When it comes to the tribulation, I have heard many a good men fury at even the notion concerning anything ‘post’. My initial question to them is: ‘Are we being faithful to God’s Word when we have not taken the time to even ponder another point of view, be it of Biblical reference?’ What is to be said of our ‘love for truth’ would we have greater zeal towards a doctrine than we do opening up our Bibles to see for ourselves? Are we merely clinging to that which makes us comfortable, simply because that is what we were told from the beginning? What has happened to the spirit of truth that the Bereans sought after? Is it too late to get it back? Where do our loyalties lie?
As seekers of truth, we should not cringe over fair questions such as “How could a good God put us through tribulation?” or commentary on how “The Bible states that there is no condemnation for us who believe”. For it is true: ‘God is good’. And there is ‘no condemnation for the believer’. But are we not called to be faithful to the whole of scripture and look at whatever else God has to say of Himself? Might we peer openly and honestly at the continuity of God’s character and see if we may find any particular pattern, would there be one? Again, where do our loyalties lie?
In Gen 6, God reveals His plans to Noah concerning a great flood which would destroy the earth, wiping out the age of men in 12o years. Although many have misinterpreted the 12o to reference the new age to which a man or woman could live; in context, God was merely addressing the timing to whence the flood would occur, per the time of His original mention. All that to which Noah replied, “We are going to fly away, oh glory, into the 2nd or 3rd Heaven!” Obviously, the latter comment was never uttered. For all of us can be certain how God did not remove Noah from the earth. Instead He instructed him to build an Ark for safety within, amidst God’s great wrath. He commanded him to prepare 120 years in advance. Yes, He called him to prepare.
Israelites in Egypt knew something of His similar character when God poured out wrath throughout all of Egypt, leaving only the land of Goshen to spare. God neither removed them, nor harmed them in His great anger. He merely kept them safe within, calling them to kill a lamb and smear its blood over the threshold. Again, He commanded them to prepare.
Amongst many pre-trib rapture believers, there is s false notion that those “post”, do not believe in a rapture whatsoever. This of course is not so. The Bible simply does not prove any indication that the rapture is a means of escape. But yes, most post trib believers do believe in a literal rapture.
In his 24th chapter, Matthew takes a swipe at the unfolding of events surrounding the rapture. In one portion we read of the 2 being gathered together and 1 taken away. But off and apart from that is a gross ordeal concerning various birds who migrate around dead bodies. Matthew, having a select style of approaching the Gospel writings, varies therefore from Luke, who desires to give a more detailed and “orderly account”. In other words, Dr. Luke is a line by line kind of guy. He is the teacher type. Let’s look at what he has to say concerning the gathering of the 2.
Luke 17: 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”
Just like Matthew, Luke has stated this very essential point that Jesus Himself related. But here is where Luke surpasses Matthew in terms of clarity:
37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?”
Luke decides he must address the question “Where?” which is most pertinent information, since the whole rapture theory is wrapped up into the direction of where those in motion are being “taken” to. It is dire for us to possess revelation of where they land. And to that end, Jesus replies:
“Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
“Corpse”? “Birds”? Is this the same description of Heaven we heard about in Sunday school? Scientifically speaking, it is important for the birds of the air to come down and eat the flesh of the bodies in order to prevent disease from spreading throughout the land. Yet again, we must also ask ourselves whether or not this viewpoint from whereto we are taken is fitting to the Paradise portrayed elsewhere in the Bible.
Interestingly enough, this is the same “bird” and “body” language that is used in Revelation 19:17-18 where the evil, end time army makes war against Jerusalem/Jesus. Could it be that God takes us there, even during the Great Tribulation? What does “meeting Him in the air” even mean? Could it really be describing a mere meeting Him in the air, and that’s it? Bar none? How have we come to the conclusion that a 2nd or 3rd Heaven was even involved in the matter? It seems rather, that we are set down at the scene of a battle in the midst of the great judgements. Only by this time, we will be bestowed with glorified bodies.
Some theologians have used various verses in Revelations to indicate a positive theory for a pre-trib rapture. They adhere to this by illuminating how in a particular passage, the Church is noted as being in Heaven, but not on the earth. The problem with this theory, is that those spoken of are potentially only those martyred, as well as believers who have gone before us. Furthermore, the Greek word for Church “Ecclesia”, is neither mentioned in Heaven nor on the earth within these specific passages – therefore nullifying the argument altogether.
There also seems to be some confusion over His coming “like a thief in the night”. Many have prescribed this to mean the mere timing of His coming, suggesting that Jesus will be here for but a moment, before whisking us away into eternity. However, I believe we stop short in our interpretation of this verse when we consider not 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 which states “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” Can you see the message of preparedness arising once again?
We ought also consider 1 Thess 4:16-17 as well as 1 Cor 15:51-52, both of which note the timeline of Jesus’ coming. More so let us observe how 1 Cor 15 states an exact “the last trumpet” as the time of His appearing. These trumpets are in fact synonymous, rather the very trumpets mentioned as being a part of the great tribulation – seals, trumpets, bowls as noted in Revelations. It is important that we remain true to the signs/timeline that Christ has prescribed, and NOT based upon which season or festival that mere man has ‘supposed’. Do we recall how Jesus cursed the fig tree? Remember why?
Last but not least, we must consider the word in Revelation which warn us to “keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand – Rev 1:3 KJV”. It is not likely that anyone would give much interest in the way of ‘preparation’ if he or she does not believe the events listed are for those other than themselves. What’s more is that the Church plays a vital role amidst the end time judgments that are being poured out. For the wrath of God is not upon the Church; but the Church, like Moses, will actually play a part in the releasing and ceasing of such judgment. In order to come inline with the appropriate spirit in which such tribulation is to be released, in order that love would abound, and God’s children would be forever free, we must prepare, now, so as to not be offended with a God Who does not come in the manner in which we expected. Next time…