It’s been one of those topics that have been a conundrum for ages––The Rapture. Personally, up until about 20 years ago, I had only heard what is known as “The Pre-Tribulation Rapture,” where Christ comes for the saints, and then the end times erupt. I thought it was plain, simple, to the point, and considered as solid and fundamental as the gospel itself (of course the gospel is no longer solid anymore). But right around the year 2000, I had heard that there were two more theories––a ‘mid-trib’ and ‘post-trib’ rapture. Now I was confused, and have been ever since. Which one to believe?
Well, I have resolved to not be a stickler on any one of them. After all, if the theologians can’t agree, then who am I?
But if I were to lean toward one, it would be the ‘mid-trib/pre-wrath’ theory. Why? There’s some Biblical argument for it, and well, if I must confess, there’s also a bit of a gut feeling that leans me more in that direction.
First, the Biblical argument. Let’s take a look at why ‘mid-trib’ is also called ‘pre-wrath.’ We’ll go to Revelation 16. For the sake of brevity, I won’t paste the whole chapter, but you can go here to read it for yourself.
Matthew Henry’s commentary sums it this way: In this chapter, we have an account of the pouring forth of these vials that were filled with the wrath of God. They were poured out upon the whole antichristian empire, and on every thing appertaining to it. I. Upon the earth, Rev. 16:2. II. Upon the sea, Rev. 16:3. III. Upon the rivers and fountains of water, Rev. 16:4. Here the heavenly hosts proclaim and applaud the righteousness of the judgments of God. IV. The fourth vial was poured out on the sun, Rev. 16:8. V. The fifth on the seat of the beast. VI. The sixth on the river Euphrates. VII. The seventh in the air, upon which the cities of the nations fell, and great Babylon came in remembrance before God.
For me, the timing of the rapture hinges on this Biblical event. Now, I do have to admit that verses 15 and 16 say, “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” 16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”
Then verse 17 gives us the seventh and final bowl. “17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
So there’s a possibility that the rapture could happen just before the seventh bowl. Again, I’m just relaying my thoughts here, and am not a know-it-all to this timeline. But there’s a reason why I believe it makes more sense that we will be caught up prior to the seven judgments.
First, we must ask ourselves, why is there a rapture to begin with? We’ve often thought of how the rapture will take place, how wonderful it will be to be caught up with the Lord without death and without (perhaps) enduring the Great Tribulation. But have we thought about it from God’s perspective? Why would He want us to leave earth during this particular time in this particular way? What purpose does that fulfill?
Is it to save us from persecution? Well, we know that Christianity has never been saved from persecution. Since the time of the first apostles, Christians have been and still are enduring persecution, and it’s ramping up as we speak. Forbes magazine recently published an article on this. The headline reads, “One in Eight Christians Worldwide Live In Countries Where They May Face Persecution.”
So it doesn’t make sense for God to deliver His people from persecution at the time of The Great Tribulation when Christians have had to endure severe persecution throughout the ages; especially when the Bible is clear Christians will endure persecution at that time. Pre-trib adherents believe those who are persecuted at that time are the ones who realize what had happened and come to Christ after the rapture. But that just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.
If we take a closer look, we’ll see what The Seven Bowls of Wrath have to do with it.
Throughout the Bible, God has spared His people from His wrath. Romans 1:18-32 talks about God’s wrath, and Paul makes it clear that it is reserved for those who reject Him.
So are we to endure God’s seven bowls of wrath at the end times? Here are a few historic examples of where God’s people were spared when he poured down his wrath on earth:
- The Great Flood––God saved Noah and his family who were the only righteous people on earth, from a worldwide judgment.
- Sodom and Gomorrah––God saved Lot and his family, the only righteous people in those cities.
- The Plagues of Egypt––God saved the Hebrew people when He cast the 10 plagues on Egypt when Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go.
And of course what did Jesus accomplish on the cross? Our exemption from God’s eternal wrath. So to be saved from eternal wrath would also include (am I not correct?) to be saved from earthly judgment in the last days. In order to save billions of people around the world from concurrent worldwide bowls of wrath, God ordained a way for us to simultaneously escape, which is what we read in 1 Thess. 4:16-18:
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
I suppose the real reason which we are to study Christ’s second coming is to not pretend that we have it all figured out but to do as Paul suggests at the end of that passage. So let’s make our study of the End about encouraging one another with those words.
And let us also pray for those whom we know and love who may not know Christ, that they may turn so they do not endure the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-32). I do believe (and this is where my gut feeling comes in) that we will have at least three and a half years to see the Antichrist in power and warn people at that time that the end is truly near. But let’s not wait until then. After all, it could happen 10 years from now or 100 years from now, we simply don’t know. We owe it to our friends and family to let them know that because of the love of God demonstrated on the cross of Christ, all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on A Closer Look
Featured Image by JoannaSz from Pixabay