Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Last week we spent time looking at the principles of why Pre-Wrath is wrong, and how Pre-Tribulation is the proper, biblical view of eschatology. The problem I notice right off the bat with the Pre-Wrath position is that it wants you to get wrapped up in the confusion of the minutia.
Recently, Alan Kurschner and Chris White did a YouTube video attempting to debunk Dr. Jimmy DeYoung over the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Why Jimmy, as opposed to Tommy Ice or Chuck Missler, I don’t know, but what I hope to show you here is the clear and understandable teaching of the doctrinal position that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture holds in our Scriptures.
The Flow of Things
The Apostle Paul’s first recorded epistle is believed to be by most scholars, the letter to the church in Thessalonica. In this, Paul mentions the return of Christ in each of the chapters in this five-chapter epistle.
When we get to chapter four, we see that Paul introduces what is known as a ‘musterion’, or mystery that had never been revealed before of the ‘harpazo’ or in English, the ‘catching up’.
Jesus hinted at it in John 14:1-3, but Paul here lays it out in plain view. Here we’ll see how 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5 flow together quite nicely and in the proper order. (vs. 4:15-5:4)
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”
Aside from the Apostle Paul’s teachings on the subject of the mystery of the ‘harpazo’, we can look at the structure of it first, both in his epistles and in the Revelation of Jesus Christ as given to the Apostle John.
What is beautiful here, is that nothing has to be forced, and nothing has to be tweaked or taken out of context, or put into a different context to make it fit. It just fits perfectly if you allow it too. Likewise, in the Revelation, John is instructed to divide the book up into 3 parts…
Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. (Revelation 1:19)
The book divides itself up quite easily into three parts without the need of chapter numbers. Guesswork not required for this venture. Chapter 1 is what John saw, the resurrected Christ walking amongst the seven golden candlesticks (the churches). Chapters 2 & 3 was the seven actual letters to the seven churches. Then, in chapter 4, a dramatic shift in both scenery and language takes place…
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. (Revelation 4:1-2)
But the voice like a trumpet speaking seems a little familiar. If it does, it’s because we’d seen the same phrase in a previous chapter…
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia…(Revelation 1:10-11)
So for the rest of the Revelation (chapters 4-22), we see from John’s perspective in heaven, looking upon what was happening down on earth.
Skeptics will point to the fact that John was caught up to “show him things that would take place after this” while the Church itself wouldn’t need to be shown these things…since we will be in the future as compared to when John wrote it.
First of all, as Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac was a type of Christ’s ultimate fulfillment, so too is John’s catching up a type of what will happen to the Church. No one has an issue with seeing the picture with Isaac on the altar, but apply that same principle to the Church in Revelation 4:1-2, and it suddenly is a bridge too far. To me, that is a very inconsistent way to interpret the Scriptures.
In chapters 1-3, the church is referenced 19 times. During the next 18 chapters (4-22), the churches or even the word church is not mentioned even once.
Those who are mentioned are; the saints, martyrs, twelve tribes of Israel, earth dwellers, those who dwell on the earth, and the inhabitants of the earth.
If the church did have to go through the Tribulation, even partway, why is there no mention of them? Clearly, John was familiar with the term “ecclesia” since he had to write it 19 times in the first 3 chapters. We shouldn’t make it a habit to argue from silence…unless that silence is absolutely deafening…at which point God is trying to drive home a point.
Next, we will look at key text given to the church exclusively, that promises not for endurance through the 70th week of Daniel, but to be kept entirely from that period of time altogether.
Remember, that in this life, we do have tribulation (i.e.…what the world and Satan throw at us), but Jesus said He overcame the world, so be of good cheer.
This tribulation is NOT the same as the time specifically prescribed to Israel in Jeremiah 30:5-11, Daniel 9:26-27, 12:7, and Revelation 11:2 & 13:5 as the last week (7 years) broken up into two sections of 42 months,1260 days, times, time and half a time.
Pre-wrath subscribers point to the text “great-tribulation” as being only the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation in what the church is kept from. They take this from the Olivet Discourse passage in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.
Arguably, the Olivet Discourse is difficult to parse if you’re looking for a point of debarkation in which the church would exit, ‘stage-left in that passage.
I think it’s difficult for one, in that all those general signs (wars, earthquakes, famines, etc.) have appeared in man’s history all throughout history. Jesus references these as increasing as birth pangs, but gives no idea as to when and where the Church is in all of this. Either He forgets to mention where the Church is in all this, or He knew that Paul and John would later explain this in detail to the Church. Either way, again, the focus is not on the Church in the passage, but Israel. Two points I’ll make here are:
Almost all scholars agree that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are intended for different audiences. The Gospel of John, which has most application to the Church, has no Olivet Discourse. Instead, we have the Upper Room Discourse, in which Jesus first hints at the Rapture in chapter 14:1-3 and reveals the Helper (Holy Spirit) role in this coming change of administration in 14:15-18, 15:26-27, 16:5-15.
Jesus spoke the Olivet Discourse, well, on the Mount of Olives. The same place He intends to return to earth at in Zechariah 14 and which the last battle is waged (overlooking the Valley of Meggido). He was speaking to His Jewish disciples about the last days. They were still under the impression that the very next thing to happen was the Kingdom coming to Israel (Acts 1:6). Again, the Holy Spirit chose what to reveal, and what NOT to reveal at that particular time. It would be given to Paul to reveal these things some 20 years later.
So Paul, who was given the ministry to the Gentiles, and to the founding doctrines of the Church, points out in almost all of his epistles, which we Christians, are NOT to look forward to the arrival of the Antichrist, but to our Blessed Hope, which is when Jesus Christ returns for His bride.
Paul NEVER instructs the Church to ready herself for the ‘wrath of God’. Paul NEVER instructs the Church to hoard food, take up arms, or otherwise prepare for intense persecution from the antichrist system. Instead, Paul says at the idea of the Rapture to “therefore comfort one another with these words.”
If the Church in the last days was to experience a winnowing through intense persecution, wouldn’t the Apostles have warned us? They had no issue warning us against apostasy, and the general deterioration of society in the last days.
The concept of the “Wrath of God” is ALWAYS directed towards those who willingly reject God. The Seal Judgments may be a culmination of man’s wickedness as at least the first four horsemen would imply, but it is only because God allows it.
And then you have very clearly the end of Revelation 6 where the unregenerate on earth even come to the understanding that the Wrath of God was upon them, for who else is the Lamb but God in the flesh? Revelation 6:15-18 states:
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the caves 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 who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Whereas the Christian may face ‘chastening’ from God, and tribulation in general from the world, the Christian NEVER faces the “Wrath of God”. Our wrath was taken by Christ on the Cross of Calvary, the moment we asked Him to forgive us of our sins, and in trade, we put on His righteousness.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Rom 1:18
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thess 5:10
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thess 5:9
So then how can one take comfort in the notion that one was about to enter what Jesus said was the worst time in human history?
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22)
The Pre-wrath subscribers point to the use of the word ‘elect’ in the text to show that the ‘elect’ equals the Church. Well, a simple word search would prove that the ‘elect’ was a term used both in the Old and New Testament, as well as to certain angels. So using the word elect simply means one chosen by God…which speak of Jews, the Church, as well as Angels.
I am not a spokesman for Dr. DeYoung, and I’m sure that he is more than capable of fighting his own battles. But I do hold deep respect for Chris White, who has done some excellent scholarly work battling legalism and the Hebrew Roots movement, so his pinpoint attack on Jimmy seems strangely odd to me.
Most of the Pre-Wrath teachers/subscribers I am familiar with, tend not to be die-hard Pre-Wrath folk altogether. They seem drawn to it as we’ve blown past the previously held key dates familiar to Pre-Tribulation types (those linking 1948+70=2018-7=2011) according to Psalm 90:10. Pre-Wrath seems to be more logical than if you can throw in some ‘blood-moons’ and Jewish feast dates as well as the continuing deterioration of the world at large to try and pinpoint us somewhere in the Seal Judgments.
It’s tempting, but it’s sloppy.
God is precise. Jesus went to the cross exactly 483 years to the day when Gabriel told Daniel he would. Jesus died precisely at Passover to be that ‘lamb that takes away the sins of the world’. (John 1:29)
I could have easily turned this into a four or five ‘parter’ with the amount of scriptural evidence that stacks up against the Pre-Wrath theory, but I simply don’t have the time. I hope it’s been of some benefit to you the reader as a simple explanation, from an unlearned writer to the common man (and woman!).
Thanks and God Bless.