Monday, May 10, 2010

Chapter 5

Chapter 5
Why Does It Matter?

Why does it matter what you believe? Why be concerned with when the rapture will occur? Furthermore why should I risk my reputation in promoting this idea about the rapture after the sixth seal? In fact because I do not believe in a pre-trib rapture, some may consider me to be denying the faith, deceived by the devil, and even some of you may consider me to be a heretic. Let me share a little of my background with you. I became a Christian, by grace through faith, about 29 years ago. And for about 23 of those years, I was taught and believed in the pre-trib rapture theory. I have sat under some very influential and famous preachers and teachers, have read many pre-trib books, and have a Master of Divinity degree from a well-known conservative fundamental Christian university that teaches the pre-trib view. I have been a Bible teacher for 20 years and I have personally preached and taught the pre-trib theory for many years. I may also lose all of my current ministry positions for not believing the pre-trib view and for writing this book. The point is that, even though I have been taught this view for many years, and even taught it myself for many years, and could suffer in loss of finances and relationships because I do not hold this view anymore, I count it but loss for the cause of Christ because I want to be pleasing to God and adhere to what the scriptures alone teach and not what a theological system dictates. And the scriptures show that the rapture will not occur until after the sixth seal is opened.

Another reason I am writing this book is that, since many Christians adhere to the pre-trib view, which is wrong, they are in grave danger of being caught off-guard to the coming sorrows of the 70th Week. I pray that this book would be used to awaken God’s children to these truths so that they can be prepared for what lies ahead. It is not important what man-made theological position you hold. What is important is what the Word of God says. And the scriptures clearly tell us that the rapture occurs after the sixth seal is opened.

Here is a summary of the pertinent facts that lead us to that conclusion:

1. The rapture occurs at the Day of the Lord event (1 Thess. 4:15-5:2, 2 Thess. 2:1–2).

2. The moon must be turned to blood before the Day of the Lord occurs (Joel 3:30).

3. The moon is turned to blood at the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12).

These are three undisputable scriptural facts that can only lead to one conclusion—the rapture occurs at the Day of the Lord after the sixth seal is opened.

This rapture view has been termed the “pre-wrath” rapture view. It is the only view that agrees with all of the prophetic scriptures. In contrast, the pre-trib view contradicts some very critical prophetic scriptures, such as the moon must be turned to blood, the antichrist revealed, and the great falling away all must occur before the Day of the Lord/rapture event. It has been shown that these events all occur during the 70th Week of Daniel and not before. Thus, the pre-trib rapture view does not agree with all of scripture.

Even Walvoord, a strong pre-trib promoter, says this about the pre-trib theory: “The fact is that neither posttribulationism nor pretribulationism is an explicit teaching of the Scriptures. The Bible does not, in so many words, state either.[1] So Walvoord himself admits that the pre-trib rapture view is not an explicit teaching of scripture.

In fact, if you study the writings of the early church fathers, there is overwhelming evidence to show that the vast majority believed that Christians would not be raptured until after the persecution of the antichrist, which we know would place the rapture after the Abomination of Desolation. H. L. Nigro, in Before God’s Wrath: The Bible’s Answer to the Timing of the Rapture, has an appendix devoted to key passages from the early church writings.

Here are just four of the earliest quotes:

O unreasoning men! understanding not what has been proved by all these passages, that two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He is set forth as suffering, inglorious, dishonored, and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and God of Israel….
—Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho
[150-165 AD]

Those, therefore, who continue steadfast, and are put through the fire, will be purified by means of it. For as gold casts away its dross, so also will ye cast away all sadness and straitness, and will be made pure so as to fit into the building of the tower. But the white part is the age that is to come, in which the elect of God will dwell, since those elected by God to eternal life will be spotless and pure. Wherefore cease not speaking these things into the ears of the saints. This then is the type of the great tribulation that is to come.
—The Pastor of Hermas [160 AD]

It therefore behooves us, who inquire much concerning events at hand, to search diligently into those things which are able to save us. Let us then utterly flee from all the works of iniquity, lest these should take hold of us; and let us hate the error of the present time, that we may set our love on the world to come: let us not give loose reins to our soul, that it should have power to run with sinners and the wicked, lest we become like them. The final stumbling block (or source of danger) approaches.… We take earnest heed in these last days; for the whole [past] time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger, as becometh the sons of God. That the Black One may find no means of entrance, let us flee from every vanity, let us utterly hate the works of the way of wickedness. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord.
—The Epistle of Barnabas
[100-120 AD]

Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. But often shall ye come together, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if ye be not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increaseth, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an out-spreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.

—The Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) [100-120 AD]

Thus, it is apparent that the early Church fathers expected the Church to be persecuted by the antichrist during the end-times and then rescued via the rapture from the persecution they would undergo. This is what the pre-wrath view also states—that the church will be raptured after the opening of the sixth seal out of the great tribulation, which will be instilled at the hands of the antichrist.

Many modern-day “church fathers” have also believed that the church would be subject to persecution at the hands of the antichrist. One famous one was Spurgeon:

In a recent article published by Dennis M. Swanson entitled “The Millenial Position of Spurgeon,” he concludes that ‘despite claims to the contrary, his [Spurgeon’s] position was most closely identifiable with that of historic premillennialism in teaching the church would experience the tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom would be the culmination of God’s program.’ Later in the text, Swanson goes on to state that the ‘Key features of historic premillennialism are twofold: (1) the kingdom will be the culmination of the church age and (2) the “rapture” will follow the tribulation, with the church going through the tribulation under the protection of God….Spurgeon fits most consistently in the “historic or covenantal premillennial system.’ In other words, Spurgeon too, by definition, ignore [d] the doctrine of imminency of Jesus’ return, seeing the church facing the persecution of antichrist before the return of Christ. In doing this he also ‘rejects the pretribulation rapture of the church.[2]

So if the early church fathers—and even more modern-day “fathers”—did not believe in a pre-trib rapture, when did the pre-trib belief arise? There are three candidates to whom are credited with the origin of the pre-trib rapture theory: John Darby (one of the founders of the Plymouth Brethren movement), Edward Irving (thrown out of the Presbyterian Church and started the Apostolic Catholic Church), and finally Margaret MacDonald (a 15-year-old Catholic girl who was supposedly miraculously healed and given a vision of the “secret” rapture so popular with today’s pretribulation rapture teachers.)

In summarizing the development of the pretrib doctrine, H. L. Nigro says this:

The development of the pretribulation rapture is generally attributed to John Darby of the Plymouth Brethren, who formalized the theory around 1830. Prior to this time, the return of Christ was seen as a singular event. Jesus would return to earth once, to rapture His Church, to redeem lost Israel, and to judge the wicked and rebellious world, and this was seen either as a midtribulational or posttribulational event. Darby was the first to formally theorize that Jesus would return in two stages: first in spiritual form to rapture the Church, then in bodily form seven years later to judge the world. This allowed Jesus to return triumphantly at Armageddon while keeping the Church out of the 70th Week..[3]

So it is Darby to whom most attribute the pre-trib position. Another founder of the Plymouth Brethren had this to say about the teachings of Darby as elaborated on by Van Kampen:

It should be noted, however, that Dr. Samuel P. Tregelles, the renowned conservative Greek scholar of the nineteenth century (the author of six separate works on translation), considered one of the founding fathers of the Plymouth Brethren Church, strongly disagreed with John Nelson Darby on the position when it first appeared in England. Dr. Tregelles believed in a face-value hermeneutic, and he knew the original languages like few others of his time. In his book The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming (pp. 74-82), first published in 1864, he denounced the pre-tribulation Rapture position as being sentimental and emotional and without a thread of biblical support. He stated boldly that the pre-tribulation “doctrine of the coming of Christ [is] not taught in the Word of God….This whole system stands in distinct contradiction of what the Scripture reveals” (p. 32).[4]

At the best the pre-trib rapture theory had a dubious beginning and most likely gained in popularity because it was “easy believism” and a lot more pleasant to think about than enduring the sorrows and persecutions of the first five seals.
Even though the pre-trib position is a relatively new teaching and the early church fathers clearly expected the Church to enter the 70th Week and endure the persecution of the antichrist, and even though the pre-trib position is not an explicit teaching of scripture as admitted by Walvoord, and even though the pre-trib position contradicts some of scripture, some will still want to hold onto it. If that is the case with you, I ask you to go back over the scriptures and logic that have been presented. Here are the essential facts we need to keep in mind; Thessalonians equates the rapture with the Day of the Lord event. Joel and Acts says that the moon must be turned to blood before the Day of the Lord. In Revelation 6 we see the moon turned to blood after the sixth seal is opened. These are scriptural facts. If you do not deny any of them, then sound logic dictates that the rapture must occur after the sixth seal is opened. Any other conclusion would be a denial of sound logic and create a contradiction to truth. I encourage you to adhere to what scripture and scripture alone says. We must be faithful and loyal to the Word of God above our alma mater or church. Adhere to what scripture teaches and scripture alone! To make it easier for you to understand these concepts I have summarized, compared, and analyzed the teachings of the various rapture theories and put them into a chart entitled “A Comparison of the Rapture Theories”.

Your Rapture Theology Matters
I am writing this book, not only because I want the truth to be known, but also because it is very dangerous to not have a correct view about the timing of the rapture. Since the rapture does not occur until the sixth seal, then a Christian must prepare for the first five seals. Without proper preparation, one could find themselves and their family in pretty desperate situations. As Jesus said “Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13:36-37) How to properly prepare for the first five seals will be the subject of a later chapter. Furthermore, since the rapture will not occur until the sixth seal and the antichrist is revealed and comes to power before the rapture, then all alive at the time will most likely have to decide whether or not to take the mark. And if a person is deceived as a result of not knowing the truth about the prophetic time in which they are living, they will be more easily deceived during the 70th Week.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Rev. 13:16–17)

Could You Be Deceived into Taking the Mark?
The decision of whether or not to take the mark of the beast will most likely come about after the Abomination of Desolation and shortly after the antichrist takes control of the world. This “mark” will most likely be a small computer chip implanted in the hand or forehead or an invisible tattoo made with RFID ink.[5] Such technology already exists and is being tested in humans now and is available for use now. The World Net Daily has pictures of chips, and even the process of implanting them, and explains how these implantable chips will be used for a cashless society.[6] Mexico has just recently announced that they are going to start implanting chips in children, and the military. Prince Charles is “chipped.” The Department of Defense has just announced that all products sold to them must be “chipped.” It is reported that half of all products sold in the U.S will be “chipped” by the end of 2004. Coke even had a promotion running in the summer of 2004 where they “chipped” some cans of soda and then would find them by satellite and the lucky winners would win a prize. The motto of this promotion was “You can win, but you can’t hide.”

The mechanics and technology of chipping or “taking the mark” are already in place. They even have chip mobiles ready to come to your neighborhood! Having to decide whether or not to take the mark is not a good situation to be in if you do not recognize that you are actually in the 70th Week of Daniel or are not properly prepared for it. You will not be able to buy or sell without the mark, and if you do not realize that you are in the 70th Week because you falsely believe in a pre-trib rapture view, one could easily go along with what the government tells them and be deceived into following the antichrist and taking the mark and ending up in Hell. Of course no true Christian would take the mark.

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Rev. 14:9-11)

More Dangers of False Teaching
Another reason any false prophetic teaching, including pre-trib, is harmful is that, when the teaching proves to be erroneous, those under that teaching may lose their respect for the things of the Lord and fall away from Him. We know that before the rapture there will be a great falling away, as was discussed earlier. No doubt, the false teaching about the pre-trib rapture probably will, along with other things, be part of why people will fall away from the faith.
Do not be deceived the rapture will not occur before the final 7 years, the 70th Week, but will occur after the sixth seal is opened between the Abomination of Desolation and the end of the 70th Week. The rapture will be a time of great deliverance from the persecution of the antichrist and his followers. The Lord will descend to the clouds and will blow the trump of God and the dead in Christ will rise first and then those who are still alive at his coming will be caught up to the clouds with Him.

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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:16-18)

Oh what a glorious occasion that will be for all the saints who have been awaiting His return! “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The entire world will see him. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Rev. 1:7). After the world is darkened at the sixth seal, the entire world will be able to see the Lord Jesus Christ shining brighter than the sun as He comes to rescue His children.

In heart-wrenching contrast, those not raptured will at least temporarily recognize their plight and flee from His presence for they will know that the wrath of God is about to be poured out upon the world:

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains. And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Rev. 6:15-17)

That is when they will have their epiphany concerning Christ. But it will be too late then. The view you hold concerning the rapture matters. An epiphany will come to all. The sooner you have yours the better.

[1] Walvoord, John F. The Rapture Question, 1st ed. Findlay, OH, 1957, p.148.
[2]Van Kampen, Robert. The Rapture Question Answered Plain & Simple. P. 201–2
[3] H. L. Nigro, Before God’s Wrath: The Bible’s Answer to the Timing of the Rapture. p. 122.
[4] Van Kampen, Robert. The Rapture Question Answered Plain & Simple. P. 193,4


  1. [Great blog, William. Here's a think piece I found on the web. Ben]

    (This article reveals some research that is No. 1 on the "hate list" of many "fundy" Christians because it shows that their idolized "rapture" belief - the inspiration behind Lindsey's and LaHaye's all-time bestsellers - is only a 19th century invention and that credit long given to John Darby for it should go to a long unknown 15-year-old girl in Scotland!)

    Margaret Macdonald's Rapture Chart !

    "church" RAPTURE "church"
    (present age) (tribulation)

    In early 1830 Margaret was the very first one to see a pre-Antichrist (pretribulation) rapture in the Bible - and John Walvoord and Hal Lindsey lend support for this claim!
    Walvoord's "Rapture Question" (1979) says her view resembles the "partial-rapture view" and Lindsey's "The Rapture" (1983) admits that "she definitely teaches a partial rapture."
    But there's more. Lindsey (p. 26) says that partial rapturists see only "spiritual" Christians in the rapture and "unspiritual" ones left behind to endure Antichrist's trial. And Walvoord (p. 97) calls partial rapturists "pretribulationists"!
    Margaret's pretrib view was a partial rapture form of it since only those "filled with the Spirit" would be raptured before the revealing of the Antichrist. A few critics, who've been repeating more than researching, have noted "Church" in the tribulation section of her account. Since they haven't known that all partial rapturists see "Church" on earth after their pretrib rapture (see the "church-splitting" chart above), they've wrongly assumed that Margaret was a posttrib!
    In Sep. 1830 Edward Irving's journal "The Morning Watch" (hereafter: TMW) was the first to publicly reflect her novel view when it saw spiritual "Philadelphia" raptured before "the great tribulation" and unspiritual "Laodicea" left on earth.
    In Dec. 1830 John Darby (the so-called "father of dispensationalism" even though he wasn't first on any crucial aspect of it!) was still defending the historic posttrib rapture view in the "Christian Herald."
    Pretrib didn't spring from a "church/Israel" dichotomy, as many have assumed, but sprang from a "church/church" one, as we've seen, and was based only on symbols!
    But innate anti-Jewishness soon appeared. (As noted, TMW in Sep. 1830 saw only less worthy church members left behind.) In Sep. 1832 TMW said that less worthy church members and "Jews" would be left behind. But by Mar. 1833 TMW was sure that only "Jews" would face the Antichrist!
    As late as 1837 the non-dichotomous Darby saw the church "going in with Him to the marriage, to wit, with Jerusalem and the Jews." And he didn't clearly teach pretrib until 1839. His basis then was the Rev. 12:5 "man child...caught up" symbol he'd "borrowed" (without giving credit) from Irving who had been the first to use it for the same purpose in 1831!
    For related articles Google "X-Raying Margaret," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "Pretrib Rapture's Missing Lines," "The Unoriginal John Darby," "Open Letter to Todd Strandberg," "Deceiving and Being Deceived" by D.M., "Pretrib Rapture Pride," "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" and "Scholars Weigh My Research." The most documented and accurate book on pretrib rapture history is "The Rapture Plot" (see Armageddon Books online) - a 300-pager that has hundreds of disarming facts (like the ones above) not found in any other source.

    1. THX for the info, I touch a little bit on the history of Pre trib in my book.

      The main thing that convinced me that pretrib was wrong was that I clearly saw the rapture as part of the day of the Lord, which most pre tribers also agree. I also realized that scripture clearly taught that the moon was turned to blood before the day of the Lord. Seal 6 is when the moon goes to blood therefore the rapture cannot happen until after the sixth seal and moon to blood.

    2. I also believe Schofield had a major impact on modern pre-tribulation acceptance. He was no doubt influenced by Darby. His notes are taken as gospel by many.