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Tribulation and the Rapture

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tribulationFor me the question whether the rapture is before the man of sin arrives, or after he is revealed, was settled by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:1-3. Its after:

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thess. 2:1-3)

The mystery of lawlessness (=spiritism) already working then (2 Th. 2:7) attacked the faith of the Thessalonians saying the resurrection/gathering (rapture) had had already happened so they had been left behind. Paul replies that is obviously wrong as the man of sin had not appeared. That puts the resurrection/gathering AFTER the man of sin is revealed. That’s the most likely interpretation, and as the majority Text reads “day of Christ” and not “day of the Lord” the distinction some make between these two days here, is irrelevant. Against this a pretribber argues:

But Paul did tell the Thessalonians that they could not be in the Day of the Lord because the man of sin had not yet been manifested. They had not missed the rapture; they had not misunderstood Paul’s teaching of the imminent coming of Christ and the attendant deliverance from wrath. (1965). Grace Journal, 6(3), 17.

For us there is only ONE Lord (Eph. 4:5) therefore the eschatological “Day of the Lord” is the “Day of our Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14). Even if I were to concede the point, the pre-trib argument is irrational. The Thessalonians could have been left behind, yet living in a period of time between the “pre-trib rapture” and the appearance of the man of sin. Then Paul’s assurance the man of sin had not yet appeared is irrelevant, immaterial and incompetent. As that can’t be, the pre-trib argument is impossible.

Its urged imminency requires pretrib rapture, but Christ contradicted that idea when He said we should look for Him as imminent AFTER we see all these things, only then do we know “summer is nigh:

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (Matt. 24:32-33)

The fatal flaw in the imminence argument is WHEN must we consider Christ imminent? Christ Himself said we watch for Him AFTER we see “all these things” because we don’t know the day or the hour, not because we won’t see ALL those things first (Mt. 25:12).

Moreover, other texts indicate much of what is said by pretribbers regarding the end time seven year period, is suspect. For example, it is said the Tribulation itself is seven years long. That is absurd. It doesn’t begin until after the abomination of desolation is set up, and that happens midway (Dan. 9:27; 12:7).

7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?”
9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
10 “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.
11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.
12 “Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.

(Dan 12:7-12 NKJ)

The time when “the daily sacrifice shall be taken away” must be at the beginning of the seven years, not in the middle of the week. The 1290 days and 1335 are different points on the same time line containing also the 1260 days when the Beast rises up breaking covenants scattering the power of the holy people (Dan. 12:7; 9:27).

Some object confusing the “sacrifice (02077 זֶבַח zebach) and the oblation (04503 מִנְחָה minchah) in Daniel 9:27 with the “daily (08548 תָּמִיד tamiyd)” in Daniel 12:11. The “Daily sacrifice” ended with the apostasy of the Church at the beginning of the week, when it received the false Christ.

The “Man of Sin” appears to a “fallen away church” as a false Christ condoner of sin, at midway he morphs into the Beast Son of Destruction Antichrist (Dan. 7:25; 9:27; 12:7) ending all “sacrifice and oblation” worldwide (2 Th. 2:3-4; Rev. 11:7; 13:5).

The Daily Sacrifice: Jewish or Christian?

“Many shall be purified” (Dan. 12:10) refers to the time of Antiochus when persecution will “refine them, purify them and make them white in Daniel 11:35. But is that its only reference? Does it have dual fulfillment as in a telescoped prophecy (cp. Dan. 7:16-27)?

In Daniel 11:35 a double entendre appears in connection with this “end time of purging” that many miss. Its called a Janus Parallelism and prophetically telescopes this to two different times, one occurring during Antiochus and the other during the Antichrist. Confirming the transition was made to the end time future, none of what is said in Daniel 12:36-12:1 can only apply to Antichrist.

Collaborating this is the obscure “he who reads is to understand” (Mt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14; cp. Mk. 4:9) warning that Christ communicated something in his body language or speech that required the reference is solely to the τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως “the abomination of desolation” that appears only in Daniel 12:11.

Careful analysis shows these different contexts concern different actors, different times and different events, compare Dan. 11:30-31 with Dan. 11:41-21:1). Any hasty generalization these abominations are the same are impossible.

There seems to be a material difference between the “abomination” “bringing desolation” in Daniel 11:31 מְשֹׁמֵם where for the image’s sake Antiochus caused the desolation, and Daniel 12:11 שֹׁמֵם where the “abomination” “brought to desolation” (cp. the Desolator Dan. 9:27) for it is in the image of the Son of Destruction, the Desolator:

15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Rev 13:15 KJV)

Therefore, the Great Tribulation the angel refers to happens during the time of the Antichrist when the (political) power of the holy people is completely shattered (Dan. 7:25; 8:24; 12:7):

11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. (Dan 12:11-12 KJV)

Therefore the prefixes “pre/mid/post” tribulation, referring as they do to the entire seven year period, are incompetent, completely irrelevant to the 45 days of intense persecution the church will undergo when they refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast. Nothing says those converting to Christ after being left behind, don’t also endure Great Tribulation. Hence, the “pre/mid/post” tribulation classifications are irrelevant, immaterial and therefore completely incompetent to any issue.

12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped
. (Rev 14:12-16 KJV)

An angel/actor represents Christ (Rev. 1:1; 22:16) sitting on a cloud, “like a son of man” not “the Son of man”.

“Another angel” emerges from the Temple signifying it has divine authorization as he commands the angel “like unto the son of man” to reap. Again, if it were Christ an angel could not command Him. The sickle is sharp for efficiency, cutting every wheat stalk lest anything be left behind. The imagery does not depict “mowing God’s enemies down” (MacArthur), as the Reaper first grabs a handful of wheat stalks holding them in his hand BEFORE thrusting with the sickle in his other hand, to free them from what holds them to the earth.


John doesn’t want us to miss this important clue, three times the angel representing Christ is shown sitting “on the cloud” (Rev. 14:14-16). Scripture does distinguish Christ coming “on the clouds” sending his angels to gather His elect (Mat. 24:30-31; Mar. 13:26-27) from this angel symbolizing Christ “sitting on the cloud”.

This “harvest is ripe (3583 ξηραίνω Rev. 14:15)”, “dryness” indicating its harvest time, that’s different from “grapes fully ripe (187 ἀκμάζω Rev. 14:18)”, their “sweetness” (Louw-Nida) at their peak. These are two very different crops which implies a contrast, the juxtaposition implies “they are opposites”. So also the presence of symbols associated with Christ in one (Rev. 14:14) that are lacking in the other (Rev. 14:17), implying the mission is very different.

Different “angels”, different crops being reaped and the unique mention of “God’s wrath” in Rev. 14:19 are incompatible properties proving these events are dissimilar, their juxtaposition implying they have opposite goals. These are being contrasted, they cannot be “doublets”.

That is confirmed by the word “reap” (2325 θερίζω) which appears three times: twice commanding the angel to reap (Rev. 14:15), then in the “universal affirmative” declaring “the earth was reaped” in Rev. 14:16. Therefore, if this reaping were of the wicked, then none remained on earth for the next reaping.

Therefore, Rev. 14:17-20 cannot be a doublet of Rev. 14:14-16, both “metaphors representing eschatological judgment carried out by angelic emissaries of God.”-Aune. The universal affirmative makes that impossible.

Different angels reap different crops with different goals in view. As the second reaping is a metaphor for eschatological judgment (Rev. 14:19-20), the first MUST be a metaphor for eschatological gathering of the church, also known as the rapture. The juxtaposition and incompatible properties plus the weight of scripture (Mat. 10:22; 24:13; Dan. 12:1-2, 11-12; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 2 Thess. 2:1; Rev. 20:4-6) do not permit another conclusion.

Consistent with this, Rev. 15:2-4 show “them who had gotten the victory over the beast” in heaven, which would include all who endured to the end, i.e., the rapture. This occurs just before the seven last plagues are released onto the earth (Rev. 15:1, 6).

Although some cite “the hour has come” (Rev. 14:7, 15) as support they both are judgments, the idiom is found elsewhere without any reference to a judgment (John 16:4, 21).

In conclusion, Rev. 14:14-16 is the rapture event that occurs after the martyrdom of the church for refusing to receive the mark of the beast (Rev. 14:9-13).

As those left behind who convert later continue to suffer the same Great Tribulation it can hardly be said to be “post tribulation.”