The Rapture

May 17, 2019 0 Comments

A Bible question I get more often than any other is this: How do we know for sure that the Rapture of the Church will occur before the Tribulation period? Here is a Bible study I did back in 2011 listing Ten Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

First, the Call to “Come Up Hither” in Revelation 4:1. If the chronology of Revelation means anything, it is significant that this is the point in the book where John is translated to heaven. The vantage point from which John relates the judgments of the tribulation is from Heaven. He doesn’t describe the tribulation as if he is going through it on the earth. He does not come back down to earth until 17:3. Notice that the details surrounding this verse are in perfect accord with the great description of the Rapture that we find in I Thes. 4:16ff. (Open door, voice of God, sound of trumpet, call to “come up”)

Second, the lack of any reference to the Church after chapters 2 and 3. (The Church is Gone). Again, the chronology is significant. In chapter 2 and 3, the word church is used 20 times. But as soon as you get to chapter 4, there is no mention of the church at all! Not until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in chapter 19 is the church in view. The total absence of the church from chapters 4-18 is worthy of note.

Third, the Promise to the church at Philadelphia (Rev. 3:10). Most Bible scholars will agree that this church represents the true church in all ages, and particularly at the end of the church age in the midst of apostasy. The promise “I will keep thee from the hour of tribulation” is clear. Only those who see no connection between the messages to the seven churches and the course of church history could refute this text.

Fourth, the Purpose of the Tribulation: to chastise Israel. This period is known as the time of Jacob’s trouble (70th week of Daniel). For those who hold to a dispensational interpretation of prophecy, God is not through with Israel yet. (Romans 11) If you see no real distinction between Israel and the church, then you end up with the church suffering during the tribulation, not Israel. This goes against all of Scripture as it relates to what God is trying to accomplish in this period of chastisement.

Fifth, the teaching of I Thessalonians 5:1-4 about believers not being “overtaken” by the day of destruction. We are the children of light, not darkness. Therefore, that day of destruction (like a thief) "will not overtake us". That can only mean believers will not be subjected to the judgments of the tribulation.

Sixth, the Statement in I Thessalonians 5:9 that God has not appointed us to wrath. Some could, of course, argue that this is only speaking of hell. But is it logical to think the grace of God keeps us from the wrath of hell but not the wrath of the tribulation? Some say the first half of the tribulation is not a time of “wrath” at all. That’s not the opinion of those who suffer through it, according to their own statement in Revelation 6:17. Look at this doctrine in light of the theology of Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.

Seventh, the Fact that the “Hinderer”, or “Restrainer” is taken out of the way. II Thessalonians 2 says that the man of sin will not be revealed until there is a falling away first, and the one who now restrains (the Holy Spirit of God) will continue to restrain until he is taken out of the way. The close association between the Holy Spirit and the Church leads logically to the conclusion that both of these restraining influences will be lifted during this period of lawlessness.

Eighth, the Old Testament illustrations of God delivering the righteous out before judgment falls. The account of Enoch (his translation before the flood), and Lot in Sodom are types of the Rapture.

Ninth, the Coming of Christ is referred to as the “Blessed Hope” of the Church in Titus 2:13. Where is there any “blessed hope” if you have to survive the awful seal judgments, etc.? In I Thes. 4:16-18, the “caught up” or rapture truth is presented as a message of comfort.

Tenth, the Worship scene around the throne of God in Rev. 4 and 5 is by those who were “redeemed”. Once again, this is an argument from the chronology of the book of Revelation. What you have is a vast array of redeemed saints worshipping the Lamb in Heaven while judgment is poured out on earth. If we are seen in heaven worshipping Christ in chapter 5, how can we be back on earth suffering the seal judgments of Revelation 6? If believers go through the tribulation, the worship scene would naturally fall sometime subsequent to, not before, the period of tribulation.

I hope this is helpful and encouraging to all who might be fearful they are going to have to suffer through the Tribulation. Thank God for the promises of His Word, particularly Rev. 3:10.

Richard Seefried
Harrisonburg, VA
Richard Seefried has a Master’s Degree in Christian Ministry, and is licensed & certified by the NCCA as a clinical pastoral counselor.