Introduction: Within the last few years a new view of the timing of the Rapture has become popular. This modern view, called the Pre-Wrath View, was first taught by Robert Van Kampen in the 1970’s. In the early 1990s Marvin J. Rosenthal published a book titled “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” which popularized the Pre-Wrath Rapture view. Today it is accepted by many evangelicals who were once Pre-Tribulationalists. The basic difference is that the Pre-Tribulational view places the Rapture before the coming seven year Tribulation or Daniel’s 70th Week. (See Dan. 9:27) The Pre-Wrath view places the rapture of believers as occurring sometime during the middle of the Tribulation. It concludes that believers, of this present Church Age, will experience the beginning years of the Tribulation, but be raptured before God pours His wrath upon the earth. Thus this is the reason for the title, “Pre-Wrath Rapture.”
This view has several major flaws. First it teaches that Church Age saints will go through part of the Tribulation. Second, it teaches God’s wrath is not poured out during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation. The view further teaches a split rapture with only some believers being raptured and others left on earth. This paper will point out various errors of the Pre-Wrath view which shows that the Pre-Tribulational view is the scriptural position. Christians in this the current dispensation of the Church Age will not go through the Tribulation and will be “caught up” before the seven years of God’s judgment on the earth, and will be forever be with the Lord.
The biblical view of the Pre-Tribulationalists is that the whole of the seven years, called the Tribulation, Daniel’s 70th Week, or the Time of Jacob’s trouble, is a period of God pouring out His wrath. God will do this in a series of three judgments upon the earth which will end with His Second Coming. The Pre-Wrath view is based on the assumption that the Bible does not teach that the pouring out of God’s wrath occurs during the whole seven years of the Tribulation. Their view is that the out pouring of God’s wrath only occurs sometime after or toward the middle of the first three and a half years.
However, the Book of Revelation teaches the judgments or wrath of God on earth begin at the start of the seven years of Tribulation with the Seal Judgments (Rev. 6:17, 8:1-60) , followed by the Trumpets Judgments (Rev. 8:7-9:21, 11:15-19) and subsequent and final Bowl (Vial) Judgments (Rev. 16:1-21). As each judgment is released upon the earth they grow in intensity and increasing more devastating. The last 3 1/2 years of the seven years of the Tribulation will be the worse period and is referred to as the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21).
FLAWS IN THE PRE-WRATH RAPTURE VIEW
There are many flaws within the Pre-wrath view. One of its glaring flaws is that it teaches that the Seal Judgments are the wrath of Satan and the Antichrist, or man, and not the judgment or wrath of God. It is their position that Matthew 24:22 is a reference to the “Church” being raptured thus removing believers from the earth and ending their persecution of the Antichrist and Satan.
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”
The first problem with this view is the presumption that Matthew 24:22 is referring to Church Age saints. The Pre-Wrath position is that God will rapture Church Age saints in sometime in the middle of the Tribulation before He begins to pour out His wrath on earth. This view ignores the fact that many people, Jews and Gentiles, will be saved on the earth during the seven year Tribulation. God’s purpose in bringing the seven year Tribulation on earth is to fulfill His promises to Israel and purge the earth prior to His setting up the Millennial Kingdom. God will be once again working with the Jews and the Nation of Israel. Matthew 24:20 specifically states that those who are fleeing the persecution of the Antichrist should pray it will not be on the Sabbath. Christians in this age are not under the Mosaic law and do not keep the Sabbath.
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day”
Exodus 31:17 states that the Sabbath was a special everlasting sign between God and Israel. The Bible does not instruct us to keep the Sabbath which was given to Israel as a remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt. Without question it was a Jewish feast who to this day continue to keep the Sabbath. The primary focus of events of the seven year Tribulation are directed towards Israel and the coming promised Kingdom of the Messiah Jesus Christ. Church Age saints are not in view here anywhere in the seven year Tribulation.
The seven year Tribulation is the last “week” of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. Daniel foretold that there would be a total of 490 yeas (7 x 70) until “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Daniel’s prophecy says, Messiah the Prince should come, that is, seven weeks, or forty-nine years, should be allowed for the restoration of the Jewish state; from which time till the public entrance of the Messiah on the work of the ministry should be sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years, in all four hundred and eighty-three years. Thus there remains seven years left to finish God’s dealing with Israel in the Old Testament dispensation.
When Jesus began His ministry, the Gospels record that He presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah, and that the promised kingdom was “at hand.” (See Matt. 3:2, 4:17, 10:7; Mark 1:15, Luke 21:31). He was offering them the promised kingdom promised to the Jews in the Old Testament. However, the Nation of Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah. In 70 AD God allowed Titus, the Roman general to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. Biblical Judaism ceased to exist and the Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. God’s offer of the promised Kingdom was thus postponed. This does no mean that God set Israel aside, but began a new dispensation in which the Gentiles would be saved in this present age of the institution of the local church. This is a vital truth and must be understood in order to correctly understand God’s plan for the Tribulation. Many Old Testament prophecies such as Ezekiel 36 predict Israel’s regathering into the Promised Land. This will occur during Daniel’s 70th week which is the Tribulation. This has not occurred so clearly it is future to us and God will fulfill His promises.
Clear evidence that the seven year Tribulation is God’s plan to complete His promise to Israel is seen in the prophecies of Daniel. Daniel prophesied that the Messiah would be cut off in the 483rd year (1 year = 1 week), and that God’s covenant with Israel would be confirmed in the seventh week. Jesus was “cut off” being crucified in the 483rd year as Daniel foretold which leaves seven years of his prophecy unfulfilled. The coming seven year Tribulation, or Daniel’s 70th Week is the period when God will once again offer the promised Kingdom to Israel again and many Jews will be saved.
Therefore the seven year Tribulation is actually the last week (7 years) of the Old Testament dispensation which God postponed when Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah. The present Church Age believers will not be a part of the seven year Tribulation. Our place in God’s plan is different than that of Israel. However, God will complete His plan as the Old Testament teaches. He will purge Israel and the earth of unbelievers which will usher in the thousand year reign of Christ on earth. Israel’s promised Messiah will come in all His glory and establish His kingdom on earth and rule from Jerusalem. Christ will be the King of the Jews and rule the world.
Christians who have been saved since Pentecost are not in view in this final seven years of the Old Testament dispensation. The Lord Jesus will take His Bride, which are believers in this present age to be with him at the rapture. Jesus Christ will once again be presented to Israel as the Messiah as the 144,000 saved Jews preach the Gospel around the world. The Church Age will end before the seven year Tribulation and the last seven years of the Old Testament period will start. God will complete His purposes and promises for the nation of Israel, His chosen people. The current dispensation of the Church Age will end with the Rapture of allbelievers, both dead and alive, before God begins to renew His covenant with Israel.(1 Thess. 4:13-18) There is nothing in Matthew 24 that refers to Church Age saints. Those saved in the Tribulation are a different group of believers.
THE FLAW OF STATING THE FIRST PART
OF THE TRIBULATION IS NOT THE OUT POURING OF GOD’S WRATH.
Another error of the Pre-Wrath view is in purporting that the first part of the seven year Tribulation, the Seal Judgments, are not the wrath of God, but the wrath of “man” which means Satan and the Antichrist. Further the Pre-Wrath view concludes that the seal judgments are a time of peace on earth. However, this view ignores a vital truth clearly stated in Revelation 5:12 and 6:1f. These verse plainly state that at the beginning of the seven year Tribulation the wrath and judgment of God begins with the opening of the Seal Judgments by Jesus Christ (the Lamb of Rev. 5:12, 6:16).
Revelation 5:1-14 is the prelude to the Tribulation in which Jesus Christ is presented as the Lamb, who is the only worthy One, who has the authority and position to open the seven sealed books. The seven sealed books hold the coming judgments of God. Only Christ is worthy to open and beginning the our pouring of God’s wrath on the earth.
The Pre-Wrath view says that the beginning of the Tribulation is not the wrath of God, but rather of man, or of the Antichrist and Satan. However, Revelation 5:3 states, “And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” The book states that no man could open the seven sealed book of the wrath of God, which He will unfold in the seven year Tribulation. The opening of the book begins the seven year Tribulation. What is about to unfold is plainly not the work of any man, but of the Messiah, the work of “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David.” This event is Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ, fulfilling His plan for Israel and the world in this final stage before the Millennium.
It is the Lamb, Himself, who opens the first seal (Rev. 6:1) and thus initiates the beginning of the seven years of the Tribulation. Revelation 5:4 plainly says that no man could open the book. Further, Revelation 6:3, states that “he” referring to the Lamb of verse 6:1, and verses 5, 7, 9, and 12, continues in opening each of the subsequent Seal Judgments. Clearly, these are not judgments initiated by man or Antichrist, but by the Worthy Lamb of Chapter 5. It is Jesus Christ who opens each of the seals in the first half of the Tribulation and brings God’s wrath on the earth. Yes, it is the Antichrist who persecutes God’s people and all peoples on earth, but he does so at the discretion of Jesus Christ. God will be using the Antichrist as the instrument of His wrath. Many times in biblical history God used the enemies of Israel to chasten and judge them. The Antichrist could do nothing unless he was allowed by God to do so. The Pre-Wrath view is fatally flawed in its assumption that it is not God who is pouring His wrath on the earth at the beginning of the Tribulation and through out the seven years and until the three sets of God’s judgments are completed. It is Almighty God who is using the Seal Judgments. This begins His plan to purge the earth of sin. It should be recognized that if the Seal Judgments are the wrath of God, the Pre-Wrath position is refuted.
There can be no mistake, the New Testament says in this dispensation of the Church Age, which began at Pentecost (Acts 2) and will continue until the Rapture, believers will not go through wrath the of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 deals with instruction concerning the end times and verse 19, gives Christians the promise of God, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
IT IS JESUS CHRIST, THE WORTHY LAMB WHO OPENS EACH OF THE SEAL JUDGMENTS
AND INITIATES THE BEGINNING OF POURING OUT OF THE WRATH OF GOD?
As show above, it is Jesus Christ who begins the seven year Tribulation and the outpouring of God’s wrath as Revelation 6 reveals. The beginning of God’s wrath is in His allowing the Riders of the Four Horsemen to rain their various destructions on the earth. In the beginning it is the Lamb who opens the first seal and unleashes the Antichrist, the first horseman riding a white horse upon the earth. The first rider riding a white horse and wearing a crown is allowed to go forth to conquer the world. This is a picture of the Antichrist who will rise to power on earth as a great political leader and present himself as a savior to the world. He will represent himself as a man of peace in his deceptive strategy. Represented as a “little horn,” the Antichrist comes with a crown on his head and as Daniel 7:8, 8:8-12 prophecies and takes control of the world’s governments. He comes offering peace but by military and political might, and his actions will bring havoc and death on the earth.
The Pre-Wrath advocates say this will be a time of peace on the earth. But Revelation 6:2 states, the Antichrist will be “going forth to conquer and conquering,” and this is clearly not a picture of a period of peace. Daniel 9:27 says “And he (the Antichrist) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the over spreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27) However, no scripture says that the peace the Antichrist offers actually occurs. The assumption is that because the temple shall be violated in the middle of the seven years, the first half of the Tribulation is a time of peace. That assumption has no basis in God’s word.
The timing of the judgments of the Tribulation is clearly presented in the Book of Revelation as beginning with the initial heavenly events of Chapters 4 and 5. The scene then shifts to the earth beginning with Chapter 6 and the unfolding of the seven Seal Judgments. The peace the Antichrist proclaims is an illusion. There may be a short period of an unstable peace when the Antichrist signs the covenant with Israel, but this is a political peace. The signing of the covenant with Israel does not alter God’s plans and He opens the seals and begins immediately to pour out His judgments. As the Seal Judgments are unleashed by the Lord Jesus Christ in the beginning of the Tribulation the earth enters a period of turmoil. The point of the Pre-Wrath position is that believers are raptured before the wrath of God is poured out. Pre-Wrath Rapture view addresses the outpouring of God’s wrath, not the feigned offering of a peace treaty with Israel. This exposes another flaw in the Pre-Wrath view as it purports the supposed political peace means God is not pouring out His judgments until the middle or end of the seven years. Two things are going on at the beginning of the Tribulation. One, the Antichrist comes on the scene with great political power and signs a covenant with Israel. This brings only a semblance of peace as the Antichrist positions himself and gains greater power. Second, at the same time, God begins to pour out His wrath on the earth as the seven seal judgments are opened by the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the appearance of peace in the beginning of the Tribulation does not mean God is not pouring out His wrath in the seal judgments.
Further it is God, who after the Rapture, stops the present retraining work of the Holy Spirit and allows Satan to go forth bringing destruction on humankind through his control of the Antichrist. In our present dispensation of the Church Age, the Holy Spirit is preventing or restraining Satan from unleashing his destructive wishes on the earth.
Paul reveals this in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-15,
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness”
God’s plan is that He will use Satan and the Antichrist to bring His judgment on the earth during the seven year Tribulation. The restraining work of the Holy Spirit, which keeps him in check presently, will end as the seven years begin. Satan will then be allowed to rein destruction on the earth through the Antichrist. It is God who initiates the destruction on earth by allowing Satan and the Antichrist to work unrestrained. It is God who is now restraining Satan and this clearly shows that it is the action of God that allows him to rise to power and thus bring destruction to this present age.
Revelation 6:3-4 states again that “he”, Christ, continues God’s judgment and opens the second seal and initiates the second horsemen of red. Once again this is the action of God as power is “given” to this horseman by God to take peace from the earth and allow men to kill one another. 2 Thessalonians 2:6 reveals that the One who is restraining evil today is the Holy Spirit, but when the Antichrist is revealed, the restraining work of the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn. The “son of perdition” referred to as the lawless one and beast will be allowed by God to bring havoc on the earth. Once again it is God who is in full control and carrying out His plan and unleashing His wrath on the earth.
This Second Seal Judgment clearly removes political peace from the earth by allowing the Antichrist to bring havoc on earth. The supposed peace offered by the Antichrist when he signs the covenant with Israel has no basis in reality. The covenant brings no real or lasting peace. The times of the ending of peace begins with the opening of the second seal judgment with the beginning of the seven years of Tribulation. The Pre-Wrath position is that the first three and a half years of the seven year Tribulation will be a time of peace and it will not be a time of God’s wrath. Clearly, this conclusion is in error and Revelation 6:4 refutes that false assertion. The third horseman described in Revelation 6:5-6, rides a black horse. He is allowed to bring famine on the earth by Jesus Christ when He opens the third seal judgment.
The third horseman described in Revelation 6:5-6, rides a black horse. Verse 6 states that “he” Jesus Christ opens the seal and thus He allows the Antichrist to bring famine on the earth by Jesus Christ when He opens the third seal judgment. Once again, God’s word says that it is Jesus Christ that is causing His wrath to be brought on earth.
The forth horseman rides a pale horse and death and hell follows him. Bible says that Jesus Christ gives the pale horse rider the power to bring a tragic judgment on earth in which a fourth part of the earth is killed. One must note that each of these Seal Judgments are being opened in the first half of the Tribulation and the killing a fourth of the earth with the sword, hunger and death which includes even the animals of the earth. This cannot be viewed as a time of peace on earth. God is pouring out His wrath on the sinful and unbelieving of the earth. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is God’s promise that believers in this dispensation will not go through His wrath, thus the timing of the Rapture must be before these events.
When Christ opens the fifth seal, John sees under the altar the souls of those killed for the word of God which they refused to reject. These believers whom the Antichrist will slay are in the first part of the Tribulation. Like the persecutions of the past and even those going on in the world today, God allows some believers to be killed for the testimony of Jesus Christ. True believers throughout history have died rather than deny the word of God. In every persecution, God always reaps a harvest of souls as the testimony of God’s children allows men to see the truth of the life changing power of God in salvation. Because of the testimony of these slain saints of God many will be saved. Again, this is clearly the work of God and the Pre-Wrath view is grossly wrong in assuming that what is happening on the earth is the work of men and not the outpouring of God’s wrath. Yes, the Antichrist and evil men are the ones who perpetrate this evil attack on those saved during the Tribulation, but it is only done as God allows it to happen.
THE PRE-WRATH VIEW MISTAKENLY CONCLUDES THAT
REVELATION 6:9-11 IS REFERRING TO CHURCH AGE SAINTS
The Pre-Wrath view purports that Revelation 6:9-11 is a reference to the Rapture. They preclude that these saints of God are Christians, of the present Church Age, who have been resurrected in the Rapture and are now seen in heaven. This is a serious misinterpretation of this passage. First, verse 9, specifically states that all these saints are ones slain for their testimony of the word of God. These saints are said to be under the altar of God and are crying to the Lord to avenge their deaths on them that are on the earth. Verse 11, says they given white robes and a time of rest as they wait for a short season until their fellow servants and brethren would also be murdered, as they were on the earth. What they are waiting for is the Second Coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ when God purges the world of the Antichrist and sinful men.
Clearly if these multitudes of saints are murdered in the first half of the Tribulation it is not a time of peace. Under the Antichrist there will be initially a period of peace as he consolidates his power under the guise of bringing peace, however, this is a political peace only and believers will be experiencing great precaution from the Antichrist and his government. We see this trend today in that the modern politically correct liberals have an agenda of seeking to remove any mention of Jesus Christ, God or Christianity from society. The news media and most of Christianity remain almost silent in the face of this clear persecution of Christians.
This intense persecution of believers follows the coming of the pale horse rider to earth. The deaths of these Tribulation saints are the result of the actions of the rider of the Pale horse who brings death and hell on the earth. This is a picture of events after the Tribulation, during the Seal Judgments, and begins when the Antichrist and his evil forces are persecuting and killing believers on the earth. It must be noted the passage states all these have been slain and are crying to the Lord for judgment to come on the Antichrist and those that serve him. Absolutely, nothing in this passage can even remotely be understood as referring to believers in the current Church Age who will be raptured before the Tribulation begins. Revelation 6:9-11 is referring to saints who have believed after the Tribulation has begun. These saints are not part of the current dispensation of the Church Age. These are Jews and Gentiles who believed on Jesus Christ after the Rapture and every one in this group were killed for their testimony for Christ. All believers in this present dispensation have not been killed for their testimony of Jesus Christ. Clearly, this is a different group of believers and not those of the present Church Age. First if these are all the raptured saints of God, of this age, it would require that all those who are raptured must be slain and martyred. Of course this is not the case. Second it does not explain what happens to believers who have died in Christ Jesus. Once again the Pre-Wrath heresy is refuted by the word of God.
A carefully and scholarly study of the Book of Revelation shows that between Revelation 3:22 and 19:1 there is no mention of Church Age saints. The events between these two references reveal the progression of the seven year Tribulation until it ends with the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Saints of God are mentioned within these Chapters, but each time it is referring to those who believed within the seven years of the Tribulation and were saved by God.
Another point revealed in this passage and overlooked or ignored by the Pre-Wrath position is that all these saints, both in heaven and on the earth are seen as one group. A part of the group is shown as having been slain and are in heaven. The other part of the group is still on earth and waiting to join the slain saints in heaven, by experiencing their eventual deaths as well at the hands of the Antichrist. Thus is reveal another flaw in the Pre-Wrath view. It has part of believers raptured and part awaiting for the rapture? These cannot be Church Age saints. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as all believers, both dead and alive raptured and taken to meet the Lord in the air at the same time. Nothing in the New Testament suggests a partial rapture of some believers and others are left behind. Throughout history many believers have been persecuted and killed for their testimony for Christ. But most believers in this dispensation have died naturally and were not martyred. This passage says that every one of this group of saints were martyred for their testimony for the word of God. This plainly is not a reference to the Rapture of believers of the Church Age, but rather to those who believed and were saved in the seven year Tribulation.
When Christ opens the sixth seal there comes a great earthquake on the earth, the sun turns black and the moon to red as blood. Accompanying this catastrophic event is the stars in heaven raining down on the earth. God says the heavens will be rolled up as a scroll and every mountain and island moved out of it presence location. This begs a simple question? How does this fit into the Pre-wrath idea that the Seal Judgments are the “wrath of men?!” The scope of this judgment precludes that any man, even the Antichrist from having the power over the earth, sun, moon and stars. This is plainly the work of God in bringing His judgment on the earth and sinful men. This is Almighty God unleashing His omnipotence power over nature and the elements. Revelation 6:17 completely dispels any validity to the Pre-wrath view stating: “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” The “great day of his wrath is come,” clearly is referring to the events that just were previously described. The word “to come” means “as appeared, accompanied, entered or be set.” After experiencing these six seal judgments people on earth will be terrified, and thus the answer to the rhetorical question “who will be able to stand,” is no man could stand against God’s wrath which has just been revealed.
THE PRE-WRATH VIEW FALSELY LEAVES CHURCH
AGE BELIEVERS ON EARTH IN A SPLIT RAPTURE
Another problem of the Pre-Wrath view at noted above is that Revelation 6:9-10 shows that part of these saints are in heaven the rest on earth. If the Pre-Wrath view is correct this would mean believers who were alive at the Rapture and had not been martyred would still be on earth and would have to go through the sixth seal judgment and its devastating events. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 plainly refutes this idea as being false.
THE PRE-WRATH VIEW FALSELY TEACHES THAT THE “CHURCH” MUST GO THROUGH A PERIOD OF CLEANSING
The Pre-Wrath view states that the reason for believers going through part of the Tribulation is that “the church” needs to go through a period of cleansing before the rapture. First this premise is based on the false idea of a universal church. The New Testament teaches that the “ekklesia” translated “church” in our English Bibles refers to a local assembly of believers. The idea of a universal church is not taught in God’s word. God’s program for this dispensation is believers as members of local congregations in a specific geographical area. It never refers to a global or worldwide “church.” The author as an article at http://bible-truth.org/Ekklesia.html which explains this in some detail.
The period of persecution, according to the Pre-Wrath view, is necessary to return “the church” to serving the Lord and purging it of sin. The problem with this idea is brought into the light by the question, “What about all the Christians saved in the past 2000 years who have died and are with the Lord?” Why should a handful, in comparison to all the believers who have lived since Pentecost, have endure this supposed cleansing? Where in the New Testament does God state that He will purge “the church” of sin before believers are raptured? How would this cleansing effect believers who have died and are with the Lord. It is believers that sin and God says all in Christ are forgiven all their sins. Where then is the supposed need of a cleansing before the rapture?
The Pre-Wrath people may counter by saying “the church” has gone into apostasy and in the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation it will be purged and cleansed through persecution. Problem with that conclusion is that false doctrine has always, through the past two thousand years plagued churches, and false religion will continue to flourish in the first half of the Tribulation with the Antichrist and the false prophet joining all the religions of the world in to a one world church. The false “Christian” churches will certainly go into the Tribulation as will the cults. Nothing in God’s word says there will be a purifying of “the church” before the rapture can occur. The rapture itself is the purifying of believers as they are resurrected to immortality and incorruption. (1 Cor. 15:53)
Believers in the Tribulation will be persecuted and the majority who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior will be killed for their belief in the word of God and testimony.(Rev. 20:4) Only a remnant of Tribulation saints will endure to the end of the seven years.
THE FLAW OF THE PREWRATH VIEW THAT JOHN DARBY “INVENTED”
DISPENSATIONALISM AND THE PRETRIBULATIONAL RAPTURE.
Many have believed the myth that John Nelson Darby (November 18, 1800- April 29, 1882), a Anglo-Irish Plymouth Brethren, invented the PreTribulational rapture view in 1831 being influenced by a young girl, Margaret McDonald, who apparently received this ”revelation” from the Lord of a “rapture” of the Church before a time of Great Tribulation at the end of the age. However, Roy A. Huebner, documented that Darby first began to believe in the PreTribulational rapture and develop his dispensational thinking while convalescing from a riding accident during December 1826 and January 1827. This was three years before Miss McDonald supposedly received her “revelation.” Darby studying Isaiah 32 saw that the prophet was revealing that God had some specific plans for Israel that went beyond into the future for the nation of Israel. He saw God’s plans for Israel and the “church” were different. As he studied the scriptures Darby began to see that the Lord’s return was immanent and could be expected at any moment. He saw the scritures teach the seven year Tribulation would be the period in the future when God would once again dealing with the nation of Israel. Let me explain:
Daniel prophesied that there would be 490 years before the Messiah would come and set up God’s promised kingdom to Israel and they would live in peace. (Dan. 9:24-27; Ezek. 36:24-26) Clearly from history it can be seen that 483 years of the 490 have occurred. There then remains one more week or a period of seven years before the Old Testament dispensation is fulfilled. The seven year Tribulation or Daniel’s 70th Week is the end of the Old Testament period of God working with the nation of Israel. During the Tribulation God will begin once again to work with Israel as a nation. He begins with calling 144,000 Jews as Revelation 7 predicts. God has made specific and unconditional promises to Israel that will be fulfilled in the Millennium which follows the Tribulation. He begins at the beginning of the seven years to purify Israel and save the remnant who will constitution the nation of Israel in the Millennium. Thus Christians in this the Church Age are not in view in the Tribulation and are not a part of this period. This is why the Lord comes first for Christians and removed them from the earth before the seven years of judgment. Christians are the bride of Christ and one must understand that in seeking sound doctrine and a proper interpretation of God’s word the nation of Israel and the Christians of this age must be kept separate as they do not have the same position or place in the future events and plans of God.
Darby understood this as he studied the scriptures and saw that Christians in this age would not be a part of the Tribulation and therefore be raptured out before the seven years began.
The myth further states that no one before Darby believed in dispensationalism or a PreTribulational rapture. History again shows this view to be false.
With the writing of Barnabas (ca. 100-105), Papias (60-130), Justin Martyr (110-165), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) are clear example of belief in a PreTribulational rapture.
Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373# wrote: “Woe to those who desire to see the Day of the Lord!” Because all saints and the Elect of the Lord are gathered together before the tribulation which is to about to come and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.” Two things are clear: Ephraem taught the Lord’s return was immanent, and the rapture would occur before the tribulation fifteen hundred years before Darby which are dispensational views.
Early church leaders such as Clement of Rome (90-100), Ignatius of Antioch (98-117), The Didache (100-160), The Epistle of Barnabas (117-138), and The Shepherd of Hernias (96-150) all wrote of the immanent return of the Lord.
The truth is that Pre-Wrath View is the invented view which was first taught by Robert Van Kampen in the 1970’s. After Van Kampen his new view point of the rapture he looked for several year to find some well know advocate to make his view popular. He was one of the most wealthy men in America and had the funds to postulate his views. He found that advocate in Marvin J. Rosenthal, who at that time was with the “Friends of Israel” and in early 1990s he published a book titled “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” which popularized the Pre-Wrath Rapture view. So historically, the PreWrath view is only a decade and a half old.
What has made the myth popular are writers as stated earlier who passed on the myth out of ignorance or did so deliberately. It should be considered that may writers have taken up the Pre-Wrath view and have made great sums of money through their books. Also it should be understood that the myth is postulated by those who oppose dispensationalism which teaches that God has a separate plan for Israel and for the Christians in this the Church Age. Among these are the Covenant Theologians who teach God has abandoned Israel and now “the Church” has inherited the promised God made to His chosen nation.
The Pre-Wrath Rapture view is clearly fatally flawed. The Pre-Wrath view is correct on the truth that Church Age saints will not experience the wrath of God (1 Thess. 5:9, Rev. 3:10). However, it falsely teaches that God will not be pouring out His wrath in the beginning of the seven years and Christians will experience the Seal Judgments. Revelation 6 plainly states that the Tribulation begins when Jesus Christ initiates and brings the wrath of God on the earth beginning with the seal judgments. The Pre-Wrath view fails to understand that the supposed peace of at the beginning of the Tribulation is not real peace but only a short lived political offering of peace. The political peace does not preclude that God will not be pouring out His wrath in this same period. The Pre-Wrath view has a split view of the rapture with only part of the saints of God raptured and the rest left behind to be raptured later. The Pre-Wrath view also fails to understand that the seven year Tribulation is the conclusion of the Old Testament dispensation that God postponed when Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah. It ignores that Daniel specifically prophesied that the Messiah would return at the end of the 490 year period which will end with the Lord setting up the Millennial Kingdom He promised the Jews. The Tribulation according to God’s word is God purging Israel not “the church.” Nowhere in Revelation 4:1 to 19:7 is Church Age saints mentioned. Every reference to believers are those saved during the Tribulation. The reason is clear because Christians in this present dispensation of the Church Age,who are the body and bride of Jesus Christ, are in heaven with Him having been raptured before the seven year Tribulation.
11-24-09 Click this line to read a related article titled “Is the Mid-Tribulation or Pre-Wrath Rapture the Biblical View?”