The rapture: Part 2
The rapture and the wrath of God
It will be a horrible time for the unsaved. There will be plagues. Men will be afflicted with horrible sores. The waters will turn to blood and there will be death and great suffering. Yet will men blaspheme the name of God.
Christians who hope in being raptured before the onset of the great tribulation, presently find solace in their belief that they will not have to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ. Being convinced by their pastors, Bible teachers and popular Christian books and movies, they take comfort in verses which indicate that they are not “appointed to wrath.”
There are a number of such references in the Bible. It is unfortunate that they must be taken out of context to provide the comfort which believers seem to find in them.
We will examine just a few of the most popular scriptural references commonly used to justify this extremely unbiblical doctrine and view them in their proper context.
1st Thessalonians 5:9
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
1st Thessalonians 1:10
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Unfortunately for these 'rapture ready' believers, they have confused God’s wrath with the great tribulation. The Bible has many verses which contradict their belief.
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
None of the rapture oriented believers dispute that the two preceding verses speak of the great tribulation. If this is indeed so, to whom does Christ refer in the following verses?
Luke 21: 27-28
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
If the believers have been raptured before the events described in verses 25-26, does Jesus speak to those unsaved who have been left behind in verses 27 and 28? Is it their redemption which 'draweth nigh?' If he is speaking to the already raptured Christians, are they not by that time redeemed or are they in some sort of purgatorial position, between Christ and Earth?
Many Bible expositors have in the tradition of men, taught that the tribulation begins at the breaking of the first of seven seals. These seals are described in Revelation chapter 6, verses 2- 8. The breaking of the first four seals are concurrent with four riders, often referred to as the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
At the breaking of the first seal, we see a rider on a white horse. Many such teachers tie this event to Christ’s return on a white horse in Revelation chapter 19. Thus they maintain that the rider in Revalation chapter 6 is Christ himself and further reason that their rapture will occur at or before this time. If that is indeed the case, we are left with another prophetic loose end in verses 9-11.
Revelation 6:9 – 11
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Now we must ask ourselves, if the believers have indeed been raptured prior to the breaking of this fifth seal, about whom is Christ speaking in verse 11? Who could these “fellowservants” and “brethren” be, if not Christians themselves? Were they appointed to wrath and if so, does this not negate the scriptures which says the saved will not be so appointed?
The book of Revelation also describes what are known as “trumpet judgments.” These trumpet judgments fall squarely in the middle of these tribulational events. Revelation chapter 9 describes what happens at the blowing of the fifth trumpet.
Revelation 9 2-3
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Given the forgoing, we must ask ourselves an obvious question. If the believers have been raptured before the tribulation, why were these scorpions commanded not to attack the believers? If they have been raptured prior to the event, why would such a command be issued? The fact is that God can indeed send his wrath upon an unrepentant world while protecting his own from it. That the modern “church” cannot accept this, attests to the poor quality of their faith in him.
The true believers in Christ will be martyred during the great tribulation for the sake of their testimony. It is by this means that the one we call the Antichrist will be conquered.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Although millions of Christians sing, dance and celebrate their belief that they will not have to suffer for the sake of their testimony of Christ, Revelation chapter 14 talks of a time when some will “die in the Lord.”
Revelation 14: 12 – 13
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Revelation 16:5 –6
And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
The foregoing verses describing the martyrdom of tribulation believers should be enough to dissuade present day Christians from putting their hope in a pre-tribulation rapture. Sadly, it is this authors experience that they will refuse to embrace the unpleasant truth. All too often, they will argue that God wouldn’t drag his bride through the mud. None consider the possibility that far from being dragged through the mud, God must drag them out of it.
So how does this “cult of the rapture” reconcile their steadfast belief of a pre-tribulation escape in the face such an overwhelming body of scripture to the contrary? To accomplish this exegetical sleight of hand, they have devised a crafty solution which pins the persecutorial tail on another donkey. It is this bit of perfidious prestidigitation which will be the focus of our next segment of this study.