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Written by Victoria Radin   

Rapture or Not

By Victoria Radin

President Ronald Reagan once said, “If history teaches anything, it teaches that self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly.” In such a manner, many Christians would rather accept the historically recent teaching of Pre-tribulation Rapture (escape from the Tribulation) than to confront the reality of what the Scriptures actually say is ahead for the Church and the world during the period just before the L-rd’s return.

It has also been said that, [1]“Before G-d, we are all equally wise and equally foolish.” Keeping that in mind, I want to humbly present an opposing view that I pray will inspire many to search the Scriptures for themselves regarding this issue rather than believing, without question, the “accepted” teaching of many churches.

Until the nineteenth century, Christians agreed that a time of great trouble and persecution of G-d’s people, i.e. the Church, would precede the Second Coming of our L-rd and that the saints would be gathered (raptured) after this period known as the Tribulation. That teaching is called post-Tribulation and is based upon what Paul wrote to the Church at Thessalonica.

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our L-rd Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him (i.e. the rapture)…Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called G-d, or that is worshipped; so that he, as god, sitteth in the temple of G-d, showing himself that he is god” (2 Thessalonians 2:1)

In other words, before the saints are gathered unto the L-rd, the anti-Christ will sit in G-d’s Temple and declare himself to be G-d. That event is believed to be ‘the abomination that causes desolation in the Temple’ to which Jesus pointed in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15). Jesus said that the abomination is that to which the prophet Daniel referred (in Daniel 9:27; 11:32; 12:11).

John Nelson Darby, an early leader of a Fundamentalist movement that became known as Dispensationalism, embraced a new theory––that of a pre-Tribulation rapture. His new doctrine taught that the Church would not face the prophesied Tribulation. This self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is pleasing to man’s flesh but opposed to the clear teaching of Scripture.

Darby’s pre-Tribulation view was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught Darby’s view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Christians who read the Scofield Reference Bible uncritically, accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the pre-Tribulation view, even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history.

Darby’s view splits the Second Coming of our L-rd into two different events: Christ’s return for the Rapture at the Tribulation’s beginning, and His return again at the Tribulation’s end when He establishes the millennium. This view is not borne out by Scripture, especially Jesus’ own teaching on His Second Coming as recorded in Mark 13:4–27 and Matthew 24:3–31. His teachings were to the believers, i.e. the Church.

“And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:21-22) (The elect, the chosen, will be here on earth.)

Jesus’ answer began with this warning: “See that no one misleads you.” He described terrible wars and frightful happenings that would precede His coming and then described His return, “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…” making it apparent that His Second Coming will be a spectacular, very visual event that all inhabitants of the earth will witness. Jesus continued, teaching WHEN His return would occur, “…immediately after the tribulation of those days…the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky…and He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect…”

In light of Jesus’ own teaching, when Paul speaks to the Thessalonians about the L-rd’s coming in the clouds, it is the same event described in Jesus’ teaching above noted.

“For the L-rd Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of G-d; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the L-rd in the air…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)

Those who hold to the pre-Tribulation rapture view teach that the rapture will be a secret event and that no one will be aware of it until they discover millions of Christians missing from the earth, which is quite unlike Jesus’ description of His return being like ‘lightning flashing from east to west’. The Apostle John says this.

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him…”      (Revelation 1:7)

Jesus taught that He was not returning until the nation of Israel acknowledged Him as their Messiah, “…for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the L-rd’” (Matthew 23:39).

Considering the counsel of these two Scriptures, the Jews will not see Jesus until they acknowledge Him as Messiah and when He comes, every eye will see Him. Therefore, no one will see Him until the Jewish people accept Him as Messiah. (See also Zechariah 12:10 and Hosea 5:15, Acts 3:20, 21.)

In addition, contrary to sound biblical teaching, the pre-Tribulation rapture view calls for three resurrections of the dead–– the first, at the L-rd’s appearing when He supposedly raptures the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17), the second just before the millennium, and the third, just before the White Throne Judgment.

Quite the opposite, Revelation 20:4-5 states that the resurrection of the martyrs (after the Tribulation) is the FIRST resurrection. These martyred saints that are described had obviously been through the Tribulation because it says they did not worship the beast or his image and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. These are the ONLY believers that are resurrected according to this Scripture, because it says the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed when the second and FINAL resurrection of the dead takes place.

Another popular pre-Tribulation rapture belief is that the Church is not mentioned after chapter 4 of the Book of Revelation, believing that this marks the time of the rapture. However, Revelation 1:20 states that the lampstands mentioned in the Book of Revelation are the churches. After the Seal judgments and the Trumpet judgments, Revelation 11:3-4, discusses the two lampstands, i.e. churches, that stand before G-d, indicating that the Church is still on earth.

The pre-Tribulation rapturists point to another Scripture from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians which indicates that G-d will spare His Church from His wrath, which they interpret as the Tribulation period: “For G-d did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our L-rd Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). This point would be well taken except that the Bible specifically allocates ONLY the Bowl Judgments as being G-d’s wrath. The Seals and the Trumpet Judgments are ‘merely’ man’s inhumanity to man being unleashed in the earth.

To say that Christians will not suffer tribulation is to mock the 7 million Christians who were martyred in the first three centuries of the Church. It also scoffs at the many millions who are being martyred throughout the world today for their faith in Jesus. G-d’s wrath and man’s inhumanity to their fellow man cannot be equated.

Remember, G-d is always good to His own. He has given us several examples of how He has protected His people in the midst of tribulation. Noah and his family were kept safely in the ark while the earth was being destroyed; Lot was removed from the place of destruction; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived in a burning furnace; Daniel was never touched by the hungry lions; David escaped all of Saul’s schemes to kill him; Elijah was often translated away from Ahab’s murderous hand; and Jesus walked away, right in the midst of those preparing to throw Him off a cliff.

When mankind enters into the Tribulation as described by Jesus in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, if you find yourself in the midst of it, will ‘self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts’ lead you to be among those who ‘fall away’ because your faith is weak, or will you be prepared for either circumstance, rapture or not?

Barukh HaShem (Blessed is the Name of the L-rd)

[1] Albert Einstein

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