Tag Archive | Tribulation

Gap Between the Rapture and the Tribulation

By Frisco Vigario

 

Jesus perfectly fulfilled His first coming at the four spring festivals – Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks. These are God’s “appointed times,” also called “holy convocations.”

After the spring feasts, there is a period of time before the autumn feasts begin. This time is spiritually symbolic of the church age in which we live today. Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection are past, we have received the promised Holy Spirit, and now we await His second coming. Just as the spring feasts pointed toward the Messiah’s ministry at His first coming, the autumn feasts point toward what will happen at His second coming.

Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets, is a picture of the ‘catching away’ of the bride of Christ. The significance for ‘the believer’ is that the blowing of the ‘shofar’ is prophetic to the rapture of the church and will inaugurate the ‘End of days,’ the coming Day of the Lord – The Great Tribulation (also called Jacob’s Trouble, the day of wrath, day of desolation, day of the Lord, the wrath of God, the wrath, the tribulation and many more).

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (NASB).

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 “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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (NASB).

Rosh Hashanah also commemorates the creation of the universe. Jewish tradition links Adam and Eve’s creation to 1 Tishri as the day of creation from Adam’s perspective – but how? The first words of the Hebrew Bible say “In the beginning.” By rearranging the Hebrew letters, the phrase “aleph b’Tishri” is formed, meaning “on the 1st of Tishri.”

Rosh Hashanah is also known as the head of the year – Jewish New Year’s Day.

Rosh Hashanah therefore represents the day that God began to rule as King of the Universe. It also anticipates the prophetic fulfillment of the Lord’s covenant faithfulness to Israel in Daniel’s 70th week when all of Israel will repent and their Messiah will return to restore Israel as Saviour, Lord and Deliverer.

According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of the righteous are written in the Book of Life, and the destiny of the wicked are written in the book of death. However, most people will not be inscribed in either book, but have 10 days until “Yom Kippur” (Festival of Atonement) to repent before sealing their fate. Hence the Ten Days of Repentance (days of Awe). At the Feast of Atonement, then, everyone’s name will be sealed in one of the books.

The Day of Atonement is the next of the three autumn festivals. It is the holiest day of the Jewish year, and it reveals the Priestly work of Jesus – Our High Priest. This festival, also known as Yom Kippur, provides prophetic insight regarding the Second coming of Messiah, the restoration of national Israel and the final judgment of the world.

The Day of Atonement marks the high point of the 10 days of Awe and is regarded as the day when Israel will seal her fate. It is the only day of the year when the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and offer blood sacrifices and prayer for the sins of the people. Their sins were ‘covered’ for one year only.

Only at Christ’s death on the cross were sins forgiven “by grace through faith.”

The Rapture of the Church and the relevance of the gap between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement:

Why did God place 10 days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement? Does it mean anything? Is it part of His perfect will? Would it make any difference if it were 5 days or 20 days or 30 days? I believe that God in His perfection has a perfect meaning for every letter and number that appears in His word.

Does the rapture of the church take place before the Tribulation or in the now-popularized Rapture at the mid-tribulation point before “The wrath”?

How is it possible that anyone in their right spiritual mind would consider, even for a moment, that the Rapture could take place during the 7-year Tribulation?

There are many scriptures both in the Old and New Testament that prove that the church will not go through the Tribulation. How can it be that some are still going down this dark rabbit hole?

I offer just one Old Testament and one New Testament scripture that prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the church will NOT enter the Tribulation.

Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.”

Daniel’s people and Daniel’s holy city can only be the Jewish nation and Jerusalem. The church is not Israel and it does not have a capital. The church is the Temple of God; we are priests and we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Nobody disputes that God has perfectly fulfilled 69 weeks at Jesus’ first coming and death on the cross and we now await the final week which will commence with “a firm covenant.” In the middle of the 7-year Tribulation, the “Abomination of desolation” will take place (see Daniel 9:27).

The purpose of the last 7 years is twofold – for the restoration of Israel (God’s “elect,” His covenant people and the “apple of His eye”) and the wrath of God to a sinful, unrepentant Gentile world.

2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.”

According to Paul, the “lawless one” (the Antichrist) will only be revealed after the “Restrainer” is taken out of the way. Who is the restrainer? It’s not me or you, or Donald Trump or any other world or religious leader. So who can it be? Who has the strength to restrain evil, the devil and the Antichrist?

Surely it can only be the person of The Holy Spirit. So, if the “Restrainer” is taken out of the way, does that mean that Jesus says to His bride – ‘I have carried you in my hand for long enough – now you are on your own. Survival is now in your hands, so be careful. See you later.’ Is that the message of the Bible as you read it?

Or is it “…I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The Holy Spirit is in us. If the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way – then so are we – it is called the Rapture of the Church.

We can only conclude that we will not be here during the 7-year Tribulation. So, if we are raptured before the Tribulation – is it possible that there is a gap between the rapture of the church and the start of the Tribulation?

The rapture of the church does not start the 7-year Tribulation. According to Daniel, the signing of a “covenant” does. So, yes, there must be a gap – but how long? It could be a few days, weeks, months or years. Since every word in the Bible is significant, we do indeed question the reason for a 10-day gap between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.

The book of Revelation follows a progression of future events. Most commentators see the letters to the seven churches as representing actual churches that existed at the time that the book of Revelation was written, but it also represents the seven church ages – ending with today’s church, the church of Laodicea, the lukewarm church.

Revelation 4:1 alludes to the possible rapture of the church: “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’”

John then sees in heaven the things that follow. He sees the “scroll” that is sealed with seven seals. Inside the scroll are the seven Trumpet judgments and the seven Bowl judgments that come from heaven. Jesus then opens one seal at a time, but we are nowhere told that the events that are described with the opening of the seals take place before or after the start of the Tribulation.

Is it possible that the events that take place between the breaking of the first seal and the Trumpet judgments represent a 3-year time frame between the rapture of the church and the start of the 7-year Tribulation? I believe that it is possible.

First note Revelation 5:1 “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals” (NKJV).

The scroll is sealed with 7 seals. The sealing of a document is intended to keep the message that is contained inside secret – until it is opened by an authorized person. Jesus has the authority, and He opens the seven seals that reveal events that will take place on earth during the 7-year Tribulation. The seals reveal earthly events as well as future events.

As the first four seals are removed, a message is given by each of the four living creatures. The messages are:

– A king goes out to take peace from the earth but with a bow only.

– Peace is taken from the earth by means of “a great sword.”

– Scarcity of food

– A fourth of the earth is affected by war, starvation, disease and by animals.

What do the four living creatures represent?

The four living beings described in Revelation chapter 4 and chapter 6 are the same as the seraphim shown in Isaiah chapter 6.

The four seraphim from Isaiah and Revelation are described as having A FACE – with one being LIKE a lion, one being LIKE a calf, one being LIKE a man, and one being LIKE an eagle. Also having six wings instead of four (Ezekiel’s Cherubim).

The Lion is the chief of land beasts, and the Eagle is the chief of birds with its superior speed and strength. These two creatures exert a great and dominant force on the earth, where people live. The face of a man is a reference to the crowning creation of God, intelligently-created human beings. The calf/ox represents the field-working/sacrificial animal.

In the history of ancient Israel, the ox was valuable to both the people’s everyday wellbeing as well as their religious life. The ox did most of the laborious field chores which could result in great prosperity. It was therefore mentioned as one of the things that should not be coveted from a neighbor. So great was the significance of the ox to the people that it was once infamously raised to a godlike stature in the incidence of the “golden calf.”

I believe that the inference of the announcements coming from the four living beings is that they are representative of earthly (natural/human) events that take place and not the wrath that comes from heaven in the 7 Trumpet and Bowl judgments.

The number “4” in scripture has a pattern of identifying the covering of all sides, or going in all directions, such as the “Four Winds” of Heaven, representing the Resurrection of the Saved from all directions of the earth. In Revelation 7:1 we see 4 Angels holding the Four winds of destruction back until the 144,000 are sealed with God’s Seal on their foreheads.

The 5th seal shows us “martyrs” that appear under the altar. These are very different to the martyrs that appear later in the 6th seal. I believe that the 5th seal martyrs are the Old Testament martyrs that are now asking, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” If the Tribulation had already commenced, surely they would not ask this question. Of the second group of martyrs, it is stated: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation….”

In other words, they are still future. If the Tribulation had already started, scripture should read – These are the ones that came out – and not “who come out.”

There are several other factors that add weight to a 3-year gap theory, especially the revelation of the sixth seal ‘cosmic events’ and the 144,000 that I will not cover here, but you can see them on my YouTube teaching on the “Rapture of the church” – part 6.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Opi5LPLJcfs&t=1s

You will also find on YouTube the full series on “The Rapture of the church” which consists of an introductory study plus a 6-part teaching.

Some Thoughts on Matthew 24

By Daymond Duck

 

I know many people will disagree with me, but here is what I believe.

As Jesus and His disciples were leaving the Temple, His disciples pointed out the buildings. Jesus said, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

They went out to the mount of Olives and asked three questions (Matt:24:1-3):

  1. “When shall these things be?”
  2. “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”
  3. “And of the end of the world (or age)?”

Question #1: When shall these things be?

Keep in mind that Jesus is talking to Jews and there was no church at that time.

Jesus mentioned false Christs and wars and rumors of wars and He added, “but the end is not yet.” He mentioned famines, pestilences and earthquakes and He added, “All these are the beginning of sorrows (birth pains)” (Matt. 24:4-8).

All of these things are plural meaning there will be many false Christs and many wars before the end. There will be many famines, many pestilences and many earthquakes before the Second Coming and the end of the age. These things are just the beginning of the birth pains.

For whatever it is worth, Dr. J. Vernon McGee taught that the first eight verses of Matthew 24 are about the Church Age (Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Volume IV, Matthew-Romans, pg. 126). The Church Age must run its course before the end of the age.

Question #2: What shall be the sign of thy coming?

Jesus’ Second Coming is at the end of the Tribulation period. The Church is not on earth. The Church comes out of heaven with Him (Rev. 19:1-16). So, starting at Matt. 24:9 Jesus is talking about those on earth (Israel and others) during the Tribulation period and the Church will no longer be on earth.

Jesus said they (Israel and others) will face persecution, martyrdom, betrayal, false prophets, deceit, iniquity (lawlessness or corrupt government) and cold hearts. He added, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:9-13). All Israel will be saved at the end of the Tribulation period (Zech. 12:10-14; 14:1-11).

He said the gospel will go all over the world “and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). The preaching of the 144,000 Jewish servants of God, the Two Witnesses and an angel will fulfill this during the Tribulation period (Rev. 7; 11 and 14:6).

He said the abomination of desolation will stand in the holy place (Matt. 24:15). This will happen at the Temple in Israel at the middle of the Tribulation period (Dan. 9:27).

He said, “Then, let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matt. 24:17). Judaea is the West Bank in Israel. This is another event that will happen in Israel at the middle of the Tribulation period (Rev. 12:13-14)

He told those who flee to not try to take anything with them and to pray that they don’t have to flee on the sabbath day (Matt. 24:17-20). Why? Because Israel will be back under the Law, offering animal sacrifices, etc., and they will be limited to how much they can carry and how far they can walk on the sabbath.

He said, “then shall be great tribulation.” That is the last half of the Tribulation period, Satan will be on earth and he will hate and kill Jews (Rev. 12:15-17).

Jesus mentions the “elect” three times (Matt. 24:22, 24, 31). There is no doubt that the word “elect” refers to the Church in many verses of Scripture. But here Jesus is talking to Jews about Jews under the Law during the Tribulation period after the Rapture of the Church. Understand that the word “elect” can also refer to Israel. God called Israel the “elect” (Isa. 45:4; 65:9, 22).

God doesn’t change. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). He has not forsaken Israel (Rom. 11:25-26; Heb. 13:8). He also called both Old Testament and New Testament Jews “saints” (Psa. 79:1-2; Matt. 27:52; Rev. 17:6). The words “elect” and “saints” can refer to Israel or the Church. In Matt. 24, Jesus keeps talking about Israel, but He never mentions or uses the word “Church.”

He said His coming will be like lightning coming out of the east (Matt. 24:27). He was still talking about His coming at the end of the Tribulation period.

He said, “Whersoever the carcase is there will the eagles be gathered” (Matt. 24:28). This is a Jewish proverb about Palestinian eagles (vultures) gathering for a feast at the battle of Armageddon in Israel when Jesus comes back at the end of the Tribulation period (Rev. 19:17-18).

He talked about cataclysmic events that will happen immediately after the tribulation of those days (Matt. 24:29-31). The sun will dim, the moon won’t shine, stars will fall, the universe will shake and people will see Jesus coming in the clouds.

He talked about the fig tree and that is Israel (Matt. 24:32-34; Hos.9:10; Jer. 24:1-10).

He talked about the generation that sees all these things and all of it happening in one generation (Matt. 24:33-34). The Church won’t be on earth to see the Antichrist defile the Temple, but Israel will (II Thess. 2:1-12).

Question #3: What shall be the sign of the end of the world (or age)?

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). He added, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).

No one knows the day or the hour of the Rapture or the Second Coming (Matt. 24:42), but in Matt. 24:36, Jesus was saying no one knows the day or the hour that heaven and earth (the world) will pass away.

To bring this to a close, this writer believes most of Matt. 24 is about Israel and the Tribulation period not the Rapture, or the Church or the Church Age. Jesus answered the three questions that He was asked including the one about the end of the world (or age).

Rapture Theory and Myths

By Thomas Ice

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t receive material opposing the pre-trib rapture which is filled with all kinds of error, both Scriptural and historical. For example, I ran across an article entitled “Origin of the Secret Rapture Theory.” The first sentence said, “It may surprise and even shock you that neither the word ‘rapture’ nor the teaching of a secret rapture is not mentioned in ANY Christian literature prior to 1830-including the Bible!” I am hardly surprised or shocked that anyone could pack so much error into a single sentence, but there we have for all to see. This month I want to deal with some of the popular myths about the pre-trib rapture teaching that Dr. LaHaye and I very much believe is taught in the New Testament Scriptures.

The Term “Rapture”

First of all, the word “rapture” is found in the Bible, if you have the Latin Vulgate produced by Jerome in the early 400s. The Vulgate was the main Bible of the medieval Western Church until the Reformation. It continues to this day as the primary Latin translation of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, as we shall see later, it was Protestants who introduced the word “rapture” into the English language from the Latin raeptius. It was Jerome’s Vulgate that translated the original Greek verb harpazô used by Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which is usually translated into English with the phrase “caught up.” The leading Greek Lexicon says that harpazô means “snatch, seize, i.e., take suddenly and vehemently.” This is the same meaning of the Latin word rapio “to seize, snatch, tear away.” It should not be surprising to anyone, that an English word was developed from the Latin which we use today known as “rapture.”

In Europe, during the Middle Ages and Reformation periods, the theologians were from various countries and therefore spoke different native tongues. However, the single language of the church, both Catholic and Protestant was Latin. In fact, many of the first books written and published in the American Colonies during the seventeenth century were in Latin. For example, Cotton Mather’s famous history of the American Colonies during the seventeenth century was written in Latin and called Magnalia Christi Americana, or The Great Works of Christ in America. Because it was done in Latin it could be read throughout Europe by the educated class. Thus, it should not be surprising to anyone that many new words came into the English language from a Latin source, especially in the realm of theology. Rapture is just such a word.

While it is technically true that the word rapture does not appear in the English Bible, it does, nevertheless, appear in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. Certainly the notion of a rapture appears many times in the Bible. Translators of the Bible into English could have been justified had they translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 with the English word “rapture.” They also could have translated it by the word snatch. We could just as easily call the rapture “the great snatch.”

I have in my personal library at least 50 commentaries on 1 Thessalonians. Virtually all of them use the word “rapture” to describe the event in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. They do not appear interested in using it in a derogatory way nor do any of them go on an excursus about how this word does not appear in English translations. Most of these commentators do not hold to a pre-trib rapture view. They merely use the word because they know that it is one of the many Latin words that have made it into the English theological vernacular. Sorry that some have not yet heard.

The rapture does occur in the Bible, especially if you read the Latin Vulgate. However, there is no doubt that the Greek word harpazô in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, usually translated into English “caught up,” conveys the rapture concept.

“Rapture” Usage

Our anti-rapture diatribe noted earlier said, “the word ‘rapture’ nor the teaching of a secret rapture is not mentioned in ANY Christian literature prior to 1830.” Oh really! It is not hard to find out when English words were first introduced into the language. One needs only to check The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and it will cite examples of the history of the usage of the word. The oldest word in the “rapture” family is “rapt.” OED cites examples of rapt occurring in 1400 in English literature. The earliest instances of “rapture” in secular English literature are cited as 1605, 1607, and 1608. OED provides seven nuances of the word Rapture. The fourth entry is the biblical one defined as “The act of conveying a person from one place to another esp. to heaven; the fact of being so conveyed.” Two examples of this use are cited from the seventeenth century. The first by a writer named Ward in 1647 and the other by J. Edwards (not the American Jonathan) in 1693. It does not take long to realize that these examples are well before 1830.

Joseph Mede (1586-1638), considered in his day, a brilliant English exegete wrote a commentary on Revelation in 1627 called Clavis Apocalyptica (Key of the Revelation). In it he said, “Therefore, it is not needful that the Resurrection of those which slept in Christ, and the Rapture of those which shall be left alive together with them in the air . . .” While Mede was a premillennialist, he did not hold to a pre-trib rapture. Nor did the commentator and theologian John Gill (1697-1771) who wrote around 1745 the following in his commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “. . . and to which rapture will contribute, the agility which the bodies both of the raised and changed saints will have: and this rapture of the living saints will be together with them; . . .”

To admit that the word rapture was used in the English language at least a couple of hundred years before J. N. Darby came along does not in the least mean that one believes in pretribulationism. The Greek word harpazô is used fourteen times in the New Testament. In addition to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, it is used at least three more times of one being raptured to heaven (2 Cor. 12:2, 4; Rev. 12:5). So there is no need to get upset over the use of the Latin based, English word “rapture.” It is a biblical word.

The “Secret” Rapture Myth

Included in the above tirade is an equation of the so-called “secret” rapture with pretribulationism. Sorry, but this is another mistake, another myth. In all my reading of pretribulationism and discussion with pretribulationists, I have never, that I can recall, heard a pre-trib rapturist use the nomenclature of “secret” rapture to describe our view. I have only heard the phrase “secret” rapture as a pejorative term used exclusively by anti-pretribulationists. Why? Apparently they enjoy fighting with a straw man.

Anti-pretribulationist, Ken Gentry declares, “On the very surface it is remarkable that one of the noisiest verses in Scripture is said to picture the secret rapture.” The truth of the matter is that Gentry wrongly assumes that pretribulationists characterize their view of the rapture as “secret.” We do not! However, there are anti-pre-trib rapture advocates, like Dave MacPherson who have taught this myth. As a result, unwitting critics like Gentry have absorbed this myth into their rhetoric without doing their homework.

Very likely it was Dave MacPherson who has spread this myth that equates pretribulationism with a secret rapture. “In 1880 William Reid, in his book on Brethrenism,” declares MacPherson, “stated that ‘Edward Irving contributed the notion of . . . the secret rapture of the saints.’” MacPherson later concludes, “The pretrib rapture eventually became known as the ‘secret rapture.’ This label was based on the presupposition that only certain persons would have privileged visibility or knowledge during the occurrence of this catching up.” MacPherson does not actually reference anyone who believes in a pre-trib rapture when he makes these statements. It is through slight of hand that he slips such an assumption into his plot of fictional myths about the origins of pretribulationism.

In fact, Brethren researcher R. A. Huebner refutes MacPherson’s misinformation about the pre-trib rapture and its supposed association with a secret rapture teaching. Huebner notes that supposed relation of pretribulationism and a secret rapture are built upon the following false historical assumptions: First, the “erroneous notions are the result of the myth that the Irvingites held a pretribulation rapture and also results from trying to link J. N. D. with this falsified Irvingism.” Second, when speaking of events transpiring in the 1830s, Huebner says, “the Secret Rapture as used at that point in time did not refer to the pretribulation rapture.” Third, “it seems that up to this point in time [the 1830s, T. D. I.], ‘Secret Rapture’ referred to a rapture at the appearing [the second coming, T. D. I.].” Fourth, “I am not aware if JND ever thought that the rapture would be ‘secret.’”

It was the Irvingites, and not the Brethren, who believed in the secret rapture. Since the secret rapture and pretribulationism are not the same, this is where much of the confusion resides. The Irvingite view of the secret rapture was a belief that a few enlightened ones would be taken right before the second coming at the end of the tribulation. This is what Irvingite, Margaret Macdonald’s revelation is about. It is impossible to find a pre-trib rapture of any kind in her vision.

Conclusion

I am sure that this call to anti-pre-trib rapture advocates will not result in much of a reduction of their zealous proclamation of mythological falsehoods about our blessed hope. It seems that too many are blinded by their zeal to oppose the biblical teachings of the any-moment hope of the rapture for them to take time to get their information straight. No wonder Columba Graham Flegg, in his scholarly work on the Irvingites spoke specifically of Dave MacPherson’s work as “less scholarly.” Flegg said, the “conclusions reached in this work and the rationale behind them are hardly convincing.” Now why is an expert on the Irvingites not impressed with MacPherson’s work? Because Flegg has a thorough knowledge about the times in which MacPherson writes and realizes that he is spinning out myths. Maranatha!

http://www.pre-trib.org

End times hitting stage in debate over Christian beliefs

apocalypse

Abortion, a highly publicized debate topic recently, affects hundreds of thousands. America’s Middle East policy, another debate topic, affects millions. Those strange questions about one candidate’s comment about another candidate’s appearance affect almost no one, but still get attention.

But a debate shaping up for Friday night about the end times will affect, in one way or another, well, everyone.

That’s when Thomas Ice of the Pre-Trib Research Center will be debating Alan Kurschner of Eschatos Ministries on the question of whether the Christian church will face the Antichrist.

The event will be at The Hope Center in Plano, Texas, at 7 p.m.

For the Christian church, the topic long as been subject to debate, and recently, there appears to have been a surge in those who believe the end times’ Antichrist will rise to power while the Christian church still remains.

Traditionally, many American Christians have believed in what is called the “Pre-Tribulation,” which holds faithful Christians will be raptured before the Great Tribulation, thus avoiding the Antichrist and the most severe persecutions of the period. Proponents of this view include Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye. This school of thought also received a great deal of exposure in popular culture through the “Left Behind” books and films.

Ice will be defending this position as part of his role as the executive director of the Pre-Trib Research Center. The center’s purpose, in its own words, is to “research, teach and defend the pretribulational rapture and related Bible prophecy doctrines.”

However, biblical teacher Joel Richardson, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Islamic Antichrist” and the new book “When a Jew Rules the World,” argues a seminal shift is underway.

“Over the past 20 years, numerous thoughtful believers who formerly embraced the Pre-Tribulation Rapture have left that doctrine,” he said. “However, because the majority of the publishing houses and seminaries that place any emphasis on the Rapture hold to the ‘Pre-Trib’ position, it’s been very difficult for this growing number of believers to have any voice in the public forum.”

For that reason, Richardson believes the upcoming debate is very important.

“This will finally give many of those were on the fence the opportunity to weigh the Scriptural basis for these two opposing views,” he said.

Kurschner, the host of the weekly Bible Prophecy Program podcast and the author of “Antichrist: Before the Day of the Lord,” will be representing the “Pre-Wrath” position.

This school of thought holds Christians will experience the beginning of the Tribulation. While Christians will be raptured to escape God’s wrath during what some Christians call the Day of the Lord, this interpretation means even believing Christians will experience the reign of the Antichrist.

Kurschner describes himself as someone “dedicated to teaching biblical prophecy from a futurist, premillennial, Pre-Wrath perspective” and told WND the implications of his position are crucial for Christians because Jesus Himself considered them very important.

“In His teaching, He conveyed to the disciples that it is important they should know the events surrounding His return. He spends more time discussing the warnings of understanding and heeding the events surrounding His return than He does the actual events themselves,” he said.

Kurschner believes salvation may be at stake for many Christians because during the Tribulation, they will be tested by being asked to accept the Mark of the Beast. According to the Book of Revelation, those who accept the Mark “shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.”

According to Kurschner, the Pre-Trib position tells Christians they will be spared the Tribulation and persecution. And that, he warns, is nothing less than “dangerous.”

“My opponents will say all these warnings about not taking the mark are warnings to ‘Tribulation saints,’ those who become saved during the Tribulation period after the rapture,” Kurschner told WND. “And so they’ll say, for us today, these are not warnings. And my response is, when the Antichrist does arrive and you’ve been teaching Christians you’re supposed to be raptured out of here before he came, you’re setting yourselves up to be very vulnerable to the deception of the Antichrist. And their faith is going to be very vulnerable.”

Kurschner’s position encourages Christians to prepare for persecution and even martyrdom. The prospect of facing the Antichrist is ominous, and Kurschner describes the grim nature of his teaching as an obstacle to the Pre-Wrath position ever being completely accepted by most American Christians.

“I think for many American Christians, the idea that they will have to suffer, and perhaps even suffer martyrdom in their lifetime, is just so foreign to them,” commented Kurschner. “I don’t see it becoming the most popular view out there just because of that psyche. Of course, with God all things are possible. And when the Great Tribulation does come, no one is going to be on the fence in this issue.”

Still, though Kurschner concedes the Pre-Trib position is a “juggernaut,” he agrees with Joel Richardson and believes many more Christians are moving to the Pre-Wrath position.

“There’s a point where a school of thought really spikes, and it seems like it really spiked in the last year,” said Kurschner. “Even in the last six months, I’m constantly being sent sermons and emails of people who were Pre-Trib and are moving over to a different view. I think pastors are just recently getting alarmed at this.”

Kurschner believes many Pre-Trib pastors and thinkers simply “don’t want to hear anything else” and credits Ice with being an exception in his willingness to engage. One of the most important reasons why this reluctance exists, he believes, is because Kurschner’s warning of the church encountering the Tribulation robs people of what is commonly called the “Blessed Hope.”

Kurschner says that is not true.

“Our Blessed Hope is our new life with Jesus, not the Rapture itself,” Kurschner explains. “To those that say, ‘I’m looking for a Jesus Christ, not an Antichrist,’ the problem is it’s not either-or. Part of watching for Christ is watching for that generation in which the Antichrist will arise.”

For its part, the Pre-Trib Research Center argues its position leads to three positive implications in daily life.

“The first implication of pretribulationism is that it leads to godly living in an unholy age. Next, this New Testament teaching promotes a strong emphasis upon evangelism of the lost. Finally when believers come to understand this eternal perspective, it leads to a zeal for worldwide missions.”

But Kurschner says his own position has the effect of forcing Christians to be more dedicated in their faith.

“The fundamental mistake the opposition takes is they think the Great Tribulation and The Day of the Lord’s Wrath is the same thing. And that’s something I’m really going to be pushing at in the debate, along with other issues of course,” he said.

He continued, “That’s important because when you recognize there’s a biblical distinction between those two things, you’re going to understand the church is going to suffer persecution. And this is nothing new, the church has been suffering persecution for thousands of years. If you relegate these warnings to other people, because the church is going to be raptured out of here, then you are not setting up believers to be overcomers. And the book of Revelation is about overcoming.”

Indeed, Kurschner believes the debate ultimately centers on the larger question of “what does it really mean to be a Christian?”

“The world can do nothing to us,” he says. “But God may call us to experience the events of the Tribulation. He’s certainly going to call the Last Generation to experience these events so we might just get into the proper mindset now.”

Richardson also called for Christian unity, despite specific disagreements.

“We must remember of course that this is not an issue the Christians should divide over, rather we are all called to be Bereans and examine all things,” Richardson told WND.

………………………

One of the mistakes made by those who believe the Church will experience The Tribulation is their misunderstanding of what the Tribulation is.

It is the punishment of God on Israel for its apostasy. 

Leviticus says, if the people did not do what God required during the period of punishment he would multiply the punishment by seven times over.

Leviticus 26:14-35
But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: … “`If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. …”`If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve…”`If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over… “`If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. …Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

This prophecy clearly takes us right through the time span given in Daniel 9:24. Including the final seven years (The Tribulation). We see the initial 70 years of Babylonian captivity multiplied by 7, making the 490 prophesied by the angel.

Seventy weeks (of years = 490 years) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

They are all against Israel. And they are all God’s judgement/punishment.

Jesus Christ paid the price of sin for His church. There is no judgement due against us. Therefore the church will not be put through the Tribulation.