Why the Pre-Tribulation Understanding is the Only Correct View
by Pete Garcia
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Cor. 14:33
Ever wonder why there are so many competing views about the timing of our Lord’s return? Well, I can tell you that in the end, there can be only one, because only one will actually play out. That said, there is a growing and persistent shift away from the Pre-Tribulation view of the Rapture, and that should be disturbing in and of itself.
Critics will frequently and fraudulently (I might add), state that the Pre-Tribulation view is the ‘Johnny come lately’ view and that John Nelson Darby invented it in the 1830’s. That is just plain asinine. If anyone bothered to dig two inches below those accusations they’d realize it wasn’t true. But, people are buying into the equally asinine idea that the Church HAS to go through the Tribulation (part or all) in order to make itself worthy or some such nonsense. The truth is, that any view, can at face value, APPEAR to be legit. This is not exclusive to Eschatology by the way…that’s why there are so many cults running around pretending to be ‘the way’.
The bottom line up front is, that on the surface, the pre-wrath/mid-tribulation/post tribulation hypotheses of the timing of the Rapture (Harpazo), appear to be valid eschatological positions depending on which you favor, BUT, they fall apart rather quickly because they cannot be substantiated consistently across all of Scripture. In other words, they don’t hold up to the rigorous measure of perfection that the Bible (prophecy in particular) holds itself too, thus these views should be discarded as irrelevant.
Furthermore, the Seventieth week of Daniel (aka…The Tribulation) is the most chronicled seven-year period of human history. It is often referred to as ‘The Day of the Lord’ and can encompass both the whole seven years, and also to the specific Day of when Christ returns. The Bible has more to say on this specific period of time than any other. It is broken down by days, months, years, types of judgments, and key events.
God could have spoken all of creation into existence with just one word, yet, we see in Genesis that God breaks down the order of creation by day, for our benefit. In other words, there was an orderly process to His creating our universe and all that is contained therein. Point is, He didn’t need six days to do it.
Likewise, His coming judgment upon this world could have been done in one word. He could simply made one Second Advent (or Coming) and rolled back the sky and said, “Game over”. Instead, we see in the last book of the Bible that God’s divine plan is broken down into three series of seven, increasingly painful judgments. So why is that? For this topic, there is a why, and there is a what. The why is the purpose, and the what is what needs to be accomplished. So let me first explain the why. The purpose (why) of the Tribulation is two-fold;
For I am with you,’ says the Lord, ‘to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, And will not let you go altogether unpunished.’ Jeremiah 30:11
This passage in context, is about the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’. As we know from Genesis 32:28, that Jacob’s name, was changed to Israel. So this could also read, the ‘time of Israel’s trouble’. The context of the entire chapter then, is about a coming period of time, in which God destroys all the nations in which the Jewish people have been scattered. We know God’s word does not return void, so what He says, He will do. Jeremiah even addresses this at the end of chapter 30.
Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord Goes forth with fury, A continuing whirlwind; It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord will not return until He has done it, And until He has performed the intents of His heart.
In the latter days you will consider it. (Vs. 23-24)
Since AD70, there has been a 1,878 year Jewish Diaspora in which the Jewish people wandered the earth searching for a home. The literally settled in every corner of the earth…and yet, these nations still exist. So clearly, the judgment God forecasted, has not yet transpired, and is still future to even us.
Secondly, God states that He would ‘correct them in justice’, in other words, discipline the nation of Israel to bring them back into relationship with Him. So as Jeremiah records this, (6th century BC) he is addressing both Israel and Judah as a single nation, not as separate or as individuals. Jeremiah addresses them both as one entity here in chapter 30…just as Daniel does in his “70 Weeks” prophecy that he is given. Israel and Judah split about around in the 9th Century BC, some 300 years prior to these prophecies.
Yet looking down the line into the distant future, both Jeremiah and Daniel were shown that a) Israel and Judah would be one nation, and b) that God would bring them back into fellowship with Himself through judgment. In fact, the prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel, is specifically for “for your people and for your holy city” (Dan. 9:24). Daniel was a Jew, and his holy city in which he faced to pray towards, was Jerusalem. (Dan. 6:10)
The judgment would destroy all the other nations in which they were scattered, but it would refine Israel (see Zechariah 13:7-9) at a very great cost. It will make the Nazi Holocaust seem trivial, and yet they will survive it, and finally enter into the Kingdom that Christ Himself brings to earth, at His Second Coming. The prophet Isaiah devotes many chapters (Isaiah 2, 11, 65, 66) to the specifics of what life will be like when that Kingdom does arrive.
And through all of these OT prophets, God declares that He will;
1. Restore Israel as a single nation back to Himself
2. Destroy the ungodly Babylonian system of control Satan is currently implementing
3. Set Israel at the head of all nations, with His Son, Jesus, ruling with a ‘rod of iron’
And nowhere, in the entire OT, does it ever mention or allude to the NT Church playing any part of this. It is all about the nation of Israel in the latter years, being brought back into repentance to God through judgment.
So for the last 1,878 years, Israel wandered in Diaspora after having rejecting their Messiah (Jesus Christ) and His Kingdom. Since 1948, they have been a nation culturally and ethnically Jewish, with just a minority observing the orthodox faith, but without a temple, which means their ability to worship is practically meaningless. Because in Judaism, you absolutely have to have an ability to sacrifice animals for the ability to atone for the sins of the people. And you can only do that in a temple, and that temple has to have a ‘Holy of Holies’, by which the ordained Levitical priests can come and present their offerings to the LORD. Since there is no temple (and hasn’t been one since AD70), and most Israeli’s today are either atheistic/agnostic, or just not religiously observant, there has been no real push to build a temple again. They are, as Ezekiel records in his vision of the ‘Valley of Dry Bones’, a nation in unbelief.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ (37:11)
If you recall through the OT, when Israel was in fellowship with God, they were unstoppable. When they weren’t in fellowship with Him, God allowed their enemies to conquer, harass, and torment them. To which does this apply today? I would say, that they are surrounded by a sea of people who hate them, and want to wipe them out forever. (Psalm 83:4) They exist in a world which is increasingly hostile to even their very existence. Simply review the number of United Nations allegations and charges brought against them, compared to any other nation on the planet, and you will see a disproportionate level of interested in dividing Israel and its capital, Jerusalem.
In the NT, we see the Gospels act as a historical reference to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 99% of the time recorded in the Gospels, is that of the world under the Age of the Law. The apostle Paul records that;
…when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
So when Christ was delivering His Olivet Discourse, He was speaking from the transition period between the Age of the Law, and the Age of the Church, about future events that would happen at the end of the Age of the Law. Remember earlier we discussed the why of the Tribulation, well here is the what of the Tribulation, for it was to accomplish six specific things. From Daniel 9:24;
“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
1. To finish the transgression, (1st Advent)
2. To make an end of sins, (1st Advent)
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity, (1st Advent)
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness, (2nd Advent)
5. To seal up vision and prophecy, (2nd Advent)
6. And to anoint the Most Holy (2nd Advent)
His first advent only fulfilled three of the six things events which had to take place in Israel’s timeline. But even His disciples were not fully grasping what was about to transpire. They had no idea there would be an interim age between theirs and ours. (Acts 1:6-7) There are hints from Him that there would be a long stretch of time between His first advent, and His second. (Parable’s of Virgins and Talents). But even though there would be a gap of time between Israel’s 69th week (when the Messiah was cut off) and the 70th (which would be the final seven years before Christ returned), God took that time to gather a people for Himself (Acts 15:14-17) before He returned to finish and fulfill His promises to the nation of Israel. (Romans 11:25-27)
Dr. Paul Hennebury (Dr. Reluctant) made some fine points in particular to refute the Post-Tribulation view. I am paraphrasing these.
The three main verses (1 Thess. 4, 1 Cor. 15, John 14) that are used in regards to the Rapture, ALL neglect to mention the tribulation. You’d think that if the Rapture were at the end of it, there would be some mention of it.
The ignorance of the rapture doctrine in 1 Thess. 4, is contrasted with the knowledge of the TRIBULATION in 1 Thess 5. They then can’t both be the same thing.
The “yo-yo” effect of a post-tribulation rapture both seems purposeless, and contradicts John 14:3.
The absence of the Church in Revelation 6-18.
Any view that puts the Church inside the Tribulation, confuses the Church with national Israel (e.g. Acts 1:3, 6-7; Rom. 11:24-27).
Only the Pre-Tribulation position maintains absolute imminence, while all other views can be measured or known, either by time, judgment or key event. If the Church is instructed to watch for Christ (e.g. Mark 13:32-37, 1 Thess. 1:9-10, Titus 2:13), but instead we are watching for particular events to transpire, then the Day of Christ could be known, since all we would need to do is watch for said event.
So all that to say this; just as there is no mention of the Church in the OT, likewise, there is no mention of the Church inside the 70th week of Daniel. This is abundantly clear by the lack of mention or reference to the Church (ecclessia) from the first Seal judgment to the last Bowl judgment. (Rev. 6-18) The Church does not endure even one second of the TRIBULATION. So why is that? The fundamental reason why we don’t, is that the church is the body of Christ (Col 1:18) and Christ was already judged at the Cross. (Hebrews 10:10-14) If we are Christ’s body (and we are), and Christ is the Head of the Church, then how can Christ pour out judgment upon Himself? Another question would be, WHY would Christ pour out His judgment on His body? Since Christ is the one who initiates the Day of the Lord by opening the first Seal, and finishes it up by returning in power and judgment with the Church (Zech. 14:5; Jude 1:14-15; Rev. 19:7-8, 14), the only logical place for the Church, is with Christ, during the entire Day of the Lord.
Even So, Maranatha!