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Weighing In On the Rapture
1 October 2013
 
 
I've never wanted to entangle myself in the controversy and contention regarding the Rapture, but it's such an important topic that my weighing in on the issue can no longer be avoided. I don't plan on going into all the details of what the Rapture is — if it's not clear to you, follow the above link to the well-written Wikipedia article. In today's discussion I'm capitalizing the word, because it is a proper noun referring to a specific event.

As you can read in the Wikipedia article, the primary controversy for Christians surrounding the Rapture is not a matter of IF — the New Testament clearly states that there WILL be a Rapture — but a matter of WHEN. And that timing all revolves around the Great Tribulation. As Yeshua (Jesus, Isa) taught, that will be a period of "greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again." For more details, see Yeshua's discourses in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13, as well as the entire book of Revelation.

For most of the members of the more traditional Christian denominations, the Rapture is not even on their radar, so the controversy does not concern them at all. For those who DO have the Rapture on their radar, the vast majority believe the popular teaching that the Rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation.

In other words, they believe that Christians will not have to endure the time of "great anguish." Instead, Yeshua will (partially) return to the earth, and all Christians will be "suddenly taken up" (that's what the word Rapture means) into the air to meet Yeshua and go with Him back to Heaven. Then, and only then, will the world experience the Great Tribulation, while the Raptured Christians merely observe from the sidelines in Paradise.

When I was a young Christian in the early 1980's I was taught all of this and believed it, but over the years I have become convinced that it is very unlikely the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation. I think it is much more plausible that followers of Yeshua will be caught up in the air to meet Him when Yeshua returns at the end of the Tribulation, as He comes to set up His 1000-year Millennial Kingdom to rule over the entire world.

Why have I had such a major change of mind and theology? There are a number of reasons. I won't be going into every argument in the Rapture controversy, but limiting myself to the issues which I think are the most relevant, not necessarily in the order of importance.
  1. New Testament Consistency: As I mentioned above, Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13, and the book of Revelation are our main sources of information about the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and Yeshua's Second Coming. There are also important details to be found in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. I'm not a Bible expert, so perhaps I've missed one or more additional passages, but I think that just about covers it. Of course, there are some hints in the Old Testament as well, but for today's discussion I will, for the most part, be focusing on the New Testament.

    Even though each of the above-mentioned passages of Scripture contains some details which the other sections don't, taken together they are quite consistent in their major points, and even in many of the details. In none of these accounts is there anything explicitly said about Yeshua coming back before the Tribulation in order to rescue His followers from that horrible time. Nothing. If you are wanting to build a Biblical doctrine for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, from what I can see it seems that you are out of luck. It's just not there.

    Yeshua in His discourses and Paul in his letters both seemed to feel that it was very important for Christians to understand clearly the main points about what will happen at the end of this age, right before Yeshua returns. They didn't want Christians to be deceived about these events. In the passages linked-to above, they say things like...
    ... watch out that no one deceives you... let the reader understand... I have told you everything ahead of time... keep watch... be ready... be careful... you must be on your guard... be alert and clearheaded... let me reveal to you a wonderful secret... don't be easily shaken or alarmed... don't be fooled...
    Since Yeshua and Paul have "told us everything ahead of time" and want us to understand and not be fooled, it sure seems to me that they would not have left out an important detail like Yeshua coming back for the Church before the Tribulation. It seems like that would be really great news that they would want to be sure to communicate to Christians who are afraid that they would have to go through the Tribulation. But no such idea is communicated anywhere in the New Testament. No such assurance is given.
     
  2. Content and Context: Let's take a closer look at Yeshua's teaching on the end of the age. In Matthew's account, His disciples had asked Him, "...what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" In that context, He explained:
    Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come....

    If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.... Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:9-14,22,30,31, emphasis mine)
    Yeshua is not giving a lesson in 2,000 years of Church history, but answering their question about the end of the age. In that context, He explains that His followers will be persecuted and put to death, false prophets will deceive many, but that His followers should stand firm to the end. It will be a very horrible time during which many will die, but for the sake of the elect (which always refers to followers of Yeshua in the New Testament), those days will be shortened. Then Yeshua will arrive on the clouds, and at the loud call of a trumpet His angles will gather His elect to Himself from the four corners of the earth (the Rapture).

    Nowhere in this account (as well as the other accounts mentioned above) is there anything about Yeshua coming back before the terrible times and taking His followers away before the difficulties hit. In fact, what He says is exactly the opposite. He is warning His followers ahead of time that they will go through persecution and martyrdom, but that they should stand firm to the end. It will be a terrible time they will go through, and for their sake that terrible time will be shortened. Then, when He comes on the clouds, all of His followers will be gathered up to Him there.

    If you look at the content and context of all of the above-referenced passages, you will clearly see that they all talk about going through the end-time difficulties, and not about being Raptured out ahead of time.
     
  3. Christians Will Suffer: The entire New Testament consistently teaches that Christians will go through suffering. Just read the whole thing for yourself, and you will see. I don't know of any verses which promise that Christians will escape suffering. The reality is that the New Testament teaches the opposite: if you are a Christian, there is no escape from suffering. There are numerous verses which teach this, including 2 Timothy 3:10-12 — "You know all about my ... sufferings — what kinds of things happened to me... the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..."

    Paul states that "the Lord rescued me from all of them," even though he went through great sufferings and persecution. Obviously Paul's idea of "rescue" and our modern idea of it is quite different! God never promises to keep us from suffering, but to be with us through our suffering. That's how Paul was "rescued" in all of his sufferings and persecutions: God gave him the strength and grace to endure them! Apparently it was not his time to be martyred.

    For a very detailed and thorough study of what the Bible teaches about suffering, you can't do better than Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven. I'm almost halfway through this book, and I can say unequivocally that it is a life-changing book which will transform your relationship with God! It will definitely prepare you to patiently endure suffering — both now and during the Tribulation. For that benefit alone it is worth its weight in gold! It will strengthen you to "stand firm to the end" — at only $15 you can't afford NOT to get a copy of vital book!

    I've already written a handful of article inspired by what I have learned in this book, and I can easily imagine that I will write many more, both on this Web site and on my Your Islamic Future site. You can start with this article.
     
  4. Not Destined For Wrath: One of the primary verses which proponents of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture hang their doctrine on is 1 Thessalonians 5:9 — "God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." In the book of Revelation it is mentioned ten times that God's wrath will be poured out upon the earth during the Tribulation, therefore, the theory goes, since the verse I just quoted says "God did not appoint us to suffer wrath..." that means Christians will not go through the Tribulation.

    In his letters Paul used the words save, saved and salvation 48 times — at least that's the number in the NIV translation. It takes only a quick look through those verses (follow the link) to see that he is talking about eternal salvation, not being saved from trials, suffering and even martyrdom in this life. In fact, Paul states many times in his letters that followers of Yeshua should expect trials, suffering, and even martyrdom.

    Therefore, in this verse we are considering from 1 Thessalonians 5, because it is talking about Christians receiving eternal salvation through Yeshua the Messiah instead of suffering wrath, I think it is clear that Paul is referring to eternal wrath, not some sort of short-term physical wrath on this earth.

    This is very similar to what Yeshua said in Luke 12:4-5 — "I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear God who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him."

    It is not earthly wrath we should fear — we can only have our bodies killed and then that's all that can happen to us. In Matthew's account of this it says "...those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul..." (Matthew 10:28) The only wrath we should fear is the eternal wrath of God in which the soul suffers forever in Hell. According to Yeshua, earthly wrath in which our bodies are killed is no big deal.

    Even if Christians were to be killed in the outpouring of God's wrath during the Tribulation, they would still have salvation in Yeshua and still go to heaven! The one does not exclude the other. Therefore, it is obvious that Paul is referring to eternal wrath in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and not temporal wrath, as the proponents of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture insist.
     
  5. A Christian's Hair: In Yeshua's end-times discourse recorded in Luke 21, He makes an astonishing and puzzling comment:
    ... they will seize you and persecute you. They will... put you in prison... You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish [or be lost]. (Luke 21:12,16-18; emphasis mine)
    So, let me get this straight: In the end times, Christians will be seized, persecuted, put in prison, betrayed and even put to death — but not one hair of their heads will perish or be lost? How can that be? You can't even do something as simple and safe as combing or washing your hair without losing at least one! It can't be possible that all of these violent actions can be taken against Christians and they won't lose even one hair! Obviously Yeshua must be talking about something other than our literal hair.

    This puzzling phrase is used in one other place in the New Testament. In Acts 27 we read the story of Paul being in a raging storm and then being shipwrecked. They were about to run aground on some island when...
    ... just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food — you haven't eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head..." The ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move... A centurion ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely. (Acts 27:33,34,41a,43b,44; emphasis mine)
    As before, it's not likely that Paul meant "Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head" to be taken literally. Obviously, when having to jump overboard in a raging storm and swim to shore, you would most likely lose at least one hair from your head. Like Yeshua's statement, Paul must evidently be talking about something other than literal hair.

    In light of these two examples I think it would be safe to assume that this phrase is an example of hyperbole. By using an obvious and intentional exaggeration, both Yeshua and Paul are making a forceful statement that everything is going to be OK, and there is nothing to worry about. Even when jumping into the ocean during a raging storm, even when being seized, persecuted, put in prison, betrayed and put to death, everything is going to be fine!

    What Yeshua was saying in Luke 21 near the end of His earthly ministry is very similar to what He was teaching in Matthew 10 closer to the beginning of His ministry.
    I am sending you out like sheep among wolves... you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged... Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death... You will be hated by everyone because of Me... When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another... Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul... even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid... (Matthew 10:16a,17a,21,22a,23a,28a,30,31a; emphasis mine)
    In the exact same context of persecution and martyrdom, Yeshua again mentions the individual hairs of our heads! Somehow, I really don't think His primary concern is our actual physical hair! Even if we are killed for Yeshua's sake during the Tribulation, everything is going to be fine!
     
  6. Exodus from Egypt: When I read about all of the fearsome plagues released by God upon the world in the book of Revelation, my mind is drawn to the similarities in the account of the plagues God struck Egypt with when He brought the Jewish nation out of that land of slavery, as recorded in Exodus chapters 7 through 12. In fact, out of the ten plagues of Egypt, six of them make an appearance in Revelation in some form or another, as this chart documents:
     
    PLAGUE EGYPT TRUMPETS BOWLS
    Water to Blood 1st Exodus 7:14-24 2nd Revelation 8:8-9 2nd/3rd Revelation 16:3-7
    Frogs 2nd Exodus 7:25-8:15   6th Revelation 16:12-16
    Boils 6th Exodus 9:8-12   1st Revelation 16:2
    Hail 7th Exodus 9:13-35 1st
    7th
    Revelation 8:7
    Revelation 11:15-19
    7th Revelation 16:17-21
    Locusts 8th Exodus 10:1-20 5th Revelation 9:1-11  
    Darkness 9th Exodus 10:21-29 4th Revelation 8:12 5th Revelation 16:10-11
     
    Of course, in the book of Revelation all of the plagues are on a much grander, widespread and devastating scale than the Egyptian ones. God was just warming up in Egypt — a dress rehearsal for the main event in Revelation.

    In various places in Revelation it says that numerous animals and people die during the Tribulation, so you could also say that the fifth Egyptian plague — the death of all the Egyptians' livestock — and the tenth plague — the death of all the Egyptian firstborn sons — are also reproduced during the end times.

    That leaves only the third and fourth Egyptian plagues — invasions of gnats and flies — which seem to be missing from Revelation. But there are enough other horrible events to more than make up for that omission!

    The reason I've brought up the Egyptian plagues is because there are some very interesting statements interspersed throughout the account in Exodus:
    "The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them. But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where My people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, Yahweh, am in this land. I will make a distinction between My people and the Egyptian people." (Exodus 8:21b-23a)

    "The hand of Yahweh will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field — on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. But Yahweh will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die...." All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. (Exodus 9:3,4,6b,7a)

    Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields — both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were. (Exodus 9:25-26)

    Total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. (Exodus 10:22b-23)

    Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt — worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal. Then you will know that Yahweh makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. (Exodus 11:5-7)
    Since the Egyptian plagues were a foreshadowing of the Revelation plagues, and the first time around God made a special point of protecting His people and sparing them the effects of many of the plagues, is it not reasonable to expect that God would do the same thing the second time around when His people go through the Tribulation? There are a few passages in Revelation which seem to indicate this:
    Out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. (Revelation 9:3-4)

    A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep His commands and remain faithful to Yeshua. (Revelation 14:9-12)

    The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. (Revelation 16:2)
    So we see in the end-time judgments a distinction made between those who follow Yeshua and those who follow the Antichrist, just as we saw in the Exodus account. It is also interesting to note that the Israelites did not leave Egypt until after all of the plagues were finished.
     
  7. Daniel's Insights: Although the writings of the prophet Daniel in chapters 7 through 12 had an earlier historical fulfilment, they also contain many details of the end-times Tribulation — more so, I believe, than any other book in the Old Testament. Once you become familiar with the text, you can see that there is amazing similarity between Daniel's prophecies and those of John in Revelation. This isn't really the time or place to go into all the details — whole books have been written on the subject! Instead, I would like to highlight a handful of passages which pertain to our discussion of the Tribulation and the Rapture (in all the quotations the emphasis is mine):
    "The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress His holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him." (Daniel 7:23-27)

    "...when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power." (Daniel 8:23-25)

    "Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time." (Daniel 11:33-35)

    "There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.... When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.... Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days." (Daniel 12:1b,7b,10-12)
    In none of these end-times details given to Daniel is there any indication that the people of God — the "holy people," or as the New Testament says, saints (which means the same thing) — will be taken away before these distressful times come. On the contrary, the phrases I have highlighted in these passages paint a very clear picture: The end-times Antichrist will oppress God's people and they will be delivered into his hands! He will destroy them by the sword, or they will be burned, captured or plundered. The power of God's people will be broken. They will be refined, purified and made spotless — which the New Testament teaches happens through suffering and martyrdom.
     
  8. Church History: Throughout many centuries of church history, Christians have believed that the Rapture would occur at the end of the Tribulation. They understood that the New Testament teaches extensively that followers of Yeshua will suffer and will be persecuted, and may even be killed for their faith. Especially during the first 300 years of Church history, when followers of Yeshua were routinely persecuted and killed by the Romans, believers would have considered suffering and martyrdom during the end-times Great Tribulation to be the same normal Christianity that they were already living through. Since God was not miraculously taking them out of Caesar's persecution, why would they imagine that God would take end-time Christians out of the Antichrist's persecution with a premature Pre-Tribulation Rapture?

    The concept of such a Rapture did not become popular until the 1830s. The Wikipedia article on the Rapture states:
    Pre-tribulation rapture theology was developed in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible.
    In light of 2,000 years of church history, the concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is relatively new, having been popularlized less than 200 years ago. Because this idea is not clearly taught in the New Testament, nor was it held by the early church fathers, nor has it been held during 90 percent of church history, it could very well be that Mr. Darby was deceived and indulged in some wishful thinking — which leads us to our next point....
     
  9. Wishful Thinking: From all that I have written above, it sure seems to me that expecting a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is a whole lot of wishful thinking on the part of lazy, wimpy Western Christians. These believers seem to imagine that they are so special and precious to God that there is no way He would ever let them suffer for their faith, let alone be killed for it! Although it is very true that we are special and precious to God, that fact in no way exempts us from suffering and martyrdom.

    Are we better and more special than Yeshua, who suffered and died, leaving us an example to walk in His footsteps? (See 1 Peter 2:21) Are we better and more special than the Apostle Paul, who suffered and died so that others might find salvation in Yeshua? He was such an excellent example of what it means to be a Christian that he instructed, "I urge you to imitate me" (1 Corinthians 4:16) and "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

    Are we better and more special than all of the other apostles who suffered and died so that others might know Yeshua? Are we better and more special than the untold thousands of followers of Yeshua who suffered and were martyred under the Romans because of their allegiance to Yeshua? Are we better and more special than the untold millions of believers who have suffered and been martyred for their faith over the past 2,000 years of church history, up to this very day?

    It is a display of astounding arrogance and staggering deception for modern Christians to think that they are too good to even have the remotest possibility of going through the Tribulation! I think such pride and arrogance are a good reason to believe that we WILL go through the Tribulation — obviously, we are very much in need of great suffering "so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end" as Daniel foretold (see point 7 above).

    The Western church is definitely NOT the "radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" which Yeshua will present to Himself on the day He returns (see Ephesians 5:25-32). At this stage of things, we are much more like a prostitute than a virgin bride! But there is still hope! The only way we are going to get to where we need to be is by going through intense purification through intense suffering. Going through the Great Tribulation is the ultimate gift from God, the perfect opportunity to become the pure and radiant ekklesia Yeshua deserves!
     
  10. The Great Scandal: In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul states that Yeshua will not return "until there is a great rebellion against God." Other versions of the Bible translate the Greek word Paul used (from which comes our English word apostasy) as "a falling away" or "the Apostasy." The dictionary defines apostasy as "a total desertion of or departure from one's religion."

    Yeshua Himself taught in Matthew 24:10, "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other." The King James Version (KJV) is closer to the original Greek: "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." As you can see, "from the faith" is not in the Greek, but was added to the NIV and other translations to help make the meaning clearer.

    The Greek word translated as "be offended" in the KJV is translated as "turn away, fall away, stumble, lose their faith, take offense" in other versions. The Greek word itself is the verb skandalizo — it's from the noun form of this word that we get our English word scandal. So another way this Greek verb could be translated is "to be scandalized."

    A scandal is "a disgraceful or discreditable action or circumstance; an offense caused by a fault or misdeed; a public disgrace." To scandalize is "to shock or horrify by something considered immoral or improper." Synonyms include appall, offend, outrage, dishonor, and shame.

    So, what is this "scandal" that is going to shock, horrify, appall, offend, outrage, disgrace, dishonor and shame Christians so much that they are going to turn away from their faith and their God? While the Bible does not say specifically, it does give us some general idea in 2 Timothy 3:1b-5a,
    In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.
    With that kind of general condition amongst supposedly religious people in the last days, I think it could be very likely that many so-called believers will be greatly offended with God and turn away from Him when they finally realize that God is not going to Rapture them off the planet before the Great Tribulation, but that they are actually going to go through it. They will be scandalized that they were deceived by Christian leaders, books, movies, and all the rest — and in their distorted, twisted understanding they will believe falsely that even God deceived and betrayed them.

    Once the Tribulation unmistakably begins, and these self-loving, proud, pleasure-loving "Christians" discover that there is no Pre-Tribulation Rapture, they will feel betrayed by God, and they will be filled with shock, horror, outrage, offense and shame. I would not be at all surprised to find that this is the source of the great scandal, offense and apostasy — the great turning away from and rebellion against God. And from what I can see, it's going to happen big time right here in America!
    This is exactly what happened in China when the Communists finally took over. Most pastors refused to realistically prepare God's people for coming persecution. And besides, most comfortable Christians did not want to hear such a message anyhow. The pastors in China were reportedly telling the people what their flesh wanted to hear.

    "Oh, you don't need to worry about the Communists in China! Jesus will rapture you out before the Communists can take over!"

    And as result, when the Communists took over at last, most Christians in China were NOT prepared for the subsequent persecution to come against them under Communism.

    And true reports filtered out of Communist China of Christians being arrested and sent to prison. And there, many of them fell away, cursing both God and their pastors, saying, "Pastor, WHY didn't you warn us of these things to come? WHY did you tell us we would be raptured out??? WHY...??????"

    (See the full article by Pamela Rae Schuffert at My Deepest Sorrow...)
    This lack of preparation on the part of Chinese Christians in the past — and Western Christians today — leads us to the final point....
     
  11. BE PREPARED! So, in the end, what's the point of all this? Well, in the light of all the solid and convincing evidence I have presented, I think it is absolutely vital that the worldwide church — especially the Western church, and specifically the American church — be prepared to go through the suffering and martyrdom of the Great Tribulation. All Christians need to be set free from the deceptive teaching of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

    Imagine what would happen if you were prepared to suffer and die for your faith during the Tribulation, but then found that you were wrong about the timing of things when God takes His people away in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. After all, you don't have to believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture in order to be included in it, you only have to believe in Yeshua! So instead of going through the Tribulation, you find yourself caught up to Yeshua and taken to Heaven, where you spend the time during the Tribulation in peace and comfort. What have you lost by being prepared to suffer and die? Absolutely nothing!

    But on the other hand, what would happen if you were expecting to escape the Tribulation, but you suddenly find out that you have to go through it. This will involve great suffering, and eventually you will be killed for your faith. What have you lost by NOT being prepared to suffer and die?

    As we saw in the previous point, there is a very good chance that you would be so scandalized, so outraged and offended with God because He didn't take you away before the Tribulation, that it is very likely you would turn way from the faith and rebel against God, and end up in the eternal suffering of Hell as a result. Not being prepared would end in the loss of absolutely everything!

    I plead with you as a fellow follower of Yeshua to not let this happen to you! Prepare your heart for suffering and martyrdom while there is still time, before it's too late!

    I've already shared this in point 3 above, but it MUST be repeated here at the end of this article:

    For a very detailed and thorough Biblical preparation for suffering and martyrdom, you can't do better than Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven. I'm almost halfway through this book, and I can say unequivocally that it is a life-changing book which will transform your relationship with God! It will definitely prepare you to patiently endure suffering — both now and during the Tribulation. For that benefit alone it is worth its weight in gold! It will strengthen you to "stand firm to the end" — at only $15 you can't afford NOT to get a copy of vital book! Your eternal destiny could very well be at stake!
For more about the Rapture and the second coming of Yeshua, see The Return of the King.
This article is 2nd a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
1.
19  Sep  2013
2.
Weighing In On the Rapture
1  Oct  2013
3.
7  Oct  2013
4.
12  Oct  2013
5.
15  Oct  2013
6.
16  Oct  2013
7.
30  Oct  2013
8.
13  Nov  2013
9.
28  Dec  2013
10.
8  Jan  2014
11.
15  Jan  2014
12.
16  Jan  2014
13.
21  Jul  2014
14.
26  Jul  2014
15.
27  Jul  2014
16.
31  Jul  2014
17.
5  Aug  2014
18.
10  Aug  2014
19.
11  Aug  2014
20.
24  Aug  2014
21.
25  Aug  2014
22.
27  Aug  2014
23.
16  Sep  2014
24.
17  Oct  2014
25.
18  Oct  2014
26.
21  Oct  2014
27.
28  Oct  2014
28.
8  Nov  2014
29.
13  Dec  2014
30.
24  Dec  2014
31.
11  Jan  2015
32.
20  Jan  2015
33.
21  Jan  2015
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Reader Comments
On June 15, 2015, Bill wrote:
I would like to recommend a shocking article titled Famous Rapture Watchers which can be found on Joe Ortiz' "End Times Passover" blog of May 5, 2014. Lord bless.
 
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