(Warning.This is “wonkish”. That means this post isn’t written for those who are new to the subject of Bible prophecy and the endtime.)
When I wrote the post I called “Introducing ‘Pre’ and ‘Post’ ”, I was aimed at those who are new to the whole subject. In that post I was explaining some of the basic concepts and terms in the study of the times leading up to the second coming of Jesus. And I explained how the Scriptures point to this time to be, in the words that Jesus used, a time of “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21).
But there are many people, especially here in the States, who are more familiar with this subject and already have a pretty good idea of what some say is going to be the scenario leading up to the Lord’s return. On the other hand, my contact with friends recently at church has led me to feel that there’s still quite a lot that is not clear for many people.
Last Sunday I shared a class in adult Sunday school on Daniel chapter 7. Afterwards a friend came up to me and said, “I’m a pre-Triber”. I knew what he meant. But I wondered how many of the folks who read these posts know what that means.
Some of you know the phrases “pre-tribulation rapture” and “post tribulation rapture”. In modern times, the vast majority of the evangelical believers are strong believers in pre-tribulation rapture. This is the doctrine that Christ will have a “rapture” before “the Great Tribulation” for one set of believers, generally considered to be the Gentile church. And then, at the end of the Tribulation, He will return and gather together the Jewish Christians that have had to go through the Great Tribulation.
I’m sure alarm bells will go off with some of you in my generalization there. But, broadly speaking, that’s the idea. The most famous, far reaching publication that postulates this position is “The Left Behind series”. These are a series of fictitious books, written by Tim LeHaye, about the endtime and are based on the preTribulation rapture view of Jesus’ second coming. Over 70 million copies of the books have been sold. Generally, if you’re in an evangelical or charismatic church, chances are you’ve never heard anything other than this “pre-Tribulation” teaching on the return of Jesus and the Rapture of believers.
But there’s a lot more to it than that. I could start by telling you that for 1800 years the view of Christian teachers almost universally was not the “pre-Trib” view but the “post-Trib” view. That is, there were not going to be two gatherings of the people of God, but one. And that the believers of the endtime would go through the Great Tribulation.
Around 11 years ago here in Austin one of the leading pastors in the city talked with me about this and recommended a book for me to read, which I did. (By the way, I’ve written more about this conversation and experience in a blog post called “Sound Doctrine?” or Speculation.)
The book that my pastor recommended is called “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church”, written by Marvin Rosenthal. Basically Mr. Rosenthal came to believe, from reading God’s Word, that the believers of the endtime would be raptured or gathered together before the Wrath of God is poured out but that they will go through the time of Great Tribulation.
So I just think of you reading this and how some will know totally what I am talking about. But quite a few won’t. This is getting down to intricacies that my study on the book of Daniel will hardly be able to touch on, even if we go through all the prophetic chapters in Daniel.
These things that Marvin Rosenthal is speaking of have to do with the time immediately after the Great Tribulation. The clearest place this is spoken of is in Revelations 11. In verse 15 it is speaking of the seventh trumpet, “the last trump”, the one that signals the return of Jesus. It says “The seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.’”
But what happens next? Revelations 11:18, three verses later says: “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
What happens next is the reward of the saints in heaven while down on earth begins the period of the Wrath of God, spoken of most plainly in Revelations 16.
I Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Romans 5:9 says something similar, “…we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
I strongly agree with what Mr. Rosenthal saw in the Word of God, that the believers of the endtime will not go through the period of the wrath of God on earth, which immediately follows the Lord’s gathering of the saved at the end of the Great Tribulation. So there is a clear distinction between the Wrath and the Tribulation that many believers who study these things don’t always see clearly.
And even more than this, the whole term “the Tribulation” is often just not clearly defined by many I meet who study these things. In my classes and videos, the term “the Great Tribulation” will mean the 3½ year period immediately before the Lord’s gathers His saved. This is the second half of what is called “The Last 7 Years”, referring to Daniel’s 70th week, found in Daniel 9:27.
I don’t teach or believe that this entire 7 year period, Daniel’s 70th week, is a time of great tribulation, only the second half. From my interaction with Christians here over the last 6 months or so, it seems many, if not most, don’t know or understand these different periods of time and don’t see them clearly and distinctly. I hope that I can bring the light of Scripture more clearly onto these subjects, as my blog posts and videos continue.
[If you have questions, comments or even disagreements, I’d love to hear from you. You can use the reply box at the bottom of this page.]