The Rapture

WHEN WILL THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH OCCUR?

Dean Flanders says Pre-Trib.
Ron Wallace say Pre-Wrath.

As published in The Midnight Herald herald@awake-ministries.org

Ron Wallace says that these six scriptures indicate that the Rapture of the Church will occur in a Pre-wrath setting. (Comments against this view supplied by Dean Flanders)

1.

Mat. 24:29-31
But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,

30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

31 And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. 

COMMENTARY BY DEAN:
There are no resurrections mentioned in these verses. In the Rapture, we are responding to the voice of Christ (John 5:25-29), not being “gathered” by angels. And then, if the sun is darkened, and the moon looks like blood, the world would be in a panic, not doing “business as usual” (Luke 17:26-30). In order for the Lord to come as a “thief” (by surprise), things would have to be fairly normal on the earth. The warnings Jesus made to Christians about watching and being sober would be unnecessary for a world already under the antichrist and gone mad with fear; and no one could be so busy “eating and drinking, buying, planting and building” that they didn’t notice a black sun and a red moon. It doesn’t say, “We will see…,” but “THEY will see…” The “they” and the “we” are always distinguished in prophecy. This “gathering” happens at the end of the tribulation, and describes events leading up to Mat. 25:31-46.

2. 2 Thess. 1:6-10

For after all it is {only} just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,

7 and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,

8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed. 

COMMENTARY BY DEAN:
Affliction to them, and “rest” for us when Christ is “revealed;” but destruction for them on the day He “comes” to be glorified in His saints. These are different events, as will be seen below. This does nothing for a pre-wrath view, but is more useful to the post-trib view, because the “revealing” and the “coming” are here being presumed to be the same event by my opponent. The word translated to “affliction” twice above is also translated to TRIBULATION in several places. Paul addresses a present audience, telling them that they are suffering “tribulations;” but certainly, this was not The Day of The Lord. Tribulation, generally speaking, is the common lot of all Christians. “In the world you shall have tribulation.” The attempt to make every reference to Christians suffering any tribulation into a proof that we MUST also enter The Great Tribulation is not honest, and lacks academic sobriety.

3. 2 Thess. 2:1-4

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him,

2 that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

COMMENTARY BY DEAN:
This has the apostasy and the antichrist both being present BEFORE (not just during) The Day of the Lord. The antichrist, like Christ, has two “comings” – the first, in which he is “revealed,” or noticed (probably at first, mostly to his inner circle); and the second, when he is “revealed in his time.” The word “time” means “season of opportunity.” He is withheld from coming into “his time (Gr.-Kairos),” or season of power, by the restraining “he”. This “he” will be “taken” (snatched, removed suddenly and violently) out of the way. This removing of the restraint (I presume to) include the Rapture, for we are “the salt of the earth” and, “the light of the world”. The devil has always been brimming with malice and murder toward the children of God, and God restrains him from having his way unrestricted in the world, until now. For God to simply “loose the leash” of this ravening wolf without removing us first, would be the same thing as loosing the wolf to attack the defenseless baby, with the foreknowledge that the wolf will do it. Day of The Lord or not, we are still commanded to “resist not evil,” “turn the other cheek,” and “take no thought for the morrow.” The fact that we see both the apostasy and the antichrist before The Day of The Lord does not suggest that we must go through any of the Tribulation Period. Jesus said, “When ye see these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). Such a statement would be misleading if we had to flee to the hills first, and choose to either starve or take the mark.

4. 2 Peter 1:15-19

And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased.”

18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

19 And {so} we have the prophetic word {made} more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

COMMENTARY BY DEAN:
I cannot see what the above has to do with any Rapture or Tribulation. The coming in view here is the first advent, in which Christ was revealed in honor and glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. And “we” are only told to look for the “dawning” not the “waning” of “the day.” The “day star aris[ing] in [y]our hearts is a symbol of HOPE, and one can hardly “hope” for entering and surviving any of The Tribulation. If we must enter and pass through some of the tribulation period, with all its persecutions and horrors, before we see Jesus: then passing through and surviving these horrors becomes the price of seeing Jesus before we die. One must therefore be wishing for the Tribulation to begin so that they can see Jesus. Jesus DIDN’T say, “When these things begin to come to pass, LOOK OUT, for worse trouble is coming” (Luke 21:28).

5. 2 Peter 3:10-14

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!

13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless . . .

COMMENTARY BY DEAN:
These verses say nothing about the timing of the Rapture; but are the chief reference for post-tribulational Amillennialism. The Day of The Lord and The Day of God are not one and the same event. The Day of The Lord includes the Tri-bulation, lasts 1000 years, and ends at The Day of God (1 Cor.15:24, Rev. 20:7-21:1). My opponent, who by now has run out of material to substantiate his pre-wrath view, is resorting to challenging pre-millennialism altogether, in order to confuse the issues. This debate presumes a pre-millennial return of Christ. The attempt to call premillennialism altogether into question adds no credibility to his pre-wrath view.

6. Rev. 1:3-7

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven spirits who are before His throne;

5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood,

6 and He has made us {to be} a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him {be} the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.

COMMENTARY BY DEAN:
Once again, this has nothing to do with the timing of the Rapture, but only makes a general assertion about the coming of Christ. Not only that, but the reference to “those who pierced Him” includes those who actually crucified Him, and they are not resurrected for the Rapture of the Saints. That we Christians shall suffer “some tribulations” in this life is sure, and many have already and some yet will die the martyr’s death; but there is no scripture which says that faithful Christians at the end of this age MUST enter and endure any of the frightful events described after chapter 3 of The Revelation. The saints which are persecuted and martyred during the Tribulation are “left behinds” or after-Rapture converts.

 

Dean Flanders says these six Scripture passages prove a pre-trib Rapture. (comments supplied by Ron Wallace)

1. Amos 5:18-20

Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.

19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.

20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?

COMMENTARY BY RON:
Does anyone see the word “tribulation” in this passage? Is there anything at all in this passage that would make anyone think that the tribulation is in view? DAY OF THE LORD? This cannot refer to the tribulation, because Joel and Jesus join forces to teach us that the Day of the LORD comes AFTER the tribulation. “And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, BEFORE the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (Joel 2:30-31). These are the very same COSMIC SIGNS that Jesus talked about: “But in those days, AFTER that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven” (Mark 13:24-27). HOW ABOUT DARKNESS? But this darkness is something that comes when the Day of the LORD arrives, not BEFORE. And we have already seen by simple comparison of Scripture with Scripture, that that DAY is an event that FOLLOWS THE TRIBULATION. There is nothing in the entire book that indicates this “darkness” to be the tribulation, or places the tribulation after the rapture. It is simply an assumption, which clearly contradicts what Jesus Himself said.

2. 1 Thess. 5:2-6

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

COMMENTARY BY RON:
THE DAY OF THE LORD: This is the very same Day of the LORD that we just looked at in Amos and Joel. It is the same “Day” that is preceded by the cosmic signs in the sun, moon and stars that Jesus said will occur “AFTER that tribulation.” From Joel, to Jesus, to Paul — it is the SAME event. THIEF IN THE NIGHT: Jesus is the first one to have used this image for His second coming (Mat. 24:43), the very same second coming which is “AFTER that tribulation” (Mark 13:24) and is described as lightning that “comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the SON OF MAN be” (Mat. 24:27). Both Jesus and Paul are talking about the SAME coming of the SON OF MAN. To find a pretrib rapture here, one must “read into it” his own terminology instead of letting the terminology that Jesus established determine what Paul is talking about.

3. Luke 21:36

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

COMMENTARY BY RON:
One CANNOT use this verse for a pretrib rapture! THE SON OF MAN: What is the significance of standing before THE SON OF MAN? Is it because THE SON OF MAN is coming? Verse 25, we once again see the cosmic signs. Verse 27, the SON OF MAN comes “in a cloud with power and great glory.” Verse 28, At this time WE (the church on the earth) are to LOOK UP (for our Lord), because OUR REDEMPTION is near. This is the very same COMING of THE SON OF MAN mentioned at: Mat. 10:23, “you shall not finish with the cities of Israel until the SON OF MAN comes.” Mat.16:27, “For the SON OF MAN is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.” Luke 12:40, “You too be ready, for the SON OF MAN is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” Mark 13:24-26, “But in those days AFTER that TRIBULATION . . .And then they will see THE SON OF MAN coming in clouds with power and great glory.” If one chooses to make THIS context refer to the rapture, then verse 28 and Mark 13:27 MUST ALSO refer to the rapture. “And then He will send forth His angels, and gather together His elect . . .” It should be perfectly clear that there is no pretrib rapture in the teachings of Jesus.

4. Rev. 16:15

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

COMMENTARY BY RON:
I cannot be convinced of a pretrib rapture from this verse. Can you? Yes, He is coming like a thief! When? According to 1 Thessalonians 5:2, He is coming at the “day of the Lord.” According to Joel 2:30-31, that “day of the LORD” is preceded by signs in the sun, moon and stars. According to Mark 13:24, those signs occur AFTER the “tribulation.” According to Rev. 6:12-17, those signs occur AT the SIXTH SEAL. Don’t you think God meant for us to put two and two together like this; to compare Scripture with Scripture and be consistent in our understanding of terms used?

5. Matt. 24:37-42

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

COMMENTARY BY RON:
The pre-trib camp is going to have to find a better passage than Mat. 24 to support their position. The biggest problem one has in using this passage to support a pre-trib rapture is the CONTEXT. Read it yourself. Which SECOND COMING is Jesus talking about, beginning clear back at verse 3 when the disciples ask Him, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” Verse 27, “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so shall the COMING of the Son of Man be.” Verses 29-30, “After the tribulation of those days . . . they will see the Son of Man COMING on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” Verses 32-33, “When you see all these things, know that He is near.” Verse 37, “For the COMING of the Son of Man will be just like in the days of Noah.” Verse 39, “So shall the COMING of the Son of Man be.” Verse 42, “Therefore be on the alert, for YOU do not know which day your Lord is COMING.” Verse 44, “For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is COMING at an hour when you do not think.” If verses 37-39 speak about a rapture, a removal of believers out from the earth, THEN it is a rapture that very clearly explains verse 31. “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” It is a rapture that very clearly occurs “AFTER the tribulation of those days.” Let us all be faithful to the context, my friends! Where in this chapter is the great tribulation? Before or after the gathering of the elect from the earth? Before or after the coming of the SON OF MAN? Does the gathering of people described here occur in association with the coming of the Son of Man mentioned in verse 30? Or is there some other second coming that Jesus is referring to when He gets to verses 37-39? One cannot use these verses in support of a pretrib rapture without destroying the context in which Jesus Himself placed them! A side note concerning my discussion of this passage (Mat. 24:37-42). The rules stated that I could not appeal to any of “my own” references in discussing Dean’s. However, since Dean used this Matthew 24 passage, it is necessary to appeal to the CONTEXT and in so doing make reference to earlier verses, which happen to be ones that I used for one of my six.

6. Malachi 3:16-4:1

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

COMMENTARY BY RON:
There is no tribulation mentioned in this passage. Each event looks to a time AFTER that tribulation has come and gone. It refers to what will happen DURING the Day of the LORD time period. The people OF ISRAEL in verse 16, who fear the LORD, are believers in Him through the Messianic promise. In verse 17, they are promised everlasting life. It is described as being spared in the day when God makes up His TREASURE (Hebrew). That is, instead of everlasting judgment in the lake of fire, these will be raised up to live with the Messiah in “everlasting life.” It is the same promise given by Jesus at John 5:24-29. The time of this event is indicated in the context as being the Day of the LORD — the very same Day of the LORD that we have previously seen as being preceded by “signs in the sun, moon and stars.” It is also preceded by the revealing of the man of lawlessness. And EVEN HERE (verse 4:5), the DAY IS PRECEDED by the second ministry of Elijah the prophet. Verse 18 then tells us that the nation of Israel as a whole, at some future time, will return (to their land). This would be AFTER the arrival of that Day of the LORD. After Jesus’ victory at Armageddon, He will finish gathering Israel into their land and separate the righteous from the wicked by removing the wicked from the earth and ushering the righteous into His kingdom. This is described at Ezekiel 34:17-24. The judgment on the wicked is described in Malachi 4:1 and begins when the Day of the LORD arrives. This is the same thing taught by both John the baptizer and Jesus (Mat. 3:12; 13:41-42). There is no mention of a tribulation in this context, and certainly no pretrib rapture. For that matter, there is not even a mention of the Church. This is talking about ISRAEL and what happens to them AFTER the Day of the LORD arrives.

END OF DEBATE

Notice the use of the word “they” in all the passages Ron quotes above. As I mentioned in my commentary above, the “they” refers to unrighteous men in prophecy. The Saints are never called “they”. Furthermore, the distinction Ron attempts to make between being tortured by the Antichrist and being pounded by the hundred pound hail is a recent notion and completely arbitrary. The Bible makes no such distinction. The term “Pre-Wrath” was invented barely 20 years ago as a replacement for what used to be called “Mid-Trib”, and only in order to create this false distinction between “The Great Tribulation” and “The Wrath”.

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