week are the beginning of sorrows but do not constitute any wrath of God, only the trials and tribulations of life. In fact, Rosenthal insists that the word “tribulation” is never used for the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week.9
  • The term “Great Tribulation” applies to a second period of Daniel’s 70th Week for which there is intense tribulation or persecution of Christians. This period lasts an indeterminate amount of time but less than 3½ years. Most of the diagrams show it ending half way through the last 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th Week.10
  • The first six seals cover the time from the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week until the end of the Great Tribulation (roughly 5¼ years). In their entirety they constitute the wrath of man through Antichrist.
  • The sixth seal marks the coming of cosmic signs that precede the trumpet judgments.
  • The Lord raptures the Church at the end of the Great Tribulation.
  • The Day of the Lord is the time of God’s wrath that covers roughly the last half of the second 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th Week. This follows the rapture of the Church. This time of wrath is God’s anger poured out on all mankind including Israel and the nations.
  • This time of God’s wrath actually extends for thirty days after the end of Daniel’s 70th Week as God’s bowl judgments are poured out on the nations who persecuted Israel. This thirty-day period is based upon Daniel 12:11.

 

Concluding Remarks
Please note that I tried to keep the scholarly rhetoric down in this article. I know that I have skipped over A TON OF THINGS on each of these views. My point was to introduce people to these views, not come to a conclusion on each one. I will say (my personal opinion) that the Pre-Wrath Rapture seems to fit best into scripture (speaking of all my studies).

 

I pray this will spark you on to further study and reflection. May God bless you.

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4 comments on “4 Views of The Christian Rapture

  1. Great post, thanks for putting the different view of the Tribulation/Rapture in one spot. I myself am a Pre-Wrath person. I think that once you erode the argument of Pre-Tribers that “we will not endure God’s Wrath” by showing showing that God’s Wrath comes at the end of the Tribulation, it is left to determine when the bowls of God’s Wrath will be poured out and place the Rapture right before it.

  2. PRETRIB RAPTURE STEALTH !

    Many evangelicals believe that Christ will “rapture” them to heaven years before the second coming and (most importantly) well BEFORE Antichrist and his “tribulation.” But Acts 2:34, 35 reveal that Jesus is at the Father’s right hand in heaven until He leaves to destroy His earthly foes at the second coming. And Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven with the Father “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. (“The Rapture Question,” by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn’t dare to even list, in its scripture index, the above verses! They were also too hot for John Darby – the so-called “father of dispensationalism” – to list in the scripture index in his “Letters”!)
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The “rest” for “all them that believe” is also tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who’d be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the end of trib “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which Scofield views as Israel’s posttrib resurrection!) It’s amazing that the Olivet Discourse contains the “great commission” for the church but not even a hint of a pretrib rapture for the church!
    Many don’t know that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this “rapture” was stretched forward and turned into an idolized separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which evangelical scholars overwhelmingly rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Google “Walvoord Melts Ice” for more on this.
    Other Google articles on the 183-year-old pretrib rapture view include “X-Raying Margaret,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” and “Morgan Edwards’ Rapture View” – most by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history which is obtainable by calling 800.643.4645).

    [Saw the above on the revealing web. Any reaction? Lord bless.]

    • Yes, these are some points that people use to argue against the pre-tribulation rapture. I have no response; because the purpose of my writing was an introduction to the views of the rapture. Thank you for your post! I appreciate it!

  3. I see that of the four views you list that mine is not represented. Although I would consider myself as a post-tribulation believer, I disagree with the mainstream of not having a literal view. In fact I would argue that the post-trib view is the most literal. The pretrib view is a study of assumptions and conjecture. The mid-trib view misses the fact that Jesus rules and reigns forevermore at the last trumpet. You cannot have Jesus ruling and reigning forevermore and the the beast killing the saints right after that. They miss the reason that John ate the scroll in Rev. 10. Pre-wrathers are usually ex-pre-tribbers. They know that the pretrib view is wrong, but they’ve been looking through those lenses for so long, they can’t seem to break the mold. The reason that the mainstream view or post-trib is not regarded as literal is because they do not rightly divide the Word of truth.

    The other three views are founded in the lie surrounding Daniel’s seventh week as you can see with all of the timelines presented.

    I will attempt to avoid mentioning other views while explaining the post-trib view thoroughly to avoid confusion. In some foundational issues however, I must mention other views to provide the proper foundation by noting the stark differences, address preconceived ideas and prominent mindset differences.
    Although the post-tribulation doctrine is a study of eschatology, it is important to understand history to lay the groundwork for rightly dividing the Word of God.
    The 70 AD event of Titus destroying the temple in Jerusalem is mentioned by Jesus and the disciples in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21) and often this event provides mixture in many views between past and future events. I will start with defining history and by drawing a line between history and future events. Although at the time when Jesus spoke the Olivet Discourse it was all futuristic. The event of the destruction of the temple has now become ancient history. It occurred in 70 AD. Today a portion of the retaining wall that surrounded the temple remains known as the “Wailing Wall,” but the temple itself has be totally dismantled.
    Daniel’s 70th week, Daniel 9:27
    In 66 AD the Roman Titus made a covenant with the Roman Empire to squelch the Jewish uprising that had begun. After a three and a half year conquest he succeeded in 70 AD. It was not what he intended during the conquest for the temple in Jerusalem to catch fire. The temple was full of golden vessels and articles that were hoped to be taken as trophies. However, the fire burned so hot that the gold in the temple melted through the stones. Later gold seekers removed every stone to obtain the gold. This event in history fulfills Matthew 24:2, as well as Daniel 9:27 completely. As a result the daily sacrifices were ended and have been ended for nearly 2000 years. Daniel 9:27, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease , and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate , even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” The verse says that he shall confirm a covenant with many…, The word “many” is an unknown, therefore it cannot be Israel, because it would have stated Israel, or Glorious Land, rather than the unknown of: “with many.” The fulfillment is that Titus made a covenant with the Roman Empire to squelch the Jewish uprising, it took him 3.5 years to complete. At the time of completion the daily sacrifices were ended, and the temple and Jerusalem was made desolate… Daniel 9:27 fulfilled. Often Daniel 9:27 is considered “Daniel’s 70th week” by other views and attempts to confine this period of time to the futuristic great tribulation, and confines the tribulation to a seven year period. In contrast you can see with this historical fulfillment the post-trib view does not confine the great tribulation period to a seven year event. I will state again, the fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 eliminates the tribulation from being a seven year event.
    Matt. 24 starts out by the disciples pointing out the splendor of the architecture of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus responds what appears to have shock value, by telling the disciples that it would be destroyed and not one stone left upon another. The disciples then asked, “When will these things be…” At this point we must understand that Jesus either blew off the disciples question concerning the time of the destruction of the temple or that He answered them. I will give evidence that Jesus addresses their question surrounding the time of the destruction of the temple, but first I will show evidence through another ancient prophesy…

    Time of Jacob’s trouble
    In Jeremiah chapters 30 and 31 there is a prophesy that tells of this period of time. It is called the time of “Jacob’s trouble.” I realize that this period is received without question by many as the time of the end, however the context of the rest of the prophesies surrounding it must be blown off. It is very important that the context is addressed, otherwise the temptation to assume otherwise is there. The time of “Jacob’s trouble” is defined as the ‘worst time ever’ in the history of Israel…. Jer. 30:7. (Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.) As a result of this time Israel is scattered…Jer. 30:10,11. The rest of the chapter describes this scattering. Israel is then gathered from the ends of the Earth… Jer. 31:8. This scattering is significant. Prior to Roman occupation, Israel had not been scattered as a people. She had been in captivity several times, but never scattered. Isaiah mentioned this scattering and tells us that once she is gathered she will never be scattered again.
    At the time Titus ended the Jewish uprising in 70 AD it also marked the beginning of the scattering of Israel. By 162 AD Jerusalem was eradicated of Jews. It was said that a Jew could not be found in Jerusalem. 3 to 6 million Jews were killed or displaced (scattered) at the beginning of this time, and another 6 million were killed at the time of gathering, by the Nazis. This marks the “worst time ever” of Israel. Let us contrast that with the time of Messiah’s return… Zech 12:1-4. Here we see that Jerusalem is occupied by Jews. Yes half of the city may be in captivity, but not scattered. For this reason the time of “Jacob’s trouble” cannot be the futuristic great tribulation. The time of scattering is over and they are now in process of being gathered. The time of “Jacob’s trouble” being the great tribulation is a false assumption. Israel’s future is brighter than her past.
    Worst time ever…
    Daniel 12:1 also mentions a “worst time ever.” However, in this passage it does not specify that this is specific for Israel unless you understand the context. The verse starts out, “At that time…” Which time? The time just specified in Daniel 11. So a study of Daniel 11 is in order to understand and pinpoint the “worst time ever.” Daniel 11 is a prophesy from the time of the king of Persia to the time of the Roman Empire. The prophesy today reads like a history book naming all the kings and their different nuances. It ends describing the Roman Empire which was vast and included the Glorious Land (Israel), but did not include Edom, Moab, and Ammon… Daniel 11:41,42. So here we also see the timing of the “worst time ever” was indeed at the time of the Roman Empire, so we also understand that although this Scripture does not specify for Israel, we know that it is one in the same with the time of Jacob’s trouble.
    Jesus speaks of the worst time ever…
    There are four references to the ‘worst time ever for Israel. The time of Jacob’s trouble marks the first. Daniel mentions the second. Joel 2 mentions the third. Jesus addresses the fourth in answering the disciples question concerning the time that ‘not one stone will be left upon another…” Matt. 24:15-21. He tells of the “worst time ever” for Israel (vs.21), and of the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet… let the reader understand… (vs. 15). Why are we told,’let the reader understand?’ Unfortunately, today people rely upon their pride and think it is because we are smart discerning readers, or they are just left wondering about this odd statement. When Jesus made reference to this, the Jews were well aware of the abomination of desolation that occurred more than two decades earlier in 167 B.C. Under the conquest of a Roman ruler Antiochus Epiphanies, an alter to Zeus was built over the alter of God in the temple and a pig was sacrificed upon that alter in the temple. The fact that the gentiles went into the inner courts where they were not permitted was the abominable act, the pig being sacrificed was the desolation. This historical event is little known today, however was well known by the readers/Jews that Jesus was addressing…. “let the readers understand…” So when Titus armies entered the inner courts where it was an abomination for them to be, the Jews understood completely what Jesus had spoken. The desolation of the temple was complete with not one stone being left upon another.
    The event of the abomination of desolation is also ancient history. John who penned the book of Revelation in 96 AD after this event of the abomination of desolation never mentions it as a future event.
    So here we see that ancient history consists of, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the abomination of desolation, and the seventh week in Daniel.
    This evidence of the fulfillment of these events should be plain to see for all those who have different views. The fact that the daily sacrifices have ended for nearly 2000 years should be a wake-up call for anyone attempting to suggest otherwise. Why is it not? I will stay the course, and not address the other doctrines as I have previously stated. The post-tribulation view maintains that we are one body in Christ Jesus, and that the walls of separation between Jew and gentile have come down… Eph 2:11-14. As a result the church includes all believers no matter the nationality, Jew or gentile. When Jesus addresses His people, He is addressing those who believe in Him. The terminology for Christian is not coined until the middle of the book of Acts. Prior to that time they were considered, elect, saints, or believers.
    There is a lot more to be stated concerning history that has already occurred, however the foundation has been laid. The study of eschatology is not a study of the past, however it is necessary to address it in order to define the past events that some views teach as futuristic. I shouldn’t have to address it at all to be able to present my view, but some of these teaching are so well excepted that most don’t bother checking them for validity Once we can rightly divide the past as the past, we can move on to future events without those stumbling blocks in the way. For this reason it is difficult to just simply give a timeline for the post tribulation view, because of all the clutter of the other views. The timeline is so simple… Jesus comes at the end.

    As you can see, I haven’t even touched on my view do to the lengthiness already. I’ve simply expelled the myths surrounding the existing views. In the end, it is important that you “let no man deceive you..” Jesus, Matt. 24:3, and Paul 2 Thess. 2:3 concerning the study of end times. Best to study it for yourself using the Holy Spirit as your guide.

    I will give you a wonderful clue in understanding Revelation. Chapter 10, the last trumpet is mentioned (vs.7) John eats the scroll… He is told that he will prophesy again.
    Chap. 11 at the last trumpet, Jesus rules and reigns forevermore, the dead are judged, and the righteous are rewarded… THIS IS THE END OF THE 1ST PROPHESY. John prophesies again in chapters 12-16 and they are an overlay of chapters 6-11. the 5th seal martyrs are one in the same as those who don’t take the mark, and the trumpets and bowls complement each other… because they are the same events. There now is no problem making a distinction between tribulation and judgment of God. Paul tells us that the rapture will occur at the last trumpet… 1 Cor. 15:51,52. Jesus tells us that it will happen at the last bowl…Rev. 16:15… Yep the last trumpet and the last bowl are one in the same.

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