Sunday, January 17, 2010

Differing Views of the Rapture: Part 5 Pre-Wrath


A fairly new position in the discussion, advocates for the pre-wrath position insist on a common sense hermeneutic approach.[1] Unlike pretribulationists, the pre-wrath position does not view the seven year tribulation period as being the wrath of God. Rather, this seven year period is divided into three distinct sections: the first three and a half years of Daniel’s seventieth week is the beginning of sorrows; the second three and a half years is divided in half with the first being the Great Tribulation and the second being the Day of the Lord.[2] At first glance, one may assume that the pre-wrath position is simply a variation of the midtribulation view. Closer examination of this view shows this not to be the case.

Where pretribulationism and posttribulationism have apparent conflict in terms of the Scripture used to support their respective views, the pre-wrath view seeks to harmonize these Scriptures rightly believing that Scripture does not contradict Scripture (1 Cor. 14:33). There is substantial agreement in this view with that of pretribulationism. There is a seven year period at the end of the church age preceding the Parousia. There is also agreement that this seven year period can be divided into two halves where the beginning is marked by Antichrist entering into a treaty with the nation of Israel and the mid-point is marked by the breaking of that treaty three and a half years later.[3]

Disagreement arises concerning when the wrath of God begins. The pre-wrath view holds that the entire seven year tribulation period cannot possibly be part of the wrath of God since the intense persecution inflicted during the second half of this period is perpetrated by Antichrist. If the entire seven year tribulation period was part of the wrath of God then God would be responsible for this persecution which cannot be. Additionally, Scripture clearly teaches that the saints will not have to face the wrath of God but if, as the posttribulationist believes, the Rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation period then the church will be present during the wrath of God which is a contradiction of Scripture. (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9, Rev. 3:10).[4]

Further conflicts with posttribulationism include the posttribulationist belief that at the Rapture, the saints will rise to meet Christ in the clouds and then immediately return to earth to begin the millennial reign. Without the saints being taken to heaven, how then does the marriage of the Lamb to His Bride (Rev. 19:7-9) take place? These are conflicts that have been previously mentioned when comparing other views. Here however, the pre-wrath view claims to have a solution.

The pre-wrath position insists that the entire seven year tribulation period is not the wrath of God but, rather, that the persecution of the church at the hands of Antichrist is what pre-wrath refers to as the wrath of Satan (Rev. 12:12). This is the first part of the second half of the tribulation period referred to as the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21). The church will endure the wrath of Satan. Then, a sign will be given in the sun, moon, and stars indicating that the Day of the Lord is approaching (Joel 2:30-31; 3:15-16; Luke 21:25-26, 28; Matt. 24:29-30; Rev. 6:12-17).[5]

On the same day after the sign has been given, the Rapture will occur delivering the faithful from God’s wrath. This is similar to the way event unfolded in the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Luke 17:22, 26-30).[6] After the Rapture, on the same day, the Son of Man will be revealed beginning the Day of the Lord. The pre-wrath position believes that references to the end or the end of the age (as well as the Day of the Lord) refer to the same event, the wrath of God being poured out on the world.

Strengths of this position include the apparent harmonization of the Scriptures used by both pretribulationism and posttribulationism and what seems to be a common sense, cohesive hermeneutic approach that takes Scripture at face value. Weaknesses include the newness of the approach and the placing of the wrath of God beginning with the opening of the seventh seal. This assumes that the opening of the first six seals is not part of the wrath of God which is certainly debatable.

[1] Van Kampen, Robert. The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple. (Grand Rapids: Revell: A Division of Baker Book House Co., 1997), 23-24.

[2] Ibid, 51-54.

[3] Ibid, 38-40.

[4] Ibid, 42-43.

[5] Ibid, 56-58.

[6] Ibid, 58-60.

1 comment:

Richard Neal said...

The trouble many have concerning the timing of the rapture lies in their misunderstanding of end-time events and characters...In other words, there exists, in Scripture, three eschatological time periods which overlap in real time. But the three time periods start at different times, and more importantly, they are directed at three different groups of people. Daniel's 70th Week, for example, is ONLY concerned with the Jews and the Jewish nation; the Great Tribulation period, moreover, is ONLY concerned with the Church; and the Day of the Lord, or The Day of the Lord's Wrath is concerned ONLY with the non-believing world/"nations."

Daniel's 70th Weeke lasts for seven years, whereas the Great Tribulation Period only begins at the mid-point of Daniel's 70th Week. But, per Christ's promise to His church, the Great Tribulation Period will be "cut short" for the "elect's sake" (Matt 24:22). It is at this moment that the rapture event will take place. Why? Because the Day of the Lord's Wrath----the third eschatological time period, is about to begin.

The key, then, to understanding eschatological events is to understand that there are three eschatological time periods spoken about. All three converge in real time, but all three are concerned with various people and nations.

My new book, scheduled to be released in the next month; Kingdom of the Antichrist/Rise of the Beast speaks in great detail about this, and other important subjects.

Richard Neal