3rd in the series. Starts here.
Before we get into Scripture dealing directly with the Tribulation and the Rapture, I want to present some peripheral arguments against a Pre-Trib Rapture.
I do not wish to cause ill feeling between those of us who believe we will be raptured before the beginning of the Tribulation and those of us who don’t. However, I do not believe that a Pre-Trib Rapture is Scriptural and there are also few things about this view that cause a wrestle in my spirit. I will attempt to explain from Scriptural precepts why a Pre-Tribulation view is not biblical. I will expose some very real dangers associated with entertaining a Pre-Tribulation Rapture as well as look at Christ’s own words for a solution to the issue.
REFUTING A PRE-TRIB RAPTURE FROM SCRIPTURAL PRECEPTS
The Church grows out of persecution
All one has to do is look at China to know that God’s Church grows during intense persecution. The early Church grew because of the martyrdom of Stephen [Acts 7:59]. During the persecution that ensued, all of the people scattered back to their hometown [Acts 8:1]. Christ promises persecution and His Church benefits from it [Luke 21:12; Acts 11:19-21]. How would He hold us from the greatest time of persecution ever known [1 Peter 1:6-9, 4:12-13; James 1:2-4]?
Consider, right after Paul was stoned in Lystra, he went through the surrounding cities,
strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
[Act 14:22 NASB]
How will they hear?
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
[Romans 10:14-15 NASB]
Will no one be saved during the Tribulation? What about the Tribulation Saints [Revelation 7:9-17]? I cannot conclude that the Church won’t be around during the Tribulation when it clearly says “these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation” [Revelation 7:14]. Revelation 12 tells us that after Israel flees for her safety into the wilderness, Satan goes off “to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” [Revelation 12:17]. Satan will make war with the Saints who on on the earth during this time [Revelation 13:7].
Perseverance is perfected in tribulation
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
[Romans 5:3-5 NASB]
Revelation 13:10 says,
If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
[Revelation 13:10 NASB]
If anyone is destined for captivity when? During the Tribulation. If anyone kills with the sword when? During the Tribulation. What produces perseverance? Tribulation.
But Noah and Lot were rescued from tribulation
Pre-Trib proponents will sometimes point to Noah or Lot to make a case for the Church missing the Tribulation because God rescued them before disaster came. God did indeed save them from His wrath, but not the wrath of man (or Satan). It is unreasonable to think they did not experience persecution before God supernaturally intervened. Noah undoubtedly was the target of ridicule and persecution during the 120 years of his ministry [Gen 6:3; 1Pe 3:20]. I would also think that Lot, a righteous man living in a sinful, homosexual community, was persecuted. In each of these instances, they were supernaturally protected and delivered right before the crushing blow of judgment was dealt, not against them, but those in rebellion. It’s the same with the Rapture.
- God’s angels rescued Lot [Genesis 19:16]
- God, Himself, sealed the Ark [Genesis 7:16]
God’s wrath ensued immediately after they were safe [Genesis 7:17-23; 19:22-24].
Is cohabitation biblical?
The wedding of Christ to His Bride is announced in Revelation 19. In verse 7 it says the Bride is ready to be wed to her husband. Then we read on to find it is her husband who returns in verse 11. This is Jesus Christ’s triumphant return to the earth when He defeats the Antichrist in the final battle [19:11-21]. When He appears, He receives His Bride by way of rapture [Revelation 16:15]. The Pre-Trib view has Christ living with His Bride for seven years before the marriage.
THE DANGERS OF TEACHING A PRE-TRIB RAPTURE
I know there are some of you wondering why this is even important. I mean, aren’t there more important things to be studying? Here are a few reasons.
Apathy towards prophecy
Christ assumes we will be watching [Matthew 24:33]. Though I know this is not the intention of most of its proponents, the Pre-Trib view can promote apathy toward studying prophecy, a large portion of God’s Word. I’ve personally experienced this from the responses of certain people when they find out I study prophecy. After all, why study it if we’re not going to be here? My response is usually to start a discussion by asking them why they think Christ preached on it and why God included prophecy all throughout His Book.
A false view of God
It has been my experience that for many people the Pre-Tribulation view has slight overtones of the common question why would God allow bad things to happen to good people? For some, it’s as though they’ve determined they are somehow good enough, or worthy enough, to not suffer tribulation. Again, this is entirely contrary to God’s Word which promises all believers tribulation throughout their walk with Christ [John 16:33; Acts 14:22].
A shipwreck of the faith
To me, this is the biggest danger of the Pre-Trib view. What do you think will happen when millions of people are expecting to be raptured before the Tribulation starts, and then it starts and these people haven’t been raptured? This will cause a shipwreck of the faith for some at the very least [1 Timothy 1:19]. It will cause some to fall away from the faith forfeiting some of their reward [1 Corinthians 3:14-15] and others to eternally fall away before ever achieving a personal relationship with Christ. It may also push the unbelieving even further away after they witness how God hasn’t returned for His own. This sounds to me like something Satan would enjoy deceiving people about.
However, don’t gamble with Scripture
In light of these things, you might be tempted to conclude that it’s better to not believe a Pre-Trib Rapture, regardless of what you believe Scripture says, just so you won’t be disappointed. It plays out like this: “I’ll just expect to go through the Tribulation and if I don’t, it won’t matter anyway.” There are two reasons why this is not beneficial. First, it puts an emphasis on a gambling element rather than the Word. Second, and most importantly, Jesus tells us exactly when the Rapture will take place within the context of His Second Coming.
Matthew 24:29-31 NASB “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.  “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
We can believe the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is not true because Jesus didn’t teach it, not to avoid being disappointed.