I’ve noticed in these last few years that the certainty with which Christians hold the rapture as occurring before the 7-year tribulation is weakening. For decades, hundreds of years even, Christians understood the bible to be clear on this teaching: that Christians forgiven by the blood of Christ, living in the church age, will be raptured to Jesus and then the Tribulation will start. Lately, people are beginning to revise their stance. They are becoming more and more favorable to the notion that actually, Christians will go through the tribulation after all.
First, did you ever wonder why this angst and revision is happening NOW, of all times? Because we are the generation that will be experiencing these things, and it scares people. This is the age of Apathy, the age of the Laodicean lukewarm church, the Age of people not knowing their bible. It is the age of prosperity gospel, consumerism, and worldly things, which makes people want to finish life and activities here on earth before they go… because they can’t really imagine heaven (being unfamiliar with the bible). On the other end of the scale, solid Christians are so in love with Jesus that their penitence extends to the 7 year Tribulation, thinking deep inside, they don’t really deserve to escape.
It’s all hogwash.
Satan is messing with your mind. Instead of encouraging each other with these words, we are fearful and confused. Whenever fear enters into the picture, satan is behind it. Whenever confusion enters the picture, satan is author of it. God is clear. Satan blinds. So let’s take a look at what the bible says.
First, in the above scripture where Paul tells his brothers and sisters to encourage each other about the coming of the Lord, what would be so encouraging if before we get to the good stuff, we go through hell on earth? Demons biting people, oceans as blood, earthquakes so strong all the walls fall and all the mountains flee away? Paul said, “do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” We have hope. The hope of His promises! Here are a few of those promises:
You have to understand the purpose of the Tribulation to begin with. God’s plan for the Tribulation (Time of Jacob’s trouble) is directly and only for the Jews, and to destroy the nations that persecute the Jews.
First, the key passage of God’s promise in Daniel 9:24-27. This is the foundation of the Tribulation, because it describes the decree of God’s plan for the Jews. And also, importantly, it is the only place in the OT where the Messiah is called the Messiah directly. So we pay attention:
“Seventy sevens have been decreed for your people. . . . So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two sevens the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” The time of the decree is divided up into three parts:
7 ‘weeks’ or 49 years, 62 ‘weeks’ or 434 years, and 1 week or 7 years. In addition, these key verses tell us the plan of God for His people. 6 things —
1. to finish transgression of the Jews,
2. to put an end to sin,
3. to atone for wickedness,
4. to bring in everlasting righteousness,
5. to seal up vision and prophecy and
6. to anoint the most Holy (place) (Daniel 9:24).
The language is clear, ‘seventy sevens are decreed for you people’: the Jews. The clock stopped just shy of the last 7 years when Messiah was crucified. The church age was a mystery and hidden from man’s knowledge, until Paul revealed it in Romans 11:25. The Jews had no idea that the seventy sevens would not be successive. Now, to Jeremiah. Remember, Daniel 9 is a KEY chapter and 9:24-27 is the central point in that chapter. But Jeremiah also describes God’s plan. Jeremiah 30:3-11 gives the title of the Time, the effects on the Jews of that time, and His promise of that time (they shall be saved).
“For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’ ” Now these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah. “For thus says the LORD:
‘ We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it.
‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’
Says the LORD of hosts, (Jeremiah 30:6-11)
Jer 30 describes His work during that time: to destroy the nations that opposed Israel and to punish the Jews for their transgression. It is the final result of the covenant Genesis Abrahamic ‘bless you curse you’ promise in Genesis. Jeremiah 30 continues–
11 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.’
It is a time of punishment. How and when God punishes/judges seems to me to be the moment when He uses the word “incurable.” I wrote more at length about that point of no return, here. At a certain point He will punish, Jer 30:12 “For thus says the LORD:‘ Your affliction is incurable,”
So what of the saved Church Believers during the time of Jacob’s Trouble? We are removed from that time and away from the place of trouble because we are not condemned. We are not under a decree of punishment. We are not under justice because the Ultimate Judge has already pardoned us! We are declared righteous and holy. Here are the verses:
Colossians 1:21-22: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight”. The NIV says “free from accusation.” Remember, the Tribulation is a time of justice and punishment, and we in the Church Age are “free from accusation.”
1 Thess 5:9-11: “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” So we are not appointed to the Time of Jacob’s wrath that Paul spoke of. Scriptures tell us just when that wrath is, it begins just prior to its mention in Rev 6:16-17 and ends in Rev 16:17 when the angel pours out the last bowl and cries “It is done!”
1 Thess 4:14-18 “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
God’s plan for the end for the age is something He is dealing with for the Jews only, as the clock that stopped at Jesus’ at year 483 of the decree is death is re-started at the moment of our departure to finish those last 7 years. Paul describes it thus: in Romans 11:25:
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” I wrote more about the concept behind that statement, ‘full number’ as the central point, here. When the Church reaches the assigned number of people who are going to accept Christ, the fullness has been reached and we sail, ‘coming in’ to port in heaven, and the partial hardness of the Jews’ hearts is lifted. When He lifts that partial hardening they will recognize Him when He saves them in the Gog-Magog battle “Then they will know I am the LORD” as Ezekiel 38:23 says. Before that moment, we will be gone.
We will be raptured prior to the time of Jacob’s Trouble, because we are already perfected, holy and righteous in His eyes. We are not under a decree of punishment because we are blameless and free from accusation. We are not appointed to wrath. The Tribulation is the last seven years of a decree that involves the Jews. These are decrees and promises. To doubt them doubts the Word of God. Therefore, we CAN know. It is Pre-trib. Satan is trying to steal Christians’ joy at His promise of pardon. Don’t let satan do it!