By Joseph Chambers
One of the great classic truths preached by the Evangelical and Pentecostal churches for the last 200 years has been the pre-tribulation Rapture. I do not suggest that there were no exceptions, for there were indeed good people who loved and preached Jesus but did not agree with this particular interpretation; however, the Pentecostal Revival, for 100 of those years, has been especially given to the pre-tribulation view.
There are some that suggest that this is escapism, but the opposite has been true. Christians deeply in love with Jesus and enamored with the hope of His immediate return for the church have been driven with compassion to win souls; whether family, friend, or foe. Our message is a twin concern: get ready for the call to the marriage supper and occupy (be salt and light to hold back the antichrist spirit) until He comes. Both parts of this message are absolutely essential for a balance of Biblical presentation.
The Biblical support for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is indeed overwhelming. Let me share nine (9) reasons why I believe the Rapture must occur before the seven-year tribulation period can begin.
The Church Is To Be Judged Before The Wicked World Is Judged
Rather than positioning the church in the tribulation judgment, the Biblical warning is that judgment begins at the house of God. Privilege is always a factor in determining God’s judgment. He said “ . . . For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (St. Luke 12:48b)
Apostle Peter, clearly distinguishing himself as a New Testament leader, warned, “For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God: (Remember, it was the Jewish nation that was first to be judged in the First Testament) and if it first begin at us (the Second Testament believers), what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (Peter 4:17) There is no excuse for anti-Semitism in the Christian church. Our judgment is of a different nature but clearly precedes that of both the Jewish and the God-denying and blaspheming world.
The Bride Of Christ Is To Be Presented Unto Himself In An Exclusive Ceremony Separate From All Other End-Time Events
Redemption is much, much more than fire insurance. The root and foundation of God’s love for the world and sending His only begotten Son is a desire to have a family. The family unit is the closest thing on earth to the heart of God, His very nature. The invitation to salvation is an invitation to a marriage feast and establishes a family relationship. Worship in its truest sense is a celebration of that family relationship with our spiritual priest; we celebrate His love until we can celebrate His presence.
His Absolute Promise To Keep His Faithful Bride From The Hour Of Tribulation
The Holy Scripture deals effectively with His assurance that this awful hour is not designed for His chosen. The prophet Isaiah described the final episodes with minute detail: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” (Isaiah 26:19-21)
In the first verse of this quote he identified the Resurrection. Next, he calls for the chosen bride to enter with Him into her chambers (an appropriate nuptial place as she prepares for her presentation to the Groom) to be securely hidden away for a short moment until the wrath or rage of God is finished. The third verse of this text pictures the going forth of God’s righteous judgment to finish sin, disclose hidden life styles, and to give an equal response from God’s holiness to man’s evil actions.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Is The Only Reasonable Explanation Of A Time When Some Are Taken And Some Left
No sensible explanation can be given of St. Matthew 24 that excludes the warning of a sudden rapture that catches men unprepared. Jesus warned of the suddenness of that day, that only the Father knows the time and that the day was as Noah’s day, where men were eating, drinking, and giving in marriage. Then He said, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (St. Matthew 24:40-41) He concluded the warning by saying: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (St. Matthew 24:42)
Then, He Warns Of A Specific Day Coming Unawares Of Which Only Those Watching Shall Escape
These verses are so crucial for establishing this great “Hope of the Church” that we must analyze them closely. “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth? Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
Christians are so casual today about what constitutes readiness for the Rapture that they make me tremble. Ask a given Sunday-morning crowd: “How many are ready to go?” And you will find it hard to see the un-lifted hands. Many have not been to church in weeks, maybe never tithe, do not read the Bible more than sporadically; and yet, they feel secure and ready. The only explanation is that we are living in the great apostasy.
The Law Of The Farmer Demands That The Harvest Be Gathered Before The Winter Begins
No vineyard dresser or tiller of the ground would think of laboring through the spring and summer only to leave the ripened harvest in the field as the winter arrives. A wise proverb of Solomon says, “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” (Proverb 10:5) It contradicts everything my Father has provided and promised to suggest that He won’t gather His harvest of the world until the winter of divine retribution is in full swing.
Isaiah is prolific in describing this harvest out of an impending winter of evil. He prophesied, “The righteous perisheth (escapes), and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away (removed), none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”
(Isaiah 57:1) The words taken away literally mean to “collect as in harvest”.
The next verse is a perfect picture of this harvest, safely cradled in her haven of rest, as evil spreads itself in defiance of the gathering storm. “He (bride) shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” (Isaiah 57:2) That storm of evil is clearly described in the next three verses.
“But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? Against whom do ye make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? Are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clefts of the rocks?” (Isaiah 57:3-5)
The Holy Scripture Affirms Emphatically That The Antichrist Cannot Be Revealed Until A Restraining Force Is Removed
The church at Thessalonica received this word from Apostle Paul: “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8)
The word “withholdeth” in verse six and “letteth” in verse seven are identical and mean to restrain or hold back. A picture emerges of this great and overwhelming force of evil that is ever ready to spread across God’s creation but is restrained because of an even greater power. It is like a reservoir of water held in check by a dam. If the dam is suddenly removed, the waters will flood the valley with great destruction .
The Lord’s Absolute Promise To Catch Away His Chosen To Meet Him In The Air
“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 Thessalonians 4:16-18) What a climactic finish to an exciting search of Holy Scripture. The Lord isn’t sending Gabriel or Michael. He is coming Himself.
I believe in honoring all men as commanded by the Word. Those who know and serve Jesus Christ are my brothers and sisters. While we fulfill the above in Christian love, I contend that the Rapture must transpire before the tribulation can begin. The gathering storm has shaken the faith of many. The fire of expectancy, of watching and waiting, of looking for His appearing, has gone out of many lives.
Some are looking to build a kingdom here, while others are looking for great tribulations and planning how not to take the mark. I believe that the bride should look for His appearing, occupy His spiritual and invisible kingdom, and expect to be gone when the great deceiver is having one final fling. “Look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28b)