Church is Ready for Rapture, but is the Rapture Ready for the Church?
by Jim Black
(Ft. Lauderdale, Fl)
One of the major focal points of the debate between a pre-tribulation vs post-tribulation rapture are a comparison between 1 Thes. 4:15-17 and Matt. 24:29-31. The pre-trib view claims that the former is the rapture, with which post-tribs agree, and that the latter is Jesus' second coming to earth. The post-trib view disagrees, rather that Matt. 24:31 is the rapture, followed immediately by Jesus' coming to earth with all the saints He just raptured as shown in 1 Thes. 4:15-17.
1 THES. 4:15-17
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the COMING of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an ARCHANGEL, and with the TRUMPET of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be CAUGHT UP together with them in the CLOUDS to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the SON OF MAN will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the CLOUDS of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His ANGELS with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will GATHER together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
BEFORE AND AFTER?
How likely is it that Jesus will come with the clouds, angelic activity, the sound of a trumpet and rapture the church BEFORE the tribulation and then seven years later have His angels gather the elect and bring them to Israel AFTER the tribulation UNDER THE SAME BASIC CONDITIONS? It doesn't matter if the elect in Matt. 24:22,31 are only Jews. The same conditions still prevail twice according to the pre trib view.
- Lord comes visibly (erchomai)
- Elect gathered
1 THES. 4:15-17
- Lord comes visibly (parousia)
- Saints caught up
If the pre-tribulation view is correct, then Jesus will be SEEN coming twice UNDER THE SAME BASIC CONDITIONS, seven years apart. Under the post trib view, all pieces fit together seamlessly when Matt. 24:31 is viewed as the rapture and second coming as back-to-back events. But the pre trib position says that Matt. 24:31 is a special angelic transportation of the elect (Jews) to Israel, which alters the meaning of this verse to apply to Jesus' second coming. Even if that were so, it doesn't alter the fact that, according to the pre trib view, Jesus will come under the same basic condition TWICE.
Another talking point for the pre trib view is that the church is not to be found between chapters 4 and 18 in the Revelation. But chapter 14 may say otherwise.
RAPTURE IN THE REVELATION – REV. 14:14,15
14 “Then I looked, and behold, a white CLOUD, and on the cloud sat One like the SON OF MAN, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another ANGEL came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and REAP, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest is ripe.”
1. Son of Man (Jesus)
3. Voice of the Angel (cp. To 1 Thes. 4:16)*
4. Reap (saints harvested/raptured)
Notice that four of the conditions here are found in 1 Thes. 4:15-17 and Matt. 24:29-31.
*Note: It could very well be that the voice of the Archangel in 1 Thes. 4:16 and the voice of the angel in Rev. 14:15 are the same one and who will say, "Thrust in your sickle and reap." The fact that Rev. 14:15 doesn't say "Archangel" doesn't mean he isn't.
TRIBULATION BEFORE TRANSFORMATION
This scene in heaven (Rev. 14:14-16) follows the antichrist's war against Jews and Christians and overcoming them as recorded in Dan. 7:25 and Rev. 13:7. These saints (the church) entered the tribulation period, along with those who missed the rapture and got saved during the tribulation. The antichrist won't kill all Christians and Jews and it is likely that those who survive to the end (Matt. 24:13) are those who will be ALIVE and REMAIN when the rapture happens at the end of the tribulation (1 Thes. 4:15,17). In other words, tribulation will precede transformation. This fits the post trib scenario. Also, chronology sets the order of events, assuming that Rev. 13 and 14 are chronological.
ISAIAH/DANIEL SUPPORT POST TRIB
JUST FROM THE DUST
“And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you: for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
"As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth, She writhes and cries out in her labor pains, Thus were we before You, O Lord. 18 We were pregnant, we writhed in labor, We gave birth, as it seems, only to wind. We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth, Nor were inhabitants of the world born.19 Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise.You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits."
“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt."
“But you, Daniel, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will RISE to your inheritance at the END OF DAYS.”
If this resurrection of the just from the dust isn't the rapture, then what is it? While it is clear that Old Testament saints will rise in the dust resurrection, there's something else that should be noted: The timing of it, which is at the end of the age, or as Daniel says, “end of the days.” Isaiah records that this resurrection will occur at a time when Israel cries out for deliverance as a mother cries out in her birth pangs shortly before she gives birth (Isa. 26:17). Jesus uses similar language in Matt. 24:8 and it could be noted that a mother's birth pangs all typically fall within a 24 hour period. Delivery comes very soon after the birth pangs. Daniel records that at this time of “distress,” everyone written in the book will rise from the dust. The pre trib view would say that these verses are about Jews only who will be raised under different circumstances than the rapture (Matt. 24:22). But surely, there are gentiles who sleep in the dust and who will be raised at this time. There is only one book of life in which Jew and gentile are recorded from all ages.