Recently a brother asked me if I could write an article on the subject of the pre-tribulation rapture. In this article, we will attempt to answer a few important questions. What is the pre-tribulation rapture? Is it a Biblical teaching? If not, what does the Bible teach on the subject?
I will briefly attempt to summarize the pre-tribulation rapture. In 1827 John Nelson Darby proposed that there would be a rapture of the church before the great tribulation. Those who hold this belief believe that the church’s rapture sparks a seven-year probation period when the wicked will have time to repent.
As we progress through this article, we will begin to dissect this theory and see if it is true or false.
The Time of Trouble
So what is the great tribulation to which they refer? It is when the seven last plagues fall on the earth, and the battle of Armageddon takes place. In one of my previous articles, “How Much Time is Left? Part IV,” I covered the time of great tribulation spoken of in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. That great time of terrible persecution differs from the one we are referring to here. I will attempt to show a picture of the differences between the two.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”Daniel 12:1
Here we see Daniel describing this final great time of trouble. It is to be a time of trouble such as the world has never seen before. What are the differences between the great tribulation mentioned by Jesus on the mount of olives and this time?
On the Mount of Olives, Jesus spoke of a time of persecution against God’s people such as the world had never seen before. We saw how this was fulfilled during the dark ages.
Although there will be persecution against the people of God during the final moments of earth’s history, none of the plagues will fall upon God’s people. We also have a promise that God will not suffer the wicked to overcome and destroy us, but rather that we will be delivered at that time.
There are numerous promises in the Bible for those alive during this time. Psalms 91, Psalms 46:1-7, Isaiah 25:9, and Joel 2:32 are just a few. It is clear from these verses that God’s people will be on the earth during this fearful time. However, we have the promise that we will be protected at that time.
One was to be a terrible time of persecution against God’s people, while the other is to be a terrible time of trouble for the wicked.
Jesus Christ’s Second Coming
To better understand this subject, we will need to have a quick look at some details about the second coming of Jesus and the rapture of God’s people.
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”Matthew 24:27, 30, 31
One thing is certain; this is not a secret or quiet event. We will not wake up one day and wonder where all the Christians have gone. Every eye will see Him come, and every ear hear.
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
God’s people will be delivered, along with all those saints that sleep in Jesus Christ. But what happens to the wicked on the earth afterward?
What Happens to the Wicked?
“And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”Revelation 19:21
After we are caught up to meet our Lord in the air, all those that remain will be slain by the glory of Him who created the heavens and the earth. As gruesome of a picture as this verse paints, the wicked will be food for the birds.
“And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.”Jeremiah 25:33
Jeremiah was permitted to see this terrible event. How perfectly it fits with what we read in Revelation (See also Isaiah 26:21, and Jeremiah 4:23-27). The harmony that can be found throughout the Bible always amazes me. There is one more verse I would like us to have a look at before we continue to the next segment.
“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”Revelation 20:5,6
The wicked that perish will not rise again for 1000 years, which brings us to the next part of this topic.
Where are the saints during these 1000 years? What are they doing during this time?
The answer to the first question is found in a very well-known verse. The beauty of the promise contained in the following verse is especially dear to my heart.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”John 14: 1-3
Jesus promised that he would come here to this earth and take His people back with him to heaven. We will be with Jesus where He is!
The following verse can help answer the second question.
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?1 Corinthians 6:23, 24
The righteous will take part in the work of judging both the wicked and the fallen angels. This 1000 year period is one of judgment where all cases are decided. This event will forever remove all questions and doubts from the minds of all. It will be seen that God has judged every case with perfect wisdom and justice.
To prevent this article from becoming too lengthy, I will break it into two parts. In part two, we will look at what Satan is doing during the millennium and what happens afterward.
Already, we have found some pretty concrete answers as to whether or not the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture is valid. With all the wicked perishing at the second coming, the idea of a seven-year probation period for the wicked dies.
I hope you have all been blessed by this article, and I pray that it may bring peace and light into your hearts today.
Written by Cory Lamming